Volcanoes of Hawaii
Monuments to Earth's Origin
Hawaii, a unique vacation destination, the only destination in the world where you find yourself standing in awe before the power of an active volcano. Volcanoes gave birth to the Hawaiian Island chain and Klauea and Mauna Loa continue to add to the island of Hawaii. With each eruption comes a reminder that our planet is ever changing and that us, as humans, cannot control mother nature. The Hawaiian Islands began to form 70 million years ago, emerging from the ocean and forged by the power of volcanoes, some never reached sea level and many have subsided and eroded beneath the ocean waters. Today there are five active shield volcanoes remaining, Lo’ihi, Kilauea, Mauna Loa, Hualalai and Haleakala. Mauna Kea stands the tallest, however is considered to be extinct. These volcanic mountains are among the greatest mountain ranges on earth rising 15,000 feet to simply reach sea level with the highest Mauna Loa towering a further 13,680 feet above sea level.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hike the rocky trails, volcanic craters, rainforests and desolate deserts of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii’s #1 visitor attraction. Experience a living museum that stands testament to the history of these beautiful islands and the power, both physical and spiritual, of the monuments of earth’s origin: the volcano. Created to preserve Kilauea and Mauna Loa, a refuge for the island’s native plants and animals and a sacred place for Native Hawaiians, the park stretches 333,000 acres from the summit of Mauna Loa to the sea where fresh lava flows to meet the ocean’s jagged cliffs.
Hawaii’s youngest and most active volcano, Kilauea also claims the title of the world’s most frequently active volcano with 62 eruptions in 245 years. Hawaiian legend says it is here in the fire pit on the edge of the caldera, known as Halemaumau (House of Everlasting Fire) that the fire goddess Pele dwells. Based in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea sits 10,000 feet below the summit of the towering Mauna Loa at 4,090 feet above sea level, 20,000 feet above the ocean floor, 50 miles long and 14 miles wide. The current eruption, known as the Pu`u `O`o Eruption, began in 1983, one of the most long-lived eruptions known on earth. Producing lava covering more than 100 km2, the flow left a path of destruction wiping out nearly 200 houses, 13 kilometers of highway, a National Park Visitor Center and a 700-year-old Hawaiian Temple. Today, the eruptions continue with the lava flow of 2016 attracting thousands of visitors to the island as the red-hot molten lava rushed into the Pacific Ocean for the first time in three years, a 6.5-mile-long lava flow creating plumes of steam as it reached the water, turning to rock and adding again to the coastline of the Big Island.
The Monarch of Mountains towers over creation in the scenic Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the planet’s most massive single mountain rising 28,680 feet from its base on the sea floor and 13,680 feet above sea level. At 60 miles long and 30 miles wide, Mauna Loa is the world’s largest volcano deceptively covering half of the Big Island. Mauna Loa is also one of the world’s most active volcanoes erupting 33 times between 1843 and 1984, destroying a nearby village and Hawaii Route 11 Highway in 1950, spreading lava over eleven thousand acres (that’s 6,000 football fields) in 1984 causing great concern for the residents of nearby Hilo. Today, Mauna Loa is carefully monitored by scientists who expect the giant to erupt again.
The resort town of Kailua lies on the southwest flank of the Hualalai volcano, the third of the active shield volcanoes on Hawaii’s Big Island. Rising to a summit of 8,271 feet behind Kailua-Kona, Hualalai is dwarfed by its neighbors, Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. The mountain extends from Kiholo Bay to the Hoalo area. It began erupting about 800,000 years ago and last erupted in 1801, sending waves of lava down to the ocean burying villages in its path. The Kona Airport is built upon the lava flow from this last eruption. Later in 1929, an intense swarm of earthquakes occurred under Hualalai, felt as far away as Honolulu, however, no eruption occurred. Hualalai is today considered a potentially dangerous volcano that is likely to erupt again, however current monitoring efforts give no indication that the volcano is reawakening at present. For now, the summit remains a hiker’s paradise despite it being private land. Enter at your own risk!
The youngest volcano of the Hawaiian chain, Lo’ihi (long one) lies about 35 kilometers off the south-east coast of the Big Island, 9,840 feet from the ocean floor with the summit hidden about 3,000 feet below the ocean’s surface. Will it reach the surface and become an island of its own, or will it fade away? Some say the required time to reach sea level is 10,000 years, but Mother Nature has her own schedule. Erupting since 1996, continued eruptions may see a ninth island added to the Hawaiian chain. However, not in our lifetime.
Haleakala National Park is the most visited part of East Maui and the most popular attraction in Upcountry Maui, covering the summit area of the larger of the two volcanic mountains that make up Maui all the way to the ocean. Panoramic landscapes and views of the Maui valley and perfect sunrises add to the appeal of Haleakala. Literally meaning “House of the Sun,” Haleakala was named after the Hawaiian legend that the demigod Maui snared the sun and released it only if it promised to cross the sky more slowly. Haleakala’s tallest peak stands at 10,023 feet and the volcano forms more than 75% of the Hawaiian island of Maui. Last active in 1790 the volcano has seen at least ten eruptions in the past 1,000 years with the oldest exposed lava flow said to be 1.1 million years old. History itself predicts that this is a volcano that is likely to erupt again.
Advice from a Volcano
Keep your inner fires burning
It’s ok to let off steam
Go with the flow
It’s all a matter of time
Have a blast!