Volcano National Park – Big Island Hawaii
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is on Hawaii Island (the Big Island). At its heart are the Kīlauea and Mauna Loa active volcanoes. The Crater Rim Drive passes steam vents and the Jaggar Museum, which features volcanology exhibits and a viewpoint overlooking Halema’uma’u Crater. Thick ferns mark the entrance to the Thurston Lava Tube (Nāhuku). The Chain of Craters Road weaves over lava. Trails crisscross the park.
The Big Island Tour was the main thing on our must-see list from this whole Hawaiian Trip, to see the volcanoes and, hopefully, some lava. We left Honolulu the earliest we can by plane, our local friends was our tour guide with this whole Big Island Tour. We are not staying on the Big Island and renting a car was our best option. Way more flexible and scenic destinations are way easy to do on your own.
WHAT TO SEE ON THE BIG ISLAND
- FIRST STOP: HILO FAMER’S MARKET
Plan to arrive early and check this awesome Hilo Farmer’s market. It was packed with all kinds of locally grown produce and prepared foods. The market also offers artisans with a huge variety of handmade crafts. This is a must-see destination in Hilo, Hawaii. Be aware that the Farmer’s Market is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays and parking is limited. You might have to walk to get to the market.
Scott can’t get enough of this fresh young coconut, it tastes sweet, and the juice was very refreshing.
- SECOND STOP: KILAUEA VISITORS CENTER
You’ll get a free map at the park entrance and do a short stop at the Visitor’s Center. The visitors center has a packed of useful information, and the rangers can help plan your visit depending on your time constraints. Another thing to keep in mind is that it tends to rain a lot on that side of the island so be prepared with rain gear just in case.
If you are not staying on the Big Island be prepared to spend a full day, there are so much to see and experience. Be sure to bring plenty of water – it’s warmer on the crater than in the rainforest. It’s also a good idea to wear sturdy walking shoes. I saw women trying to do the hike in flip-flops, and the lava rocks are sharp and jagged in some areas.
- THIRD STOP: STEAM VENTS
- FOURTH: KILAUEA IKI OVERLOOK
The Kilauea Iki Overlook. Many of the hardened lava flows that you see took place not that long ago. In 1959, Kilauea Iki was a lava lake, and lava fountains could be seen as high as 1,900 feet! The crater is a mile long, 3,000 feet across, and the floor is 400 feet below the overlook.
Kilauea Iki Trail
The Kilauea Iki Trail is the best hike we took on the Big Island. It leads you through a lush, perfumed and ever-drizzling rain forest where one wonders if that is what paradise looks like, only to leave you staring in awe at the vast and gloomy bottom of the Iki Crater suddenly spreading before you.
- FIFTH STOP: THURSTON LAVA TUBE
A lava tube is a natural conduit formed by flowing lava which moves beneath the hardened surface of a lava flow. Tubes can be draining lava from a volcano during an eruption or can be extinct, meaning the lava flow has ceased and the rock has cooled and left a long cave.
- SIXTH STOP: JAGGER MUSEUM
Jagger Museum is a small museum but tons of information about Hawaiian Islands, Volcanoes and the park. They also have a display of different kinds of lava rocks which you can touch and hold. I’ve also learned about Hawaiian mythology and the Goddess of lava, Pele which is very interesting.
From the museum, you can see Halema’uma’u Crater or use the telescope outside for better viewing. They have park rangers at the museum to answer any questions you may have.
Walking on the crust of a lava lake that took so many years to cool is something to brag about. Steam coming up through vents, crust that’s buckled and been pushed up to create a from outer space landscape. This hike was the highlight of our time at Volcanoes National Park.
- SEVENTH STOP: HOLEI SEA ARCH
This is where the lava flow ended and hardened to the ocean that formed like an arch. The drive to Holei sea arch was amazing, it feels like you are on the alien planet. Along the way, you will see the different and interesting formation of lava rocks.
In the background, you can see where the lava once flowed downward from Kilauea towards the sea.
Hope you enjoy reading my blog.