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A village named Volcano sits between still fuming Halemaumau Crater and ever-drizzly Ola'a Rainforest at the gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The 2000 folks who live there under giant hapu'u tree ferns describe their fire and rain place as "an Eden next to an inferno." On the makai side of the village red-hot lava hits 1500 degrees Fahrenheit on its race to the blue Pacific. The great, green rainforest (it gets 250-inches of rain a year) on the mauka side of the village is considered sacred; only endangered birds and wild pigs inhabit it. "This relentlessly spectacular landscape" — as Garrett Hongo, author of "Volcano: A Memoir of ...

A village named Volcano sits between still fuming Halemaumau Crater and ever-drizzly Ola'a Rainforest at the gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The 2000 folks who live there under giant hapu'u tree ferns describe their fire and rain place as "an Eden next to an inferno." On the makai side of the village red-hot lava hits 1500 degrees Fahrenheit on its race to the blue Pacific. The great, green rainforest (it gets 250-inches of rain a year) on the mauka side of the village is considered sacred; only endangered birds and wild pigs inhabit it. "This relentlessly spectacular landscape" — as Garrett Hongo, author of "Volcano: A Memoir of Hawaii," describes his birthplace — is like no other on planet Earth. Each year more than 2 million people from around the world come to see the incredible act of creation and destruction wrought by Pele, Hawaii's goddess of fire who resides here, and then repair to Volcano, the village, to try and comprehend the unbelievable sights they saw. When they can tear their gaze from the eruption they venture into the village and go wine tasting at 4,000-foot Volcano Winery (the Volcano Red is decent), shop for almost every sundry at Volcano General Store, or play the 18-hole, par 72 Volcano Golf Course & Country Club with odd hazards like lava tubes that, some believe, run all the way to Hilo. Local artists and lava-struck photographers like G. Brad Lewis display their work at Volcano Art Center. Many skip rustic Volcano House, built in 1846, in favor of Kilauea Lodge (the nightly repast alone is worth a three-day stay), enchanting Hapu'u Fern Cottage, or inexpensive Lava Lodge. Just before sunset, everyone checks the eruption update (volcano.wr.usgs.gov/kilaueastatus.php) and if Pele's dancing on Kilauea's east rift zone, jump in rental cars and race down to see fireworks.

Rick Carroll
About the Expert

Rick Carroll has written dozens of articles on Hawaii and the Pacific. His books include Great Outdoor Adventures of Hawaii, Madame Pele: True Encounters with Hawaii's Fire Goddess, and Travelers' Tales Hawaii.

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Rick Carroll for Triporati

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