Skip navigation

Tag Archives: lava trees

by Donald B. MacGowan

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The muted jungle light illuminates the lava trees at Lava Tree State Monument, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

There are many wondrous, enigmatic and fascinating attractions on the Big Island of Hawaii, some better known than others, many out of the way and generally off the beaten track.  Tour Guide Hawaii has produced an encyclopedic collection of the most up-to-date information, presented as short GPS-cued videos, in an app downloadable to iPhone and iPod Touch that covers the entire Big Island, highlighting the popular and the uncrowded, the famous and the secluded, the adventurous and the relaxing.

Lava Trees State Monument

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The stately lava trees of Lava Tree State Monument, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Under a fascinating, beautiful, lacy canopy of monkeypod trees, lava casts of ohi’a trees stand as monuments to a fast-moving pahoehoe lava flow that passed through here in 1790.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

The jungle tree canopy filters and shades an eerie light at Lava Trees State Monument, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Contained within the Nanawale Forest Reserve, south of Pahoa and just off Highway 132 between mile markers 2 and 3, Lava Trees State Monument is open free, daily from dawn to dusk. Hiking in the park is relaxing and interesting, showcasing the native Hawaiian plants and trees, the forest birds as well as the fascinating Lava Trees themselves

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Looking into a tree mold at Lava Trees State Monument: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

The lava trees formed when the liquid lava, at about 2000° F, came in contact with the cool, wet ohi’a trees.  A quickly-cooled coating of lava congealed around the trees and buried them to a depth of as much as 11 feet.  The original trees burned away, but their hollow casts stand today, so perfectly molded inside that imprints of the tree bark remain. The rest of the flow passed on, perhaps draining away down the numerous cracks in this area that formed contemporaneously with the flows; one of the cracks which likely drained the lava away is still visible, just left of the restrooms.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

This rift was both the delivery tube of the lava stream and the conduit down which it drained away after forming the lava trees at Lava Trees State Monument, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Lava Trees Park offers trails to hike and a restful, bird-filled jungle to sit and listen to.  You can spend between 20 minutes to an hour wandering the trails, here, exploring and discovering.  Be careful, however, the area is riddled with hidden cracks in the ground which can make exploring hazardous.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

A 0.7 mile trail winds through Lava Trees State Monument, connecting to other jungle hiking trails through the Pahoa area, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Facilities include picnic tables and a barbecue, trails, drinking water and restrooms. You may wish to avail yourself of the restrooms at Lava Tree State Monument; no matter which direction you go after leaving the Park, they are the last public facilities for some distance.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

Looking through the forest at two lava trees and the awesome crack through which the lava drained away: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit http://www.tourguidehawaii.com/iphone.html. The best of Tour Guide Hawaii’s free content about traveling to, and exploring, the Big island, can be found here. For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and on touring the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

These standing monoliths are the casts of Ohi'a trees made by pahoehoe lava flowing through a forest in 1790; Lava Trees State Monument, Puna Hawaii: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

At Tour Guide our goal is to insure you have the most fun, most interesting and enjoyable vacation here in Hawaii–that you are provided with all the information you need to decide where to go and what to see, and that you are not burdened with out-dated or incorrect information.

For independent reviews of our product, written by some of our legions of satisfied customers, please check this out.

New at iTunes: Hawaii Dream Vacation iPhone/iPod Touch App Puts the Magic of Hawaii in the Palm of Your Hand, available at iTunes or www.tourguidehawaii.com.

This lava mold of an Ohi'a tree was made by fast-moving pahoehoe lava flow in 1790: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

By Donnie MacGowan

Here in the Department of Research and Eternal Spring Break at the Galactic Headquarters of Tour Guide Hawaii, we have been waiting for a break in the Spring Monsoon on the east side of the island so we could run around Puna, visit, film and photograph all our favorite places and then spend a (relatively) dry evening watching the pyrotechnics as Madam Pele marches into the sea at the lava ocean entry at Waikupanaha.

The Men of Tour Guide At Work: Photo by Donald MacGowan

The Men of Tour Guide At Work: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Well, as wet as Puna and Hilo are, we could have waited an eternity, so we decided to just pack everybody up and hit the highway. We tore down the west side of the island, past South Point, Punalu’u and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, making our first stop (for coffee) at Pahoa, the cultural and mercantile center of Puna.

