Ko’oko’olau Crater Lookout In Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Ko'oko'olau Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

I want to tell you that the Ko’oko’olau Crater is amazing… but I can’t. Brian and Natalie didn’t even get out of the car for this quick stop! The entire crater is completely overgrown with Ohia trees, Koa Trees, and low-lying vegetation so there isn’t much to see.

Like the Lua Manu and Puhimau craters, Ko’oko’olau Crater is a pit crater, created from magma below the surface suddenly draining and the ground above collapsing. But that’s where the similarities stop as Ko’oko’olau has had no lava for more than 200 years.

There were three interesting things about this stop:

  1. A 1958 USGS Benchmark marking this area at 3,521 feet above sea level
  2. A small mound at the crater rim is all that is left of an old lava vent spatter cone
  3. Kīlauea Iki was overgrown just like Ko’oko’olau before its eruption in 1959, which shows just how devastating a volcanic eruption can be

The Ko’oko’olau Crater Lookout was our sixth stop of the day on our first day exploring Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. We started our day exploring the Kīlauea Iki Crater Overlook, the Thurston Lava Tube, Devastation Trail, the Lua Manu Crater, and the Puhimau Crater.

Our strategy for this national park visit was to do do all the things to do that were close to the hotel and park entrance in the mornings because those are usually the most crowded, then work our way farther out as the days went on.

Know Before You Go

  • Ko’oko’olau Crater Lookout is located 0.5 miles from Puhimau Crater, 1.5 miles from the start of Chain Of Craters Road, and 4.7 miles from the Kīlauea Visitor Center on Chain Of Craters Road in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
  • This is probably the fastest roadside pit stop in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park as the crater view is almost completed obstructed by trees and vegetation.
  • Do not climb over the wall to explore the rim of the crater or try to get a closer look! The ground is not solid and you will risk stepping right through the thin forest floor and falling to the bottom of the crater.

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