No trip to Kona would be complete without a sacred visit to the volcanoes, home of the all-powerful goddess of fire, Pelehonuamea (Pele, for short). Her mana (spiritual power) is omnipresent throughout the entire island—she’s in the flowers and trees (through ancient folklore), hula dancers tell her stories with the graceful sway of their hands and feet, and lava spilling into the ocean adds to her kingdom. Witness Pele’s influence firsthand during the Twilight Volcano Adventure, a fascinating 12-hour journey through some of the most rare ecosystems in the world. The tour encompasses over 30,000 feet of elevation changes and 300+ miles by car, so it’s one of the best ways to see all of the different parts of the island. Visit hawaii-forest.com to book ($179 plus tax for adults).
First, you’ll take in the sites along Saddle Road—passing from desert to forest and back again—before arriving at Hawai`i Volcanoes Natural Park (HAVO), one of only three UNESCO World Heritage sites in the U.S. Here, Mauna Loa is pictured in the distance. At 9,300 meters above the ocean floor, it’s the tallest volcano in the world, higher than even Mount Everest. This shield volcano (classified because of its gently-sloping sides, resembling a warrior’s shield overturned) has erupted more than 18 times in the past 100 years—it can erupt again at any time.
Photo Credit: Stefania Sainato
Supporting image courtesy of Jeff Berkes