ALOHA!

 

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

 

Crater Rim Drive. Best things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. one day in national park itinerary. day trip from kona. from hilo. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

Crater Rim Drive is a relatively short road, and this is located near the park entrance. There are some “volcano” sights along Crater Rim Drive, and the main stops can be done within an hour, although it can take longer depending on how much walking/hiking you do.

Chain of Craters Road is the longer road that will take you down to the coast as you drive past vast lava rock fields. 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!

 

If you’ll be staying in the Volcanoes National Park area for a night, it can be perfect to do 1 or 2 things that are on the road from Kona to the national park in the morning and early afternoon. Then, if you arrive around 3 or 4pm, you can spend an hour doing the main quick things that are on Crater Rim Drive. The next day, you can explore Chain of Craters Road, and maybe also add in time to do a hike off of Crater Rim Drive too.

Otherwise, 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 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 the lava fields!!

 

 

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Be sure to also see stops to make on the drive from Kona to the national park. Also see things to do on the Puna coast that can be perfect after a trip to Volcanoes National Park! 

 

 

So…

What are some things to do on Crater Rim Drive?!

 

 

Kilauea Visitor Center

Crater Rim Drive. kilauea visitors center. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

Once you enter the national park, make your first stop the visitor center!

You can get an updated map that will make navigating the national park feel a lot easier too!

 

Crater Rim Drive map. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

You can also find out what’s currently open and closed. (The 2018 volcano eruption impacted many national park activities.)

 

Crater Rim Drive. Where to see lava. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

The Thurston lava tube is often on the list of top things to do at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and this is one of the activities that was closed when I went to the park in September 2019. As an alternative lava tube on the Big Island, check out the Kaumana Caves near Hilo!

And, you can learn a few things about volcanoes in Hawaii at the visitor’s center too.

 

Crater Rim Drive. kilauea visitors center. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

Then, after you’ve finished up at the visitor’s center…

For these next activities, you can walk to them straight from the visitor center parking lot. You’ll see signs.

 

Crater Rim Drive. How to get to top spots hiking trail. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

Or there’s a parking lot that can get you a bit closer.

 

 

Sulphur banks

Crater Rim Drive. sulphur banks trail. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

There’s a short trail (0.3 miles) that will take you past sulphur banks.

 

The national parks says this is where you’ll see:

Volcanic gases deposited colorful sulphur crystals and other minerals along this paved trail and boardwalk.

 

Crater Rim Drive. sulphur banks trail. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

See more about this stop on Crater Rim Drive.

 

 

Steam vents

Crater Rim Drive. steam vents trail. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

There’s another short trail (0.4 miles) that will take you past steam vents.

These aren’t the only places you can see steam vents though!

 

 

Crater Rim Trail

Crater Rim Drive. Crater Rim Trail hike. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

Then you can continue on to part of the crater rim trail where you can find overlooks to see the Kilauea Caldera and Halemaumau Crater.

 

Crater Rim Drive. Crater Rim Trail hike. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Crater Rim Drive. Crater Rim Trail. safety. is it safe. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Crater Rim Drive. Crater Rim Trail. to see kilauea caldera and halemaumau crater. is it safe. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Crater Rim Drive. Crater Rim Trail. to see halemaumau crater and kilauea caldera. is it safe. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

There are a number of overlooks.

 

Crater Rim Drive. Crater Rim Trail hike. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

Once you feel like you’ve gotten a good glimpse of the caldera and crater, you can head back to your car to continue the drive on Crater Rim Drive.

 

 

So those are the quick stops on Crater Rim Drive.

If you have an hour, you can comfortably walk the sulfur banks trail, steam vent trail, and the part of the crater rim trail that allows you to see the caldera and crater. It’s possible to do it quicker too.

 

 

Halemaumau Trail

Crater Rim Drive. Halemaumau Trail. to see halemaumau crater and kilauea caldera. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

So you saw the Halemaumau Crater and Kilauea Caldera from above at the overlooks.

Now you can head down and see the caldera from ground level!

