With the sun beginning to set, visiting the majestic Hōlei Sea Arch was a fantastic way to end our first day of adventuring in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The day was packed with activities, including: visiting the Kīlauea Iki Overlook, the Lua Manu, Puhimau, Ko’oko’olau, and Pauahi craters, the Mauna Ulu Eruption Trail, the Mau Loa O Mauna Ulu Lookout, and the Kealakomo Lookout, and the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs.
And, there were basically no facilities available once we left Volcano House, so all of us were pretty happy we took the time to stop in a grocery store on the way to the hotel to stock up on food, snacks, drinks, and picnic supplies. It rained a little bit mid-day, so we took that opportunity to eat lunch in the car overlooking a giant crater!
Hōlei Sea Arch Viewing Area
The Hōlei Sea Arch, created within the last 100 years, is a 90 foot tall arch carved out of 550 year old steep lava cliffs.
Parking is available at the end of Chain Of Craters Road along both sides of the road. From our parking spot, we had to walk a ways down the road, past a barricade to the trailhead near the coastal ranger station. Directly across from the ranger station is a short trail to the steep, rocky lava cliffs lining the coastline and the magnificent Hōlei Sea Arch.
The sea arch was created by differential erosion and wave erosion. Differential erosion refers to the difference in hardness of lava flow layers and wave erosion refers to the process of softer layers of lava eroding from the constant pounding of waves overtime. This erosion undercut the lava cliffs to create the arch. Unfortunately, the same forces that created the Hōlei Sea Arch will eventually cause it to crumble into the sea and disappear.
Visiting the Hōlei Sea Arch Viewing Area at the end of the day as the sun was setting created some unforgettable views. Standing along the rocky cliffs in the wind, snuggling my children was a pretty magical moment.
Know Before You Go
- The Holei Sea Arch is located 2.5 miles from the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs, 18.8 miles from the start of Chain Of Craters Road, and 22.1 miles from the Kīlauea Visitor Center on Chain Of Craters Road in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
- At the end of Chain Of Craters Road, there is a short trail to the ocean, steep lava cliffs, and the 90 foot Hōlei Sea Arch.
- This sea arch has a limited lifespan and will eventually disappear into the ocean.
- Vault toilets are available next to a small ranger station.