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Top Attractions to Explore in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

By: Cityseeker
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In Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a myriad of captivating attractions awaits exploration. This dynamic landscape showcases the power of nature through its ever-changing features, offering visitors a chance to witness the forces that shape our world. From expansive calderas to ancient lava tubes, the park's attractions provide an opportunity to connect with the energy of volcanic activity. As you journey through the park, you will encounter diverse ecosystems, dramatic landscapes, ancient legends, and the enduring spirit of the Hawaiian islands. Whether you're gazing into the depths of a crater or hiking through lava fields, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park promises an immersive and unforgettable experience in the heart of a volcanic wonderland.

Kilauea Visitors Center

Kilauea Visitors Center caters to all your needs before you commence your exploration. This center features informational exhibits and a small theater where visitors can watch a short film about volcanoes. Another interesting feature is the large diorama of the park. Here, visitors can grab all the essentials that will be of much use during the excursion. Talk to a park ranger if you wish to know about the active volcanoes and ranger activities. A small bookstore at the center offers a collection of local books.

1 Crater Rim Drive, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, HI, United States, 96785
Volcano Art Center Gallery

Founded in 1974, this unique gallery finds its home in the historic 1877 Volcano House Hotel building in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. A grand haven for visual artists, Volcano Art Center Gallery is known for featuring an eclectic variety of works by local talents. Here, you can find exhibits ranging from native wood carvings and jewelry to glass sculptures and paint, photography, along with mixed media. Take an immersive walk through the gallery to admire local art, watch a local performance, or shop for your favorite pieces.

Building 42, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, HI, United States, 96785
Mount Kīlauea

When visiting the beautiful islands of Hawaii, most tourists think of sunny beaches, but one thing that you cannot miss on a trip here is Mount Kīlauea in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. A staggering two million people visit this active volcano every year to view the enthralling sight of the mountain spewing ash and molten lava. There are several hiking trails and craters from where one can get a glimpse of this incredible erupting force of nature. Located at an elevation of 4,091 feet (1,247 meters), Mount Kīlauea makes for an amazing experience to witness the ancient landscape of these islands.

Crater Rim Drive, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, HI, United States, 96778
Thurston Lava Tube

Located just off Crater Rim Drive, Thurston Lave Tube is something that should not be missed when in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The experience is easy for almost everyone, and entails a short stroll through upland native Hawaiian rain forests, through fern groves and down an ancient lava tube. Dark, damp and eerie, the walk through the tube is lighted, and puddles of seeping water collect on the floor. The walk is easy and quick but be sure to take the time to fully enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of the area. Visit late in the afternoon to avoid the crowd.

Crater Rim Drive, Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, HI, United States, 96718
Kīlauea Iki Crater

Walk over this unique crater to witness the ancient volcanic landscape of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. A verdant trail winds through a Hawaiian rainforest to reach the Kīlauea Iki Crater. In 1959, the floor erupted here to a staggering height of 1,900 feet (579 meters) below the Puʻupua‘i cinder cone. Today, visitors can explore the site of the eruption and its surroundings. A strenuous but rewarding hike, Kīlauea Iki Crater is an ideal destination for offbeat wanderers who want to explore the gems of the rainforest and know more about the volcanic terrain and its history.

Kīlauea Iki Crater, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, HI, United States, 96778
Steam Vents

Witness a magical and enthralling sight with a visit to the steam vents at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Known as Kūkamāhuākea and Haʻakulamanu, the steam vents and sulfur banks emit billows of water vapor from the ancient crevices that form the park's natural landscape. Walk further away and you will come across an even more intriguing sight, where the vents bubble out volcanic gases such as Sulfur Dioxide and Hydrogen Sulfide. Together, these gases produce a yellow mineral known as kūkaepele, or "the waste of pele", among local Hawaiians.

Crater Rim Drive, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, HI, United States, 96778
Haʻakulamanu (Sulphur Banks)

Haʻakulamanu, or Sulphur Banks, is a site where ancient gases billow out of the vents that comprise the landscape of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. A boardwalk enables visitors to witness the vents as they emit gases and water vapor. The gases include hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide. When the two gases combine and react, they produce a yellow mineral in the form of pure sulfur. In Hawaiian language, it is referred to as kūkaepele, which is believed to be the waste of the volcano deity, Pele.

Sulphur Banks Trail, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, HI, United States, 96785
‎Kīlauea Overlook

Kīlauea Overlook is a stunning panorama in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Providing the best views of the Kaluapele, or the Kīlauea caldera, the overlook can be accessed from the parking lot via an easy, short, and scenic trail. An interpretive board about the caldera welcomes you to the spot. Here, you can see the ancient black lava bed and a few open steam vents. A great spot for photography enthusiasts.

Pāhoa, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, HI, United States, 96785
Mauna Loa

Rising above the sea with its top brushing the clouds, this active peak is one of the earth's largest volcanoes. The sheer size of Mauna Loa adds to its allure. Covering almost half of the island, its steep slopes flank the ocean floor. Comprising one of the five volcanoes that constitute Hawaii, it is located within Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Carved by molten magma and dotted with cinder cones, this great massif formed eons ago is featured in local folklore. A dazzling landscape of rolling lava, black rock and forested slopes makes this a geological beauty that attracts people from far and wide. In winter, the volcano is sheathed in snowy garb, creating a spectacular panorama that captures the imagination.

Mauna Loa, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, HI, United States, 96785
Halemaumau Crater

Halemaumau Crater is a large pit crater, the centerpiece of the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park. Halemaumau is one the most active craters in the park and is a short 10-minute walk from the parking lot to the overlook. The overlook is frequently visited by Native Hawaiians who come to show respect to the powerful fire goddess Pele, who is believed to reside here. The area is sacred and visitors are asked to be respectful. Visitors are also asked to be mindful of the endangered Nene geese that frequent the area. These birds should not be approached or fed, and injuring one leads to fines at the very least.

Volcano, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, HI, United States, 96778
Hōlei Sea Arch

Hōlei Sea Arch is a spectacular lava rock formation that is perched above the environs of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, overlooking the mesmerizing waters. Making for a dramatic sight, the 90-foot-tall (27.43 meters) arch is etched out amid ancient volcanic cliffs, offering splendid vistas of the Pacific Ocean. An ethereal formation, it will eventually degenerate into the sea and be replaced by others in due time. A stunning play of nature, Hōlei Sea Arch is an unmissable attraction to be witnessed in the park.

Chain of Craters Road, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, HI, United States, 96778
Keanakako'i Overlook

Located beyond the Keanakākoʻi, or the cave of the adzes, where local carving experts gathered to collect the rare basalt, this crater also doubles as an overlook that offers dramatic views of the fuming lava in the distance. Accessible via a portion of the Old Crater Rim Drive, Keanakako'i Overlook is one of the most stunning places in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to witness natural volcanic activity. Observe the billowing smoke and lava and capture it in your lens for keepsakes. Stay until the evening to witness the air and clouds turn an ethereal shade of orange.

Crater Rim Drive, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano, HI, United States, 96785
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