Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has some of the most unique and beautiful landscapes in the world! I was lucky enough to visit recently and it is definitely in my top 10 of favorite places to explore.
This park has two active volcanoes, the Marina Loa and the Kilauea. The Kilauea volcano eruption in May of 2018 was the most destructive in its history. Over 700 homes were destroyed. This volcano has had 62 eruptions in 245 years, which gives this volcano the claim to fame as the most active volcano in the world. If you are in the area, this is a must-see destination before ‘Pele’, the Hawaiian mythological name for the volcano, throws down curses and devours again!
I learned so many things that I didn’t know before I visited this park. The Hawaiian islands are all volcanic in origin. Each island is made up of at least one volcano but the Big Island is constructed of five major volcanoes. I was blessed to be able to see the Kilauea volcano one year before it erupted. It’s very sad that many of these places and homes that I saw and visited are no longer there now. This island is a forever changing island and the beauty still lives on. I’m so very thankful to learn about this magnificent island and see the beauty and experience the culture it has to offer.
The first trail my gypsy friend, Deb, and I took was the Kilauea Iki Trail and Crater Rim Trail. According to AllTrails, it is a 3 mile, heavily trafficked, moderate loop trail located near Pahala. Some of the portion of the loop trail closed due to the eruption in 2019 but it’s still beautiful today and worth hiking out and back,
The trail starts in the rain forest on the crater’s rim and goes down 400 feet to the crater floor.It’s amazing to see the steam vents and the rocks that are stacked and used as trail markers so you can easily find your trail through this black and beautiful lava rock.
Gypsy Mama Tip: Pack a flashlight and go at night! Another short trail that I loved that was unique and an easy walk was the Thurston Lava Tube Trail. This trail can be fun taken during the day or at night. It’s amazing to be in total darkness and depend on a trusty flashlight to get you to the ancient lava tube.
Fun Times Alert! We had a lot of fun in this little cabin located 3 miles from the National Park at Namakanipaio campground. There’s something about girlfriends, laughing, telling ghost stories, and singing camp songs in a tiny house. Sometimes you just never want to grow up and this was one of those special times. You do need to make a reservation ahead of time for this affordable and quaint house.
Gypsy Mama Bear Tip: I always pack snacks in my suitcase to have for my hiking journeys or to have for a quick breakfast, lunch or dinner. These protein bars are perfect- low sugar, 15g of protein and only 110 calories!
There aren’t a lot of wineries on the Big Island so I was very excited to see this one and it was just one mile down the road from the park on Piimauna Road. I’m mostly a fan of dry wines but this winery had some unusual flavors that you should at least say you tried, like macadamia nut honey wine and jaboticaba berry/grape wine. Those were two firsts for me! Whether you have a palate for wine or not, they had nice choices of volcano salts and various unique souvenirs. The staff was incredibly friendly. A hui hou! (Until we meet again!)
For our last stay near the volcanos, we wanted to spend some time at an AirBnB so we could chat with a local. If there is only one or two of you in your group and small areas work, this AirBnB owner is by far the hostess with the mostest! The house is nestled inside your own tropical paradise! While you sit on the porch with your morning Kona coffee, you will be visited by cats, dogs and roosters! The fresh fruit and snacks available hit the spot after a long day of hiking.
Use my link to sign up for AirBnB and get $40 off your first stay!
We left our charming Airbnb to see the Mauna Loa Volcano Observatory. Mauna Loa has had 33 eruptions since 1843. At 13,677 feet above sea level, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa stands as the world’s largest active volcano. From its base below sea level to the summit, the 30,000 feet in height makes it taller than Mount Everest! Mauna Loa (name meaning-Long Mountain) stretches 74 miles and covers more than half the landmass of the Big Island.
Even though this volcano is also a part of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, it is a 2 hour highway drive through cities, so plan accordingly.
Our scenic drive to the observatory was 17 miles one way and was a little foggy. Unfortunately for us, the observatory was closed and we decided not to hike the 13 mile hike. The fog was lifting and getting better as we ventured back down the mountain.
Mauna Loa’s last eruption was April 15, 1984. The big question is not if Mauna Loa will erupt again, it’s when will it erupt? The last time it erupted the volume of magma travelled great distances. Many scary predictions say that the next eruption could potentially take out an entire city like Hilo.
My heart goes out to the locals on this beautiful island. Everyday for them is an adventure in itself and life is a precious gift. I know that there’s a price to pay to live in paradise and the knowledge that one of these stunning active volcanoes could erupt at any time is huge. I have much more admiration and respect for nature after seeing and experiencing this amazing Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park. Mahalo.
Psalms 95:4-5 In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.