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Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park – The Best Adventure Guide

Travel Attractions – Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, USA

Hawai’i has many attractions that are unique to the rest of the world. But, Hawaii’s volcanic wonders still stand out among all these amazing sights. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is the best place to see lava. The Park protects some of these natural wonders, including two of most active volcanoes on the planet. 

Staying on this Big Island, make sure you spend at least one night in the famous Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The park offers visitors the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful landscapes in the world, as well as two of the most active volcanoes, Kilauea or Mauna Loa.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, which was established for the first time in 1916 and later made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. This includes the Kilauea Visitor Center and research offices.

There are also many hiking trails that can still be used today. You can traverse on the top of volcanic rock and take a scenic drive up to the summit of Kilauea. There you will find lush rainforests filled with endangered plants and birds. Hawaii Volcanoes national Park has so many things to see, it’s a must-see Hawaiian adventure.

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Things to Do

The land that makes up Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was home to native Hawaiians for more than 500 years. The park preserves essential sites and cultural heritages. This includes the sacred Puuloa. It is one of the largest petroglyph areas in Hawaii, with depictions made into hardened, lava flows. This attraction is worth a visit. You should also visit the Kealakomo ancient village, which was once home to early 15th-century Hawaiians who fished and farmed here.

Chain of Craters Road Tour is a great way to see the park from your vehicle. The route offers scenic views of the coast, rainforests and trails. Some sections of the road have been covered in lava almost every year since 1986. 

Crater Rim Drive Tour is a shorter route that starts at Kilauea Visitor Center. It passes Kilauea Iki Overlook and Puu Puai Overlook and ends at Devastation Trail.

A day hike or backcountry trek can be taken to view cinder cones and breathtaking coastal views. Spend an afternoon at the Kilauea Visitor Center to explore its exhibits, check in with rangers and get hiking information.

You can also grab a daily schedule of ranger-led activities. You can also purchase books, posters and other educational items from the visitor center.

Best Hikes & Trails

Visitors can choose from a variety of day hikes or multi-day backcountry treks within the park. They all vary in length, scenery and technicality. It is possible to traverse lava fields and climb down into craters before reaching the coast. You should always check the trail conditions before you venture out due to the constant volcanic activity in the park.

Devastation Trail: This easy wheelchair-accessible paved path takes you on a mile-long journey through an area previously buried by the falling cinder from the Kilauea Iki eruption of 1959. You can see the return of plant and animal life to the lava fields on this trail.

Crater Road Trail: This 2.2-mile trail was formerly a paved road but was destroyed by the 2018 earthquakes. This footpath allows you to get a closer view of one of the most active volcanoes on the planet, as it crosses the Kilauea summit caldera.

Kipukapuaulu Loop trail: This 1.1-mile dirt route will take you through an incredibly lush ecosystem with rare plants, old-growth trees and other specialties. If you’re looking for a different kind of park, this is a great way to explore.

Mauna Iki Trail from Kulanaokuaiki Campground History enthusiasts will enjoy hiking the Mauna Iki Trail, which takes you through the Kau Desert to see actual Native Hawaiian footprints in the volcanic rock. 

The Kulanaokuaiki Camping Ground is the ideal place to spend an overnight on this moderate hike of 7.9 miles. This is a wonderful journey for those who seek solitude. Before you go, make sure you have your permit for the backcountry.

Backcountry Hiking and Open Areas

There are seven areas in HAVO that you can hike off-trail, or through open country. These areas include the two volcanoes and are ideal for backpacking or trailblazing. These areas are not heavily populated and overgrown. 

Halape is most well-known of all the backcountry hiking routes, but Apua is just as beautiful and follows the park’s stunning coasts. The more remote Ka’aha coast lava field, Keauhou Bay and Napua Crater can be accessed by hiking. These adventures are best for experienced hikers. Mauna Loa is the most difficult hike in the area. It’s also the largest volcano in the world.

To enter these areas, you will need to pay $10. This fee also gives you access to the campsites along each adventure.

View Petroglyphs

You can view more than 23,000 petroglyphs along the Poula Petroglyph Boardwalk hike. These stunning cultural and historical artifacts were used for recording travels, navigation, wellbeing, and records of events and births. 

You will see images of geometric designs, circular motifs, human representations, and other objects that date back to ancient Hawaiian life. The hike is only 1.4 miles. It is approximately 1.4 miles long and is considered easy because it follows a wooden boardwalk.

Where to Camp

Two campgrounds are available in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. They have large grassy areas that can be used for tents and rustic cabins that can sleep four. There is also a primitive site without water. 

Namakanipaio Campground: This campground is located at 4,000 feet above the sea level, 31.5 miles from Hilo. Sixteen tent sites are located in a grassy area surrounded by native ‘ohia’ trees and towering eucalyptus tree. 

