When it comes to the Big Island, its name alone implies that it's bound to be pretty tourist-friendly and filled with plenty for travelers to do. If one steps away from the tourist hotspots and expected Big Island routine, though, they just might find that the less-traveled route is the better alternative.
Bordering the volcanic craters of Halemaʻumaʻu and Kilaueaʻiki, Volcano Village is most definitely off the beaten path. Even so, it's a destination that has been perhaps the best-kept secret of the Big Island, with people only realizing its existence during their trip to Volcanoes National Park. So, why should future Hawaii travelers be considering Volcano Village? For starters, it provides a unique experience unlike any other in Hawaii.
What Can You Do In Volcano Village?
Just visiting Volcano Village is an activity in itself; situated at an elevation of ~4,000 feet, it provides some breathtaking views of its volcanic landscape. Those who are visiting, however, are probably doing so to see the said volcanoes - and they've come to the right place. The first thing on most people's lists will be to explore Volcanoes National Park, and there's enough to spread a visit throughout multiple days. The biggest draw of Volcanoes National Park is the Kīlauea Volcano, which is also the most active volcano in the world. Volcano Village sits just five minutes away in the rainforest that surrounds the park, making for a pretty scenic (short) journey to it.
- What To See: Educational visitor center, Kīlauea Iki crater hike, Halemaʻumaʻu crater overlook, Thurston lava tube, scenic drive on Chain of Craters road, visit the Volcano Art Center, see the sulphur banks, scenic drive on Mauna Loa Road, Keanakākoʻi Crater, and Halemaʻumaʻu overlook
- Hours: 9 AM - 5 PM
- Admission: $30 for one car, $15 for pedestrians or bikers, $55 for a year-long pass
Wine lovers will be aptly pleased to visit Volcano Village, as well, thanks to the Volcano Winery. This vineyard offers a surprising plethora of wines made from grapes that grow well in its high elevation and rich volcanic soil.
Some wines one can expect to find are:
- Symphony, cayuga white, and pinot noir grape wines
- Macadamia-nut honey wine (a black tea version is also available)
- Wines made from local fruit
Those looking to stretch their legs can do so when visiting Niaulani Rain Forest, which is home to koa trees that are some of the oldest on the island. Hikers will also run into ohia rainforests, which are grown out of old lava flows. The guided hike through this unique rainforest is less than two miles, and tours are led from 9:30 AM - 10:30 AM every Monday. Those who can't make a guided tour are also welcome to take their own self-guided tours.
Looking for all of Volcano Village's artisans in one place? Don't miss out on the Farmer's Market that takes place from 6:30 AM to 10 AM every Sunday. There, one can find locally-made wares and foods, all within a short walk to the center of the village.
Where To Stay In Volcano Village
Volcano Village might be small but that doesn't mean it will be hard to find accommodations to suit one's needs. For those seeking a bit more privacy - and perhaps, more space - than a hotel offers, there are some vacation rentals to consider. These range in price but start from $150/night, depending on the season in which one is booking.
Another option is the Kilauea Lodge. This lodging hotel was built in 1938 and was initially set up as a camp, which gives the entire place a summer-y and rustic feel. Visitors to Volcano Village should book early, though, as these cottages are prone to fast booking due to their proximity to Volcanoes National Park. Kilauea Lodge also offers a highly-rated restaurant on-site that's serving up a delicious breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Those looking to stay local will find that this lodge provides all they need without having to go very far.
For those seeking a bit of luxury during their stay in Volcano Village, the Volcano Village Lodge is a great place to start. The lodge itself is only one mile away from Volcanoes National Park, making it a great option for those who plan on spending multiple days exploring its landscape. This award-winning inn offers the perfect balance of luxury and comfort, along with stellar views from many of its rooms. With features such as fireplaces, in-room microwaves, mini-refrigerators, private bathrooms, and sitting rooms, the lodge is also a great alternative to those looking for privacy, but not the cost of a vacation rental.