A Trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: What to Do and See

With its otherworldly landscapes of lava fields and smoking craters, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a natural wonder that draws visitors from all over the world. Located here on the Big Island of Hawaii, and within driving distance from our Hawaii island vacation rentals, the park is home to two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa, which have been continuously erupting for decades.

But it’s not just the volcanoes that make Hawaii Volcanoes National Park so fascinating – the park is also home to unique geological formations, breathtaking views, and diverse ecosystems.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park History

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was established in 1916 as Hawaiʻi National Park, and it was designated as a separate national park. The park is located on the Big Island of Hawaii and covers an area of over 300,000 acres, making it one of the largest parks in Hawaii.

The park’s geological significance lies in its two active volcanoes – Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Kīlauea has been erupting continuously since 1983. Mauna Loa, the world’s largest shield volcano, has erupted a total of 34 times since its first well-documented eruption in 1843.

Both of these volcanoes are considered sacred by native Hawaiians and have played a significant role in Hawaiian culture and mythology.

In addition to the volcanoes, the park is home to many unique geological formations, such as lava tubes and craters, as well as diverse ecosystems ranging from rainforests to desert-like landscapes.

Must-See Attractions in the National Park

These are just some of the must-see attractions that visitors shouldn’t miss when exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Each attraction offers a unique glimpse into the park’s geological and cultural significance, making for an unforgettable experience.

Kilauea Caldera

This massive crater, measuring over two miles wide, is one of the most popular attractions in the park. Visitors can hike around the rim or take a guided tour to get a closer look at the active volcano.

Chain of Craters Road

This scenic drive takes visitors through some of the park’s most dramatic landscapes, including volcanic craters, lava fields, and coastal cliffs.

Thurston Lava Tube

This underground tunnel was formed centuries ago by flowing lava and is now one of the park’s most popular hiking trails.

Jaggar Museum + Overlook

This museum offers a fascinating look at the geological and cultural history of the park, and visitors can also enjoy stunning views of the active volcano.

Mauna Loa Observatory

Located near the summit of Mauna Loa, this observatory offers a glimpse into the world of atmospheric and geological research.

Halemaʻumaʻu Crater

This massive crater is a sacred site in Hawaiian culture and features active steam vents and glowing lava at night, offering a breathtaking sight.

Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs

Located in the park’s coastal area, these ancient petroglyphs provide a fascinating glimpse into the cultural history of Hawaii’s native people.

Hiking Trails in National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers a wide variety of hiking trails for visitors to explore. Here are descriptions of three of the most popular hiking trails in the park:

Chain of Craters Hike

This popular hiking trail offers a unique glimpse of the park’s volcanic landscapes, including lava rocks, steam vents, and active volcanic fissures.

Devastation Trail

This trail takes visitors through a forest that was destroyed by a volcanic eruption in the 1950s, providing a stark reminder of the power of the park’s volcanoes.

Nahuku (Thurston Lava Tube) Trail

This short hike takes visitors through a lava tube that was formed centuries ago by flowing lava, providing a unique view of the park’s volcanic history.

Where to Stay on the Big Island

Looking for a great place to stay near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park? Look no further than our Keauhou vacation rentals!

Na Hale O Keauhou

This Keauhou resort offers two- to three-bedroom accommodations that can sleep up to six guests. Amenities include a pool, hot tub, fitness center, an on-site property manager in case of emergencies, and a BBQ area for cooking meals outdoors with friends and family.

Keauhou Palena Resort

Set amidst sprawling grounds and tropical landscaping, just a quarter of a mile from beautiful Keauhou Bay. This Big Island vacation rental ranges from one- to two-bedroom condos that welcome up to six guests and offer all the comforts of home, including private lanais in lush surroundings.

Enjoy the slow pace of island life at either resort – you’ll have easy access to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park while having beautiful views right outside your door.

Safety Tips for Visiting the National Park

Enjoy all that Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has to offer while staying safe and healthy with these important safety tips during your visit:

Stay on Marked Trails

The park has designated trails to ensure that visitors can explore safely without putting themselves in harm’s way. Going off-trail can result in injury or even death, so it’s important to follow the marked trails.

Avoid Toxic Fumes

The park is home to areas where volcanic gasses and fumes may be present. These fumes can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat, and can be especially dangerous for individuals with respiratory problems. Visitors should always obey posted warning signs and stay away from hazardous areas.

Respect Wildlife

The park is home to a wide range of wildlife, including endangered species. Visitors should keep their distance, never feed the animals, and avoid disturbing their natural habitat.

Carry Plenty of Water

The park can be hot and humid, and staying hydrated is essential for staying healthy and avoiding heat exhaustion or dehydration. Visitors should carry plenty of water and take frequent breaks in the shade.

Be Prepared for Changing Weather Conditions

The weather in the park can change rapidly, so visitors should be prepared for a variety of conditions, from hot and sunny to chilly and rainy. Layers, rain gear, and sunscreen are all recommended.

Stay Informed

Visitors should check for updates on the park’s website or social media channels before visiting, as conditions can change quickly due to volcanic activity.

In Case of Emergency

Visitors should know the location of emergency stations and know how to contact park rangers in case of an emergency. In case of injury or other emergencies, visitors should try to stay calm and follow the instructions of park rangers.

Practical Tips for Visitors

Here is some useful advice to make the most of your visit to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park:

  • Make sure your vehicle is in good condition with enough gas and tires that are ready for off-road driving.
  • Pack lots of water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent, and other essentials.
  • Wear sturdy shoes and layer up for unpredictable weather conditions.
  • Avoid entering any areas marked as restricted or hazardous.
  • Parking can be limited at many of the main attractions, so arrive early to secure a spot.
  • While there are no formal dining options inside the park, there are plenty of restaurants nearby.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a beautiful and unique place to explore, but visitors should always take the necessary precautions to stay safe. We encourage everyone to go explore this remarkable site in person and create memories that will last a lifetime! Start by booking one of our Hawaii vacation rentals.

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