ALOHA!

 

So there are 2 main roads in the main part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park:

 

Chain of Craters Road is the longer road in the national park that will take you down to the coast.

You can drive by lava fields…

 

Where to see lava fields on Chain of Craters Road drive, on the big island. things to do in hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

You can walk across lava fields…

 

Where to see lava fields on Chain of Craters Road drive, on the big island. things to do in hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

And you can see where old lava flows meet the ocean!

 

Where to see lava fields on Chain of Craters Road drive, on the big island. things to do in hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

There are also spots where you can distinctly see the different paths of lava flows, along with the different types of lava flows.

 

Where to see lava fields on Chain of Craters Road drive, on the big island. things to do in hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

Where to see lava fields on Chain of Craters Road drive, on the big island. things to do in hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

Where to see lava fields on Chain of Craters Road drive, on the big island. things to do in hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

Best things to do on Chain of Craters Road. Where to see lava fields on Chain of Craters Road drive, on the big island. things to do in hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

To drive this road out and back without stopping might take around 45 minutes, but it’s better to allow for at least 1.5-2 hours for stops!

 

 

The BEST part of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park?!

The drive along Chain of Craters Road may just be the best of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park!

As great as Crater Rim Drive is with sulfur banks, “devastation,” and hiking into a former lava lake (very great), Chain of Craters Road is where to go to see the vast lava fields aka the aftermath of all the lava flows from a volcano.

As of 2018 when the active molten lava flows stopped (aka the red stuff), these old lava fields will be the next best thing to see!

 

Where to see lava fields on the Big Island, on Chain of Craters Road drive. things to do in hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog
Check the current volcano update.

 

 

History of Chain of Craters Road

According to the National Park Service:

Chain of Craters Road to the coast (to Kalapana) from Makaopuhi was opened in 1965, and then partly buried in 1969 at the start of the Mauna Ulu eruption.

Since 1986, lava has flowed repeatedly over Chain of Craters Road/Highway 130.

The park’s acreage has been increased by hundreds of acres and nearly 9 miles of road have been inundated by the flows.

In June 1989, Wahaβ€˜ula Visitor Center and associated buildings were burnt and covered by lava.

Read more about the history of the area and lava flows that covered Chain of Craters Road!

 

 

More below about what to see driving through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park along Chain of Craters Road!

 

 

πŸŒ‹

 

 

 

So…

What are some things to do on Chain of Craters Road?!

If you’re only giving yourself one day in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, then you might consider doing the quick stops on Crater Rim Drive first.

Then after that, drive to the end of Chain of Craters Road, and then on the way back make some stops when you have a better judge of time!

If you are not so concerned about time, make tons of stops along the way and get out and walk across tons of lava fields!

 

 

Now…

What to see as you drive Chain of Craters Road on the Big Island!

 

1. Lua Manu Crater

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: lua manu lava fields. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

There will actually be a number of stops you can make along the way, with pit craters and signs indicating the different lava flows of that specific area.

Lua Manu will be among the first you’ll see so you may be excited to get out and check it out! 

 

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: lua manu lava fields. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

 

2. Mauna Ulu Trail

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: mauna ulu trail hike. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

According to the National Park Service:

Experience a lava landscape from the 1969-1974 Mauna Ulu flow.

Walk by lava tree molds and climb 210 feet (64m) to the top of a forested cinder cone.

You’ll want to give yourself 2-3 hours to do the full trail.

 

 

3. Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu

Lava flows! You can get out and walk across the lava fields around here. Although if you’re short on time, there’s better to come!
Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu lava fields. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog
Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: Mau Loa o Mauna Ulu lava fields. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

 

4. Muliwai a Pele

More lava flows!
Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: muliwai a pele lava fields. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog
Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: muliwai a pele lava fields. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

 

5. Kealakomo Overlook

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: kealakomo overlook. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

This is a scenic overlook with grand views of the ocean. There’s also a picnic area here. 

