Hawaii is born out of volcanic activity. To this day, volcanoes still erupt and expand the islands’ size. Though the largest of those volcanoes have long since gone dormant, volcanic activity is still fairly high. If going to see live volcanoes is a bucket-list activity for you, then Hawaii is truly a one-of-a-kind destination.
History of Hawaii’s Volcanoes
Hawaii’s volcanoes date back more than 70 million years, when the islands first began to form on the ocean floor. This volcanic activity slowly raised the land higher and higher, as that magma cooled as it touched the water. Over the course of millions of years, Hawaii first broke the water’s surface, and today its tallest peak staggers over 13,803ft above sea level. This height makes it the second-highest island peak in the world! Not only that, but when you take in its total height (from the sea floor to the peak), it’s actually a mile taller than Mount Everest.
Hawaii’s Dormant Volcanoes
Dormant volcanoes offer all the geological wonder of a volcano without the threat of anything popping off, which is why they’re a lot more popular with tourists. One of Hawaii’s most famous dormant volcanoes is Diamond Head. This is one of the top hikes that those staying in the top Oahu resorts will trek out to visit during their stay. Oahu’s volcanoes erupted as early as four million years ago, with the most recent evidence being over 5000 years. Diamond Head is considered a monogenetic volcano, meaning it only erupted once, which gives it its classic crater. It’s also a wonderful place to view sunset or sunrise since it’s less than a 10-minute drive from Waikiki Beach and all the resorts along that strip.
There’s also Punchbowl and Koko Head if you want to continue your hiking expeditions.
Hawaii’s Active Volcanoes
Hawaii is home to six active volcanoes today, which gives tourists plenty of opportunities to view smoke, if not magma itself. These volcanoes are found in national parks and do require extra care to go see and visit.
It is important to remember that active volcanos have erupted at least once in the last 10,000 years and are likely to erupt again. Monogenetic volcanoes like Diamond Head don’t fall into this category, but these six volcanoes do:
- Haleakala – the only active volcano you can find on Maui, which erupted 400 years ago
- Kama’ehuakanaloa – an active submarine volcano (meaning underneath the water) that has erupted as recently as 1996.
- Mauna Kea – found on the Island of Hawaii, this is the largest of the active volcanoes, and last erupted between four and 6000 years ago.
- Kilauea – this is the youngest volcano and has been regularly active since 1983. Go here to see lava flow and lava lakes.
- Mauna Loa – this is another highly active volcano that last erupted back in 1983 for a staggering 22 days.
- Hualalai – this is the third most active volcano on The Big Island, though it hasn’t erupted in recent memory (the last time was around 1000 years ago).