Day 1 - 1 May 2019
Content: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is on the Island of Hawai’i which is commonly called the Big Island. Hawai’i has two airports; Kona and Hilo. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park summit area, which is the most widely visited section of the park, is a 2.5 hour drive from Kona. It is $25 per private vehicle to enter the park.
Day 1 - 1 May 2019
Content: This place is amazing! So different than a typical Hawaiian get-away. The small town of Volcano is an absolute jungle paradise without any of the scary predators or pests.
Content: The Kilauea Visitor’s Center is open from 9am-5pm daily and will be on your right shortly after entering the park. We strongly recommend you stop here on your way in. They have excellent informational boards that list attractions, ranger talks, current conditions, and suggested itineraries for spending an hour, a full day, or multiple days in the park. You can also talk to rangers regarding any last minute questions you have.
Content: Just to the left of the Visitor Center is the original Volcano House Lodge which serves now as the Volcano Art Center. The center is a great place to pick up unique, handmade Hawaiian gifts. The Art Center is open 9am-5pm daily. They offer demonstrations, classes, and workshops, so I recommend checking their calendar before planning your itinerary for the day.
Content: For all things volcano related, head to the Jaggar Museum for a superb overview of Hawai'i's active volcanoes. The observation deck provides the closest proximity to an eruption point (presently about 100 feet.) There are scopes positioned on the deck allowing for magnified views and knowledgable rangers nearby (during operating hours) to explain important facts and ideas about the area. We recommend exploring the area during the day time and also at night to get a varied glimpse of Pele's masterwork. Pele, if you aren't familiar, is the mythical Hawai'ian goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes. The main crater, Halema'uma'u, is her home.
Content: This is one of those hikes that stops you in your tracks. Lush tropical rainforests, native flora and fauna species, a steaming black landscape – Kīlauea Iki has it all and then some. The location is home to the Pu‘u Pua‘i cinder cone, which spewed lava 1,900 feet into the sky when it erupted in 1959 after a 90 year slumber. For five weeks, 17 episodes occurred, flooding the crater with molten rock creating a lake of lava 400-feet deep.Today, you can walk across the hardened lava bed on this awesome hike. In the space of about 3 hours crossing 4 miles, you will explore a dynamic rainforest on the slopes of the crater, steam vents, cinder cones, and spatter cones on the crater floor, with ahu (cairns, or stacked rocks) guiding your way to the other side.
Content: The Thurston Lava Tube in Volcanoes National Park is worth a quick stop. You can also add it on to your Kilauea Iki hike as it’s right across the road from the second Kilauea Iki parking area. It’s great for those who can’t complete longer walks or for those traveling with little kids.
Content: Stopped here on the way back from Volcanos National Park. Service is friendly and there was no wait. We had the wood fired cauliflower with a side of fish and the Fuji apple bbq ribs. Best cauliflower I’ve ever had - super creamy sauce - you can definitely taste the truffle oil. The fish and ribs were both a little dry but the sauce for the ribs was also really good, sweet but not too heavy. Overall, nice food and atmosphere a little on the pricier side.
Day 2 - 2 May 2019
Content: Chain of Craters Road stretches 19-miles from the Makaopuhi Crater to the Kalapana coast descending 3,700 feet. Crater Rim Drive skirts the Kilauea Caldera and passes through 11-miles of jungle and desert ecosystems. There are plenty of areas to explore on foot as well, so bring water, sunscreen, sturdy shoes, and don't forget your camera! Aside of volcanic features, jungle, desert, and sky-shows of rainbows, sunsets, wild clouds and the like, the off-road environment is a ripe habitat for families of the endangered Hawaiian goose, called Nēnē.
Content: Sometime during the last 100 years, the Pacific Ocean revealed to the Big Island a natural sea arch formation at the end of Chain of Craters Road – a must capture photograph when visiting the park. The basalt arch is estimated to be 550 years old, a gift from Kīlauea to the mighty Pacific Ocean. Standing above it can be a little unnerving (particularly for those who fear exposure) as the seawall drops 90-feet into a rocky shore. This must see stop on Chain of Craters Road is just steps away from an easily accessible parking area, and is a one-of-a-kind feature in the national park.
Content: As you make way toward the ocean on Chain of Craters Road, there is a turnoff to the Hilina Pali Overlook where you can take in sweeping panoramic views across a coastal wilderness in the heart of Volcanoes’ backcountry. The drive to the overlook from the main park road turn off is 3.5-miles each way on a one-lane road, allowing time to view a more rugged side of the Hawai'ian landscape. A visit to this area shows adventurers an unusual and diverse terrain passing through grasslands, arid desert, volcanic landscape, island wildflowers, and groves of ohi’a trees. This area also tends to be uncrowded which makes it that much more awesome to explore.
Content: On the Islands of Hawai’i, preserving cultural heritage is one of the most important things in life, and the history is long. Learn more about it on a 1.5-mile round-trip hike to the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs, a site where Hawaiian elders (kūpuna) once designed beautiful etchings depicting the lives of the native Hawaiian people – an offering to the gods in hopes of a more fruitful life. A very cool stop along the Chain of Craters Road!
Content: This adventure provides an unparalleled overview of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Aerial views of active lava flowing from Kīlauea is a captivating site, and to see it from above with only a seatbelt between you and the bubbling Earth is unimaginably surreal and totally cool! As an added bonus, you get to see gorgeous waterfalls on the way to and from the national park. The trip starts at the Hilo International Airport, from where you will take off to explore the southern coast of the island. This doors-off adventure is harrowing indeed but if you want unobstructed photographs of the volcanic activity on the island, this is your jam. The pilots at Paradise Helicopters were true pros and also provided thoughtful interpretation along the way making it a fully immersive experience.
Content: At the end of Chain of Craters Road, a sublime hike awaits bringing you across an active volcano to a site where lava erupts into the sea. Crossing a hardened lava field with steam rising from its cracks is fascinating by itself, but the real reward is at the end of the 5-mile trek (one way) where you can watch the dramatic result of hot lava connecting with an icy Pacific. Enormous bursts of steam rise into the sky to meet the sunset, rainbows, interesting cloud formations, or whatever other magic is happening in the Hawai'ian sky that day. This is without a doubt one of the most unique hikes in the world – you will instantly feel the power of mother nature (and of Pele) all around you from your very first step. Our two days road trip ends her it was a awesome experience.