I had all these expectations before visiting Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. How big the crater would be, what the air would smell like, what types of vegetation would surround the volcano. Once I finally made it there, I realized I was completely off.
Peering over the edge into Halema’uma’u Crater, I was rendered mute by an overwhelming wave of awe. Steam rising from the vents, a sulphuric rotten-eggs odor seeping into the air, native Hawaiians offering gifts to honor Pele, the goddess of the volcano. Everywhere I looked there was something even more exquisite than the last. Looking down all you see is desolate beauty – a giant crater filled with a lake of lava that eventually drained away. Further into the distance within a gaping hole rests Kilauea, one of the most active volcano in the world. Experiencing the sheer power of a volcano and what it was capable of doing to its surrounding was incredible.
Expect to devote an entire day exploring Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, or at least consider it will take that long to get there, explore and drive back. Plan your visit right, or return once it gets dark to see the luminous glow of the lava resting inside Kilauea. Also, bring warm clothes. It gets incredibly windy and cold after the sun dips below the mountains. Luckily I came prepared with a jacket.
Before we trekked our way to the volcano that morning, we made a pit stop at one of the black sand beaches on the island, Punalu’u Beach. Here we found a broken down bus of antsy tourists and a few friendly sea turtles. Definitely a day for the books!