Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii

Photo by Anthony Quintano

Where in the West Should I Go? • 52 Places to Visit in 2022

Head over to the Big Island to experience Hawaii’s only active volcano and witness the magnificence of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes and fire. Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site boasting exceptional crater lookouts, education centers, travel experiences and cultural landscapes. 

There are five volcanoes on Big Island, but Kilauea’s active Halema’uma’u Crater is the most famous, periodically erupting in a wonderous fashion. You can watch lava fountains erupt up to 50 feet above the crater and enjoy a variety of traveler experiences inside the park. The Hawaiian Islands formed from volcanoes developed by a hot spot, extracting lava from deep within Earth’s crust. Each island formed over millions of years as the crust moved over the hot spot, currently situated beneath the extreme southeastern side of Big Island. Visiting the park at night offers entirely new viewing opportunities as erupting lava radiates the dark atmosphere, creating a vibrant red glow contrasted by celestial night skies. 

Eruptions are the busiest time to visit the park and also the most exciting, but if your travel plans are outside of an eruption there are still many sights and activities. During the day you can hike through the park to visit ancient lava tubes, steam vents and crater observatories. You can also spend time exploring the volcanic terrain or venturing more than 123,000 acres of designated wilderness. Stay up to date on volcano eruption status at the Volcanoes National Park website to plan your trip accordingly.