Vacation Destination Big Island: Kilauea and Mauna Loa
An active geological hot spot, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park contains two of the world’s most active volcanoes. When measured from the ocean floor, Mauna Loa is the tallest mountain on Earth, and Kilauea continues to erupt, sending hot molten magma to the surface.
Park visitors can hike on old lava trails and see firsthand the forest regeneration. You can also take scenic car drives that wind through the Ka`u Desert and rain forest, which is home to rich Hawaiian wildlife.
Kilauea is now more than 4,000 feet high and still growing. This active volcano abuts the southeastern slope of the older and much larger Mauna Loa. Mauna Loa towers over 13,670 feet. When measured from its base on the ocean floor is it a gigantic 18,000 feet high, exceeding the total height of Mount Everest.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the ideal example of stark contrast from rich vegetation and wildlife to miles of cooled lava flow. The park is rich in biological study and draws thousands of science students from all over the world. The UN has named the park both an international biosphere reserve and a world heritage site.
The park is accessible year-round, but the driest months are usually September and October. The climate ranges from warm and breezy to rainy and cool, so bring layered clothing. There are daily bus tours that travel to points of interest and tend to be less crowded before 11am and after 3pm. There are free nature walks and talks led by park rangers, as well as slide shows, films and museum exhibits. The park also offers individual hiking and backcountry fishing, but you must check with park rangers for details and regulations.
You can see most of the important points of interest with an intensive one day visit, although a few days will give you plenty of time to see the entire park. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park does offer in-park accommodations, although you can find hotels on the outskirts of the park as well.
The park offers overnight backpacking with a 7-day limit on a first-come, first-served basis. The Volcano House offers 2 person rooms for $79 to $134 per night. Outside the park you can find affordable to very nice hotels and resorts that range from $50 to $500 per night.