Having arrived after dark the night before, once the sun came up in the morning we found ourselves facing Kilauea. Showing my ignorance at some things in nature I always thought that a volcano was the huge cylindrical cone where everything came shooting out the top.
On this day I learned that they can be very different. For Mauna Loa, there have been numerous cauldrons/craters that have erupted over time. Even the most recent this spring, didn’t erupt in the cauldron, rather the lava lake that was in Kilauea disappeared as the lava exited lava tubes miles away, leaving this cauldron empty, except for the steam vents.
To me it looked like an abandoned strip mine with steam.
Our visit continued with a drive down Chain of Craters Road, so named as it passes numerous craters from previous eruptions over the last 100 years.
Each crater has a different look depending on age.
We stopped along the way and took a great 3 mile round trip hike across lava fields to Pu’u Huluhulu.
The amount of vegetation that grows in what seems like impossible conditions is amazing, and beautiful. We found these berries growing everywhere.
Through every available crack.
Also interesting were the different surfaces, some were smooth, some with swirls, and this one with thousands of little indentations.
Having completed our hike, we continued our drive towards the sea.
Once we reached the ocean you could again see how volcanic activity forms all of Hawaii.
The Holei Sea Arch is a 90′ high natural arch formed from the erosion of the lava cliffs from the pounding of the surf.
Returning to the main part of the park (and people), we went for a walk along the steam vents. Unlike Yellowstone where there is a strong sulfur smell, these just felt and smelled like you are standing outside of a house in the winter where the drying vent is running – only much more so.
The steam vents were all over the place.
Many had offerings to the volcano gods to ask them to behave themselves.
As with most of our days in Hawaii, it ended with a great sunset.