The Halemaʻumaʻu Crater is home to Madame Pele the Hawaiian Goddess of fire, volcanoes, lightning, wind and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands
The Islands of Hawaii where formed by Volcanoes and the Big Island is made up of six volcanoes. I was there to study the Fire Element in the Kilauea Volcano. Having a constant lava flow since 1983 makes it one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The Halema'uma'u Crater is found within the caldera of Kilauea; it is also known as Madame Pele's home. A second lava flow originating from this Volcano is found at the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent from which Lava travels in tubes below the surface to the Sea. Exploring the volcano by land, air and water would give me the best perspective for my research in Hawaiian lava and volcanoes.
One of the most active volcanoes
The Kilauea has a constant flow of lava since 1983
The moonlight hike up the Kilauea Volcano began as the sun was setting softly on the horizon, by midnight I would be in front of the lava. All around me gunmetal silver rocks with jewel undertones had formed as the flows of lava solidified on its way down the mountain. The sound of crunching volcanics under my feet accompanied my long walk in the darkness. The cool night turned warmer as I approached the distant glow. Under the star speckled sky I reached the lava. It was so close I could touch it if I wanted. Dynamic shades of deep red and flaming orange, so bright against the midnight black constantly morphing in a gentle way creating unique formations in its path. I observed the Earth's magma in front of me and felt a strong connection to Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess. It was such an incredible and powerful force of nature.
A black sand beach with lava waterfalls that formed 25 years ago
Water temperatures up to 150F make it one of the world's most dangerous beaches
The boat traveled in the dark through the agitated waters. I felt the chilly twilight breeze and a light rain drizzle. We were on our way to the point where the lava meets the ocean. After an hour of traveling, the slow appearance of the sun started revealing huge edged cliffs next to us. A massive plume cloud in the sky indicated we had arrived. I was in awe. It was one of the most beautiful experiences. Glowing orange lava waterfalls rolling down from rocky cliffs into the ocean. Nature exploding in euphoria each time the lava would kiss the water. Waves crashing into the magma created flying sparks that illuminated the contact steam from within. Surreal clouds of dancing pastel shades emerged from the water: red, orange, yellow and pink. The magic in this moment was life inside a dream.
Aerial Perspectives of Volcanoes and Rainforest Waterfalls
The contrasts of nature in an island that keeps growing in size
Big Island has a dual personality, gnarly on the volcanic side while calm and peaceful in the surrounding green areas. This even includes the marine animals that settled on each side with fierce sharks by the volcano and gentler species elsewhere. Minimum human development keeps Big Island covered in lush rainforests with gorgeous waterfalls flowing into each other. The terrain where the volcano's magma travels to the sea, is covered in thick dark gray ribbons of cooled magma that keeps forming over time. Producing 250,000-650,000 cubic yards of lava per day, the island keeps growing in size. The helicopter flew over the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent in the eastern rift zone and we could see into the bright red lava heart of the island. The magma travels within internal lava tubes to the ocean where the Hawaiian blues contrasted sharply against the vast plains of volcanics, a truly unique landscape.
Stay at Volcano House inside Volcanoes National Park for the best Lava views
In the crisp air surrounding the vent I was drinking my volcanic coffee as I reflected on the amazing adventure I had just been on. I wanted to share some tips for when you are planning your Hawaiian Volcano Journey. For the Volcano take a tripod to film the lava at night, a stainless steel water bottle is essential for your hike as you will for sure need the water. Take comfortable shoes with good support for the hike but not your favorite ones as they can get a bit worn out with the unstable, sharp volcanic shards. Also, your feet will heat up when you are close to the lava. In regards to the boat ride: sunrise and sunset are the best times. Take a jacket as you will get cold and might get splashed too if it rains as it did for us. The front row will be the best for taking pictures, but you will get a little more splashed there so take something to protect your camera from the water. Divers should not miss the Night Swim with Manta Rays on the other side of the island, but need to make sure that they plan accordingly and do the volcano first as there is enough altitude in between both to equal flying after diving. If you want to visit Mauna Kea plan in a couple of days for unpredictable weather. Also, don't forget your drivers license in Panama like me as Taxis could run you up a couple of hundred dollars for each activity and there is no Uber. 2016 celebrated the Park's Centennial and the most important thing I can share with you is I wish I had stayed longer there, as it was truly one of the most magical places I have ever experienced in my life.