Mar 25, 2013

National Parks- Hawaii Volcanoes, Temple of Goddess Pele


hawaii big island volcano national park fiery fountain
Lava fountain from Kalapana viewing area

For many Hawaii means tropical beaches but for me it is synonymous with volcanoes!! I saw, smelled, photographed and walked on a live volcano for the first time in my life! One of the forms of nature's fury- a volcano, practically reminds us- the great humans, that there are some things not under our control. This beautiful eruption leaves behind a vast devastated area which is black and barren, like another face of the Earth. Today Hawaiian Islands exist because of this ever-going underground process of volcanism. When I saw the sight of that fiery fountain of molten lava I felt I was blessed! I had the moment that day!

hawaii big island volcano national park kilauea summit crater
Halema'uma'u Crater inside Kilauea Caldera

I had heard 'volcanoes create nature's monuments' and I agree to it hundred percent. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one place where people can have the awe inspiring experience of viewing a volcano and also learn about the unique ecosystem of these remote Hawaiian Islands. It is the home of two important volcanoes- Kilauea- one of the most active volcanoes in the world and Mouna Loa- the most massive volcano (13,677ft) in the world. Both are shield volcanoes. The park is designated as International Biosphere Reserve and also declared as World Heritage Site. The national park visitor center provides much of the useful information and it is best to talk to a ranger officer for precautionary information.

hawaii big island volcano national park flowers

Constantly erupting Halema'uma'u crater inside the Kilauea Caldera is the summit crater and is the star of the park. Hawaiians consider Kilauea caldera as home of Volcano Goddess Pele and hence very sacred. The park is unique in a way that it encompasses diverse environments. There is hot and humid coast, where the eastern winds bring heavy rainfall, dry barren due to the volcanism and lava flow, and the snow capped Mauna Lova. The rain forest surrounding this caldera is home for unique flowers and ferns. I drove from Hilo in the pouring rain, at places the road was flooded and the lanes were invisible. I drove on the Chain of Craters Road to see the miles and miles of devastated land. I had an aerial view of Mauna Loa with snow on the summit while flying from Maui. During my two visits to Hawaii I did hike few of the trails and brought back unforgettable experiences. Isn't it fascinating to know there is boiling lava flowing just few meters below your shoe-sloes.

hawaii big island volcano national park Kilauea iki
Well, hiking on Halema'uma'u trail is closed most of the times. But, hiking Kilauea Iki, a sister crater just beside Kilauea caldera, is open for visitors. It also has outgassing steam vents and bubbled earth all around. Sulphur dioxide emissions are present all over the park and hence we need to be careful not to get exposed too much. There were very few who walked inside the crater and inspected the scary gas vents. All others including my friend walked along the rim, they thought there might be a sudden eruption in the crater. The heavy rain, dark clouds and then the sulphur dioxide emission gave very thin chance for any photography. Whatever I managed is here.

I was thrilled to be walking inside the crater, going near the steam vents made my shoes feel hot- not that bad. I kept in mind that teasing nature is not that good idea. Once I came out of the crater I was surrounded by the thick forest again.

I saw many dull and short trees with bright red blossoms. I wondered what a contrast! Then learned about a legend of beautiful Lehua flowers on Ohia tree. The legend is ... There was a young handsome man called Ohia who was in love with a girl Lehua. One day Goddess of Volcano- Pele saw him and requested him to be her sweetheart. Ohia honestly told her about his love for Lehua. Angered with this Goddess turned him into an ugly tree. Lehua pleaded Goddess to have mercy and turn him back into human again. But, Goddess did not. Then other gods and goddesses felt mercy on Lehua and they turned her into a red blossom on Ohia tree to reunite them. And locals believe that- if anyone separates these lovers by plucking the flowers the lovers weep and their tears turn into rain. I think many pluck these flowers and hence it rains all the time! :) Ohia Lehua is the official Big Island flower.

hawaii big island volcano national park ferns

Well, I saw plenty of Kahili Ginger. In the picture is not actually the flower but the fleshy fruit pod which opens up to shed the seeds. Native of Himalayas, kahili is an invasive weed in Hawaii :) It was introduced as an ornamental plant but it escaped the fence very fast. Birds love these colored fruits and in the process they disperse the seeds. There were ferns and a lot of ferns- huge ones, small ones and so many varieties. There were berries of many colors which I really could not identify. The birds were chirping all the time when the rain subdued. I saw few colorful pheasants running behind the bushes.

