The Outdoors,  Travel Guides

The Best 1 Day Guide to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Hiking, Lodging, and More

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These days, I’ve visited my fair share of national parks. Hawai’i Volcanoes is by far one of the most unique national parks to visit. Of course, the name and location alone lend themselves to being different from the parks we see on the mainland. You go there expecting to see Volcanoes, only to realize that you don’t even understand what that looks like until you’re standing in front of (or in) one. That’s right Hawaii Volcanoes National Park hiking experiences put you right in the middle of the action…within reason of course. Then, you juxtapose hardened lava flows, craters, and high elevations with the Pacific Ocean only to get unimaginable views. 

Although Sam was with me on this vacation, he unfortunately had to work. So, I mostly explored this park alone. If you’re a solo female traveler I encourage you to visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park as I found it extremely safe. The trails were not packed but had just the right amount of people. It was also nice to have no fear of bears or other dangerous animals on my solo hikes.

Is Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Worth it?

Yes, yes it is. And if I’m being honest, I really dislike this question. In my opinion, all national parks are worth visiting. There is a reason that people work so hard to preserve this land and it is absolutely breathtaking. So, instead of asking whether or not a national park is worth it…maybe ask whether or not you appreciate what a national park has to offer. Some people just don’t and would prefer to spend their vacations another way. I understand that others may be asking this question due to time constraints as well. I’d say do your best to make it and make a plan to come back if you can’t.

Anyway, off of my soapbox. Although I spent one and a half glorious days exploring the park I think it can be done in just a day. My free guide to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park will give you the highlights and hiking options along with the best lodging and places to grab a bite when you’re not exploring. 

If you do find yourself interested in national parks and eager to explore more. Check out my guides to the best national parks to visit: Yellowstone National Park Itinerary, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Park History and FAQs

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was established in 1916 and is located on The Big Island of Hawai’i. It is made of up Kiluea and Mauna Loa Volcanoes which are both very active. Kilauea erupted as recently as Sept. 2023 giving visitors the chance to witness active lava flows. But don’t worry if you miss the action, it’s the aftermath of these eruptions that shaped the park in the first place. You’ll see just how much lava flow and heat can alter the Earth’s surface creating things like craters, sea arches, molten rock, and lava tubes. Hawaiian culture is also woven throughout the park’s past and only adds to the allure. For Example, you’ll learn about the Hawaiian God of Volcanoes, Pele, who currently resides in the most active area of Kilauea.

Now, let’s answer some frequently asked questions when visiting the park.

  • There is a fee of $30 for each vehicle entering the park.
  • The park is open year-round 24/7
  • The weather can vary from misty and chilly to dry and hot by the water
  • Yes, your dog is allowed but only in limited areas of the park.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Lodging

There are several ways to stay when visiting Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Inside the park, there is camping, cabins, and Volcano House the park’s very own hotel. However, if you don’t mind driving 5 minutes up the road then you can also stay in Volcano Village. Volcano is a small village in a lush rainforest and perfect for tourists. The village offers a wide variety of stays including bed and breakfasts, Airbnbs, and historic lodges. We decided to stay at this Airbnb in Volcano and had a great experience waking up surrounded by the bright greens of the rainforest. It was affordable, accessible, and met all of our needs. 

If you have plans to explore the Big Island other than Volcanoes National Park, then you may consider staying in a larger city a bit further away like Kona or Hilo. Kona and Volcano are on opposite sides of the Island and it is only a 2-hour commute between the two. Hilo is about 45 minutes from Volcano. Not to mention, Kona and Hilo are home to the international airports on the Island, so they’re convenient. 

Of all the national parks to visit, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park lodging is among the most reasonable. And sure, it’s quite the journey to get there, but it does feel nice to not have to spend a fortune once your feet are on the ground. My free guide lists all of the options for the best Hawaii Volcanoes National Park lodging. 

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Hiking

Like many of the other national parks to visit, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park hiking is what you make of it. With my free guide to the park, you’re walking to many of the major attractions. So, technically you’re doing several small “hikes” throughout the day. Not to mention, the guide includes two of the top-rated Hawaii Volcanoes National Park hiking routes within a 1-day itinerary. This full list of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park hiking is nice to research, but if you’re only exploring for a day you want to spend your time wisely.

Not every Hawaii Volcanoes National Park hiking experience will indeed feel worth it. So take care of your legs and time with the hike that is unanimously agreed upon as the best Hawaii Volcanoes National Park hiking experience. The Kilauea-Iki hike is a moderate 3-mile loop across the Kilauea-Iki crater. You can also add another major attraction along this hike to the Thurston Lava Tube. A two-for-one is the perfect way to nail 1-day in this national park. 

If you’re looking to tackle more of a challenge, several backpacking routes exist throughout the park. There are 7, to be exact, and you can explore the best options for your journey here. 

How Long Does it Take to Go Through the Park? 

Well of course it depends on what kind of explorer you are. My free guide is for mild-moderate explorers like me. You’ll take it easy while enjoying scenic drives AND get your heart rate up while seeing the best parts of the park.

Technically, our trip to Volcanoes National Park was a day and a half. However, I feel confident that it’s possible to see it all in just one day. Why? because MY GUIDE helps you avoid the time-wasting mistakes that we made. Also, the time change can be a huge help. Coming from the Midwest, the 6-hour time difference had us wide awake at 4 a.m. That means getting to the park by 7 a.m. is a piece of cake. You’ll have the whole day to explore. Just be sure to fill up on that Hawaiin coffee when it starts to feel like bedtime. 

So, if you’re looking for the absolute best Hawaii Volcanoes National Park hiking, lodging, and other things to do my free guide has all of the answers. Skip planning your trip and let me do it for you! This incredibly unique national park will no doubt give you an authentic experience. From seeing the active volcanoes that continue to shape the island, to learning about the impact of Hawaiian culture, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a bucket-list destination that can be done in just one day! 

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