Tag Archives: volcanoes

Best laid plans, volcano edition

The news that Mauna Loa was erupting when we already had plans to be on Hawaii kicked my planning instinct into high gear. Kīlauea has been erupting since September 2021 (it stopped in 2018, and started up again), so we hoped to see Kīlauea and a distant glow from Mauna Loa if we drove from Kona over to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and stayed overnight.

I booked an AirBnB in Volcano (the town) for Saturday night so we could drive over on Saturday, bask in the glow Saturday night, and come home on Sunday.

We scoped out the overlook on the Crater Rim Trail so we’d know where we were going to go after dark, planning a viewpoint that would include both Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Halema’uma’u (the crater inside Kīlauea) was smoking that afternoon

and looked beautiful at sunset from Volcano House. (Although suspiciously less steamy?)

I spoke with a park ranger, and she pointed out Mauna Loa’s steam in the distance, but said that things had quieted down quite a bit. (Steam from Kīlauea’s Wahinekapu steam vents in left foreground.)

We went down Crater Rim Trail to the overlook after dinner, and this is what we saw. Yep, nothing. No lava glow from either Kīlauea or Mauna Loa. Too dark to see steam (the moon wasn’t up yet). I guess Madame Pele (Pelehonuamea, the volcano goddess) has her own timetable, which didn’t coincide with ours! But I have to say that the sky was stunning, with more stars than I’ve ever seen at once.

We rose before dawn to see the sunrise (in the rain) over Halema’uma’u from the Kīlauea Overlook. (We picked a different overlook, because there was no need to try to get Mauna Loa in the same view.)

No lava glow, but it was beautiful anyway. It looks like both Kīlauea and Mauna Loa are now taking a break. I think Pele is laughing at us! (If you’d like to see more glow from a previous visit in 2015, see this post.)

Of course I took a picture of my knitting with the volcano. I didn’t actually knit…it was rainy, windy, and cold. This is the little sample I’d be using the next day to review increases and decreases for the Brioche Buddies cast on party.

The nice thing about getting up before dawn is that there was nobody on the Chain of Craters Road, and we were the only people looking at the Hōlei Sea Arch before 8 a.m.

The arch in 2013 and 2022. It’s 90 feet tall, and was formed 550 years ago. You can see by the angle that they’ve moved the viewing overlook; heavy surf in July made the cliff less stable. The heavy surf also took some chunks out of the arch leg; at some point it will fall into the sea.

It was a beautiful, quiet, windy morning.

I’m glad we took this road trip, even if we didn’t get to see hot lava!

Sometimes you just have to chill out and go with the flow…

A little more aloha

Besides the moonsets, what else captivated us in Hawaii? More nature! More science!

We visited Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The island of Hawaii is made up of five volcanoes, and you never forget that you’re on them. Halema’uma’u Crater in the center of Kilauea Caldera continues to smoke.

Halema'uma'u Crater

And the edge of caldera continues to steam. The heat under the ground makes the rainwater in the cracks steam.

Caldera steam

We had a pretty ambitious day planned, and got to do most of it. We took a short (2.5 mile) hike that took us around the edge of the caldera, and down to the caldera floor.

Kilauea Caldera


Cairns mark the trail. I love how little plants have sprouted in the cracks on the floor, tiny attempts at new life. There’s actually a trail that crosses the caldera, but it’s been closed for years because it’s not safe.

We took a stroll through the Thurston Lava Tube. It was actually underwhelming, but out of the oncoming rain! No pic; it was over almost before it began.

We drove to the end of the Chain of Craters Road. Why is it the end? Lava overran the road in 2003. So cool that nature has her way.

lava road
Looking west back towards the usable road…

road closed
Looking east. Road closed, indeed.

Hōlei Sea Arch is here, too. You’re 90 feet above the water; don’t lean too far out over the edge to see it!

Holei sea arch

I’m not sure why there’s a lone stand of palm trees near here; I tried googling but didn’t come up with a definitive answer.

end of road palms

I wanted to visit the petroglyphs at Pu’u Loa, but it was near dark when we left the end of the road. And it gets really dark. No lights on the road, and it was raining, too. My biggest regret? I forgot that I wanted to see Halema’uma’u Crater glowing in the dark! I guess I’ll have to go back, soon.

We went snorkeling at Kahalu’u Beach the next day. This is the easiest snorkel spot, ever. You can walk into the water and see fish, but they really look better if you put your mask on. Lots of honu (sea turtles) visit here, too.

honu kiss

They’ve named this fellow Rocky. Maybe he’s the same one I saw in January.


We toured a chocolate farm, Original Hawaiian Chocolate. This is the first chocolate venture to go from farm to chocolate bar in Hawaii. Single origin Hawaiian chocolate, mmmmm. Cacao pods form from tiny flowers on the wood of the trees.

green cacao


They come in different colors, but they all make chocolate. Inside the pod, the beans are covered with a white sticky substance. Geckos find it delicious.


We like the part from the inside!

chocolate vat

We also visited Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, or Place of Refuge. In olden times, if you had broken the strict kapu laws, you could be put to death…unless you made it to the pu’uhonua first. My family thought of it as “base,” and they felt a need to visit. Feeling guilty?



Last sunset…


And remember how I said that you never forget that you’re sitting on a volcano? Our last evening there we felt a disturbance, unnerving enough that I checked with the US Geological Survey’s site. A 3.2 earthquake, off the coast. Just a little rumble.


Back home, and back to knitting!