When you think of a trip to Hawaii, lounging on the beach and hula dancing probably come to mind. The beautiful waterfalls, ocean waves, and palm trees will make all your relaxation dreams come true. But have you ever considered the beauty and wonder of visiting volcanoes? This island paradise was formed from volcanoes, after all, and if you find yourself in the state, you won’t want to miss these amazing natural attractions.
Below, Ranger Mac will take a look at an incredible National Park that many people don’t consider for trips: Hawaii Volcano National Park. This park is conveniently located on the main island of Hawai’i. From hiking trails to watching an active volcano, there’s much to do at this unique park. Let’s take a closer look at it now!
Volcanoes of the Park
Hawaii’s largest island consists of five volcanoes, with the tallest being Mauna Kea. This volcano is 13,796 feet tall, making it both the largest mountain in the state as well as the tallest sea mountain in the world. Mauna Loa, on the other hand, is the largest volcano on earth in terms of volume and area covered.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park encompasses the Mauna Loa volcano as well as the Kīlauea volcano. Despite Mauna Loa being the largest volcano, Kīlauea is the most popular. This is due to it being the youngest volcano, which also makes it the most active. This volcano has been continuously erupting since 1983, and you can see its lava flowing into the ocean from the Kīlauea Visitor center!
Things to Do in the Park
When you first arrive at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you’ll want to stop in at the Kīlauea visitor center. There you will find the schedules of park activities, such as guided tours and ranger talks. This is a great spot to pick up a map of the park, find some hiking trails, and see the latest volcano eruption updates. Should the Kīlauea volcano be erupting, you can see that happening right from the visitor center. The center is normally open from 9am to 5pm, but it’s a good idea to check the website for updated hours before you visit the park.
Kid Friendly Activities in the Park
As with any of the National Parks, children can take part in the Junior Ranger program. Junior Ranger activity books can be found in the Kīlauea visitor center. Based on your child’s age, there’s a booklet filled with activities and steps to complete in order for them to become a junior park ranger. These activities are free, educational, and a great way for your child (and you) to see a lot around the park and learn some things that you otherwise might have missed.
Top 4 Stops in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Here are a few ideas on where to visit on your trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park:
- Halema’uma’u Crater Overlook at Jagger Museum - This museum is opened daily from 10am to 8pm and is full of artifacts, maps, and studies of volcanoes done by Thomas A. Jagger. It also houses the best overlook spot of the big crater.
- Kīlauea Iki Crater - This crater contains a great short hike that takes you down to the crater floor and back up into the parking lot. It’s great even for inexperienced hikers and families that want a little (not too strenuous) adventure.
- Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) - This tube is a 20 minute, 1/3 mile hike that takes you through a thick fern forest and illuminated tube-like Thurston cave. It’s easily accessible from the main roads. The tube is illuminated during the daytime hours but is kept pitch black at night. It’s accessible 24 hours a day, so you can experience it both ways!
- Chain of Craters Road - This road takes you around some of the recently created craters and ends at the road where the lava flow has literally blocked its path. It is one of the prettiest scenic routes in the park, and the ranger station for this road is open daily from 10am to 9pm.
There are over 10 day hikes that you can experience inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. You can find all the information you need about the hiking trails at the visitor center or on the park’s website. If you’re interested in longer, more challenging hikes, you can find information on those hikes on the park website as well.
Admission into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is $25. Make sure to keep your receipt of admission, as it’s good to get back into the park for seven days after purchase (as of 2018). The park is open every day of the year, and the gates stay open after official park hours, so you can feel free to stay late and watch the glow of the lava flow and volcanoes!
From hikes in craters to scenic roads to active volcanoes, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a stop you’ll want to add to your list of attractions if you get the chance to visit this amazing island paradise.
Want to visit a National Park closer to home on the mainland? Check out Ranger Mac’s spotlight on Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado!