HAWAII

ISSUE 2: "BLACK & WHITE" MARCH 2017 

 

The Hawaiian Island chain stretches some 1,500 miles in the Pacific Ocean and is one of the most isolated landmass on earth, separated from the mainland by 2,500 miles and two time zones. 

It is actually an archipelago consisting of over 132 islands made up of eight major islands, several atolls, smaller islets, and undersea seamounts. Out of the eight major islands only seven are inhabited; Hawaii (also called the Big Island), Oahu, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Kauai and Niihau.

Left: Haleakala Crater located on the island of Maui.

Left: Haleakala Crater located on the island of Maui.

 

 

Born from volcanic fire, each island is made up of at least one primary volcano. The Big Island, which is twice the size of all the other islands combined, is constructed of 5 major volcanoes including the newsworthy Kilauea volcano. Kilauea is presently the most active volcano in the world, erupting continually for the last 30 odd years. Its name actually means “spewing” or “much spreading” in the Hawaiian language.

 

I visited the Big Island of Hawaii back in 1990 when the towns of Kalapana and Kaimu were destroyed by the active volcano Kilauea. I started my trip staying at the Volcano House, which has been in operation since 1846 when it was nothing but a grass shack. 

The hotel is located in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, about 30 miles southwest of Hilo, and overlooks the Halemaumau Crater (below), known as the home of Pele, the volcano goddess. www.american-crush.co 79 Directly from the hotel, you can watch steam plumes rise in the air from the opening of the massive crater’s vents. It was only 50 years ago (1967) that the crater was filled with a lake of lava that has since drained away. 

 Black sand forming as lava hits the ocean from Kilaueu volcano.                                                                              PHOTO:PHILIP MAISE, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported

 Black sand forming as lava hits the ocean from Kilaueu volcano.                                                                              PHOTO:PHILIP MAISE, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported

The park is also home to Kilauea volcano. During my trip I had the chance to witness one of the most spectacular process of creation and destruction - seeing the active Kilauea volcano in action- from lava devouring everything in it’s path, to the making of a black sand beach. This was definitely the highlight of my trip. 

It started with a helicopter ride over Kilauea’s active lava flows, which was awesome and a little nerve wracking at the same time. The awesomeness was the aerial perspective of the volcano, and witnessing from above the 2,200-degree molten lava slowly gorging out a new path. The nerve-wracking aspect was being so close-up to an active volcano, feeling the intensity of its heat, and envisioning an eruption beneath us! It provided me with another appreciation of Mother Nature. 

The flight offered further views Hilo Bay, the tropical rain forests of Puna, and traveled the volcano’s path where it overtook villages, and flowed into the ocean water, creating a new black sand beach. 

After witnessing this, I was determined to spend the day lounging on a black sand beach. There are a few to choose from, but one of the most famous is Punaluu Black Sand Beach, located between Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the small town of Naalehu.

PHOTO: PEDRO SZEKELY, Los Angeles, USA https://commons. wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Black_Sand_Beach,_Maui_(6122971640). jpg#filelinks. Share Alike 2.0 Generic   

PHOTO: PEDRO SZEKELY, Los Angeles, USA https://commons. wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Black_Sand_Beach,_Maui_(6122971640). jpg#filelinks. Share Alike 2.0 Generic 

 

Punaluu_Black_Sand_Beach,_Hawaii,_USA6.jpg

 

When a volcano’s lava flows into the ocean, or has contact with water, the cooling effect causes the lava to shatter into fragmented pieces of basalt. A large enough amount of lava flowing into the ocean can produce enough basalt to create a black sand beach overnight. Most black sand beaches are short lived due to storms surges and natural currents, which pull the black sand into deeper water. If you do visit one you, don’t be surprised at the intensity of the heat. Black sand absorbs a much greater amount of solar heat than a white sand beach. It can also be pretty rocky, not the fine sand of traditional beaches. But nonetheless, it is a beautiful sight. ¶

PHOTO: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

PHOTO: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

 

 

THE VOLCANO HOUSE

Located inside the Hawaii Volcanos National Park overlooking the the Halemaumau Crater on the Big Island. They offer 33 rooms and an assortment of cabins and campsites, along with a full service restaurant.

CATHERINE BIERI