In 1823 the newly arrived Reverend William Ellis, a missionary from England, undertook his quest to explore Hawai‘i Island by land and by sea. He became the first non-Hawaiian to witness the awe inspiring eruption of Kilauea Volcano, and his observations opened this door to the world. A subsequent ten-year effort to turn this volcano area into a public park culminated in 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed documents creating the country’s thirteenth national park.
Today, visitors continue to tour this region for the very same reasons that drew many well-known people including Mark Twain in 1866 and Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934: tropical rainforests, dramatic seacoast, and sweeping vistas of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, in addition to witnessing the creation of new earth.
Numerous Hawaiian legends abound in this region. The most notable is Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, who is said to make her home within Halema‘uma‘u Crater.