It’s not every day that one gets the opportunity to get up close to an active volcano. But, if you are traveling to Hawaii, you could have this incredible experience at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
The park is situated on the north eastern shore of the Big Island and is home to two of the largest and most active volcanoes, Mauna Loa and Kilauea.
Mauna Loa means “Long Mountain” in Hawaiian.
It is the world’s largest volcano, rising up to 13,677 feet above sea level. Kilauea means “Much Spreading” in Hawaiian. It’s the world’s most active volcano, standing at 4,090 feet high. It contains the Halema‘uma‘u Crater, which is the legendary home of the Hawaiian fire goddess Pele.
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At the park, you can explore rugged lava flows, lava tubes & craters, ash-covered desserts, and much more for an enthralling outing.
Here’s everything you need to know for planning your visit: –
What to Do?
#1 Go Hiking
Featuring more than 150 miles of marked trails, this place is ideal for hikers. There are trails that go through such varied ecosystems, from lush native rainforests to barren lava fields.
From small, pleasant hikes to longer, complicated ones, there is an option for everyone. There are several wheelchair-friendly trails including the paved path that leads from Kilauea Visitor Centre to the Volcano House rim.
If you’re up for an exciting challenge, go on the 4-mile-long Kilauea Iki Trail.
You’ll be amazed at the changing landscape, which begins in a forest of ‘ōhi’a trees and Hawaiian ferns and ends in a lake of frozen lava.
#2 Enjoy Birdwatching
Get your binoculars out for possible sightings of endemic birds such as the elepaio (monarch flycatcher), iiwi (scarlet honeycreeper), and nēnē.
Wish to see some more feathered creatures?
Hike the Kipukapualulu Trail, which is also known as “Bird park” to witness exquisite forest birds.
#3 Ride a Bike
If you’re looking for an adrenaline-pumping activity, bring along a bike to ride across lava fields. There is a $15 entry fee for cyclists but the experience is truly worth it.
#4 See Petroglyphs
Sneak a peek into the rich history of this fascinating place through petroglyphs. The place is home to more than 23,000 images and a sacred cultural site that dates back to 1200 to 1450 A.D.
There are ranger-led tours that provide you with a cultural overview.
The famous site, Pu’u Loa is reachable by a parking area at milepost 16.5.
#5 Witness the glow of lava
Seeing the dazzling glow of the lava lake in the Halemaʻumaʻu crater is a magical experience. The Kilauea overlook point is one of the most popular points to witness this view.
Other good places to see the glow are from the Volcano House, Waldron Ledge, Wahinekapu, and the Old Crater Rim drive. Since the parking lot at Kilauea point fills up quickly, it’s best to keep other options open.
#6 Go through the Thurston Lava Tube
How about entering a 500-year-old lava tube? A river of 2000 degrees Fahrenheit used to flow through the Thurston Lava Tube. Its Hawaiian name is Nahuku, meaning ‘the protuberances”.
It refers to the lava drippings that once hung from its ceiling. You can listen to the calls of native birds in the rainforest before entering this massive tube.
If you wish to experience a pitch-dark lava tube, you can also visit this at night. Don’t forget to bring your torch along.
What to wear?
You’ll often be hiking on lava rock here so wear sturdy hiking boots and long pants for maximum protection.
Being safe is important as you hike the tricky terrain of Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii.
How is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park weather?
With an elevation of 4,000 feet above sea level, temperatures can drop into the 40s. The park can also get significant rainfall throughout the year with occasional snowfall. So, it’s better to be prepared for all kinds of weather.
Where to eat and stay?
Within walking distance of the Kilauea Visitor Centre is the Volcano House, the Park’s sole hotel. Its past guest includes people like Franklin D. Roosevelt and Mark Twain. Pretty Impressive!
You can indulge yourself in delicious food from The Rim, the park’s only restaurant which serves pub food. You must try their classic coconut-and-macadamia-nut-crushed fish-and-chips. You can also go for turkey sandwiches, taro chips, and house-baked chocolate cookies.
The Volcano House also manages the Nāmakanipaio Campground. It features 16 tent sites, and 10 rustic cabins with amenities such as barbecues, fire rings, picnic tables, and showers. As a camper, you can also access the hotel’s amenities.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a hidden treasure of the islands with its diverse ecosystems and stunning landscapes.
Offering such a plethora of attractions to explore, a visit to the park makes for an incredible experience that you’ll cherish forever. Be it for a family-friendly getaway, a romantic adventure in the wild, or a solo hike, this is a must-visit on your itinerary.
Q. Where is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park located?
It is located on the Big Island in Hawaii, USA.
Q. What can you do at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park?
Hiking through lava fields, entering a lava tube, watching the glow of the lava lake, and driving through the Crater Rim are some of the best activities to do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Q. When was Hawaii Volcanoes National Park established?
It was established in 1916.