Volcano Big Island
#1 Attraction in all of Hawaii


Volcano Big Island-Kilauea is a must do when you come to Hawaii. An active volcano, it has been erupting ever since 1983. As of January 1994, 491 acres of new land have been added to the island. Hawaiians have long regarded Kilauea to be the sacred home of the volcano goddess Pele.


hawaii volcanoes national park map

Considered to be the #1 of all of the Hawaii attractions in the islands you can easily make it a day trip as part of your visit no matter what island you are staying on.

Air quality is poor for those with breathing difficulty due to the VOG present from the volcano. VOG is a pseudonym for FOG except it's from the volcano.

It may look like a hazy, foggy day but what you are seeing and breathing in is sulfur dioxide and other gases being emitted from the volcano. I don't notice it but those with asthma do.

*NOTE: If you are asthmatic the Big Island is not for you.





Volcano Big Island Photo Gallery

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Me Sitting on Lava Field at Kilauea

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Most itineraries involve picking you up early as in the crack of dawn from your hotel and then taking you to the airport and flying you over. The flight from Oahu is about 45-50 minutes and will take you to the Hilo side of the Big Island.

After landing you'll be picked up by a coach tour bus with a planned itinerary for the day on the way to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Usually the stops include Rainbow Falls, the Hilo farmers market perhaps, Banyan Drive in Hilo and the Mauna Loa macadamia nut farm.

hawaii volcanoes national park caldera map

Steam benches are where lava is flowing into the ocean thus creating steam rising up as the hot lava hits the cool ocean water. Do not walk over this area because it is dangerous.

The land that you see there is very fragile and not stable. The weight of your body alone could cause it to break off and fall into the ocean. A restaurant stop will be planned for lunch but it is at your own cost.

hawaii volcanoes national park roadmap

After arriving at the volcano on the Big Island you'll get to go to the visitors' center, drive through the park, see the caldera, walk over lava fields and see the steam benches from afar. Don't worry, you won't be allowed to go near any areas which could be life threatening.

The authorities at the national park determine each day which areas are ok for hiking and which are not based upon the lava flows that day. This includes whether or not you'll be allowed to get up close to hot flowing lava.

I would not count on it because of liability but if the directions of the lava flows are agreeable that day then hopefully you will be able to see it from a reasonable distance. It MUST be emphasized that NOTHING IS GUARANTEED.

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Big Island Photo Gallery

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Akaka Falls-Super High at 422 Feet

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Thurston Lava Tube on The Volcano Big Island

Another treat you'll see at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is where the lava flowed over the road in the mid 1990s. It's incredible to see in person. Almost last but not least is a trip to Thurston Lava Tube.

This is an actual tunnel if you will that used to have lava flowing through it. Now you can walk through it, touch the walls and see what it feels like to walk through living history.

You'll be given headlamps to wear so that you can see your way. Last but not least if there's time you'll stop by an orchid nursery before heading back to the airport for your early evening flight back to Oahu.

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Other Touring Options

volcano big island helicopter

If a guided tour isn't your cup of tea then fly over and rent a car on the Big Island. This way you can drive around and see what you like at your own pace.


I've also arranged for people on this plan to do a helicopter flight over the volcano. This is really the only way to see lava flowing like in the picture above.

The helicopter company is located at the Hilo airport so it's easy to coordinate. If flying into Kona they have a base in Waikaloa but it will cost more due to the extra flying time. It's cheaper to drive over to Hilo if you don't want to spend the extra money.

This helicopter tour also includes a tour of waterfalls on that side of the island and lasts about 50 minutes. For volcano viewing the Circle of Fire is the most popular but there are lots of choices involving seeing more parts of the island. You can also do a flight with the DOORS OFF

TIP#1: BOOK EARLY!!!! This is extremely popular so book right away, preferably at least 3-4 days out, way more if it's summertime.

TIP#2: If you have 6-7 people in your group you can book a private charter and customize your trip.


Non Helicopter Options

PRICES & AVAILABILITY -on a day trip to the Big Island from Oahu; Eco-tour option here


Volcanoes National Park - More Choices Here! (NOTE: these lower prices do NOT include airfare from Oahu for the most part)


Planning on staying overnight? If so, check out a few of my hotel suggestions in Kona here. Hilo information coming soon.

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