7 Reasons Why You Should Visit Volcanoes National Park

October 28, 2022

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a can't-miss on your first visit to Hawaii!

There are a lot of top attractions and hidden gems to visit in Hawaii. And with so little time to explore, some may wonder, “Is Volcanoes National Park worth it?” We’ve summed up a few reasons why a visit to Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park absolutely deserves a spot on your itinerary!

From close-up views of lava after dark, hiking around craters and fascinating wildlife, to staying overnight to explore the Park after the crowd has gone, you’ll find many things to do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Keep reading to discover the magic of this Hawaiian wonder.

7 Reasons Why You Should Visit Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Close-up Lava Viewing

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there are potentially 161 active volcanoes in the United States. Hawaii is one of twelve states where these active volcanoes exist, and even if you’ve never been to Hawaii, you might have already seen them in movies and postcards.

Usually, people aren’t allowed anywhere near active volcanoes, so it is only possible to view them from afar. However, since Hawaii volcano intense eruptions are always strictly monitored, it is possible for people to get up close to witness lava flow depending on the eruption status and activity of the volcanoes.

So what is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park known for? The park encompasses not one but two active volcanoes! Namely, the Kīlauea volcano and the Mauna Loa volcano. Lava is currently visible from many areas and overlooks within the park. Visiting the Mauna Loa visitor center is a must if you’re planning to add Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park to your itinerary.

Lava flowing on the Big Island Hawaii

Molten lava flowing into the Pacific Ocean on Big Island of Hawaii at sunrise


Believe it or not, there is an abundance of wildlife that live near volcanoes!

Visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is an opportunity to see a side of the world that shelters an array of Hawaiian native species, including a host of fascinating birds, carnivorous caterpillars, the largest dragonfly in the United States, crickets partial to new lava flows, endangered sea turtles, and much more.

The vast area is home to animals, big and small. If you’re into wildlife photography, this trip will be an opportunity to take photos of creatures you may have never seen before.

Guided Hikes in Beautiful Trails

It’s no wonder why one of the top Hawaii Volcanoes National Park things to do is hiking. The beautiful trails at the park include sights that you are not seen anywhere else.

For instance, the Volcano Hiking Adventure led by Kailani Tours Hawaii takes visitors on an unforgettable trip through the volcanic landscapes of Saddle Road, a mesmerizing lava tube, and then into caves formed by an 1881 Mauna Loa eruption!

For visitors who want to see a little bit of everything that the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park offers, the Volcano Unveiled guided hike by Hawaii Forest & Trail is a better option. During the hike, you’ll learn more about the historical events that changed the park and island forever while appreciating the park’s gorgeous natural landscape.

Along the way, you’ll see a private lava tube, enjoy appetizers on a farm, and even get to see parts of the park others may not get the chance to.

wooden bridge in trees headed into a cave in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park in Big Island, Hawaii, USAPark Drives

Ah, the open road! When you go on a drive through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the sense of wonder and breathtaking appeal of your surroundings are something else.

For instance, if you drive through the Chain of Craters road, you will be treated by views of craters and other volcanic highlights that are not typically seen on a regular park drive. Meanwhile, the Crater Rim Drive tour features plenty of overlooks where visitors are invited to stop over and appreciate the most dramatic views from above. Witness water vapor rising from steam vents and catch sight of colorful sulfur crystals and other minerals along paved trails and boardwalks.

Wondering how to get to Kilauea volcano? Visitors can drive as far as the old Jagger Museum and get out to look over the crater, but you can also drive and stop by the Kilauea overlook for better views.

After Dark in the Park Programs

There aren’t a lot of parks that let visitors explore nature in the evening. Fewer still are after-dark activities around volcanoes. There are many places to visit in Volcano National Park, but the Devastation Trail at night is perfect for those who want to get a glimpse of lava flows after dark. The views make for a stunning photo opportunity, but it’s even more captivating in person.

Sunsets are also particularly beautiful, with surrounding views of an active volcano. The Evening Volcano Explorer Guided Tour led by KapohoKine Adventures offers narrated tours and stops at recent lava flows, including must-not-miss lava viewing area in Kalapana.

night sky over lava flow and volcanoes at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park - Big Island, Hawaii, USACamping and Lodging

If you’re searching where to stay near volcano national park, look no further than the hotel inside the park! Volcano House Hotel is the only hotel located inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and offers guest rooms, cabins, and campsites.

Staying in the Volcano House Hotel lets you maximize time exploring the activities and things to do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We recommend spending at least one day in the park to give you enough time to see the highlights, especially after the crowd leaves by closing time, and evening activities are reserved for those who stay behind.

Spending a night inside the park is a unique experience, especially for those who want to see lava flows after dark! In addition, there are plenty of dining options in the park, so you’ll never go hungry.

Quick Tips for Visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Pack Appropriately

Preparing everything you might need while visiting the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a good idea. However, we recommend packing as light as possible if you’re only visiting for a day and have no vehicle or place to leave your belongings. There are no lockers or storage for rent at the Park, so you’ll have to carry everything with you while exploring. Water, SPF, and a portable battery pack are essential!

Related Post: The Ultimate Hawaii Packing List: What to Bring and What to Skip

Wear Comfortable Clothing

We recommend wearing sturdy, closed shoes, especially for visitors who plan to hike on lava rock. In addition, lava fields are shadeless and extra warm. Wear a hat, bring sunglasses, and don’t forget to apply sunscreen.

Lava Flowing over cliffs into the ocean at Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park - The Big Island, Hawaii, USACharge Your Cameras and Phone

Never visit Volcano National Park Hawaii without your trusty camera! Visitors often stay the entire day at the park because there is so much to see and do. There are no charging stations for mobile phones at the Park, so we recommend bringing an extra battery pack.

Go Early if You Plan to Park

Wondering how much time to spend at Volcano National Park? It depends on the activities you want to do. For example, some guided hikes take only half an hour, while some tours take the entire day. However long you plan to stay, we recommend going as early as possible, especially if you are driving your own vehicle, because parking tends to get full once the crowd starts pouring in.

And if you’re wondering, “Do you need reservations for Volcano National Park” there is no reservation, but visitors can purchase Hawaii Volcanoes National Park tickets as early as six months before their trip from recreation.gov.

Big Island Volcano Tours

Wondering what to do on the Big Island of Hawaii in September? Make the best of your trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with an experienced local guide! The Big Island Volcano Tours on Tripster includes a list of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park guided tours to choose from.

If you have more than one day, consider going on Kaumana Caves tours too! It’s going to be an unforgettable Hawaiian vacation when you get to explore both the Big Island’s active volcanoes and astounding caves.

Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tour Over Volcano and lava - The Big Island, Hawaii, USALooking for Ways to Give Back? 

If you have plenty of time on the island, why not visit Volcano Hawaii National Park and sign up as a volunteer while you’re at it? You read that right–Hawaii Volcanoes National Park welcomes everyone who wants to help maintain the natural beauty of one of Hawaii’s top attractions.

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is part of the international biosphere reserve and is also a world heritage site. These make it so important to conserve the Hawaiian rainforest and help wildlife thrive in the Park. Volunteers always have so much to do to help care for over 330,000 acres of natural wonder, so more hands are always helpful!

Experience Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

With loads of reasons to visit this natural wonder, what are you waiting for? Head to Tripster, secure discount activity tickets and hotel accommodations, and create the Hawaiin vacation of a lifetime!

Have You Been to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park?

What would you add to our list? Leave us a comment below!

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Written By Nicole

There are only two things that make Nicole really happy–books and travel! When her head’s not buried in a book, she’s most likely exploring the great o ...

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