Kilauea is an active volano, with high amounts of dangerous sulfer dioxide at the volcano’s summit. We drove and walked by many steam vents and gazed into the top of the steaming crater from an observation platform. The area where the lava was flowing was on the other side og the Big Island, so we did not get close to the flow, but did see from a distance the huge clouds of steam as the lava poured into the ocean.
We took a hike on Devastation Trail that is a desolate area covered with lava gravel and dead trees. One standing tree had a chunk of lava wedged up between two branches which is where it landed and then cooled after being spewed from the volcano. Another trail through a tropical forrest took us to Nahuku, also know as the Thurston Lava Tube. As we walked through the tube it was fascinating to know that several hundred years ago a river of red lava rushed through. And that lava currently travels from Pu’u O’o to the ocean in a labyrinth of lava tubes much like the tube we walked through. Jim had to watch his head in the tube – there are some spots with a low ceiling. A tropical rainforest awaited us at the end of Nahuku, with giant leaves, giant ferns and giant flowers.
We drove down the Chain of Craters Road. The landscape is very unique, almost moonlike with miles of craggy lava followed by miles of smooth, ropey lava. A boardwalk hike took us to the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs, thousands of rock carvings representing all phases of ancient Hawaiian life.