Volcanoes are some of the most beautiful sites our nature has sprouted aren’t they? The liquid fires and long glowing embers remind us of earth’s ethereal beauty.
But with streams of fire hot lava shooting out, our best bet of witnessing one is only possible on national geographic. Because volcanoes aren’t exactly picnic spots or parks.
But what if they were?
Welcome to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the world’s only drive-in volcano and one of America’s most coveted tourist spots. If that detail doesn’t completely captivate you, then the vivid picture of billowing steam and the oozing red hot lava ahead of you definitely will.
So where is it?
Hawaii islands in the USA! Home to some of the most beautiful pearly white sands and crystal clear beaches, Hawaii is also home to the really cool and intensely boiling Kilauea volcano. Mauna Loa one, a passive volcano which has been identified as the world’s largest aerial volcano is also in Hawaii. Both of these are located near Hilo from where its only about 45 to an hour by transport.
Your trip should definitely begin at the Kilauea visitor center where there’s a short film introduction given to tourists briefing them about the park. Get to know the hike sites, eruption updates and collect your own map comes here before heading out to the site. The tour begins with a road that goes by the name ‘Crater Rim Drive’. Its a drive-way loop that ribbons around the Kilauea Caldera. A drive through this loop will give you a brief tour into all of Kilauea’s attractions: Jaggar Museum, Halemaumau Crater, Devastation trail, Thurston Lava Tube and more. Enough to pack an entire day with volumes of adventure.
Thomas A. Jaggar Museum
Nature geeks and wanderes, don’t take a hike without visiting the Thomas Jaggar Museum. There’s a wealth of information here with geological displays, explanation on the various tracks, maps, and videos telling you all you need to know about volcanoes. This is open every day of the week from 8.30 in the morning to 5 in the evening.
From the Jaggar Museum, the nearest visit is this Crater. This is locally called Pele, the volcano goddess. In 1967 there was enough lava that filled this crater to destroy the surrounding planes. But over the years it has all dried away and is now a considered a sacred site of the feminine god. Many steam vents plume forth now and then from this massive crater.
Thurston Lava Tube
The Thurston Lava tube is a 5 century old lava cave formed from a channel of residue molten lava. The lava drained and cooled down to have formed these huge, hollow chambers and at the end of this tunnel, isn’t mere light but also a refreshing tropical rain forest. So get your camping shoes and take a walk through this nature made tunnel.
Puu Oo Vent
This is perhaps the highlight of one’s trip to the Volcanoes National Park at Hawaii. If you thought the lava bubbling from the Kilauea’s daily eruptions teethed around the crater, you’re in store for something amazing. The Puu Oo vent in the east rift zone is where the flooding lava carried through the channel of underground tubes empty out into the sea before our very eyes. A nice view of the red-violet lava raining into the calm waters can be caught from the end of the Craters road. There is also a nice little viewing site outside the park called Kalapana from where this daily ritual of nature can be quietly observed.
Chain of Craters Road
After taking in a marvelous sight like that, get your gears back on and head south of Crater Rim drive. The chain boggles an onlooker with lava flow overtaking the road. This road is open everyday to tourists between 10 in the morning till 9 at night. In the evenings the volcanic residue is beautiful to look at, and is such an exclusive experience.
This is a charming hotel found a little way away from the Halemaumau Crater with a wonderful view of the same. The Volcano House has been around since 1846 when it was a grass shack. A trip to the Volanoes National park demands a stay here.
Tips to remember
Since the park is quite a journey up the road for hikers, and seeing as there are no stores in the vicinity it is advised to stack up on food and water. Dress comfortably if you wish to walk around the area and don’t forget to carry a flashlight and a pair of binoculars for when you get to the Puu Oo vent. While at the park premises keep a look out for all the warning signs, sign boards and restricted areas to ensure maximum safety. As there is a chance of inhaling sulfuric acid flames and other harmful volcanic gasses, its best to tread on the marked areas and not take solo trips into the unrestricted sections.
The trip is almost complete, all that’s left is to charge up your camera batteries and book that trip to Hawaii without another doubt. Its going to be a sure-fire hit.