Nahuku or Thurston Lava Tube is an easily accessible 500-year old lava tube through which visitors could walk. An easy walk through the massive chamber with lights and crowd! It is worth a visit to Jagger Museum for info on Hawaiian Islands, volcanoes etc. I was waiting for it to get dark. The best part is when it gets dark! One can witness the fiery fountain of erupting lava! I went driving to Kalapana viewing area which is actually outside the national park. After walking on the uneven surface of hardened lava in the dark it was a beautiful sight of lava erupting and flowing into the ocean creating huge cloud of steam. It was a sight to behold! It was cold in December, tough shoes and a flashlight are must in this area. 

My Hawaii Volcanoes experience was unforgettable! Well, other than the national park there are many state parks and state historic sites in the island. I couldn't visit all of them but did visit a few. Look for a separate post on other attractions in Hawaiian Big Island soon!
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Leave a comment to share your thoughts :)

You may also like-
Attractions in Big Island, Hawaii
Attractions in Maui, Hawaii
National Parks of USA

This post is liked to Our World Tuesday and Nature Notes.

If you want pictures please ask me :)
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Scrapbook- A Travel Blog by Kusum Sanu is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

43 comments:

  1. Excellent pictures! The lava tubes freak me out but they are very interesting.

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  2. Wow..Awesome experiences Kusum. Nice read!

    http://rajniranjandas.blogspot.in

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  3. Absolutely fascinating and so envy you, Kusum :)

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  4. I really want to see this part of Hawaii! It is the part that appeals to us!! Thanks for showing these wonderful pix.

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  5. Fascinating post!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

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  6. Your photos are amazing and such an informative post.

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  7. your photos make me want to visit Hawaii right away. thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you! And right away plan a trip :)

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  8. Cool photos from Hawaii. The lava tube is neat, I would not want to be there when the volcano goes off. Thanks for sharing, have a happy week!

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    1. Thanks Eileen! Yes, I prey no one is trapped inside the tube that time!

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  9. What an exciting adventure. Great pics!

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  10. Wow -- what amazing shots. Love the drama in the first shot.

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    1. Thank you Lady Fi. Yep, that one is my favorite too!

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  11. What an amazing place to visit and get to take photographs of. The first shot is truly exceptional

    Mollyxxx

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    1. Thank you Molly! Hawaii is amazing indeeed!

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  12. Lovely post to take me away from my cares for a bit.. Thank you for linking in and for all the support Kusum.... Michelle

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    1. I have the strong hope that you will be back very soon than we all expect to share and enjoy our part of natural world.

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  13. This place is very high on my "must visit" list - really want to see a real volcano. Great pictures

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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    1. It should be on the top of the list! Thanks!

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  14. Lovely photos and great information. Hawaii has much of the great scenery I find here in New Zealand. It's so exciting to explore when you have never seen anything like it before in your life!

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    1. Thanks Betty! Yes, it is very exciting to see something very new. Rain forests aren't new to me but volcanoes- Yes! Lovely experience!

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  15. Hawaii and its volcanoes are on my bucket list.

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  16. Wow!Love the scary looking lava fountain.

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    1. Thanks Thomas! It is definitely scary but isn't it beautiful too?!

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  17. Great pictures, as always. They take me back to my day at the Volcanoes National park. When we were thinking of a Hawaii holiday, we decided on Big Island mainly to visit volcano country. Walking through Thurston Lava Tube is a one-of-a-kind of an experience, right? :)

    So cool that you got to see that amazing sight at Kalapana. When we were visiting, we were told that there wasn't much happening and that there was no point in going there. So we just did the Crater Rim Drive and Chain of Craters Road. :(. But it was great. So fascinating!! And then we went to the Black Sand Beach before we left the area.

    Once again -- fab pictures, Kusum. Have a great week. :)

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    1. Thanks Divya. If you like Lava Tubes then try the Subway Cave near Lassen NP in North Cal. I found it much scarier with lesser crowd entering it!

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  18. Like some of the others above, your great account of your visit, and your superb photography have made this a place which is now on my Bucket List too! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thanks Richard for your kind words! Hawaii is amazing place to visit.

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  19. your photos are so beautiful....really enjoy your blog with all the travel photos. ..the lava tube is a really great shot... thanks so much for the comment on my blog. cheers.

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  20. Amazing shots! I wanted to visit Hawaii but couldn't make it during my time in USA. Always wanted to go there for the beach. hopefully soon for the volcanoes...
    The volcano looks so good. Did you trek up close?

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  21. Thank you Sneo. Next time don't miss it its amazing! Hiked up as close as was allowed :)

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  22. I especially loved the legend about the young man who was asked to be Peli's sweetheart. What a beautiful love story. It is something I would love to draw. Hmmmm...I believe I'm inspired.

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