Travel Guide: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

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Park It: Hawaii Volcanoes

What to see and where to stay in and around Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

A lava field in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
The USGS's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

By Susan Hanson
Originally appeared in the April/May 2016 issue of Virtuoso Traveler.
Set along the southeastern coast of Hawaii’s Big Island, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park gets its name from two of the world’s most active volcanoes: Mauna Loa, which last erupted in 1984, and Kilauea, which has been erupting continuously since 1983. The park’s 333,000 acres contain seven ecological zones, endangered plant and animal species, and archaeological sites held sacred by Hawaii’s indigenous people.
INSIDER TIP: “A must-see,” according to Honolulu-based Virtuoso advisor Randy King: “Thurston Lava Tube, a stop along the Crater Rim Drive Tour. The weather can be unpredictable, so bring a light jacket. Also, leave the lava rocks where you find them so as not to upset Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire!”
WHAT’S NEW: To commemorate the park’s own 100th anniversary, plans are in the works for a new museum to be housed in the former administration building. Meanwhile, the building’s lobby is serving as a studio for artists-in-residence in May, August, and December.
SAVE IT: The critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle nests along the coast in late May through December. To help preservation efforts, visit the Friends of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park website at
DO IT: Hiking the park’s Kilauea Iki crater and horseback riding at a nearby ranch are two highlights of National Geographic Expeditions’ eight-day Hawaii adventure, which also includes a private whale-watching cruise and visit to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park.
See More: 7 Must-Visit U.S. National Parks

Photo Credits: (Volcano) George Burba/iStock, (Lava) Stephan Hoerold/iStock, (Observatory) Diana Lynne/iStock
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