Photographing Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawaii

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The money shot: Halema’uma’u crater during the blue hour

For our anniversary in March, Mary and I went to the Big Island of Hawaii.  We stayed at Volcano House in Volcaneos National Park so that we would be in position to photograph the crater.  It did not quite turn out the way we planned.  Here’s what happened.

The main attraction of the park is the large caldera with the “live” crater.  There are two decent look out spots – one at the hotel and one at the Jaggar Museum.

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The best sunset photo we got in three nights. Five minutes later the fog descended.

We were also there for the full moon and I thought I would be able to capture the moon and the crater in one shot.

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Moon and Halema’uma’u Crater on our last morning

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Tele-photo of jumping lava in the crater

It was raining and foggy each night and each morning.  We had six opportunities and only one night worked out.

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One minute before the entire caldera was fogged in and it started to rain.
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Mary and I about to be rained on as the fog rolls in

One the great things about staying at the hotel is eating a fine meal with the view.  When the sun was setting we would see this beautiful view of the steam vents.

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Steam vents on the edge of the Kilauea Caldera

Leaving the mountain area and driving down to the coast, we left the rain and fog and had beautiful sunny days.

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The Thurston Lava Tube

There are many pull outs on the way to the ocean.  We think the best one is about half way down, just as you drop off the Holei Pali cliffs.

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Holei Pali
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Holei Pali

A good first hike is Devastation Trail.  Not much to see except this tree.

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Devastation Trail

One of the rewards of the long drive to the coast is a view of this arch.

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Holei Sea Arch


The Volcano House was pretty pricey, but staying right on the caldera was really convenient and we enjoyed the on-site restaurant.


The Hilo side of the island is pretty wet and it can be very cold up at the volcano.  Don’t forget to bring more than a bathing suit to this side of the island.  I think two days in the park is plenty of time to see everything.

When we were there, no lava was flowing.  On May 3rd, the Puu Oo crater erupted and there is lava flowing right now.  Google it.

To see more of (and buy) our photos, please go to

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