Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

#1 in Best Things To Do in Hawaii - The Big Island
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
1 of 3
Westend61/Getty Images

Key Info

1 Crater Rim Drive

Price & Hours

$25 per car or $12 per pedestrian
24/7 daily

Details

Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.8scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Four months after closing due to intense and damaging volcanic activity, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park reopened in mid-September 2018. "The Volcano," as it were, loosely refers to two active volcanoes in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park; specifically, it's Kilauea that's the real must-see. A 4,000-foot-tall mountain, Kilauea has been spitting, spewing and oozing since Jan. 3, 1983 and in May 2018, it started erupting, forcing evacuations and destroying entire communities. Although the eruptions have stopped, Kilauea is still at the top of America's list of volcanoes to monitor. 

Most people who come to the park hope to see some lava flow; some travelers see a little bit, others are not as lucky. Check in at the Kilauea Visitor Center for up-to-date information on trails, safety precautions and where to expect lava flow. 

Mauna Loa – or Long Mountain – is overshadowed by Kilauea's fame, but not its height – this occasionally snow-capped volcano reaches nearly 14,000 feet and is the second-largest volcano on Earth. Exploring Kilauea will probably eat up much of your time and energy, but don't worry; majestic Mauna Loa is clearly visible and picture-ready in much of the park. Stop to snap a photo from afar even if you don't get up close and personal. 

Many choose to spend several days hiking in the park, driving along the scenic Chain of Craters Road (where 2003 lava flow naturally dead-ended a paved road). But if you only have one day, opt for the three-hour hike or 11-mile drive along Crater Rim Drive. You'll pass by the Kilauea caldera and through a magnificent rainforest, enjoying the park's unique vegetation along the way. If your schedule allows, past visitors recommend you tag along on a ranger-led walk to learn more about the park and Hawaiian history; check inside the visitor center upon arrival to see if any ranger-led activities coincide with your visit.

The Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park is open all day and night year-round. Admission to the park costs $12 per person or $25 per vehicle and is good for seven days. You'll find the Kilauea Visitor Center on Crater Rim Drive, south of Hilo off Highway 11. The visitor center is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The park is about 45 minutes from Hilo and between two and three hours from Kona, depending on traffic; keep these distances in mind when selecting your accommodations. Visit the park's official website for more information on operating hours, entrance fees, safety precautions and nearby places to eat.

See all Hotels in Hawaii - The Big Island »

More Best Things To Do in Hawaii - The Big Island

Akaka Falls State Park
Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
Type
Time to Spend
1 of 13
#2 Akaka Falls State Park

A visit to Hilo's Akaka Falls State Park will entail a short, low-intensity hike in northeastern Hawai'i. Its payoff comes in the form of two consecutive waterfalls – cascading Kahuna Falls and the spectacular free-falling Akaka Falls, which earned the park its name. 

Read more
Tor Johnson/Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)
See full list of Best Things To Do in Hawaii - The Big Island »

Explore More of Hawaii - The Big Island

Recommended

The 20 Best Michigan State Parks

Two peninsulas, four Great Lakes and innumerable natural highlights elevate Michigan's state parks.

Zach WatsonApril 18, 2019

50 Awesome Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler

Consider these vacation ideas for your next getaway.

Holly JohnsonApril 11, 2019

The 13 Best National Parks in California

You won't regret adding one of these national parks to your California itinerary.

Rachel CenterApril 10, 2019

10 Beautiful Places to Visit in the South of France

Plan a getaway to these special destinations to soak up culture, cuisine and quaint atmospheres.

Gwen PratesiApril 8, 2019

Best Carry-on Luggage of 2019

U.S. News rated the best carry-on luggage, considering recommendations from experts and consumers.

Lyn MettlerApril 3, 2019

The 11 Best Utah National Parks and Monuments to Visit

From birding to bouldering to boating, Utah's national parks have it all.

Zach WatsonApril 2, 2019

The 30 Best Zoos in the U.S.

Get an up-close look at wild creatures in natural settings at America's top animal parks.

Kyle McCarthyMarch 28, 2019

15 Scenic Train Rides to Add to Your Bucket List

Climb aboard these locomotives for jaw-dropping views.

Christine SmithMarch 26, 2019

13 Top Places to Visit in Tuscany, Italy

Ditch the crowded streets of Rome or Milan and head to Italy's picturesque countryside.

Lyn MettlerMarch 25, 2019

10 Excellent Educational Vacations for Families

Make sure your next getaway is both enjoyable and informative.

Holly JohnsonMarch 14, 2019