Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, provides visitors with dramatic views of a volcanic crater, lava flows and landscapes, and offers scientists insights into the birth of the Hawaiian Islands.
Recent volcano eruptions as late as April of 2008 have blasted ash, rock and gases from the Kilauea crater, closing portions of the national park and Kilauea Lodge within the park on a number of days.
Kilauea Volcano Eruptions Continue
Kilauea is the world’s most active volcano. It began its most recent eruption within the park on January 3, 1983. In addition to destroying homes and roads in its path, lava flowing into the ocean since then has created more than 500 acres of new land along the eastern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.
Hawaii Volcano Excursions and Expeditions
Kilauea Volcano draws thousands of visitors from around the globe and is the biggest attraction on the Big Island. There are many Big Island activity providers that offer exciting tours so visitors can experience Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and view Kilauea crater and lava flows.
Tours include helicopter flights over the park from both Hilo and Kona, eco walking and hiking tours, study and photo tours, and island bus and van excursions that include stops at the park’s continual eruptions – these tours can even be booked to travel from other islands as well.
Kilauea Nature Tours
A number of eco-tour and hiking companies offer daily treks into Volcanoes National
Park, as Naturalists and Hawaii certified guides lead the way on foot and on guided driving tours, allowing visitors to discover in relative safety, extinct craters, ancient Hawaiian petroglyphs, lava tubes, steam vents, and the arid desert landscape of Kilauea. While not always a guarantee (for safety reasons), this is one of the few places in the world that allows you to walk right up to a flow of molten lava!
Kilauea Air Tours
Air tours abound on the Big Island, offering a bird’s-eye view of the awesome power of an erupting volcano. While helicopter flights for most visitors are considered a must, small planes offer a quieter view from above. Departures from Hilo, Waikoloa and Kona allow a variety of options and assure something for every activity level, age and budget. For the photographer, there are doors-off flights and tours including a landing within the park. Have a picnic lunch before exploring this remote area and getting close to the lava eruption, safely.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was established in 1916, and is only one of two national parks in Hawaii. The park’s 330,000 acres displays the results of 70 million years of volcanism, migration, and evolution, and encompasses diverse environments that range from sea level to the summit of the earth’s most massive volcano, Mauna Loa at 13,677 feet.
Over half of the park is designated wilderness and provides unusual hiking, camping, and sightseeing opportunities. In recognition of its outstanding natural resources, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park has been honored as an International Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage Site.
In addition, Kilauea Visitor Center offers visitor information and exhibits, films and videos. The Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, located about 3 miles from the park entrance, offers earth science displays and features murals depicting Hawaiian culture. An adjacent overlook provides a panoramic view of Kilauea Caldera and Mauna Loa.
Kilauea Volcano – Hawaiian Geology Laboratory
The Hawaiian Islands are perfect examples of shield volcanoes, eruptions that build an elongated dome much like a turtle shell. All of the Hawaiian Islands are volcanic projecting tops of the tallest mountain range in the world, created by lava oozing from the ocean floor as much as 18,000 feet below. This is caused, according to geologists, by the Pacific Plate sliding northeast over a hot spot in the earth’s mantle.
The newest Hawaiian Island — Lohi — is already forming off the southeast coast of the Big Island, but remains 3,000 feet below the ocean’s surface.
By Terry Reim