Big Island of Hawaii is world-famous thanks to its volcanoes and a visit to the Volcanoes National Park is sure to be the highlights of any trip. We spend 4 days in the park, and loved every single day. From easy flat trail to high altitude summit, the park offers a wide variety of trail levels, as well as a diversified scenery, lush green rainforest to dark lava fields.

Bruno down in the Kilauea Caldera

Hiking Kilauea Iki Trail

Fresh from our first night at the camp, we headed early for our first day of hikes. We picked the Kilauea Iki Trail, a great introduction to the park, going through amazing scenery and including walking on Kilauea Caldera!

A moderate to challenging trail 4-mile (6-km) long, the trail loop can start either at the Visitor Center or from the Kilauea Iki Overlook. From the Visitor Center, the trail goes down steeply through rain forest and giant ferns,

Emerging from the lush vegetation, we faced the wide open space of the Kilauea Caldera. Standing just the two of us, it was pretty amazing to walk over the crust of an active volcano!

The trail to the Halema’uma’u Crater is closed due to toxic smokes but one doesn’t need to go far to be mesmerized by the landscape. The trail then goes up through rainforest again, edging both Kilauea and Kilauea Iki calderas, before heading down again into Kilauea Iki. A more recent lava flow, you walk on dark floor, over spiky and very rough lava rocks.



Crossing through the Kilauea Iki caldera was a great experience, and we stopped for lunch right there. It’s not every day you get to enjoy lunch in such a setting! A few steam vents can be accessed, and the scenery reminded us of the Lord of Rings’ Mordor, expecting to see the Dark Lord Sauron standing in front of us any minute.

The hike follows up the cliff of the caldera and exits close to the Thurston Lava tube entrance. The lava tube is worth visiting, a short sidewalk through a gigantic tube. The last part of the hike follows the edge of the caldera back to the Visitor Center.

Other short hikes

Another nice short trail hike is the Pu’u Loa Petroglyphs trail, a moderate 1.4-mile (2.5km) trail starting going through a 500-year old lava field and leading to a sacred Hawai’i site of roughly 23,000 petroglyphs, some dating back to several centuries. Many of these can be viewed from a boardwalk, aimed to protect this treasured part of Hawaiian history.

Pu'u Loa Petroglyphs

Looking for longer trips on Big Island? Check our backpacking Napau Crater adventure, and diving with manta rays. Island-hopping in Hawaii? Check these Kauai hiking trails, Oahu hikes, or plan a 2-day trip in Oahu.


 More Top Attractions & Travel Tips in the US?
Read our Alaska Trip Suggestions, hike the Appalachian Trail, explore New York City, and our Preferred US National Parks.

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