Thursday, July 29, 2010

Exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

IMG_4963 [800x600]

Before going on our trip to Big Island, the boys and I read several books on volcanoes in general, and Hawaii specifically. It was a great learning opportunity, since Rylan was excited about going to see the real thing, and I wanted to make sure that our time there was a real learning experience for him, and he could appreciate and understand what he was seeing. At the end of the post I have shared our reading selection.

IMG_4690 [800x600] {current active volcano in the foreground as we hiked}

During our week on Big Island, we spent two days in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. On our first day we did the popular Kilauea Iki hike, a 4 mile hike which starts with a steep descent through a fern filled rain forest, then crosses a lava-paved crater floor, then back up through a rain forest again.

IMG_4983 [800x600]{volcano crater that we hiked across}

This hike was quite amazing. To go from lush green to a solid black volcanic surface that covered a huge expanse of land. You cross large fissures in the lava rock, and go through an area filled with steam vents (where I stopped to get a natural steam facial, of course ;) ).

IMG_4680 [800x600] IMG_4727 [800x600] {climbing down onto the crater floor}IMG_4791 [800x600]IMG_4776 [800x600] {Damian exploring the rock}IMG_4798 [800x600]{Rylan reading to us at each fact marker on the trail} IMG_4756 [800x600] {stopping to study lava rock formations}

During our time in the park we also went through the famous Thurston lava tube, drove down the Chain of Craters road, a large section of which has been destroyed by lava flow, and visited the Jagger museum.

IMG_4973 [800x600] {Thurston lava tube}IMG_5006 [800x600] {trail of new lava flow over the old}IMG_5035 [800x600] {watching the seismic activity, the really blue one is the currently active crater}

In the evening we went down to the area being manned by civil defense (because it is outside of the boundary of the National Park) to see the current surface lava flow.

IMG_4873 [800x600] {the doomed town, already largely destroyed by flowing lava}IMG_4898 [800x600] {interesting lava formations}IMG_4921 [800x600]

We walked a mile to the look out area, by which time it was dark and we could see the red, hot glow of the lava as it flowed down towards the ocean (unfortunately, I have no good photos of our lava watching to share, because all I have is a point and shoot camera, and did not think to bring a tripod. In the dark night sky, my camera picked up nothing but blurred images :( ). As the lava flowed past trees and bushes, they would burn, the flames flaring into the dark sky. There was also one poor home (fully vacated already) that was surrounded by lava with its fate uncertain. Some homes in the area have survived, the lava somehow flowed around them, mercifully. It is an odd sight seeing literally miles of black lava rock with the odd home still standing amongst it. Some of the residents still manage to have a sense of humor despite the obvious slump in their property values! :)

IMG_4904 [800x600]{2 lots, oceanview}

That day my Rylan walked 6 miles, on his own two feet over some rough terrain, without complaint. I have to say we were pretty proud of him after that and the park was an experience we will never forget!


  1. Thanks for sharing this post. My husband and I spent two weeks on the Big Island in 2006. We really would love to take our 20 month old, Ella, but are not certain about the long flight. We would really like to take her to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but think maybe we should wait a bit. I guess we still need to weigh it out.

    We also used the "Blue Book" The Big Island Revealed. The information was invaluable. It was amazing how accurate they were on even the smallest of details. We also used their book in 2007 on Maui and loved that version too.

    Ella's favorite book right now is Popoki's Incredible Adventure at the Volcano by Diana C Gleasner. It is a bit long to read to her, but she loves looking at the illustrations and I edit the reading a bit.

    Thanks again for sharing your adventure!

  2. The Big Island is a great experience for kids, both in terms of fun and in terms of learning. I would say you can safely wait a bit longer, until she is older. I mean she will have a lot of fun now, Damian certainly did, but I know Rylan got a lot more out of it and will remembered it clearly.

    Although, that being said, I have never been one for waiting until my kids get older to share the world with them, I believe even if they do not remember the specifics of an experience, it helps to shape who they become. So, either way is good, whatever you feel is best for your family. :) Whenever you do it, you will all have fun!

    I have a few more posts to share about our trip, but I am trying to work through the 1500 pictures and video clips I took during our week there! Oh my! :)

  3. Hi Kami! Thanks for the response! I appreciate it. Sorry that I have been behind on the blog world lately. I have been busy with summer, family, adn my side business. Now I am trying to prepare to start some fall lessons with Ella at home. Love your recent posts and saw that your blog is on FB too!. I added it to my "likes". So, I will be able to keep up a bit more. Take care, Kerri



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