Things To Do At Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Without a doubt, and especially now, the residents of the Island of Hawai’i are extremely familiar with all acts pertaining to volcanoes and volcanic eruptions. Like a modern day Pompeii, our Big Island volcanoes are consistently and slowly brewing with action. Hawaiian Goddess Pele is surely alive and motivated, and the current lava flows are perhaps just an awakening, or maybe just a glimpse of activity that will soon pause for a later date. For those who are less informed; whether you are a resident of an outer island or a visitor, the Hawaiian Islands are ever-changing, ever-evolving, and we are just at a forefront of learning more about volcanic activity in Hawaii.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park shows all visitors a big glimpse of 70-million years of volcanism. In its entirety, guests can learn about Hawai’i’s specific volcanic evolution in relationship to growing land mass, Hawaiian culture, geology, and so much more. The initial purpose of the Volcanoes National Park was to create a naturally protected and preserved setting to house Mt. Mauna Loa and Mt. Kilauea. It is now a nucleus for everything related to Hawai’i volcanoes, Hawaiian culture, travel and tourism, activities and events, education and personal solace. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory is also held within the park providing a home for research scientists, and the park is also a protected reserve for native Hawaiian species; animals, flora and fauna.
When visiting Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park there is just so much to see and do! If you only have an hour or two, you can see a lot. If you have all day, you will learn and see a lot. If you’re truly inspired by volcanoes and have a few days, you’re going to want to plan ahead and camp at Volcanoes National Park. Although, the park does offer specific and mainstream tours for visitors, children and school field trips, I invite you to learn a little bit more about the less common activities you can experience here.
Obviously, Volcanoes National Park is best experienced by foot, especially if it is your first visit. There are few experiences offered in life to walk and hike through volcanic areas. You should definitely take advantage of this at least once in your life! The Volcanoes National Park offers over 150-miles of trails to be explored, ranging from beginner to advanced. Do your research and learn more information about all the hikes that are available. The four most popular hikes at Volcanoes National Park are Nahuku (Thurston Lava Tube), Kipukapuaulu (Bird Park), Mauna Iki and Kilauea Iki.
For those that want to be in-the-know, biking at Volcanoes National Park is allowed. For this activity, you must plan ahead and contact the Kilauea Visitor Center regarding safety updates and road closures. They have a really cool “Bike Guide” brochure, definitely check that out.
There are two campgrounds at Volcanoes National Park. Both are drive-in, and known as Kulanaokuaiki and Namakanipaio. It is free to camp at Kulanaokuaiki, but available only on a first-come, first-served kind of basis. Guests cannot camp more than 7-days per month, and are regulated to no more than 30-nights per year. To camp at Namakanipaio, you must reserve your dates through Hawai’i Volcanoes Lodge Company. Learn more at the Volcano House website, or you can easily call them at 808-756-9625.
Note: If you are a resident, know ahead of time that pets aren’t allowed.
This is a really, super cool offering! The Ranger Programs at Volcanoes National Park are awesome. Here, you can learn a lot more than you think you will about Volcanoes National Park and Hawaiian Culture. And, these programs are free. I suggest “Explore the Summit,” and the “Junior Ranger Program” as a start. Programs are posted ahead of time on the visitor board at the Kilauea Visitor Center, or you can check out their Schedule of Events here.
For more information about Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island visit the Park’s website.