Lava Flow Lodging

13-1171 Leilani Ave., Volcano, Hawaii, 96778, United States

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Toxic Steam at Poas VocanoToxic Steam at Poas Vocano

View of Kilauea IkiView of Kilauea Iki

Mauna UluMauna Ulu

Travel Tips for Volcano

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

by 4streegrrl

"I am speechless"

This is it, my primary reason for coming to Hawai'i (apart from seeing exotic plants and animals). The Kilauea Caldera. It's mindboggling see, and impossible to photograph. You just don't feel the immensity of the Earth and its power unless you're standing there.

This photo is just of the Halema'uma'u Crater, a much smaller crater within the Kilauea Caldera. Halema'uma'u is about 280 feet (85 m) deep and 3,000 feet (915 m) across. Compare this to the size of the Kilauea Calder: 2.5 MILES across.

Halema'uma'u is the "official" home of Pele, goddess of fire, volcanoes and general mayhem. However, Pele has been hanging out at Pu'u O'o lately, which I will describe in another chapter. Looking down into Pele's "home" and knowing that the crater can (and will) erupt again is frightening. And humbling. For most of the 19th century, and again in the late 1960's and early 1970's, this crater was a boiling lava lake. Imagine that: a lake of lava. Nice. It last erupted in 1982 quite suddenly, when lava exploded out from a fissure and produced a curtain of fire 15-30 feet (5-10 m) high. Fancy that, a curtain of lava fountains. Are you scared yet?

"Kilauea overview"

At Kilauea, you can take excellent hikes through and around the Caldera and various craters. If you're hike-phobic, there is also the 11-mile Crater Rim drive that takes in the major views. I recommend the hiking, for up close-and-personal encounters with 400-year old rainforest, desert landscapes, 30 year old lava plains, giant "bottomless" chasms, steam vents (to get well-and-truly moistened), and lung-burnout from the sulfur dioxide (gasp, cough).

"Don't pick a Lehua blossom..."

What's a trip to a volcano without a little romance!

According to Hawaiian legend, Ohi'a and Lehua were a young couple in love. Unfortunately, goddess of fire Pele (well- known for her hot temper) saw Ohi'a one day and fell in love and wanted him as her husband. One day as Ohi'a was out cutting kukui bark to make a surfboard, Pele appeared before him and declared her intentions. Diplomatically, Ohi'a turned her down and professed his eternal love for Lehua.

Naturally, Pele was not impressed and changed him into a gnarled and not-very- attractive tree. When the other gods saw what had happened, they tried to reverse the spell but failed. The best they could do was turn Lehua into a beautiful red flower on the same tree, so the lovers would be reunited.

The ohi'a-lehua tree is the first to grow on old lava flows. To this day, it is said that if you pick a Lehua blossom, the ohi'a tree will produce rain. The rain is said to be the tears from heaven for separated lovers everywhere.

Mauna Ulu - The "Growing Mountain"

by 4streegrrl

I like Mauna Ulu. It looks like a volcano, has a destructive past (last in 1974), can still kick up a stink, and I can actually see the top of it. Unlike the mega-normous Mauna Loa which is just too darn big to fathom. Between 1969-1974, this lump in the landscape added 200 acres of new land to the Hawaii coastline. Ah, a new beach for every season. Thank you, Ulu!

It was about a 30 minute hike from the Chain of Craters Road to Pu'u Huluhulu ("shaggy hill", presumably named for the fact it is well treed, unlike a good portion of the lava landscape). There's a terrific view of Mauna Ulu from the top of the hill, and away in the distance is the smoking and (currently) lava-spewing Pu'u O'o crater.

Oh yes, and directly adjacent to the "shaggy hill" is a the gaping crater of Pu'u Huluhulu. It's a quiet crater, fully of nice vegetation and some trees. It hasn't erupted in a thousand years so you can rest easy.

Word of advice: visit the area early in the day. Another 15 minute walk will take you to the top of Mauna Ulu so you can have a look into the smoking crater vent at the top. The closest you'll get to an erupting vent, without it erupting. We were there pretty late in the day and given the quick shift from daylight to darkness, couldn't make the extra walk without the risk of making a human-sacrifice to Pele. Darn it all!

"Can't get much timber from this tree"

This is me with a lava tree, near Mauna Ulu. These "trees" are columns of volcanic rock formed when the hot lava met with a wet tree. The trees resisted the extremely hot temperatures long enough for the lava to harden around the stem.Once the lava receded, these piles of rock were left behind. This lava tree, in particular, had a stem left.

"Lava meets forest"

This is a shot looking towards the south-eastern edge of the lava flow from Mauna Ulu. It's pretty abrupt when you see it up close: the lava just stops and the forest begins.

"Holy Moly, it's lava at Holei Pali!"

This is a photo of the lava plain that was created by Mauna Ulu between 1969 and 1974. Away by the coastline, a shiny new black sand beach is awaiting your bod.

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