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Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park

Top choice in Hawaiʻi the Big Island

Even among Hawaii's many wonders, this national park stands out. Its two active volcanoes testify to the ongoing birth of the islands: quiet Mauna Loa (13,678ft) sprawling above, its unassuming mass downplaying its height, and young Kilauea (4091ft), one of the world's most active volcanoes, providing near-continual sources of awe. The park was closed for several months during the 2018 lower Puna eruption, after which all active lava flows ceased.

At time of research, 90% of the park was reopened but without Pele spitting any fire. Of course, that could change at any moment. If not, the park contains much more beyond eruptions: overwhelming lava deserts, steaming craters, lava tubes and ancient rainforests. For hikers, the possibilities are endless.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Hawaiʻi the Big Island attractions

1. Cone Crater

3.05 MILES

A prominent, semicollapsed volcanic crater along the Mauna Iki Trail.

2. Twin Pit Crater

3.13 MILES

True to their name, these dual yawning craters are just west of Cone Crater on the Mauna Iki Trail.

3. Kilauea

3.17 MILES

Kilauea volcano lies at the center of activity in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. The unassuming bump on Mauna Loa's southeast flank would be easily…

4. Puʻu Puaʻi Overlook

3.21 MILES

Pu'u Pua'i (Gushing Hill) formed when cinder and ash spewing from the 1959 Kilauea Iki fountain was carried southwest on the wind, piling on the rim and…

5. Halemaʻumaʻu Crater

3.45 MILES

The original Halemaʻumaʻu Overlook off Crater Rim Dr was closed in 2008 due to volcanic activity and the very real threat of death. For the next decade,…

6. Kilauea Iki Overlook

3.69 MILES

When 'Little Kilauea' burst open in a fiery inferno in November 1959, it filled the crater with a roiling lake of molten rock fed by a 1900ft fountain…

7. Thurston Lava Tube

3.73 MILES

On Kilauea's eastern side, Crater Rim Dr passes through a rainforest thick with tree ferns and ohia trees to the overflowing parking lot for ever-popular…

8. Jaggar Museum

3.81 MILES

There's plenty packed into this small one-room geology museum including real-time seismographs and tiltmeters recording earthquakes inside the park (and…