A photo journey through the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
As promised weeks ago, a long-due update on my recent trip to Hawai’i.
Kicking off with the Volcanoes National Park.
As we stood admiring the golden glow from Halema’uma’u at night, we were awestruck and humbled. Reminded, that the earth is changing even as we breathe, and that, forces far greater than we can fathom are constantly at work.
- Located on the Big Island, The Hawai’i Volcanoes Park is home to two active volcanoes – Kilauea and Mauna Loa. The National Park Service website has great information to help plan your trip to the park and updates on the latest lava flow situation. I also found this blog, which offers fantastic photos and helpful live updates too.
- It is best to have at least a whole day to explore the park. Longer if you would like to get off the road and do some hikes as well… so just a day-trip from the north-western regions (Kona, etc.) may not be the way to do it. Start off with a stop at the Kiluauea Visitors Centre to watch some interesting videos on the history of the eruptions in these volcanoes and get pointers from rangers for your visit. The 20-mile drive down the Chain of Craters road has some breath-taking scenery and several interesting points to stop and explore. The best vantage point for viewing the active Halema’uma’u Crater is outside Jaggar Museum (which itself is worth spending some time at). Seeing the glow from the crater after sunset is a must!
- Dress in layers – within the park, the topography and climate changes from lush tropical rain forests to barren and dry desert, which is fascinating to experience. Near the park entrance, it is much wetter and cooler than at the end of the Chain of Craters Road.
- We stayed at the Volcano House (my review is here) situated within the national park. The location was obviously fantastic, and it was cool to be able to see the glow of the crater from our room. But honestly, I thought that the rooms were too expensive (USD 300++, in December) for what the place had to offer. We could easily have covered all that we did, using one of the B&Bs in Volcano Village or Hilo, as our base.
- If at the time you visit, the lava is flowing, the way to view it could vary from – a hike off the Chain of Craters road in the park (could be short or a very long and difficult hike – there are apparently guided tours), at or around the Kalapana Lava viewing site (located outside the park – about 40 miles from the entrance), lava boat tours from Kalapana or a helicopter tour – depending on the eruption site and direction of the lava flow. Both the hiking and boat tours have their share of critics due to the risks involved – so I guess the key is doing research on credible operators as well as heeding hazard warnings of the HVO staff (Much to A’s relief, lava wasn’t flowing into the ocean when we visited. So it was a moot point 😦 )