Places to See - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

There are some amazing things to see on the Big Island. It's possible to stand next to lava as it flows slowly, making flaming contortions over the earth to harden into ropey strands of lava that glitter like black diamonds. After visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you may fly over Pu'u O'o vent, which has been coughing up lava more or less steadily since 1983, in a helicopter or an airplane. It is possible to hike to Pu'u O'o, but I'm told that it is a long, hot hike, and there may be restrictions. Even if you cannot get to Pu'u O'o easily, park officials have sometimes cooperated with tourists assisting them to get very close to the lava flows. It depends on where the flows are, so check with park officials to find out if you can see the "live" lava. If you can, take the opportunity to see something you will probably never see anywhere else.

Puu Oo Vent as seen from a helicopter
Puu Oo, the center of current lava flows, seen from a helicopter

For more on volcanoes, the Volcanoes National Park, and hiking around the park, click here.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is both desolate and  capitivating
Hawaii Volcanos National Park is both desolate and captivating
Steam escapes from fissures in the lava floor
Steam weeps from fissures around the Park
Halemaumau Crater
Halemaumau, a smoking crater inside a caldera, now contains a lake of lava (2014)
Offering to Pele at Halemaumau caldera
Offerings to Pele can often be seen at Halemaumau
This walkway across the lava in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is gone now
This walkway in the park is now gone
Fiddle head ferns in the rain forest adjacent to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Fiddle head ferns in the rain forest that surrounds Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Plumes of smoke are created as the lava flows into the sea
Towering plumes of smoke created by lava flowing into the sea
Tiny dots in picture are people watching the lava flow into the sea
Lava flowing into the sea as people watch
Pahoehoe lava is ropey in texture and easy to walk on
Pahoehoe lava is ropey in texture