The Big Island of Hawaii is home to the world’s most active volcanoes. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park covers 335,259 acres from the summit of Mauna Loa to the ocean with 150 miles of hiking trails through volcanic craters, petroglyphs, lava tubes, rainforests, lava fields, and two active volcanoes: Kilauea and Mauna Loa. Located 45 miles southwest of Hilo within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is Kilauea, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Since its eruption in 1983, Kilauea has been alternating between intermittent pulsing and steady streams of lava. After 35 years, Kilauea erupted again in 2018, lasting from May through August, and changed the southeast district of the island forever. The eruption created 22 open fissures, the largest earthquake on the island in 40 years, casted ash 11,000 feet into the air, and destroyed over 700 homes and structures. Since its eruption, it has continued to interchange between intermittent pulsing and steady streams of lava.
Due to the constant visual of the lava flow, the national park brings in roughly a million visitors a year to take part in this spectacular event. The park was recognized as a World Biosphere Site by UNESCO in 1980 and a World Heritage Site in 1987. There are many sites to see when visiting Kilauea, such as the Kilauea Visitors Center, Crater Rim Drive, Halemaumau Crater, Puu Oo Vent, Chain of Craters Road, and the Volcano House. You can drive, hike or take a helicopter and boat tour to witness the lava touch the ocean. The second volcano, Mauna Loa is one of five volcanoes that form the Big Island and is also one of the world’s largest volcanoes in the world; it makes up 51% of the island and stands at 13,681 feet above sea level. Due to the height of the volcano, it snows on the summit every winter; with its last eruption in 1984, the contrast of weather and scenery makes this volcano a national wonder. Both volcanoes hold historical and cultural importance to the local and native people.
If you choose to visit the Volcano National Park we recommend making a day trip out of it as you will see several of the popular sites of Hawaii on your way since it is roughly a 2 hour drive each way. If the volcano is active, the best time to visit is at dusk or dawn.