No trip to the Big Island is complete without a visit to the world famous Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The only park of it’s kind, visitors from all over the world come to watch lava erupt from the deepest crevices of the earth. There are currently several active lava flows available for public viewing. While you could easily spend several days enjoying everything the park has to offer, we’ve picked out a few must-do activities that we recommend to everyone who visits. Whether it’s your first trip to the Big Island or your tenth, you’re sure to enjoy these adventures in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.
Watch the lava flow
It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to watch new earth from before your very eyes. While many of these flows have been active for years, there is no telling when they will cease to exist, so make sure you don’t miss them! There are several areas from which you can view the volcanic activity. Our current favorite is the “firehose flow” at Kilauea Volcano’s Kamokuna ocean entry. Watch lava spout from the face of a sea cliff into the ocean below, sending a torrent of steam up into the air—all from a safe distance of course. Get more info about how to reach this and all active lava flows here.
Go for a hike
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park has over 150 miles of hiking trails. You could spend an entire day—or even several—exploring the rugged backcountry. Just be sure to bring lots of sunscreen! You’ll have the rare opportunity to view landscape unlike anything else including species of plants that are rarer than diamonds and several animals that are on the verge of extinction. Here is a list of day hikes we love.
Take a driving tour
One of the best ways to see as much as possible on the unique landscape is to take a long driving tour through the park. The Crater Rim Drive will take you from the Kilauea Visitor Center toward Manua Loa Volcano, with many sites along the way where you can stop, stretch your legs, and view some truly spectacular volcanic formations. Once you arrive at Mauna Loa, you can circle the crater on Crater Rim Trail.
Visit the Jaggar Museum
Overlooking the Kilauea Calendar, Jagger Museum boasts one of the best panoramic views of the park. It’s absolutely worth a trip if only for the opportunity to watch the volcanic activity from the lookout point. Inside the museum, you’ll learn all about volcanology including types of lava and flows as well as current technology scientists use to measure seismic activity. You’ll also learn the cultural significance of volcanoes to native Hawaiians and the role Pelehonuamea (the Hawaiian deity of volcanoes) played in ancient Hawaii.
One of the best ways to view the park is after dark. Far from the light pollution of the cities, night time in the national park offers stargazing opportunities you won’t find anywhere else. The Kilauea Visitor Center offers presentations every Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. for those interested in learning more about the night sky in Hawaii. More info here.
We hope you enjoy your trip to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park! If you have any additional recommendations we should add to this list or questions about your trip to the Big Island. Please contact us! If you happen to fall in love with the island as much as we have and would like to look at some real estate during your visit, please call us at 808.217.8500. We’d be happy to show you around!
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