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NPS Passport: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

NPS Passport: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

The United States has 63 national parks, which are congressionally designated protected areas operated by the National Park Service. National parks are renowned for their natural beauty, unique geological features, diverse ecosystems, and recreational opportunities. Equity Estates residences enjoy close proximity to over a dozen national parks.

Stunning Landscapes and Sacred Sites

Located on the southeastern edge of the Big Island, a scenic two-hour drive from the Equity Estates home, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is like nowhere else on earth. With over 320,000 acres of diverse landscape, awe-inspiring views, sacred sites, hiking trails, and two active volcanoes, it’s considered one of the most geologically (and biologically) fascinating places in the world.

You’ll find seven different ecological zones here—ranging from seacoast to forest to alpine—as well as abundant wildlife and plants that are native to the Hawaiian Isles. There are six species of birds from the brightly colored honeycreeper family within the park, and terrain made up of lava tubes and tree molds, sea arches and steam vents, vast craters, coastal plains, towering summits, and misty rainforest—all of which attracts over one million visitors each year.

The park is also home to several sacred cultural sites within the Kahuku-Pōhue parcel along the southern side of Mauna Loa that connect today’s Hawaii to its rich, historical past. Here you can view ancient petroglyphs, fossilized footprints, and temple ruins, and walk the rolling, slope-side fields of what was once one of Hawaii’s largest cattle ranches.

There’s a lot to see and do in the park, so it’s easy to make a day of it. Start at the Kīlauea Visitor Center for hiking information, ranger-led activities, and a walk through the educational exhibits and gift shop. From there, take your pick of adventures. Head out for a leisurely drive along the park’s two main roads; hike along rainforest, ash desert, or backcountry trails; or explore the pastoral landscapes of the more remote Kahuku Unit.

When you’re ready for lunch, consider trying one of the fabulous in-park restaurants at the Volcano House hotel (followed by a visit to the onsite Volcano Art Center) or bring a picnic with you to enjoy at one of the overlooks or at the family-friendly Kīpukapuaulu Picnic Area.

This protected park and World Heritage Site is full of natural and cultural wonders, easily accessible to anyone on the island who wants to visit and explore.

What the park is best known for:

With two of the world’s most active volcanoes—Kīlauea and Maunaloa—within its borders, the park definitely lives up to its name. Guests can immerse themselves in the unique landscape, hike to overlooks or down into crater forests, experience warm volcanic steam venting up from underground, and learn more about the history of the island at the park’s many cultural sites.

Top three things to do:


The most popular activity in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is hiking, and there are multiple trails through a variety of landscapes to choose from—whether you’re interested in a short stroll along easy paths, an unforgettable walk through the stark landscape of Devastation Trail, or a more strenuous adventure along the breathtaking summit caldera of Kīlauea.

Tour Crater Rim Drive

One of two main roads in the park, Crater Rim Drive is an 11-mile, paved, winding road that takes you through lush vegetation and swaths of open fields, past steam vents, bluffs, and overlooks, to some of the parks most scenic sites. Stop at the legendary Uēkahuna or the popular Kīlauea Overlook for incredible views of Kaluapele, Mauna Loa, and the Halemaʻumaʻu crater; feel the warmth of the Wahinekapu steam vents; and take an unforgettable walk through the Thurston Lava Tube. Just remember to wear comfortable shoes and bring bottled water if you plan to get out and see some of the sights on foot.

See the Pu‘uloa Petroglyphs

Located on the southern flank of the Kīlauea volcano, the petroglyphs—drawn images preserved in hardened lava—are worth the short hike you take to get there. The Pu‘uloa field is the largest in Hawaii, and contains more than 23,000 petroglyphs of geometric shapes, cupules, canoe drawings, and human representations.

About the Equity Estates home:

Our Big Island residence is a stunning, ocean-facing four-bedroom home on the edge of the first fairway of the Francis H. I’i Brown South Course at the Mauna Lani Resort. With spacious rooms that open to outdoor living spaces, a private front courtyard, detached guest ohana, infinity-edge pool, waterfall spa, and luxury features throughout, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped into your own island oasis.

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