Visit Volcanic Craters on Hawaii Vacations

Snorkeling around Molokini is a great way to experience this volcanic crater.
Snorkeling around Molokini is a great way to experience this volcanic crater.

Have you ever wanted to swim beside a once-active volcanic crater or see an active volcano firsthand? If Hawaii vacations are something you're considering, you could be lucky enough to spend a day taking in some of these magnificent features of nature. Hawaii is home to both dormant and active volcanoes alike. Here's an up-close look at some of the Hawaii volcanoes you can experience on your next cruise to the islands.

Meet Molokini

Molokini is a volcanic crater located just off the shore of the island of Maui. It's nearly a half-mile wide and rises about 160 feet above sea level. While science explains the formation of Molokini as the result of falling rock and cinder from an underwater volcanic eruption, many Hawaiians have a different explanation. According to legend, long ago, the formidable fire goddess Pele and a beautiful gecko fell in love with the same prince. Jealous and angry, Pele cut the lizard in half and turned her to stone. While her head fell beside Makena Beach, her tail makes up the crescent we know as Molokini today.

Explore the glassy, sunlit water that surrounds the crater. Or snorkel below the surface, and discover the unique coral reef that, protected from waves, serves as sanctuary to a spectacular host of marine life.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Located on the Hilo side of the Big Island of Hawaii is Volcanoes National Park. Home to two active volcanoes — Mauna Loa and Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes — this park also offers a peek into the history of 70 million years of Hawaii volcanoes. Be prepared for breathtaking scenes as you travel along Crater Rim Drive, a 10.6-mile loop that encompasses Kilauea Caldera, where you can stop to take in the sights of sulfur banks and lava beds. Marvel at pahoehoe, a dense form of lava that can travel up and downhill, creating a variety of unusual shapes; some shapes liken to gravelly parking lots, while others resemble twisted rope-like formations. You'll also be able to see panoramic views of Halema'uma'u Crater and Kilauea Caldera from the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum.

On Hawaii vacations, visit Molokini, one of the world's top snorkeling and diving sites, and Volcanoes National Park. A Maui snorkel cruise will allow you to experience Molokini from right off the boat while learning more about the crater. Or, you can explore Volcanoes National Park on a bus or helicopter tour, taking in unique views of Hawaii's volcanoes from land or sky. Head out on a Hawaii cruise and come back thrilled, rejuvenated, and full of stories to share.