The Volcanoes of Hawaii

volcanoeHawaii is one of the most visited tourism destinations in the world. In addition to its sunny and ever-smiling people, magnificent beaches, historical attractions, and cultural offering, it also provides visitors a unique feature: volcanoes. Hawaii is home to five volcanoes – Kohala, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea.


Kohala is an extinct volcano and is the oldest of the five volcanoes that form Hawaii. It surfaced from the sea more than half a million years ago. The height of the volcano’s summit has reduced over the centuries by more than a kilometer. It also has continued to sink as lava flows from Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, Kohala’s larger neighbors, have buried its southern part.

Mauna Kea

Mauna Kea, is Hawaiian for "White Mountain." It is the tallest of the five volcanoes and as a matter of fact taller than Mt. Everest if it is measured from the ocean floor to its summit. It was named Mauna Kea because of the snow that sometimes envelop the summit.

Mauna Kea’s summit houses a number of observatories. Numerous travel companies offer Hawaii visitors evening trips to its to view the marvelous sunset as well as the stars. The volcano last erupted some 4,500 years ago and is now considered as a dormant volcano.


Found on the western region of Hawaii, Hualalai is the third most active and third youngest volcano on the island. One of its most catastrophic eruptions was recorded in the 1700’s, with its six different vents spewing lava. Lava from its two vents reached the sea. Today, the Kona International Airport sits atop one of these two flows. It is expected that Hualalai will erupt again within the next century.

Mauna Loa

Mauna Loa is an active volcano and the second youngest volcano in Hawaii. It extends to the east near Hilo, northwest near Waikoloa, and to the entire southwest section of the island. It is a very dangerous volcano, with eruptions in different directions. The volcano is so active that it has erupted once or more in every ten years of the recorded history of Hawaii. Since 1949, however, it has slowed its pace.


Kilauea was once considered as part of the larger Mauna Loa, but scientists have recently concluded that it is a separate volcano that has a magma-plumbing system of its own. Found on the southeastern part of Hawaii, Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It has been erupting since January 1983. During this eruption, more than 500 acres have been added to Hawaii’s shoreline. It is expected that the eruptions will continue for a long time.


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