It’s no secret the Hawaii volcanoes national park is something you don’t want to miss during your visit on the Island! However, the park is huge (335,259 acres to be exact) and that can be overwhelming. It can be especially overwhelming when you are planning a visit with kids and toddlers. Here are my favorite things to do and see along with all of the best kid friendly hikes and spots to explore!
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The hawaii volcanoes national park is located about 1 hour from Hilo. Since it is a remote location I highly recommend staying at least one night to break up the drive time and give you time to explore. You can stay in the small town of Volcano at the lodge or get an airBnB, but our favorite place to stay is at the Hilton Grand Naniloa in Hilo. The hotel is comfortable, it sits right on the ocean and it has a nice pool for the kids. I also think the food options are so much better in Hilo, so we prefer to stay here and then drive to the volcano for an early start.
Tips for entering the Volcano national park
- Entrance is $30.00 and they take all major credit cards upon entrance. The pass lasts for a week so you can go multiple days if you desire.
- If you happen to have a 4th grader with you, you can get them a free pass to enter any US national park and it is valid for 1 year. Grab your free pass here. Also you must print it out. They won’t accept a digital version.
- The weather here is unpredictable. It’s freezing, super hot, rainy and sunny all on any given day. Therefore wear layers and bring jackets.
- I also highly recommend an umbrella. Buy one at target or wallmart before you come or you can pay 5x the amount in the giftshop.
- Speaking of gift shops – It’s currently closed due to COVID-19. Check the website to see if it’s open when you go.
- Bring water, snacks and sunscreen.
- You most likely won’t have good cell service here. Grab a map at the visitor center.
Kid Friendly hikes/trails
- Holei Sea Arch
2. Kilauea Iki trail
3. Pu’ uloa Petroglyph feilds
4. Steam Vents
5. Maunaulu Eruption trail
6. Thurston Lava Tube (whenever it opens again)
hawaii volcanoes national park
The Sea Arch
You can drive down to the sea arch. It’s about 30 minutes from the ranger station and there are so many cool spots to see along the way. So if you are doing this with kids or don’t want a huge hiking day I recommend doing this first. We stopped at least 10 times along the way so it became our entire day at Volcano! Once you get the sea arch there are bathrooms and the walk is only .4 of a mile. (Easy)
Hōlei Sea Arch is a 90-foot-high natural arch! This rock formation was born from marine erosion, in which the waves of the Pacific Ocean create this natural bridge of lava cliffs.
This formation is beautiful, but temporary, and has a limited life span. The sea arch will eventually crumble into the sea. However, others will replace it as the cliff slowly migrates inland.
This impressive sea arch was cut into the cliff of an ancient lava flow from about 550 years ago. The term used in the creation of this sea arch is “differential erosion”, which refers to the difference in the hardness of various layers of lava flows.
The Steam Vents
At Wahinekapu (Steaming Bluff), you can feel hot water vapor as it billows from the ground in steam vents. This striking phenomenon is created as ground water seeps down to rocks heated by magma deep underground. The rocks are so hot that it vaporizes the water, returning it to the surface as steam.
A little Hawaiian History
In Hawaiian religion, Pele (pronounced [ˈpɛlɛ]) is the goddess of volcanoes and fire and the creator of the Hawaiian Islands. … This spirit is important when talking about Hawaii’s gods as she descended from Papa, or Earth Mother, and Wakea, Sky Father, both descendants of the supreme beings.
A fun story for the kids
In folklore, Pele travels throughout the islands, appearing to mankind as a beautiful young woman, or as an old woman, sometimes accompanied by a white dog. Refuse her requests and suffer her wrath, legends say. Tales of encounters with Pele include drivers who picked up an old woman dressed all in white on roads in Kilauea National Park, only to look in the mirror to find the back seat empty. Others say Pele’s face has mysteriously appeared in their photos of the lava lake within the crater or molten lava flows. Among the people of the islands, Pele is revered and respected.
An important note to travelers looking for authentic souvenirs of their Hawaiian vacation: never remove and take home a lava rock from the islands. Lava is a sacred piece of the fire goddess, and bad luck will befall anyone who dares to remove it from Pele’s home.
It’s also considered offensive to eat any of the ‘ohelo berries that grow along the edges of Halema‘uma‘u caldera without first offering them to the goddess or requesting permission.
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