Hawaii’s Big Island – Say Hi to Hilo where its Volcano Time!

Today’s post covers some info on Hawaii’s ‘Big Island’ and the port of Hilo – where, understandably, the big tour focus is on volcanoes.
Big Island is built from five separate shield volcanoes that erupted somewhat sequentially, one overlapping the other. These are (from oldest to youngest):

  • Kohala – extinct
  • Mauna Kea – dormant
  • Hualālai – active
  • Mauna Loa – partly active and within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  • Kīlauea – ongoing and has been erupting continuously since 1983. Kīlauea is part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

If your ship is set to call at Hilo – rejoice! This is the time to get all excited about active volcanoes and how to go about exploring them. Shore excursions from the port of Hilo embrace the volcanic theme with gusto! Look out for helicopter tours that offer birds eye views over active volcanoes and ongoing eruptions. Once in a life time stuff! Pricey – but worth it.

Due to time restraints, the closest our group got to the Kīlauea Volcano was a ring side lunch seat at Volcano House Hotel (located in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park) – dramatically located on the rim of the caldera with outstanding views over the steamy volcanic landscapes and surrounding tropical rainforests.
Other Hilo shore excursion favourites include visits to Thurston Lava Tube which was discovered in 1913 by Lorrin Thurston, a local newspaper publisher. As you drive the 1/2 mile from the Kīlauea Iki overlook, the forest becomes increasingly lush and soon you will arrive at the Thurston Lava Tube where a 20 minute 1/3 mile walk through a tree fern forest and lighted prehistoric cavelike lava tube awaits you. This is an excellent place to stop and listen to the birds apparently. Watch carefully and you may see the red apapane feeding among the equally red ohi’a blossoms.
Another treat on the volcanic radar is a visit to the Jaggar Museum, the gateway to the Kaū Desert Wilderness. The museum embraces all things volcanic and houses some fascinating displays and gets a big thumb’s up from Trip Advisor.

Any whilst we are on the subject of volcanoes and lava. Lets talk about what happens if you remove or disturb the lava rocks on the Hawaiian islands (not just Big Island). We’ve heard the rumours about angering the Gods and being cursed if you take home sand or lava rocks – but is this fact or fiction, and would you really be willing to take the risk?
We all know it’s tempting to take home a small lava rock or a handful of beautiful sand – but please don’t do it. Every year many boxes of lava rocks are returned to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park from visitors reporting bad luck and asking for forgiveness from Pele the Goddess of fire, lightning, wind and volcanoes and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands.
Enjoy the beauty of Hawaii’s volcanoes, lava flows, lava rocks and multicoloured beaches, but lets leave them in Hawaii for other visitors to enjoy. Besides, do you really want to risk breaking the law and awakening a curse?

A big thank you goes to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Volcano House and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Atlantis Adventure and MC&A Inc.
Image credit goes to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Mahalo.


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