In honour of the hold that volconoes have over us here in the UK at the moment, I thought it about time to remind ourselves that not all volcanoes are murky, ash-spewing juggernauts of business destruction and commuter-chaos. OK, they possibly are when erupting, but some are quite beautiful and are worthy of the trip of a lifetime.
On Hawaii’s Big Island, the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987 due to the amazing biodiversity in its 330,000 acres. The park is home to many volcanoes, mostly dormant.
While the Maunaloa volcano is the planet’s largest, it’s the Kilauea Volcano that has been active for many recent years. Lava flows, tubes, ash and minor rumblings are all too common here, as the whole state of Hawaii was created by volcanic instability.
In such a gorgeous place as this, it doesn’t bear thinking about the destruction that could happen if the Goddess Pele ever does cause a major eruption.
Dangerous it may be, but it’s also a major cash cow for tourism:
Meanwhile, 25 miles down on the coast, is the Kalapana lava viewing area where visitors can often see molten lava burst into the sea, sending up sprays of fiery lava and huge billowy clouds of steam.
This is a great vantage point from which to witness the mesmerizing movement of lava as it makes its way down-slope from Kilauea volcano to the sea. Here, depending upon conditions, visitors can often see distant up-slope outbreaks of molten lava that stretch for miles in glowing rivulets until they end in dramatic explosions as 1,200-degree liquid rock meets the ocean.
Daily monitoring and public updates ensure there is no safety risk to locals or tourists – another example perhaps that it’s just the UK that grinds to a halt when Mother Nature throws a curve ball?
As a destination to view spectacular eruptions, I know I’d rather try my lucky in turquoise Hawaii, then freeze in Iceland waiting to see the natural phenomenon of a lifetime!