Other than visiting the Thurston Lava Tube, our first day in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was spent visiting A LOT of craters and crater overlooks, including Kīlauea Iki, Lua Manu, Puhimau, Ko’oko’olau, and Pauahi craters.
Pauahi Crater, at almost 2000 feet long, 300 feet wide, and nearly 500 feet deep, was created by a an eruption in 1973 lasting 31 days.
Over time, Pauahi Crater has experienced three separate eruptions:
- In May 1973, a fissure erupted on the floor of the crater lasting 31 days
- The same eruption also opened a set of fissures extending two miles from just west of the crater, across the crater floor, and east of the crater almost to Puʻuhululu that flooded the crater floor with lava.
- The most recent eruption was in November 1979 and lasted 16 days.
During the course of the Mauna Ulu eruption, five pit craters were partially or completely filled with lava. This crater is one of those craters and was given the name Pauahi, which means destroyed by fire.
From the parking area, a short boardwalk extends to the to rim of Pauahi Crater, providing fantastic views of the crater and the perfect spot to grab some photos! Near the end of the boardwalk, if you look carefully, you can also see the fissure that dumped lava into the crater in 1973. A cinder and ash hill called a rampart was also created in the same eruption.
Know Before You Go
- Pauahi Crater is 2 miles from the Ko’oko’olau Crater Lookout, 3.3 miles from the start of Chain Of Craters Road, and 6.6 miles from the Kīlauea Visitor Center on Chain Of Craters Road in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
- Pauahi Crater is a culturally significant, religious location in Hawaiian culture. If you see any offerings called Hoʻokupu, such as leis, flowers, and ti-leaf wrapped packages, do not touch or disturb them as they are gifts for the gods.
- The name Pauahi means destroyed by fire.