Did you know that, the biggest island in the United States is one big volcanic rock? Serious investigation into the origin of the eight Hawaiian Islands began back in 1934, and we now know that volcanoes deserve the credit for the formation of this tropical paradise.
There are many exciting ways to get up close and personal with both active, flowing and dormant volcanoes during your port stops on a Norwegian Cruise to Hawaiian. In fact, Hawaii’s Big Island boasts four active sites: Mauna Loa, Kilauea, Hualalai, and the youngest volcano in the chain, Loihi, an active undersea “submarine” volcano.
As one of the most active volcanoes in the world, the Kilauea Volcano has been erupting every day, non-stop, since 1983. When you’re on the Big Island, exploring this breathtaking work of creation and destruction is a must. The best way to discover the Kilauea volcano is by visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park found 30 miles southwest of Hilo. Mauna Loa, the largest volcano on our planet, which last erupted in 1984 is also found here.
The Park contains 333,000 acres from the summit of Mauna Loa to the sea filled with such amazing biodiversity that it was named a World Biosphere site by UNESCO in 1980 and a World Heritage site in 1987. Head to Jaggar Museum Overlook for your first panoramic view of the Kilauea Caldera.
Hike the Park — With over 150 miles of easy-to-follow, well-maintained trails that range in difficulty from stroller- and wheelchair-accessible to “suitable only for those who are in top physical condition,” exploring the park on foot is a fantastic way to experience the diversity.
Bike the Park — If you’d rather move at a faster pace on a state-of-the-art mountain bike, book a full-day guided bicycle tour of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and explore it from summit to sea. Travel paved roads as well as off-road trails along the rim of the caldera to the steam vents, and feel the volcano’s heat.
Watch from a boat – Witnessing Kilauea’s red-hot lava boiling and sizzling into the Pacific Ocean is an unforgettable sight. Many small charter companies are passionate about sharing their home with visitors and eager to educate.
Hop over to Haleakala on the island of Maui
If your budget permits, spring for a helicopter tour that flies you over the Haleakala Crater on Maui, the world’s largest dormant volcano. There is no shortage of experienced tour operators happy to book you into a prearranged itinerary or let you create your own bucket list copter tour.
Drive up to Haleakala National Park and Volcanic Crater at sunrise for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Rising 10,023 feet above sea level, the summit provides some of the best views in all of Hawaii. Stay for a few hours, and hike the many trails. It’s a great way to observe the largest number of endangered species found in one location within the entire National Park System.
Bike Haleakala – Take a van ride up to the summit for sunrise, jump on a mountain bike, and enjoy a self-guided bike ride down the 23-mile mountain. There are plenty of biking options to fit your schedule and abilities.
Snorkel Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on Oahu
Although no longer an active volcano, Hanauma Bay is a beautiful crater filled with shallow water and teeming with coral and an amazing abundance of sea life. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is “not a ‘beach park’ for beach sport, but a Nature Preserve dedicated to safeguarding the fragile marine life in the Bay .
The number of daily visitors allowed into the Bay is limited, so arrive early. You’ll be welcomed with a 10-minute required video that showcases the unique living reef environments you can explore, and then hit the beach to rent your mask and fins. Snorkel around the bay for hours, relax on the clean beach, and give thanks for another perfect day in Hawaii’s tropical paradise.