I love the Big Island of Hawaii. I spent part of my college education working with dolphins and studying at the University of Hawaii. One of my favorite places to visit is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There is just something amazing about being able to explore an active volcano. Today I am excited to share our Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Travel Tips!
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is ever changing as Kilauea continually erupts. One of our best tips is to check the National Park website for any current closures or volcano updates prior to heading to the park. Many days there are strong fumes in the area that can be hard for anyone with respiratory issues.
Portions of the Craters of the Rim road are closed currently due to volcanic activity. These closures change based on the volcano and what is happening. You can still enjoy a large portion of the park even with the closures.
Getting to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
You can reach the park from either Kona side or Hilo side of the island. Hilo is approximately 30 miles to the park entrance. From Kona, it is 96 miles. If you are leaving from Kona, we suggest going towards South Point and visiting the Punalu’u Bake Shop! Have a lilikoi malasada! You will not be disappointed.
Things to know –
Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day year-round, including ALL holidays.
The Kīlauea Visitor Center is located on Crater Rim Drive a short distance from the entrance station on the right.
- Kīlauea Visitor Center is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
- Jaggar Museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Note: Hours are subject to change due to volcanic activity and visitation.
Please visit the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Section of the NPS website for current fee rates.
For current lava conditions and road closures check out the Hawaii Volcanoes Website or call 808-985-6000 between 9am-5pm.
Resources for more information about the lava flows:
USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
by phone at: (808) 967-8862
by web at: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php
County of Hawai’i Civil Defense
by phone at: (808) 935-0031 (7:45 am – 4:30 pm)
by web at: http://www.hawaiicounty.gov/active-alerts/
You cell phone service will most likely be spotty if it works at all within the park.
Be prepared for rain at any time. When it does rain it comes down! Rainjackets or garbage bags are a great thing to have with you.
Keep an eye out for Nene Goose on the side of the road and in parking lots. The Nene is protected and should not be fed or touched.
Things to do –
When you first enter the park the Kilauea Visitor Center is a great place to stop for clean bathrooms, park info, and a great gift shop. There is a park movie that explains more about the volcano.
The Jagger Museum is a great place to visit during your trip to Hawaii Volcanoes NP. The museum has really interesting exhibits showcasing the current volcano activity. You can also jump on the floor and make a seismograph move which is always amusing. The Jagger Museum is open daily from 10am to 7:30pm.
Thurston Lave Tube is a great small hike for the entire family. Experience walking through a lava tube. The tube is lit and easily walkable. The area is surrounded by rainforest rich with birds.
Stay after dark to see the red glow! You can see the red glow from the Halema’uma’u Crater from the Jagger Museum overlook. Be prepared if it is going strong for their to be parking congestion and a bit of a walk to the museum. Most nights we were there it wasn’t bad.
Just outside of the park is Volcano Winery which has a great selection of wines. They have a really interesting vineyard that is grown on site.
On the way back towards Hilo there is a large orchid garden. While it is a bit touristy the flowers are gorgeous. You can ship them home if you find one you love. It is also amazing to see $500+ orchids and hybrids for sale. Oh and they have a clean bathroom if someone in the car can’t make it all the way into town 🙂