 

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: kealakomo overlook. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

 

6. Alanui Kahiko

aka Old Chain of Craters Road

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: alanui kahiko, see old chain of craters road lava flows. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog
Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: alanui kahiko, see old chain of craters road lava flows. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

Stop here!

This is the “old” Chain of Craters Road because it was covered by lava.

You can see these old lava flows across the road.

 

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: alanui kahiko, see old chain of craters road lava flows. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

Another thing that makes this a worthy stop is that you walk across the lava flows around here, and you can see quite distinctly different lava flows based on the different shades of color. You can see the different lava flows coming down the hill too!

 

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: see lava flows near old chain of craters road. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: see lava flows near old chain of craters road. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: see lava flows near old chain of craters road. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: see lava flows near old chain of craters road. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

Alanui Kahiko: See more about this Hawaii Volcanoes National Park activity.

 

 

7. Holei Pali

This is pretty near Alanui Kahiko, and another great spot to get out and walk across old lava flows!
Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: holei pali lava fields. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog
Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: holei pali lava fields. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

 

8. Puu Loa Petroglyphs

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: puu loa petroglyphs. where to see hawaiian petroglyphs on the big island. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

There is a trail towards the end of Chain of Craters Road that will take you across what’s said to be the largest field of petroglyphs in Hawaii.

 

According to the National Park Service:

This coastal trail traverses a 500-550 year old lava field to one of Hawaii’s most extensive petroglyph fields.

A site that has approximately 23,000 petroglyphs, many viewable at a boardwalk constructed for this purpose.

The petroglyphs have been carved into the thin, fragile crust of lava flow.

 

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: puu loa petroglyphs. where to see hawaiian petroglyphs on the big island. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road: puu loa petroglyphs. where to see hawaiian petroglyphs on the big island. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

Puu Loa petroglyphs: See more about this Hawaii Volcanoes National Park activity.

 

 

9. Holei Sea Arch

Things to do on Chain of Craters Road, what to see: holei sea arch. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

This lava rock formation is at the end of Chain of Craters Road.

See it before it gets destroyed by nature! (aka from the waves crashing against it!)

On Maui, there was a famous rock creation that got destroyed by nature in early 2020, and it could be only a matter of time before the same happens to the Holei Sea Arch!

The observation area for the sea arch has even been moved recently, and this is another indication of how vulnerable of an area this is.

 

And that marks the end of the road as far as you can drive in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park!

From here, you’ll turn back around and drive back the way you came. 

 

End of Chain of Craters Road, time to drive back. hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

If you don’t have as much time, you might consider driving to nearly the end of the road, and then making stops on the way back so you can be a better judge of time.

 

 

Places to stay near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

If there’s a lot that interests you in and around the park, then there are places to stay around the national park. 

There’s Volcano House inside the park. 

 

Chain of Craters Road to volcano house. where to stay in hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

Outside of the national park, there are also a few places to stay that are around a 10 minute drive of the park in Volcano village:

Links lead to partner website, and you can check for prices, photos, and reviews.

If you’re traveling alone in Hawaii, then also see Holoholo-in dorm beds on airbnb, also within a 10 minute drive. If you haven’t used airbnb before, sign up through my referral link and you can get a discount, I’ve seen up to $55.

And if you don’t mind about an hour’s drive from the national park, you can stay in a place that’s surrounded by lava fields – see this airbnb on the Puna coast!

 

Where to stay near Chain of Craters Road. near hawaii volcanoes national park. puna cabin, airbnb. big island travel blog

 

And that’s a bit about spending your time along Chain of Craters Road!

 

Looking for more volcano related activities for your time on the Big Island?!

 

HAPPY DRIVING CHAIN OF CRATERS ROAD TO SEE LAVA FIELDS ON THE BIG ISLAND!

 

Best things to do on Chain of Craters Road. Where to see lava fields on Chain of Craters Road drive, on the big island. things to do in hawaii volcanoes national park. big island travel blog

 

 

There are affiliate links on this page. Among other partners, as an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission from this.

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ALOHA!