See Halema'uma'u Crater at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on the Island of Hawai'i

I had a wonderful opportunity to visit the island of Hawai'i recently. Many of you may know it as the Big Island and rightfully so, it is vast and the landscape comprised of mountains, lava and lush greenery go on and on. I am ashamed to admit that I have only been to the Hilo side a couple of times in the past thirty years that I have lived in Hawai'i. But more embarrassing, this was the first time for me to visit the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Better late than never.

Located only 45 minutes southwest of Hilo, it gets quite cool as the elevation goes from sea level to about 4,000 feet. This National Park is one of Hawaii’s most popular visitor attractions. It is open 24/7 so that visitors may explore the volcano sights day and night. You can even camp there.

I visited the Halema’uma’u Crater of the Kilauea Caldera. This crater has been active this time since 2008. There is a hiking trail that visitors can adventure through if you have a few hours. But even looking at the plume of emissions from the crater vent from a distance is a sight to be seen. The glow from the lava can be seen at night depending on conditions that change frequently. The overlook at Jaggar Museum is close enough that you can actually see activity and not just the steam and smoke. The smoke coming out is concentrated sulfur fumes so those with respiratory
problems should beware.

It is very cool up at the summit of Kilauea. The summit is also known for the abundance of rainfall. Very nice and refreshing. I suggest that you bring a jacket, raincoat or sweatshirt, or all three just in case. Please be prepared for a range of weather if you intend to visit for a long period of time.

Halema’uma’u Crater is the sacred home of Pele, Hawai'i’s volcano goddess. There are many Hawaiian legends that have been passed down from generation to generation about Pele and her powers. It is very important that we honor her. It is common for hula halau to visit the crater year round to honor Pele by performing their dances at the crater. It is a tradition for the halau that participate at the annual Merrie Monarch Festival in Hilo to pay their respects to Pele before their competition.

There is much to see at the Volcano Art Center located next to the crater. The Center includes a gallery of Hawaiian art work that can be viewed and purchased. The Center is part of the 1877 Volcano House which provided lodging for guests, so the art work is displayed in small rooms that I believe were once hotel rooms. You must also visit the Volcano House. Not only do they offer a place to stay and dine but it’s a great spot to view the Halema’uma’u Crater. Spectacular views. Quaint d├ęcor and a lobby fireplace!

Many events are happening throughout the year at the cultural site overlooking Halema’uma’u Crater . There is a hula stage (Hula Pa) that is used by Hawaiian entertainers for their performances. And right next to the Hula Pa is the Hula House or Hale Hula Lauhala. This Hale is in the process of being rebuilt using lauhala (pandanus) instead of grass for thatching of the roof and walls. It will be exciting to see the Hale Hula once it is completed.

I have only touched the tip of the iceberg in regards to what you can see and do at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. It is definitely a “must” on your next visit to Hawai'i Island. Aloha.

Honolulu Festival

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Volcano Art Center

Volcano House

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