Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is located on the Big Island of Hawaii.  This park protects some of the most unique landscapes in the world.  It extends from sea level to 13,677 feet in elevation, encompassing two of the world’s most active volcanoes—Kilauea and Mauna Loa.  The most recent eruption of Kilauea was in May of 2018, which made some permanent changes not only to the National Park, but to the entire island. 

When planning my birthday trip to Maui in January, I knew I definitely wanted to take a day trip to the Big Island to explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  There are many ways to “island hop,” but since we were only planning for a day trip, we decided our best option was a direct flight with Hawaiian Airlines.  We departed Kahului Airport around 8 am and landed in Hilo not even 45 minutes later, and by 9 am were on our way to the park!

Growing up, we frequently traveled to beaches in Florida for vacation, so I’m fairly familiar with tropical climates.  I know daily rain/thunderstorms are very common, and can last anywhere from minutes to all day.  I also know that the day could call for rainy weather, but it could end up being sunny all day, or vice versa. Leading up to our trip, the day we had planned for this park always showed 100% chance of rain, all day.  Every. single. time. I. checked. I told myself I’d be okay with whatever weather the day would bring, and we’d just figure it out along the way.  However, I was definitely not disappointed when we literally had the most beautiful day, full of sunshine!! The rain held off until we arrived back to the airport for our return flight- so thankful! 🙂

We had a great day exploring the park.  Unfortunately, some of the more popular attractions in the park, like the Thurston Lava Tubes, were still closed from the 2018 eruption.  We still had plenty to keep us busy though.  First, we headed for the Kileuea iki Overlook Trail, which was about 4 miles round trip.  This trail was SO cool.  It started off in a jungle like environment, then you hiked down to the base, where you walked across a literal crater! It was unreal.  I loved this hike so much.

After our hike, we drove the Chain of Craters Road.  The Holei Sea Arch was closed due to instability/cracks in some of the rocks, which was a big bummer because I was really looking forward to seeing it ☹. You could still drive to the end of that road and get out to walk and view some sea cliffs, just not the arch.  While on this drive we were also able to see some dried lava, which was so unique.  I wish pictures did the landscape justice, but as always, they never do.

Overall, we had a great day exploring this park!  The hike was seriously one of my all time faves, and I’m always a sucker for pretty views of the ocean.  We finished up at the park with about an hour to spare, so we stopped in Hilo Town for an acai bowl and then walked around the shops.  It was the perfect travel day on the Big Island!

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