If you are intending to see the sights of the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park and take unique photographs of energetic volcanoes and spreading hot lava flows, then find out more information in this article, in which we were assisted by a local tour guide in Hawaii - Red Radley, although it sounds and is written in Hawaiian much funnier - ʻulaʻula ʻulaʻula, what means Red Rad!
For most people, volcanoes mean nothing more than danger, risk, flames, and lava, and from there you need to run away faster! When you hear about volcanoes, you probably imagine the familiar scene from the famous and familiar movie The Lord of the Rings when Frodo and Samwise Gamgee are forced to ascend into Mordor and climb Mount Doom. You can imagine an eruption, hot lava flows, darkness and fire abruptly replacing one another, and a column of ash thought, flame, and gas shot up into the sky. We were told in churches that this is what hell looks like!
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park
This would be just such a scene if the volcanoes were vigorously erupting in the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park. Although it is precisely amid a volcanic eruption, or movement, that an extraordinary and unique beauty opens up, which can only be experienced by those who appreciate the natural wonders of the Earth and know how to behave correctly at the same time. But if you are accompanied by a private tour guide who is familiar with mountain climbing, volcanoes, and terrain, speaking not only English but also Hawaiian! Yes, yes, there is such a language in Hawaii, it belongs to the eastern languages of the Malayo-Polynesian branch. Sounds like music!
So this personal guide will not only tell and instruct you how to behave correctly when dealing with volcanoes, but also show you the right route to look at this unique spectacle from the most attractive point and, most importantly, as close as possible! A local private tour guide will tell you that volcanoes are nothing but "monuments of the Earth itself, evidence of the existence of its primordial forces." Volcanic eruptions every time remind us, people, who strive to conquer everything and everywhere, to control any process that occurs on earth and in our lives, that earthly natural processes are absolutely beyond our control. Even to this day, one can observe how new islands in Hawaii are born and furthermore sometimes vanish due to volcanic activity.
The Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park was founded in 1916 as the United States National Park. In 1980 it was nominated as an International Biosphere Reserve and then a World Heritage Site in 1987. Its total area is over 1300 square kilometers or 500 square miles. This giant territory includes 2 of the most popular and most dynamic volcanoes in the Hawaiian archipelago - Kilauea (1247 m) and Mauna Loa (4169 m), which is also the most enormous subaerial volcano in the world, there is also one dormant volcano - Mauna Kea (4205 m).
By contacting a local tour guide, you can organize one-day treks to the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park, design a pathway that suits you, choose a convenient time for a hike, and get full safety instructions when climbing or, shall we say, when approaching a rampaging monster!
Things to do in Hawaiian Volcano Park
Half of the park, the Hawaiian volcano zone, with a diverse environment from the sea tier to the peak of Mauna Loa (4169 m), is a great place for trekking and water sports. You can walk along special hiking trails and for sightseeing at the Volcanoes Park National Park, accompanied by a private tour instructor. If you are tired of walking around the mountains, then in this area there are also a lot of campsites and small guest houses, and just putting up a tent is also not prohibited.
And there is one little beach which is completely … black! Yes, it consists only of black lava sands and is so beautiful you can not leave it!
The park is commonly visited by geologists, botanists, and ornithologists, as well as ordinary idle travelers hunting for exotic, nerve-wracking trips! The Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii is an ideal place to get an idea of the processes of volcanism from the very beginning of its origin in the deep layers of the earth, to a story, and sometimes a visual demonstration (if you're lucky), how this boiling mass, consisting of a huge amount of natural minerals, elements and gases breaks to the surface for the amusement of the audience! Here you will be told about how the Hawaiian Islands appeared. For tourists, it is a real pleasure to see the dramatic volcanic landscapes, as well as endemic flora and fauna that can only be found in this area. I hope your cameras are ready because to shoot a volcanic eruption, its lava flows rushing out to the sea - this is true luck and a great rarity!
Favored Places to Visit in Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park
This is a set of footprints near the Kilauea Volcano in the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park which are believed to be the result of an unusually explosive eruption, but they may also be related to a series of military battles in the area in 1790. Scientists are still investigating and analyzing soil and rocks, and it is possible that the warriors were so overwhelmed by the pyroclastic eruption while crossing the desert that many of them were poisoned by poisonous gas streams, and others were simply bombarded with ash from the volcano. Only one group out of three survived the eruption. The tracks were attributed by an early geologist to the warriors who were killed on this occasion. According to another version, they were left by women and children who visited this territory in the later century, their traces are also found in the park.
