Top wow spots of Hawai'i Volcanoes

From spewing lava to palm-strewn coastline, behold the park's most unforgettable sights

Volcanic view

Photo by Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Kirk Lee; written by Peter Fish

Volcanic view

Molten lava pours into the Pacific near Kalapana, just east of Hawai‘i Volcanoes N.P.  Near constant eruptions—its eastern flanks have been erupting since 1983, Kilauea Caldera since 2003—make the park’s Kilauea Volcano one of the most active in the world. 

Kilauea Caldera

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Peter Fish

Kilauea Caldera

Clouds of steam rising from a valley of blackened lava—that’s a classic view of Kilauea, heart of Hawai‘i Volcanoes N.P. The current eruption centers on a portion of the caldera called Halemaʻumaʻu Crater.  

Chain of Craters Road

Photo by Hawaii Tourism Japan (HTJ); written by Peter Fish

Chain of Craters Road

This 18-mile road leads through the heart of Hawai‘i Volcanoes N.P., dropping 3,700 feet as it winds down the mountains to the Pacific. It comes to a sudden stop where the pavement was buried in lava in 2003; if you’re lucky, you may get to see active lava flows yourself.

Kilauea Iki Trail

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Peter Fish

Kilauea Iki Trail

Lush tropical vegetation covers portions of Hawai‘i Volcanoes N.P. This 4-mile trail leads you through native rain forest before it crosses a blackened lake of hardened lava.

Sulphur Banks

Photo by Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson; written by Peter Fish

Sulphur Banks

Volcanic gases spewing from deep within the earth give Sulphur Banks its name—and its distinctive rotten-egg smell. This easy boardwalk trail leads into the northern end of Kilauea Caldera, a landscape of harsh and blasted volcanic beauty.

Thurston Lava Tube

Photo by BIVB; written by Peter Fish

Thurston Lava Tube

Eerily beautiful, this pathway through hardened lava was formed during an eruption several hundred years ago—and you can see it on an easy 0.5-mile trail.

Puna Coast

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Peter Fish

Puna Coast

Black lava coves, palm trees, and pounding surf mark this ruggedly beautiful shoreline just east of Hawai‘i Volcanoes N.P. Drive to the Kalapana Lava Viewing Area at the end of State 130, and you may see Kilauea’s current eruption pushing molten lava into the sea. Viewing sites change, so check before you go (nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit or 808/985-6000).

Holei Sea Arch

Photo courtesy of National Park Service; written by Peter Fish

Holei Sea Arch

This dramatic lava-rock arch stands on the coast near the end of Chain of Craters Road.

Volcano, HI

Photo by Thomas J. Story; written by Peter Fish

Volcano, HI

Perched on the edge of Kilauea, Volcano Village is one of the most appealing small towns in Hawaii—an oasis for any traveler who loves art, crafts, good food, and beautiful gardens.

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