Pahoa is the Commercial and Cultural Center of Puna: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Pahoa is the Commercial and Cultural Center of Puna: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

From Pahoa, we drove sedately down through the magnificent Tree Tunnels on Hwy 132 to Lava Trees State Monument.

The beautiful Tree Tunneled Roads of Puna: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

The beautiful Tree Tunneled Roads of Puna: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Here, a long-ago lava flow swept through a wet ohi’a tree forest. The wet, cold trees chilled the lava, which coated the trees.

Lava Trees at Lava Trees State Monument: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Lava Trees at Lava Trees State Monument: Photo by Donald MacGowan

As the lava drained away downhill and through numerous cracks in the earth, the lava coating the trees cooled, leaving these basalt towers with hollow insides…the lava trees have casts of the ohi’a, bark and all, in their middles…an amazing place!

Lava Trees Cast: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Lava Trees Cast: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

We took highway 137, named the Kapoho-Kalapana Road–I imagine this is the only road in America–perhaps the world–that is named for two towns destroyed by the same volcano.

Kapoho Kalapana Road Sign: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Kapoho Kalapana Road Sign: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Driving through the jungles and beaches of Puna we came to Ahalanui Hot Pond. This man-made pool was first constructed to retain the refreshing waters of a cold spring.

Ahalanui Hot Pond: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Ahalanui Hot Pond: Photo by Donald MacGowan

During eruptions in the early 1960s, however, the plumbing on Kilauea changed and the spring became hot…and the pool became even more refreshing. Continuing on we stopped in at Isaac Hale Beach Park, which has recently had a complete makeover and is now one of Hawaii County’s first rate facilities.

Isaac Hale County Beach Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Isaac Hale County Beach Park: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Once run down, decrepit and populated by social undesirables, it’s now a vibrant, safe and enjoyable place to have a picnic, snorkel and just enjoy exploring where jungle meets ocean.

Isaac Hale Park Hot Spring: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Isaac Hale Park Hot Spring: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Next stop was McKenzie State Park, a real rustic gem with not much going on but miles of hiking trails, a copse of beautiful ironwood trees and some amazing, huge boulders hurled 60 feet up the sea cliffs by tsunamis past.

McKenzie State Park Tsunami-Tossed Boulders: Photos by Donnie MacGowan

McKenzie State Park Tsunami-Tossed Boulders: Photos by Donnie MacGowan

Makes you think twice about camping here!

The next part of Puna we drove through along Highway 137 is undergoing intense development–once a land of rolling jungle punctuated with lava flows and crossed by red cinder roads, civilization is finally finding Puna–too bad. Of course, Madame Pele decrees that any human settlement on this part of Hawaii Island is an “at will tenancy”–at her will–and she may reclaim the land as wild lava at any time.

Modern Carved Pohaku Iki in Puna: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Modern Carved Pohaku Iki in Puna: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

We came into what’s left of Kalapana and hiked out to the new black sand beach at Kaimu. There is an amazing story of love and rebirth centered around this tiny village which I have previously told elsewhere, but it’s a moving and gorgeous spot.

Kaimu Black Sand Beach in Winter: Photo by Donald MacGowan

Kaimu Black Sand Beach in Winter: Photo by Donald MacGowan

After getting our toes wet in the ocean at Kaimu, we turned north towards the Hawaii County Lava Viewing platform near what used to be Waikupanaha. We parked and hiked in to await dusk and see the eruptions (see video here).

Littoral Explosions as Lava Enteres the Ocean Near Royal Gardens: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Littoral Explosions as Lava Enteres the Ocean Near Royal Gardens: Photo by Donald B. MacGowan

Then, with full on dark enveloping us, we packed the car, adjusted the mirrors, and sat back for the 3 1/2 hour drive back to Kailua Kona…we timed it perfectly to arrive in time to have coffee and ice cream at Lava Java and to watch the evening surf pound against the seawall in Old Kailua Town and told ourselves, in the local pidgin, the same thing residents of Kona tell eachother at least twice a day…”Hey, lucky we live Hawaii, eh?”

Sunset from Lava Java in Kailua Kona: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Sunset from Lava Java in Kailua Kona: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

For more information on touring Hawaii in general and the Big Island in particular, please also visit www.tourguidehawaii.com and www.tourguidehawaii.blogspot.com.

All media copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan; all rights reserved.