Hualalai is massive, and yet it’s unknown. For all of its size and volcanic grandeur—gradually rising behind the town of Kona and fading into the clouds—this dormant volcano is shrouded in obscurity by its famous, more active neighbors.
At 8,200 feet in height, Hualalai isn’t nearly as high as Mauna Loa, and having last erupted in 1801, it isn’t considered nearly as active as the currently erupting Kilauea. Nevertheless, Hualalai remains an active volcano just miles from populous Kona, and experts feel that this sleeping volcano is on the brink of waking up.
It’s believed that Hualalai will erupt again within the next 100 years, potentially adding more black lava rock to Kona’s volcanic landscape. As the volcano sleeps, however, coffee farms continue to dominate its flanks and resorts now dot its shoreline. The odd hiker will occasionally venture up to its fog-lined, uppermost reaches, although since much of the land is private property, Hualalai mostly sits stoically behind Kona and silently lays in waiting.
The summit of Hualalai is often clear during early summer mornings, and the best way to get a view of the summit is during a helicopter tour from Kona. Visiting a Kona coffee plantation is another way to see the mountain and to learn how this land that gives rise to coffee may one day be its destruction.