HAWAI'I VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK ITINERARY
Updated: Dec 6, 2021
We visited Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island of Hawai'i during Kilauea's eruption! Here is the itinerary you need in order to have a great day in the park!
Since this is a National Park, there is a payment for entry. This specific park is $30 per vehicle. They do have several different discounts depending on y0ur situation, so we recommend that you visit the website for more information.
If you visit National Parks often (more than 3 a year) we recommend that you buy the National Park annual pass. The pass is $80, and it gets you entry into any US National Park within the year. You do get your money's worth as long as you see 3 parks! This year, we have visited 12 national parks, so we have made our money's worth 4x over! This pass allows you access to other parks and recreational grounds around the country as well, but we have not used the pass for any of those.
KILAUEA IKI TRAIL
This is the most popular trail in the park! This trail is a 3.3 mile loop trail that takes you around and down into the Kilauea Iki Crater. This specific lava lake was made during the 1959 eruption, which took 30 years to harden to what it is today.
This hike is rated a moderate hike by all trails, and we would agree. There is a 600+ ft elevation gain, and you do have to maneuver around cracks in the ground, rocks, stairs and switch backs. Once down into the crater, keep an eye out for stacked rocks on the trail which lead you to the correct way to hike!
We really enjoyed this hike, as it was not too difficult for us and is also very unique! Keep an eye out for steam vents during the hike!
THURSTON LAVA TUBE
After our hike on the Kilauea Iki Trail, we visited the Thurston Lava Tube. You come right out at the start of the lava tube when finishing the Kilauea Iki Trail, so it is a great thing to add on to your hike. The lava tube is a very short walk through and actually makes a loop back to where you started. The tube is lit up, so don't worry about bringing a flashlight for this one.
CRATER RIM TRAIL
The Crater Rim Trail has several overlooks along Kilauea's summit. This is the trail that we took in order to see Kilauea's eruption. We did not hike the entire trail because there are several parking lots along it! This trail is marked easy and again we would agree on that! The trail is paved and would be very easy for children and older adults. One of the lookouts is right by the steam vents. You really don't have to do any work to see the steam vents, as they are right by the parking lot. The steam is created from rain water trickling down into the hot earth.
KILAUEA ERUPTION 2021
You can find many lookouts for the best view of the summit including Wahinekapu (Steaming Bluff), Kīlauea Overlook, Uēkahuna, Keanakākoʻi, Kūpinaʻi Pali (Waldron Ledge), as well as other lookouts along Crater Rim Trail! We thought that the best view of the eruption was at the Uklahuna lookout.
It is best to visit the summit at night in order to see the lava glow and have the best experience, but we were unable to do this. We had actually visited Big Island a couple of days before the 2021 eruption began, but once that Kilauea started erupting, we knew that we had to return. When we returned to see the eruption, we did not want to stay overnight on the Big Island, so we had to catch a flight before it got dark.
During the day we are able to see only the steam coming from the summit, but keep in mind that the volcano had only started erupting 3 days before we visited. As the eruption carries on, you may be able to see some lava during the day time!
According to the national park website, it gets very crowded at night time. Plan accordingly! You may want to arrive before it gets dark in order to find parking.
HOLEI SEA ARCH
This volcanic sea arch is all the way at the end of Chain of Crater's Road. It is a very popular attraction here at the park. This formation was made over several years of lava rock erosion, and will actually crumble one day. It is a pretty impressive sight to see!
We were pretty lucky with our wild life sightings on our 2nd trip in the park!
We saw a feral pig run across the road as we were driving. We unfortunately did not get a picture or video of it, but still super cool to see it. These feral pigs are very concentrated in the national park, so keep your eye out! They are actually an invasive species of the park and were brought here from Europe.
We also saw several NeNe's in the park. The NeNe is Hawaii's state bird and is actually endangered! We got a kick out of watching them, as they do not appear to be frightened by humans. They came right up to us and seemed to think that we had food for them. PLEASE DON'T FEED THE WILDLIFE!
This is all that we saw during our two times in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. We do recommend setting aside a full day in the park, as there is a ton to see!
Let us know in the comments what you would love to see on your trip to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park!