5 Things You Shouldn’t Miss at Hawaii’s Volcano National Park
Did you know that the largest active volcano in the world, Mauna Loa, is located on the Big Island of Hawaii? That’s right – and it’s just one of the reasons that Volcanoes National Park is so fascinating! With so much to see, a visit to Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park can feel overwhelming, but we have you covered. Keep reading to find out about the five things you shouldn’t miss at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Volcanoes National Park is a must-see located on the eastern side of “The Big Island” of Hawaii. There are endless things to see and explore.
5 Things Not to Miss at Volcano National Park
1. Kilauea Visitor Center
This informative and well-designed visitor center is a great first stop. Here you can watch a free film, “Born of Fire, Born of Sea,” and learn all about Hawaii’s volcanoes, including past eruptions, volcanic activity and the significance of volcanoes in Hawaii’s culture and traditions.
You can also check the park’s current conditions, and continuously updated eruption info. The visitor center is also a great resource for information about hiking trails, safety precautions, sightseeing tips, maps and more. Park rangers conduct daily guided tours, and hours and info can be found here.
There is a nonprofit park store located here where you can purchase books, souvenirs, apparel, maps, toys and more. There are also restrooms, water and phones available. Open daily, 9:00am – 5:00pm (Hours may vary).
2. Chain of Craters Road
From vast lava fields to lush rainforests to panoramic sea views, this 19-mile drive is a showstopper! This drive along the Eastern Rift takes about 45 minutes, but allow up to 2 hours to include time for all the scenic spots along the way. Over the years, lava flow from eruptions have closed portions of this road, and as you drive you will be able to see the directions of the lava flow from various eruptions.
Some of the drive’s highlights are various scenic lookouts, Pu’u Loa Petroglyph Field, Holei Sea Arch, Kealakomo, Devil’s Throat and much, much more.
There are hiking trails accessible via Chain or Craters Road, but always check current conditions and safety precautions with a park ranger before attempting any hikes.
3. Thurston Lava Tube
Add exploring a 500-year old tube formed by flowing lava to your bucket list! Stepping inside this dark, cool, quiet cave is a sensory delight after being in the chirping, bright, humid rainforest – you will instantly feel nature’s air conditioning.
The trail through the lava tube is approximately 1.5 miles, and it is lit from 8:00am – 8:00pm (we suggest bringing a flashlight outside of these hours). Parking is minimal, so it is best to arrive before/after peak hours.
4. Steam Vents and Sulphur Banks
Located around Kilauea’s caldera, the Steam Vents and Steam Bluffs are a sight to see! Resulting from cracks and fissures in the volcano, it allows steam and heat from the fire below the surface to escape.
The steam can be incredibly hot, so always maintain a safe distance. There is a parking lot near the Steam Vents, and from there you can walk a short path to the Steam Bluffs – an incredible view! Make sure you save enough time to continue to the Sulphur Banks, where volcanic gasses are released from deeper faults. The sulphur gives the air a “rotten egg smell”, but can turn the surrounding landscape beautiful shades or yellow, red and brown.
5. The “Glow”
This one may be a little controversial, because depending on eruption activity and weather conditions, there may not be any glow to see. As of March 2023, active eruptions are happening, but conditions can change without notice. The park rangers are always the best source for safe viewing locations of lava flow. The best viewing times are at dusk or later, and the park is open 24 hours. Even if there is no lava flow activity, Volcanoes National Park is still well worth your time.
The Perfect All-Inclusive Vacation Package Awaits You
Our Big Island Premier Package, or one of our Island Hopping Packages are a great way to explore Volcanoes National Park either on your own or on one of our guided tours.
There it is – our recommendations for the top five things to see at Volcanoes National Park! Do you agree with our list, or did we miss something? Let us know your favorite sights at
Volcanoes National Park, and happy exploring!