15 volcanoes make up the eight major Hawaiian islands. The state of Hawaii, also known as the Land of Volcanoes, is the result of volcanic activity that has been taking place over millions of years – the Big Island, for example, is still the subject of volcanic activity.
Now, let’s talk about some of the popular Hawaiian volcanoes and whether or not you can visit them.
Major Volcanic Sites In Hawaii
1. Mauna Loa
Encompassing over 85% of the Big Island, Mauna Loa, meaning Long Mountain, is one of the active volcanoes, and a primary tourist feature at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The subaerial part of the volcano stretches over 120 KM from Hilo to the southern part of the island.
Since it was documented in 1843, Mauna Loa has erupted 33 times. This has produced a large quantity of lava that sometimes reached the ocean; the last eruption took place in 1984, and the lava came precariously close to the town of Hilo.
On November 27th 2022, Mauna Loa erupted after nearly 38 years.
Another volcano on the Big Island, and the main highlight of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kilauea, is currently erupting; the eruption started on 21st September 2021. The volcano is over 200,000 years old. Kilauea has erupted over 60 times, and since 1983, there has been consistent volcanic activity.
Tourists are permitted to see the eruption at the park. For your safety, we strongly recommend that you follow all the guidelines.
The Big Island’s third youngest volcano, Hualalai, last erupted in 1801. This volcano isn’t as active as Kilauea or Mauna Loa, but it will, without doubt, erupt again – in recent years, when commercial buildings and homes were built on the ridges of the volcano, there weren’t any earthquakes, but in 1929, there was a series of earthquakes that went on for about a month.
Hualalai is considered one of the most volatile and dangerous volcanoes in Hawaii.
4. Mauna Kea
The highest peak in Hawaii, Mauna Kea on the Big Island reaches up to 4,207 meters from sea level. This million years old volcano is dormant; its last eruption took place about 6,000 years ago.
If you dare, you can drive up to the summit, but only in 4WD vehicles. Also, note that no visitors are allowed to traverse the slopes after dusk.
The second-highest peak on Kauai, Waialeale, reaches its summit at 1,569 meters. With an average rainfall of 373 inches every year, Waialeale is one of the rainiest spots in the world.
On account of the many rainfalls that cascade down the impressive height of the mountain, Waialeale is also called the “Wall of Tears”.
To view the gorgeous misty peak of Mt Waialeale, join a helicopter tour; this is one of the most romantic things you can do in Kauai.
Related: Hawaiian Islands Guide
Out of the five volcanoes that make up the Big Island, Kohala is the oldest volcano, but it only constitutes 5% of the landmass. The last eruption is believed to have occurred around 120,000 years ago.
With deep lush ravines, this volcano has the shape of a foot. Its lava fields dot the background of dining and accommodation establishments found in the region.
7. Lua Makika
Lua Makika is the volcanic peak of Kaho’olawe, the smallest volcanic island in Hawaii. As the volcano constitutes the entire island, and due to the lack of freshwater sources, there aren’t any permanent residents here.
The island is off-limits to tourists – even if you were allowed to visit, you wouldn’t find much to do.
With a summit that reaches up to 10,000 feet, Haleakala is one of the most popular sites on Maui. The volcano is considered dormant; the last eruption occurred in the 1600s, which means an imminent eruption is unlikely.
Haleakala is the main feature of Haleakala National Park. To get here, you have to either drive here by yourself or join a guided tour; no public transportation is available.
This is one of the popular viewpoints in the state; on a clear day, you can see other Hawaiian islands from atop Haleakala.
The highest peak on Lanai, Lanaihale, is an extinct volcano. With a height of 3,370 feet, this mountain peak offers excellent hiking opportunities.
The ascent is quite difficult, but you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous vistas once you get to the top.
The island of Ni’ihau is one single volcano, which is now extinct. Also known as the Forbidden Island of Hawaii, Ni’ihau has a sparse population.
Access to the island is limited, which is due to a pledge the natives made to a Hawaiian king that they would always protect the island from outside influence.
To visit the island, you have to be invited by a native or join a half-day helicopter tour.
11. Mauna Kahalawai
Comprising about 75% of Maui, Mauna Kahalawai is not an active volcano; the last eruption took place around 300,000 years ago. Also called the West Maui Mountains, the volcano has a height of 5,788 feet.
Tourists aren’t allowed to hike to the summit, but the sight doesn’t become any less fascinating when viewed from afar.
Located on Oahu Island, Koʻolau, or Koʻolau Range, is a dormant volcano. Koʻolau is more than two million years old, and its slopes are home to numerous streams and waterfalls.
Although Koʻolau is considered a mountain range, it is not – it was formed as one volcanic mountain, but half the volcano was sunk into the Pacific Ocean, an event that occurred in prehistoric times.
There are many hiking trails that lead to Koʻolau, and there’s also a range of guided tours.
13. Waiʻanae Range
Occupying the western half of Oahu, Waiʻanae is a volcanic mountain range that’s more than three million years old. The volcano is not active, and the last eruption occurred about two million years ago.
Although much of the volcano has been eroded, geologists believe that it was much larger during the period it was active.
Map Of Hawaii Volcanoes
Frequently Asked Questions About Hawaiian Volcanoes
How many volcanoes in Hawaii are active?
There are six active volcanoes in Hawaii as of 2022.
What’s the largest volcano in the world?
Mauna Loa in Hawaii is the largest active volcano in the world.