Hawaii’s history began with volcanoes. The islands themselves were formed from the eruptions over millions of years. The Hawaiian volcanoes were produced by the Hawaiian hot spot, which is presently under the Big Island of Hawaii. Each island itself is formed from at least one primary volcano, however, some were formed from more than one. The Big Island, for example, is made of 5 major volcanoes: Kilauea, Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, and Kohala. Did you know that Mauna Loa is the most active volcano on earth!?
Hawaii’s main volcanoes are shield volcanoes. They have gently sloping sides that differ from the tall conical shape most people imagine when they think of volcanoes. The islands are home to three active volcanoes. On Hawaii Island, you’ll find Maunaloa and Kilauea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Maunaloa had its last eruption in 1984 and Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983. Loihi is located underwater off the southern coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. Erupting since 1996, this emerging seamount may break the surface in about 250,000 years, adding a ninth island to the Hawaiian chain.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is one of the most popular tourist destinations on the islands. You can hike beautiful rocky trails or breathtaking lava fields. Other notable craters to hike and explore include Haleakala on Maui as well as Leahi (Diamond Head) and the National Memorial of the Pacific at Punchbowl on Oahu.
Diamond Head is one of the most iconic silhouettes of Honolulu’s skyline and can be hiked daily, even holidays! Known as Leahi (brow of the tuna) in Hawaiian, the crater was named Diamond Head by 19th-century British sailors who thought they discovered diamonds on the crater’s slopes. These so-called “diamonds” were actually shiny calcite crystals that had no value.
Much like how North Shore Shark Adventure shark tours can be a life-changing experience, so can viewing the volcanic landscape of the islands.