This is a plot of land leased by the Shipman family near the Kilauea volcano (1247 m). The Shipman family grew on their secluded ranch, where they planned to hide from the expected attack of the Japanese army, many exotic plants, including some of the first Hawaiian orchids, were grown directly in the Shipman gardens on this ranch. There are still several unique shops around growing and selling exotic tropical flowers. Moreover, for a very small surcharge, the bouquet you have chosen will be delivered by express mail to any corner of the world! Imagine the delight of the recipient of a package with fragrant exotic flowers from a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!
Halemaʻumaʻu - Kilauea Crater (1247 m)
A beautiful hollow in the caldera of the most active of the five volcanoes that form the isle of Hawaii with a depth of 30 to 150 meters, relying on the level of the lava lake underneath. This volcano arose above sea level about 75,000 years ago off the southern coast of the island. Kilauea has a newly formed crater or caldera and two active rift zones. Kilauea means "spewing" and "strongly spreading" because it often spouts lava. In September 2019, a crater lake formed in the crater due to a large amount of precipitation that fell during that period. The water temperature in the crater was about 70°C. No desire to swim and take baths for sciatica?
On December 20, 2020, the active phase of its explosion began again in the Halemaʻumaʻu crater. It began to fill very quickly with fiery lava and formed a new lava lake, and, accordingly, the water accumulated in it until that time in the crater lake evaporated in a matter of minutes!
If you are planning to visit the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park, this is the perfect place to stay. Volcano House is a series of historic hotels located on the edge of the Kilauea volcano (1247 m). The vintage buildings, built in 1877, are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Here is the Center for the Arts "Volcano". If you are lucky, then the windows of your room will look directly at the volcano. Well, if the windows do not look at the volcano itself, then you should go to it both during the day (to look at the crater and its surroundings in sunlight) and for sure at night when the night sky is painted with a scarlet glow from the mouth of a volcano. Isn’t it infernal enough?
How to get to the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park
Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu is Hawaii's major international airport for all comers. Cheap aviation to Hawaii is unrestricted mostly during the fall and spring (if you are lucky enough, you can buy a promo ticket for 6 USD one way from LA to Honolulu!). Direct flights to Hawaii are operated by different airlines from Atlanta, New Your City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Tokyo, Toronto, Anchorage, Chicago, Singapore, Sydney, Seoul, Beijing, and many other big cities in North and South America, Australia, and Asia.
The fastest flight to Hawaii is from Los Angeles to Honolulu and takes 5h 50m. Many airlines offer non-stop flights directly to Maui. You may also fly into Honolulu International Airport (HNL) on Oahu before heading to Maui on a short, 30-minute flight.
Hawaii Belt Road is your gate or the main entrance to the park. However, you can take a different route to the Crater Chain Road, which passes through numerous craters from past eruptions to the coast. With these questions, we recommend that you contact local experienced tour guides with a license. There is also the possibility to use another entrance near the town of Calapan. But unfortunately, now this path is inaccessible, as it is covered with a lava flow from previous eruptions.
If you want to go to the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park, you can either drive or explore the park on foot with a private instructor-guide, depending on how much time you have.
If you only have three hours to visit, you can drive and explore the peak of Kilauea Volcano via Crater Rim Drive. An 11-mile road will lead you to the top of the caldera. You will have a great time sightseeing because this route passes through the desert as well as the tropical jungle. You can walk around the circumference of the caldera or stop at some very scenic spots with great views and take a short walk.
If you have more time to visit, you can add East Rift and the coastal part of the park through the Crater Chain to your list. Just always check the activity of the lava, as it is constantly changing - and this information is always available and up to date with the local tour guides who can be found on our website.
Keep in mind that most of the park is occupied by a volcanic desert - Kau - a very picturesque unearthly landscape!
Deep inside the water
And here's the last surprise for you - there is another very unusual and most important spot - an active volcano - Loihi (Lōʻihi), which is located 30 kilometers southeast of the coast of the island of Hawaii, and its unusualness is that it is ... underwater! Loihi is the youngest volcano in Hawaii.
Unlike most busy volcanoes in the Pacific Ocean, it is not part of the Pacific volcanic ring of fire, and, together with other volcanoes of the Hawaiian ridge, is a classic example of a hot spot, that is, if you explain this scientific term in a clear geological language, the phenomena of magmatism (mantle plume) in separate points of the inner regions of the lithospheric plates, these phenomena are not widespread and the volume of their lava is extremely small - no more than 1% of all erupting lava, but their importance is extremely high in the formation of new islands and archipelagos, in particular - Hawaiian! So the top of Loihi is located 975 meters deep from the surface of the ocean. According to scientists, the volcano will rise from the ocean in about 100 thousand years, which means that one more new island will appear in Hawaii, to which you can’t buy a ticket yet, but you can dream!...
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