 

Crater Rim Drive. Halemaumau Trail. to see halemaumau crater and kilauea caldera. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

As soon as you reach the caldera floor, you’ll turn back around.

To do the Halemaumau Trail, you’ll want to give yourself 1-1.5 hours.

Skip this if you are short on time.

If you want to do this trail, you can add it onto the loop with the quick stops before you head back to the visitor’s center parking lot. The start of the trail is near the visitor’s center, as well as near the Volcano House hotel and restaurant.

 

So basically, you can walk: visitor center > sulfur banks > steam banks > crater rim trail overlooks > halemaumau trail > visitor center

 

 

Kilauea Iki Trail

After you do those stops, then you can drive to the Kilauea iki parking lot.

Within 5 minutes or so of being on this trail, you will come across a couple of overlooks to be able to see the Kilauea iki crater from above.

 

Crater Rim Drive. kilauea iki crater overlook. to see halemaumau crater and kilauea caldera. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

If you just come here for the overlook, this can be a quick stop. After you see the crater, you can head back to the parking lot to continue your drive through Volcanoes National Park.

It’s also possible to walk further on this trail, all the way down to the crater floor. (Recommended – possibly the best hike in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park!)

 

Crater Rim Drive. kilauea iki crater Trail hike. to see halemaumau crater and kilauea caldera. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

The hike from the parking lot to the crater floor one way might take around 15-20 minutes. (It’ll probably take longer on the way back since you’ll now be going uphill.)

You can head back once you reach the crater floor.

Or, you can walk all the way across the Kilauea iki crater!

You can see more of the power of the volcano up close with the ground broken up with a walk across the crater floor too.

 

Crater Rim Drive. kilauea iki crater Trail hike. to see halemaumau crater and kilauea caldera. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

Crater Rim Drive. kilauea iki crater Trail hike. to see halemaumau crater and kilauea caldera. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

To hike across the entire crater floor, consider giving yourself around 2 hours.

If you do this trail, it means that you’re hiking into a former lava lake!

See more about this stop on Crater Rim Drive.

 

 

Devastation Trail

Crater Rim Drive. devastation trail. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

Moving along on Crater Rim Drive, you can then next drive to Devastation Trail.

The national parks says this the Devastation Trail shows:

A landscape buried in cinders from the 1959 Kilauea Iki lava found eruption.

This is about a one mile out-and-back trail.

See more about this stop on Crater Rim Drive.

 

 

And those are the top highlights of stops along Crater Rim Drive!

 

 

After Crater Rim Drive, you can continue driving through the national park, this time going on Chain of Craters Road!

 

Crater Rim Drive to chain of craters road. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

 

Place to stay in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

 

Volcano House

Crater Rim Drive. Volcano House hotel and restaurant. Where to stay. Where to eat. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

There is one more notable highlight on Crater Rim Drive, that’s Volcano House.

This is a hotel and restaurant located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

This means that stay at Volcano House means staying within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park!

And, you can get views of the massive Halemaumau Crater from the backside of the property too.

 

Crater Rim Drive. Volcano House hotel and restaurant. halemaumau crater views. Things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

You can check hotel prices here. (partner website)

Even if you’re not staying here, you can go to Volcano House for lunch or dinner.

This is located near the park entrance, right across the street from the visitor’s center.

 

More places to stay near Volcanoes National Park

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

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

 

If you’re traveling alone, 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 the summary aka quick list!

Bucket list of things to do on Crater Rim Drive

 

The quick spots
  • Sulphur banks
  • Steam vents
  • Crater Rim Trail for Kilauea caldera and Halemaumau Crater overlooks

 

Easy stroll

 

Hiking trails

 

And continue the drive through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with a drive to the coast past lava fields on Chain of Craters Road!

 

HAPPY DRIVING ON CRATER RIM DRIVE!

 

Crater Rim Drive. Best things to do in Hawaii volcanoes national park. one day in national park itinerary. day trip from kona. from hilo. Big Island Hawaii travel blog

 

 

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ALOHA!