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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
National Park picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
National Park picture in Hawaii - The Big Island

Key Info

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
4.8
Overall
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Scorecard

  • Value
    5.0
  • Facilities
    3.5
  • Atmosphere
    5.0

Read about how we rank Things to Do.

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.

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#1 Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park 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 ... Read more » Westend61 / Getty Images

#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 ... Read more » Tor Johnson / Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

#3 Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park Up until the early 19th century on Big Island, Hawaiians who broke the law could avoid a punishment of death by fleeing to a region of the west coast known ... Read more » Cameron Brooks / Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

#4 Waipio Valley Waipio Valley, translated as "curved water," is named for the river that runs through it, and it's a historically significant spot to the Hawaiian people. Situated along the Hamakua ... Read more » Tor Johnson / Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

#5 Kaunaoa Beach Kaunaoa Beach is one of Big Island's most picturesque white sand beaches. So, most travelers recommend coming early (around 8:30 a.m.) to Kaunaoa to snag one of ... Read more » StephanHoerold / Getty Images

#6 Hilo Farmers Market Local farmers and artisans congregate each day to sell everything from produce to seafood, handicrafts to clothing in downtown Hilo. And most travelers agree there's no better place on ... Read more » Hawaii Tourism Authority

#7 Anaehoomalu Beach One of the Kohala Coast's premier beaches, Anaehoomalu Beach is a favorite haunt for frequent Big Island visitors. Do as they do and call it "A-Bay" – that way you ... Read more » Rick Poon / Getty Images

#8 Hapuna Beach State Park The deliberately named waters of Hapuna Beach – Hapuna means "spring of life" in Hawaiian – are probably the most loved on all of the Big Island. Both visitors and residents ... Read more » Kirk Lee Aeder / Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB)

#9 Papakolea Beach Putting Papakolea Beach on one's travel itinerary is not for the faint of heart. For one, its secluded location makes it tough to reach. Plus, there is little shade ... Read more » Praveen P.N / Getty Images

#10 Punalu'u Beach Some say the waters here are too rough and rocky to really enjoy swimming, but that's not the real reason to visit Punalu'u, anyway. This beach in southern ... Read more » Tor Johnson / Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

#11 Kealakekua Bay Snorkelers like to visit this remote bay on Hawaii's west coast for the tropical fish, sea turtles and Hawaiian Spinner dolphins that are plainly visible just below the calm ... Read more » Glowimages / Getty Images

# Dolphin Quest Read more » Craig Jones / EyeEm / Getty Images

# Kona Coffee Living History Farm Read more » Tor Johnson / Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

# Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Read more » Daeja Fallas / Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Akaka Falls picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Waipio Valley Lookout picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Kaunaoa Beach picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Hilo Farmers Market picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
A Bay picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Hapuna Beach picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Papakolea Beach picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Black Sand Punalu'u picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Kealakekua Bay picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Dolphin picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Coffee farm picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Botanical Garden picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Akaka Falls picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Puuhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Waipio Valley Lookout picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
Kaunaoa Beach picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
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Hapuna Beach picture in Hawaii - The Big Island
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If you're feeling adventurous, consider a backcountry hike through the lava fields of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Westend61 / Getty Images

Short hikes through Akaka Falls State Park lead you to two consecutive waterfalls, Kahuna and Akaka. Tor Johnson / Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park is located near some of the best snorkeling beaches of the Big Island. Cameron Brooks / Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

You can enjoy Waipio's scenery on a van tour, a strenuous hike or on horseback. Tor Johnson / Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Kaunaoa Beach is one of the Big Island's most picturesque shorelines. StephanHoerold / Getty Images

Most travelers agree there's no better place on the Big Island to sample local produce and purchase local crafts than the Hilo Farmers Market. Hawaii Tourism Authority

A-Bay, as it's known, is a great place to learn stand-up paddleboarding.  Rick Poon / Getty Images

Hapuna's waves are walm in summer and rough and rocky in the winter. Kirk Lee Aeder / Island of Hawaii Visitors Bureau (IHVB)

Papakolea gets its green coloring from olivine crystals found in the nearby cinder cone. Praveen P.N / Getty Images

Visit this southern beach for the beautiful black sand and the endangered honu turtles that swim to shore. Tor Johnson / Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Thanks to its clear, shallow waters, Kealakekua Bay is a popular snorkel spot. Glowimages / Getty Images

Craig Jones / EyeEm / Getty Images

To learn more about how coffee is grown and harvested in Hawaii, plus much more, heed the advice of past visitors and make a pit stop at the Kona Coffee Living History Farm. Tor Johnson / Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Past visitors say the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is a photographer's dream. Daeja Fallas / Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

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