Every site includes a picnic table, barbecue pit (campfires cannot be used inside the pits), as well as on-site facilities such as bathrooms. A total of ten rustic cabins can be rented, each with a double bed and two twin beds. You also have access to a renovated bathroom and shower. 

For those who arrive empty-handed, you can take the tents on rent and other camping equipment. For the cabins, reservations are highly recommended.

Kulanaokuaiki Campground The primitive Kulanaokuaiki Campground can be found 5 miles down Hilina Pali Road. This campground has nine sites, each with tent pads and picnic tables. However, there is no water. Fires and dogs are prohibited here. Kulanaokuaiki has a vault-type toilet. All sites are managed according to first-come first-served.

Where to Stay Nearby

There are many options for those who want to stay in a traditional Hawaiian retreat rather than roughing it. You can choose from traditional hotel rooms or guest cottages that are tucked away in the rainforest but still close to all the amenities.

Volcano house: Hotel guests can choose from 33 rooms in the Volcano Room, an historic building built out of grass and ‘ohi’a wood poles. The hotel has three types of lodging options thanks to its modern transformation. All the rooms offer majestic view of the different Volcano craters.

Volcano Rainforest Retreat: The charming Volcano Rainforest Retreat offers guest cottages with their own bathrooms and private Japanese o’furo hot tubs. The retreat is close to Volcano Village’s cafes, restaurants, and art galleries. There’s also a farmer’s marketplace.

Volcano Inn: This bed and breakfast is located in the heart of a tropical forest and offers double rooms as well as family-style accommodation on two properties. Every stay includes an island-style breakfast, and the hot tub on-site is open 24 hours a days. The inn is located just 4 minutes from Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

How to Get There

There are many exciting things to do in Hawaii, but there’s only one way to see an active volcano: driving to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. It is located approximately 30 miles southwest from Hilo on Highway 11 (a 45 minute drive), and 96 miles southeast from Kailua Kona on Highway 11 (2 hours). 

The park covers 500 miles and there is no public transportation. You will need to walk, bike or drive around the area once you arrive. You will also need to pay an admission fee for a vehicle, bike, or motorcycle.

HAVO’s website has an excellent interactive map. 

Accessibility

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is an outstanding place to welcome people with disabilities and other physical limitations. There are miles of paved trails that allow wheelchair users to access the volcano from close range, such as the Devastation Trail. 

Four handicapped parking spaces are available at the Kilauea Visitor Center. There are also automatic doors and ADA-compliant bathrooms. The entire facility was designed with accessibility in mind. 

Former military personnel can enjoy a 25% discount at the Kilauea Military Camp’s Crater Rim Cafe. Avoid crowds by arriving early.

Tips for Your Visit

  • After 2018’s eruptions and collapses that caused significant damage to the park’s infrastructure, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was shut down for many years. Although the park is now open, you need to be aware that there are new safety guidelines before you enter. Before you visit the park, make sure to check the conditions on the website.
  • The 2018 activity has also caused many cracks and sinkholes to open up. These areas are unstable and should be avoided. Avoid cliffs as well, since there is a higher risk of rockfalls or slides in the park.
  • There is always the possibility of closing areas due to fumes, cracks or vog (volcanic smoke) since this area is active volcanic.
  • Kilauea Island Trail. No matter what day it is, the trailhead parking for this popular 4-mile loop hike is always full. To avoid crowds, Rangers recommend arriving by 7 a.m.
  • If you are planning to visit Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historic Park on the west coast of Hawaii Island or Haleakala National Park, then pick up the Tri-Park Pass from the entrance station.
  • Closed-toed shoes are recommended for the park. Also, be aware that the majority of the lava fields areas aren’t shaded. Sunscreen and a sun hat are recommended.
  • For safety reasons, stay on designated roads and marked trails. Avoid steam vents, cracks and cliffs.
  • Park fees are waived for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, April 1st, National Park Week (April 1), National Park Service Anniversary (August 25, National Public Lands Day, September 23) and Veterans Day.
  • Bring plenty of water. The visitor center is the only place you can refill your water bottle. Don’t expect to find water at any attraction so make sure you bring enough.

FAQs about Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

How old is Hawaii Volcanoes?

81 million years is the oldest known volcano that has been dated near the Emperor Seamount Chain’s northern end. 43 million years is the date for the bend between these two chains. The oldest main Hawaiian Islands is Kaua’i Island, which was the site of volcanism about 3.8 million years ago.

Can you climb a volcano in Hawaii?

Mauna Kea is Hawaii’s highest mountain. It stands at 13,796 feet high above The Big Island’s Pacific Ocean. Although climbing Mauna Kea is not difficult, it can be strenuous even for experienced hikers.

Can you still see lava in Hawaii?

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can be accessed 24 hours a days. You have the opportunity to see glowing lava from near and far, especially when it is dark. 

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