Hawaii owes its whole existence to volcanoes - it is not built on a continental shelf at all unlike the vast majority of land in the world. It is a volcanic wonderland and boasts multiple active volcanoes. Two of these active volcanoes are in the stunning Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park.
The two volcanoes are Kilauea and Mauna Loa, not only is this park stunning for visitors, but it is also an important area for volcanologists to study. It is a trip into another world and an experience not to be forgotten. See here for a guide to the Hawaiian Islands.
About Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Kilauea: One Of The Most Active Volcanoes In The World
- Mauna Loa: The World's Largest Shield Volcano
- Where: On Big Island
- Established: 1916 (Originally As The Hawaii National Park Before Haleakala National Park Was Splitt Off)
- Heritage: Designated A World Heritage Site In 1987
- Area: 323,000 Acres
- Covid-19: The Pandemic Has Disrupted Travel and Services In The National Parks. One Should Check With The Local National Park Service To See What The Local Restrictions Are
Visiting the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is like visiting another planet - or a Star Trek stage set. One could be forgiven for feeling like one was on the moon and not on planet earth. One can see and explore stunning recent lava flows that extend for miles. The rocks are craggy and sharp and the rugged coastlines send huge spurts of sea spray skyward dozens of feet into the sky. Both Hawaii and Iceland have stunning volcanoes, see here to know what to expect.
If one gets lucky, it may even be possible to see lava pouring into the ocean. Or one can gaze in wonder at the plumes of molten rock erupting from deep within the earth in the stunning lava lakes here.
Perhaps surprisingly, while the volcanoes dominate the park, there are also rainforests and grassland clinging on in pockets. They are havens for some of Hawaii's rare and endangered flora and fauna.
Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes and has been erupting from 1983 to 2018. In 2018 a particularly long and violent eruption destroyed hundreds of homes and spewed out columns of volcanic ash. The crater's summit collapsed and fell almost 2,000 feet. Following this angry and prolonged burst of activity, Kilauea slipped into its first period of inactivity in around 35 years. That being said it is unlikely to have breathed its last just yet.
- Status: Most Active Volcano But Not Active As At The Time Of Writing
Kilauea is the Hawaiian name denoting "spreading, much spewing." Kilauea is a scene of contrasts with dense rainforests on the windward side of its summit and the Kau Desert on its hot and dry southwestern slope.
Meaning "long mountain" in Hawaiian, Mauna Loa is something of a contrast to Kilauea. It is older and much large and rises some 13,677 feet above sea level. But is only telling part of the story as it is formed under the sea. So taking it from its base, it adds an astounding 18,000 feet. That's enough to make it exceed Mount Everest in total height.
Mauna Loa rises gently as it slopes upward. Trek into the Manua Loa wilderness area and this is where one finds the rough lava trails, barren lava seemingly twisted and forming haunted shapes, freezing nights, cinder cones, and gaping pits.
- Height: 13,677 Feet
- Volume: 19,000 Cubic Miles In Volume (Making It Earth's Most Massive Single Mountain)
Trails In Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park
Apua Point Trail
- Length: 6.6 Miles
- Where: From The Puna Coast Trailhead Along The South Facing Shore Of the National Park
- Crosses: Over Smooth Pahoehoe Flows And Other Flows As well As Sandy Dunes
- Note: There is No Drinking Water
Mauna Loa Trail
- Length: 7.5 Miles
- Where: Hikes Up The Massive 13,678 Foot Mauna Loa
- Caution: This Is Strenuous And One Needs To Be Fit
- Terrain: Rough, Jagged, And Often Loose Lava
- Two Trailheads: Mauna Loa Road And Mauna Loa Observatory Road (The Two Trailheads The Summit Can Be Accessed From)
- Tip: One Needs To Be Properly Equipped and Experienced To Hike This
Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail (Outside The Park)
- Length: 175 Miles (So Plan This One!)
- Where: Round The Coastal Route Of The Big Island
- Hawaiian Culture: Eight Sites Significant To Native Hawaii Culture Are On This Trail
- National Historical Park: Cuts Through The Pu'uhonua o Honaunau and the Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Parks
When To Visit And Pricing
The park is open throughout the year, but the best time to visit is normally spring - as the weather may not be too hot, the island is less touristic, and one can find better deals at the hotels.
- Price Of Admission: $25.00 Per Personal Car
- Individual People: $12.00 (Hikers, Cyclists, etc.)
- Hours: Visitor Center Hours Daily From 9.00 am to 5.00 pm