Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Outdoor adventure is practically everywhere you look on Hawai‘i Island. Hikers can walk in sand and snow and across a steaming volcanic crater—all in one day. Campers can pitch their tent on a beach, in a lush rainforest or on a high-desert lava plain where the rocks are actually purple. Snorkelers can float among sun-spangled reefs teeming with a rainbow of reef fish, and scuba divers can go deep for a meeting of the minds with manta rays—at night. And those who love the bird’s-eye view can board a helicopter or flight-seeing plane and cruise above this incredible landscape.
And all that is just for starters. Hawai‘i Island is overflowing with untold adventure. Here’s one for you.
Lava Love – Kīlauea, the world’s most active volcano, is home to Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, (www.nps.gov/havo) which is such a natural and cultural treasure that it is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the state. More than 150 miles of trails take trekkers through lava tubes, fern rainforests, lava fields carved with ancient petroglyphs, and to remote campgrounds down by a rugged seashore or up the sometimes snowy summit of the world’s most massive mountain, 13,677-foot Maunaloa.
Kīlauea is also home to Pele, Hawai‘i’s tempestuous volcano goddess. Since March 2008, visitors to Halema‘uma‘u Crater at the summit of Kīlauea have stood in awe at the voluptuous plume of steam that suddenly appeared, rising in a seductive hula from a small (but growing) vent in the crater floor. And at night, sometimes an orange glow from the vent hints at what passionate Pele may bring. Park rangers at the crater-side Jaggar Museum are a fountain of knowledge about the eruption.
Meanwhile, miles away down-slope, molten lava continues to pour into the sea in a dramatic show of steamy fireworks. Visitors can watch it all at a viewing area that requires only a short stroll.
How long will the eruption last? No one knows but back up near the summit, at the park visitors’ center, rangers can tell explorers all about trails, campgrounds, guided hikes and Hawaiian cultural activities. Respected tour companies also offer interpretative drives and hikes through the park.
And down the road, visitors can explore the Kazumura lava tube system—the deepest, longest, tallest known lava tube system on Earth, on a guided trek.
For more information on Hawai‘i’s Big Island, visit http://www.bigisland.org/
Photo courtesy of HTJ,