Volcanoes are quite a feat of nature. An opening of the earth’s crust which allows the warmer interior to spill onto the surface has been a fascination for geologists and mankind since their formation millions of years ago.

Did you know that without volcanoes there would be no such place as Hawaii? The eight main islands owe their existence to deep deposits of magma below the ocean’s floor which erupt creating these magnificent structures.

Destructive and beautiful at the same time, we have come to realize Hawaii volcanoes should be watched, studied, and their movements not be taken for granted.

That is for a very good reason.

Want to know more? Maybe a guided tour? We have those too.

So, take a seat and hold on to your shave ice. This might get bumpy.

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Hawaii Volcanoes

Did you know Hawaii currently has active volcanoes?

Pretty impressive considering people reside around some of the most threatening forces seen on Earth.

So, who are these beauties I speak of? Let’s look a bit closer.


Haleakala or better known as the East Maui volcano is a large Shield type (low profile, resembling a shield in appearance) volcano.

Its tallest peak is 10,023 feet and when looking down from the summit is a massive dip, some 7 miles wide. The interior of which has a smattering of volcanic cones.

Think you’re on Mars? Sure looks like it.


As Hawaii’s most active volcano, Kilauea’s home is on the south-eastern part of the big island of Hawaii. This may not be the biggest volcano but has always made its presence felt, even today. This big baby has sent eruptions since 1952 with the latest in this recent year creating a lava lake within the Halema‘uma‘u crater.

Earthquake activity has seen current activity with Kilauea spewing lava in recent times. While residents are cleared of danger, this activity still receives the monitoring needed via watch and alert attention.

This volcano is also said to be the home of Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess. More about that later.


Lōihi is an active underwater volcano living off the southeast coast of Hawaii. As the youngest in the Hawaiian chain.  Its beginnings lie approx. 19 miles of the coast on the seafloor of Kīlauea. 

Interest has always been directed to whether this structure will erupt again, and with seismic activity detected from time to time, it is a possibility.

At this time, it is also not known if this volcano will ever breach sea level.

Mauna Loa

The largest active volcano on Earth, this natural formation sits proudly at over 13,000 feet above sea level. In addition, its flanks extend into the sea with a further 16,000 feet underwater into the seafloor.

This volcano also calls the Big Island its home and covers half of the island.

Its credits include 33 eruptions since its last noteworthy uproar in 1843, with the last being in 1984 threatening the township of Hilo

This is one enormous volcano, and due to previous lively activity is monitored extremely closely.


As the third most active Hawaiian volcano Hualālai lies the westernmost of the five major volcanoes.

This volcano is the third youngest with its oldest rocks dated at around 128,000 years old.

Although Hualālai has its fair share of bare volcanic rock, several reserves are here with their ecological importance being celebrated for some time. It is home to a bird sanctuary, forests, and varied plant and animal life.

The last noted eruption was recorded in the 1800s with many feeling another would not be out of the question due to a pause in activity (estimated between 200 and 300 years) coming to an end.

The Goddess Within

The fascination for Hawaii volcanoes does not end with its threatening eruptions, nor its crowd-drawing lava flows.

There is a particular history that attaches mythology and legend around these awe-inspiring formations.

Many believe that goddess Pele governs the volcano Kilauea and controls its lava flows.

For those who believe in this cultural symbol, she is from fire and continues to be the overseer and director of eruptions.

This legend continues today and can be seen in more detail at the Volcano Art Center.

Can I See and Experience Them in Person?

If you are wanting to experience these massive natural formations yourself, make it a priority on your next visit to Hawaii.

Tours are available and the best place to start is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Take a Tour 

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park gives visitors the chance to get up close and personal with the whole reason Hawaii exists today. Want Lava? Do we have the places for you.

This visitor’s paradise is a living testament to the power of these untameable forces of mother nature.

This national park is an inviting, but dangerous place, and visitors should treat it with the respect it deserves.

Take a Hike

If you prefer to go on foot through hiking trails, there are several options. See for yourself via the Ha’akulamanu (Sulphur Banks) trails, Crater Rim Trail, or Keanakakoi crater and lava trail.

This is a chance for those who love to experience the terrain of other environments. In particular, any hikes will leave you with a sense of the enormity of these islands as a whole.

 A must-see for adventurers.

Now you’re all up on Hawaii’s volcanic landscape, we'd all agree they are a force. Millions of years have seen Hawaii volcanoes build this state but, as updates would have it, show a predisposition to continue altering the future landscape.

But there is more to see. Dormant volcanoes are a part of the Hawaiian landscape like any other natural presence of plants and wildlife that makes this great state what it is.

These natural structures are not just the home to residents and visitors, but offer historical teachings on the combinations of Earth’s enormous power, and geographic enormity. In addition, they are also the subject of past and present legends.

Formidable, yes. Humbling, most definitely.


See these majestic formations for yourself. Let us show you where to find the best in Hawaii volcanic activities and where to stay and go for the best experiences.

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