Hawaii Volcanoes National Park by Air & by Foot

When arriving at Big Island – our third Hawaiian Island on a row – we first weren’t planning on taking a helicopter tour. But when looking into the brochures and talking to some people, we changed our mind. It just offers a unique way to see the active volcano landscape, where the island is mostly known for.

The Kīlauea volcano is the most active volcano in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It is one of the most active as well as the most visited volcano in the world.


Helicopter flight


The approximately half hour helicopter tour was the first part of our full day at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We didn’t only see the lava flowing and sweeping away the trees, we also saw the many beautiful waterfalls popping up along the national park, which aren’t accessible by foot. A real recommendation!

Exploring the park by foot


Some hiking


After the helicopter tour, we continued by foot. We started with an easy stroll near the Kilauea Visitor Centre, passing by some steaming vents with the typical delicious rotten-egg smell.

Afterwards we hiked the Kilauea Iki Trail (about 6,5km loop), which descends through the rain forest to the floor of the still steaming Kilaueu Iki crater lava lake. First we had to take a rocky stair step descent into the crater, then crossing the crater passing some cracks and going back up on the other side. We were really lucky with the weather – although it was windy, the sun was abundant and added to the dramatic effect of the scenery.

We ended our hike with a visit to the Thurston Lava Tube, which is an illuminated cave-like lava tube.

End of Chain of Craters Road


Afterwards, we went down the Chain of Craters Road by car. This scenic drive offers outstanding view of the cliffs. The road ends by a lava flow from April 2003, which has literally overtaken the road. Pretty particular image.

Nearby is the Holeij Sea Arch. As evening was falling upon us, the sun was started to set, which was just perfect. Not sure how to really describe it – you just have to see it for yourself. It’s a spectacular place to be.
Searching for lava


At the time we were at Big Island (end of September 2014), we heard a lot of news flashes about new lava flows. Of course we wanted to witness the typical red lava bursts ourselves. The rangers available at the National Park, recommended us to go to the Jagger Museum after dark, to go and see the Halema’uma’u Crater vent showing a red glow from a distance.

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