Top Things to Do in Hawaiʼi Volcanoes National Park
Hawaiʼi Volcanoes National Park, located on the Big Island of Hawaiʼi, is a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. This national park is home to Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, offering visitors a unique opportunity to witness the power and beauty of volcanic activity. With its breathtaking landscapes, diverse flora and fauna, and rich cultural heritage, the park has something to offer for everyone. Here is a list of the top attractions and activities to experience in the Hawaiʼi Volcanoes National Park:
1. Explore the Kīlauea Caldera
The Kīlauea Caldera, created by centuries of volcanic activity, is a truly mesmerizing sight. With its vast expanse of hardened lava and active vents, it provides an otherworldly experience. Take a hike along the crater rim and marvel at the panoramic views of the surrounding volcanic landscape. Don’t forget to visit the Jaggar Museum, where you can learn about the geology and history of this remarkable volcano.
2. Visit the Thurston Lava Tube
The Thurston Lava Tube is a natural tunnel formed by flowing lava. Walk through this unique geological formation and be transported to a dark and mysterious underworld. The tube is illuminated, making it safe and easy to explore. As you traverse the subterranean path, you can witness the colorful rock formations and hear the echoes of past volcanic activity.
3. Hike the Chain of Craters Road
The Chain of Craters Road is a scenic drive that takes you through the diverse landscapes of the national park. As you venture along this road, you will encounter fascinating volcanic features, such as lava fields, pit craters, and petroglyphs. Lace up your hiking boots and embark on one of the many trails that branch off from the road, providing an up-close and personal experience with the volcanic terrain.
4. Marvel at the Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach
The Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach is one of Hawaiʼi’s most iconic landmarks. Its unique black sand, composed of finely crushed lava rock, creates a striking contrast against the vibrant blue ocean. Take a leisurely stroll along the shore, soak up the sun, and keep an eye out for the endangered green sea turtles that often bask on the beach.
5. Experience the Lava Viewing
Witnessing the flowing lava is a truly unforgettable experience. Depending on the current volcanic activity, there are several ways to safely view the lava. Take a helicopter tour for an aerial perspective, embark on a boat tour to witness the lava flow meeting the ocean, or hike to the current eruption site with a qualified guide. However, always prioritize safety and follow the guidance of park rangers when planning your lava viewing excursion.
6. Attend a Cultural Demonstration
The Hawaiʼi Volcanoes National Park is not only a geological marvel but also holds significant cultural importance. Attend a cultural demonstration to learn about the traditions and customs of the native Hawaiian people. From hula performances to traditional craft-making, these demonstrations provide a deeper understanding of the island’s heritage.
7. Take the Crater Rim Drive
The Crater Rim Drive is a scenic road that loops around the Kīlauea Caldera. Enjoy breathtaking views of the volcanic landscape as you drive along this route. Numerous stops along the way offer opportunities for short hikes or scenic overlooks. Don’t miss the chance to visit the steam vents, where you can feel the heat and witness the steam rising from the volcanic activity beneath.
8. Explore the Puʻu Loa Petroglyphs
Visit the Puʻu Loa Petroglyphs, a sacred site within the national park. These ancient rock carvings serve as a tangible link to the past, showcasing the artistic expressions of the Hawaiian people. Take a self-guided walk along the marked trail and immerse yourself in the spiritual ambiance of this significant cultural site.
9. Venture into the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater
The Halemaʻumaʻu Crater is the heart of the Kīlauea volcano and can be explored through various hiking trails. Witness the ever-changing landscape as you hike along the rim of this volcanic crater. Keep an eye out for sulfur banks, steam vents, and breathtaking views of the smoldering lava lake that lies deep within the crater.
10. Take a Ranger-Guided Tour
Join a ranger-guided tour to fully appreciate the wonders of the national park. These knowledgeable guides will provide you with valuable insights into the geological features, flora, and fauna of the area. The tours cater to different interests and fitness levels, ensuring an engaging and educational experience for everyone.
Visiting Hawaiʼi Volcanoes National Park is a journey into the captivating world of volcanoes, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, geological wonders, and cultural heritage. Whether you choose to hike along ancient lava fields, witness the powerful forces of nature, or immerse yourself in the island’s rich cultural history, your visit to this remarkable national park will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression.