The Halemaumau Overlook at the Jaggar Museum in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a must see whenever visiting this one-of-a-kind national park. We decided to visit the Jaggar Museum on the last night of our stay at the park. It was about 5pm, or so, when we found ourselves at the famous volcanic museum. Unfortunately for us, it was very cloudy with slight showers. The clouds were plentiful and hovering close to the crater, leaving us and every other spectator with nothing to see. So, we decided that we would head back to the Volcano House, wait a bit, and then return to the Jaggar Museum later in the evening with our fingers crossed.
The main attraction at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is Kilauea and the active craters that surround it. That said, The Holei Sea Arch is a neat little side attraction that you can visit as you explore the various lookouts on Chain of Craters Road. Near the very end of Chain of Craters Road is a formation known as the Holei Sea Arch. As far as what it is, I’ll let the scientist explain it:
With the Kilauea Iki and Devastation trails “in the bag,” so to speak, I was eager to explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park even more. Puu Huluhulu was the next trail on my list. Translated, Puu Huluhulu means “hairy hill.” To the south of Puu Huluhulu is Mauna Ulu, which is a large shield volcano that erupted from May 24, 1969 to July 24, 1974. Legend suggests that this major eruption was a show of force from Pele’s brother, Keoʻahikamakaua, the spirit of molten fountains. We would hike through the remnants of the Mauna Ulu eruption to the top of Puu Huluhulu.
Just beyond Puu Puai is the trailhead to the aptly named Devastation Trail. This particular trail allows for a peek into the destruction of the 1959 eruption of Kilauea Iki crater. Prior to the 1959 eruption, the surrounding area was a lush forest, filled with ohia. The 1959 eruption destroyed all of this.
I’ve been trying to imagine what the 1959 eruption of Kilauea Iki looked like ever since I hiked the hardened crater floor a few weeks ago. That’s how I came across the video footage below of the eruption by Fred Rackle. In the early 90’s, Rackle donated the footage to the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. When Kilauea Iki erupted in 1959, Rackle left the camera shop that he worked at in Waikiki and flew to the Big Island to film the eruption using a 2nd hand Bell & Howell Filmo 70-DL that he picked up for $30.
Kilauea Iki, meaning little Kilauea, is by no means a little hike. This hike will weave in-and-out of a lush rainforest, bring you down to the remnants of a former lava lake, and then lead you to the popular Thurston Lava Tube. Kilauea Iki was the trail that I was most eager to explore during my recent trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I was not disappointed. There are two potential starting points for this hike, either at the Thurston Lava Tube parking lot or the Kilauea Iki parking lot. The trail is a loop, and so you can choose to go either clockwise or counterclockwise. We chose to go counterclockwise by starting at the Kilauea Iki parking lot and ending with the Thurston Lava Tube as our finale.
One of the most interesting aspects of Holua Cabin is the nearby lava tube. There are two routes to the lava tube, with each route bringing you to a different entrance. We ended up choosing the route that takes you pass the pit toilets and toward an open lava rock field. The alternate route is about 100 yards east of the cabin, and then from there you will turn right and follow a faint trail, according to some write-ups. In the past, there used to be a ladder that people could use to descend into the lava tube. Now, though, there is only a sign indicating that the area has been closed and the ladder has been removed. For this reason, we decided to start at the opposite end, in order to avoid any dangerous down climbing.