Why talk about volcanoes in a Super Beaches Hawaii website? Volcanoes and beaches are intrinsically related! So what does fire and rock, heat and lava have to do with the beaches of Hawaii? Elementary my dear Watson. Volcanoes are the source of the "land" based materials that make up the dry portion of the beach. In Hawaii, beach material is either lava rock (in various forms of decay... all the way to what your eye sees as "sand" - or detrial materials) and calcareous materials, which are the deteriorating remnants of corals, sea shells, and exoskeletons etc. left after the sea life dies.
The reason this seems confusing to the eye, is that in many cases the time between the active volcanic energy and the passing of the sea life, and what you currently see before you can be several million years between events. Well, probably much less time than that in Hawaii, beacuse by most standards Hawaii is geologically "new" compared to other places in the world.
Hawaii: Volcanoes and timeThe Hawaiian Islands were formed by hot magma from the earth's core breaking through the bottom of the ocean, and piling up until they broke the surface creating "land". As the tectonic plates in the Pacific Ocean continued their movement, new Islands of lava rock would form until the plates moved again. The Hawaiin Islands started their generation around what is now the Midway Islands and Kire Atoll. These Islands grew and are now sinking back into the Pacific Ocean under their own weight. At Kire Atoll all that is left is a small piece of dry land and the ring of the cinder cone that formed the Island orginally. This is the last phase of an Island above water.
Similarly, Ni'ihau, Lehua Island, Kaua'i, and Oahu were theoretically fomed in the same manner. Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Molokini, and Maui were at one time a Super Island (Maui Nui) which was as much as 50% larger than the Big Island of Hawaii, before it began it's recession into the Ocean. The Big Island of Hawaii with it's multiple volcanic areas demonstrates the phenomena, and herte you can see active vocanoes and dormant volcanoes living side by with valleys gracing the slopes. If the Big Island were to sink a few thousand feet, Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea, and Hualalai would be unique Islands, with their own seperate beaches.
Hawaiian Beaches, volcanic mountains, volcanic fields, underwater eruptions and dangersThe earth is a violent place, and I am not talking about people either. Hawaiian volcanoes create havoc geologically and ecologically, and this action can have violent effects. Mega tons of toxic gases are emitted, super heat forces are expended, and super hot liquid rock material (lava) flowing where it will - all without our ability to control it even in the least. We can control where we go and when, but past that is the extent of our power. Nature will deliver new earth building material when and where it will in Hawaii. When you are in it's proximity you are in danger - this is not debatable. The amount of risk you accept is up to you. But as it relates to volcanoes and beaches, there is another risk you must anticipate. As hot lava enters the ocean, it can exploded and fracture into thousands of pieces. Black Sand is generally made this way. Gases and steam too can be released at this time and the effect can be dangerous if you are too close to the event. Always give lava its due respect next to or in the ocean - it can hurt you!
Visiting the Hawaiian volcanoes: Active and DormantFor purposes of discusiion the active volcanoes are all currently in the Puna Region of the Big Island of Hawaii. We discuss practical tours there depending on your schedule. Even with the risks and travel required to go see the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park we still recommend it, and if your schedule allows the hike to the shore in that area. You can inquire on-sight if the lava is flowing and where.
Another great way to enjoy volcanoes is to view the beaches of Hawaii from the perspective of the dormant volcano. Whither you have hiked to the icy peaks of Mauna Loa (still active), Mauna Kea (mostly dormant), Haleakala on Maui (dormant), or even the warmer inclines of Diamond Head on Oahu (dormant), you may get some totally unique views of the Hawaiian beaches and surrounding Pacific Ocean. Another dimension of volcano viewing is the dormant cinder areas that have made the recesses of some of the prettiest bays and inlets on the Islands of Hawaii. Some exciting cinder cone beaches are:
• Hanalei Bay on Kaua'i
• Honomalino Bay on the Big Island
• Black Rock on Maui