Minnesota Farmer

From Kona to Kilauea

I would bet that most folks that go to Kilauea Caldera to see what’s up in the Haema’uma’u Crater come from Hilo on the east side of the big island of Hawaii.  But we didn’t.  We were staying on the west side and had to drive better than 3 times as far.  The drive was worth it.

We had a mission that day to get to Kilauea and back and all of the sights of the Kona Coast were bypassed in the drive.  We did see acres of Coffee and Macadamia nut farms, twisty roads and a much greener Hawaii than we had in the South Kohala area.

As we approached Kilauea there was evidence in the air of volcanic activity as the volcanic fog (Vog) hung over the road for a time.  Kilauea has been sending out a plume of vapor for some time now.  The sulfur in the air could be tasted for a while.  Once we got upwind the air cleared.

Hawaii Volcanos National Park

After a stop at the Hawaii Volcanos National park visitors center we took a walk through the beautiful forest to an overlook to get a glimpse of the volcano in action.Kilauea

The visitors center is on the northwest rim of the caldera and a long ways from the action in the Halema’umau Crater, but the overlook gives you a good view of the size of the caldera.  Take the time to take a guided walk to the calderas edge.

Since the action in the crater is still sending hot vapor and sometimes ash over the south and west side of the caldera, you cannot take the rim drive.  You do need to make your way to the Jagger Museum for a closer look at Kilauea.

Halema'uma'u smoke signals

But even in the face of all that desolation, it was amazing to see trees and plants growing right to the rim of, and sometimes even in, the caldera itself.

This ohia lehua was growing right on the edge of Kilauea’s caldera.

We did not take the time to drive down the Chain of Craters road.  We had seen enough lava flows in Kohala.  We did take a drive over to see the Lava Tube.

Lava tube entrance

The lava tube is in an old flow with lush tropical growth all around.  The parking is very limited, and there is nothing else to see and only a short hike to see it in.  You can spend more time finding a parking spot than in hiking the tube trail.

looking back

the tube walls

It was interesting to see plants struggling for existence  near the lights on the tubes walls.

The rich earth outside of the tube had a large variety of plant growth which I found as interesting as the tube.

I’m planning on going back to see Kilauea and come in from the Hilo side so I have more time to explore. The volcano is of the “safe” kind, and gets a lot of visitors.  Perhaps I’ll see you there some time.



3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I think we should start planning our next trip there. And I expect to be with you the next time you go. 🙂

Comment by Emily

I volunteer to tag along too 🙂 You need to see Hilo side and moe of the local, hole-in-a-wall kine foods too!

Comment by Tom Graham

If Em says it’s OK, I think it would be great.

Comment by Michael

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