The Hawaiian islands are, if you didn’t know already, volcanoes. Huge ones which started forming at the bottom of the sea many thousand years ago (if not longer). Most are inactive today and have been for a long time, especially on the most northern islands like Oahu where you can see the mountains are very different from, say, the Big Island, as the mountains on Oahu has eroded over a long time since the island was formed, while Big Island still has volcanic activity and is a lot more flat. On Big Island there is still an active volcano, Kilauea, which actually is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. Fortunately that doesn’t mean it has huge eruptions that brings death and destruction to the island, but it does have smaller eruptions regularly, and it’s possible to see the light from the lava in the distance at night. As the area close by is closed, so you have to watch from a distance. Which I’m quite ok with, I have no great wish of going all close and personal with molten rock.
I did however experience the wonderful smell of sulfur and various other volcanic gases, as there is a trail you can walk through some sulfur fields. Which is a completely natural thing to want to do. Who doesn’t want to go through an area of foul-smelling gases which could potentially make you feel ill if you inhale too much of it? It was cool though, to see how the gases had crystallized and the rifts were covered in these yellowish crystals.
The crater for the original volcano is HUGE…it’s not very high up anymore, like the other volcanoes on the island (4000+ meters/14000+ feet high), as the top collapsed when the amount of lava decreased, but the crater is still seriously huge. In the middle there’s a “small” one where there is continuous smoke and gases coming up, which is the still active part of the volcano. The size of it is incredible though, trying to comprehend just how large this volcano was before it collapsed is difficult, it’s simply enormous. Standing on the edge of the larger crater, I couldn’t see the other side, partly because of smoke from the smaller crater in the centre, but also because the opposite edge of the large crater was so far away I probably wouldn’t have seen much of it even if there weren’t any smoke and fog in the way.
In another area of the Hawaii national volcanoes park, where Kilauea is, there are also some old lava tunnels, which you can walk through as the lava is long gone. We went there, but I got really claustrophobic even if I could still see the entrance and it was a rather large tunnel. But just the thought of having so much stone and earth over me freaked me out and I ended up going back to the car instead. I wish I’d pushed through anyway, as I don’t like being cowardly, but hey, I tried.
Have you ever been near or on a volcano?