Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii (also known as the Big Island) is a multi-sensory adventure.
You’ll likely experience the otherworldly sights, sounds, smells and heat of active volcanoes only once in your lifetime. Renting a car is the best way to get around the park. Be prepared for varying temperatures and changeable weather. Bring hiking shoes and wear layers!
One-Day Itinerary – Crater Rim Drive
The 18-kilometer Crater Rim Drive is a popular tour with many clearly marked stops along the way. Here are a few must-see spots.
Kilauea Visitor Center
Ask rangers for up-to- date advisories. Sections of the park can close with little warning due to volcanic activity. Be sure to check nps.gov/havo in advance.
Thomas A. Jaggar Museum
The Jaggar Museum has seismographs measuring real-time seismic activity and a view of the fuming vent of the Halemaumau Crater from the overlook. In Hawaiian mythology, this crater is said to be the home of Pele, goddess of the volcano.
Kīlauea Iki Overlook
Stop to see the vast Kilauea Iki crater, formed by a massive eruption in 1959. It’s a 120-meter descent to the bottom and, more than 50 years later, the crater floor is still warm to the touch. If time allows, take the 6.5-kilometer hike around Kilauea Iki.
Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube)
This tunnel was created by a river of lava hundreds of years ago. Walk through lush foliage to reach a short, 20-minute walk through the tunnel.
This nearly barren trail is an area that was devastated during the Kilauea Iki eruption. Take a 30-minute walk along the paved, wheelchair-accessible trail.
Walking through lighted lava tubes at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Two-Day Itinerary – Chain of Craters Road
Day two will take you along Chain of Craters Road, a 30-kilometer drive from the visitor center. This gorgeous drive with lots of scenic stops is subject to changing conditions due to volcanic activity, so be sure to check at the visitor center.
Puu Huluhulu Trail
Start this moderately easy and popular trail at the Mauna Ulu parking area. Look for the active Puu Oo cone in the distance and great views of surrounding volcanoes and the ocean in the distance.
Have your camera ready to record absolutely spectacular views of the Pacific at this overlook.
Puu Loa Petroglyphs
The Puu Loa Petroglyphs – a rock field covered with ancient carvings – is a sacred site for many Hawaiians. Join a ranger-led hike.
Holei Sea Arch
Don’t miss this limited-time photo op; the rocky arch will eventually crumble into the ocean. The end of the road is just ahead. Take more photos of the expansive, cooled lava fields.
Plumes of smoke and ash rise from a volcanic crater at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Honolulu International Airport (HNL) is the main gateway to Oahu and the rest of Hawaii, but airports on each island make it easy to explore the entire state. Fly into Hilo (ITO) or Kona (KOA) international airports on Hawaii Island, Kahului Airport (OGG) on Maui, Lanai Airport (LNY) on Lanai, Molokai Airport (MKK) on Molokai and Lihue Airport (LIH) on Kauai.