A quick 40 minute flight from the Island of Oahu with Hawaiin Airlines will have you arriving at Hilo, the doorstep to The Volcanoes National Park. We picked up our rental car on arrival into Hilo Airport and for an extra $15 USD we hired a fully automated GPS, which was brilliant for upcoming points of interest as you are driving around The Big Island ( we would not have found those delicious Malsaladas at Tex Drive in, if it were not for our GPS.) Just be sure to stick to the left side of the road….(we seemed to have a few problems with this, the lack of sleep the night before, the Children received news of a good School friend that had passed away rather suddenly and the girls were awake all night crying, absolutely beside themselves, on top of that a super early start, which found me dozing in the passengers side and being awoken by Hubbie to swap drivers…I casually drove on to the wrong side of the road…ooops, my bad, but he also did the same thing!
|Deep in concentration...|
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is easily visited by car in just a few hours or it can be explored in more depth over several days. We spent 5 hours exploring the park, such an amazing landscape, the rugged terrain, It felt as we were on a totally different planet at times. Here are some recommendations when planning your visit to the Park:
One to 3 Hour Visit?
If you have only 3 hours, explore the summit of Kilauea volcano via Crater Rim Drive Crater Rim Drive; a 17 km road that encircles the summit, passes through desert, lush tropical rain forest, which provides access to well marked scenic stops and short walks.
Four to 5 hour Visit?
If you have four to five hours, be sure to explore the East Rift and coastal area of the Park via Chain of Craters Road. This road descends 3,700 feet in 20 miles and ends where a 2003 lava flow crossed the road.
If you have time for one quick hike in the Park, you can't go past this as the best "bang for your buck." This trail traces the northern rim of the Kilauea Crater and then returns to the trailhead across the centre of the crater itself. Its an exciting hike that crosses warm fifty year old lava with steam arising from cracks in the earth caused by rainwater that has percolated and boiled.
This hike is approximately 5 km, be sure to take plenty of water, a hat ( I borrowed one of the boys) and sunscreen up, as it gets pretty warm.
Thurston Lava Tubes
The Thurston lava tubes were an absolute hit with the kids. An easy 20 minute walk through a lush green forest will have you at the well lit prehistoric cavelike lava tubes.