How to make the most of a visit to Kilauea

One of Hawaii’s greatest attractions is its volcanoes – especially its youngest, Kilauea. These great volcanoes created the Hawaiian Islands, and every year, thousands of locals and tourists come to see the great volcanoes and learn more about these wonders of nature.

Of course, visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – where Kilauea is on the south side of the Big Island – is no easy task. The park itself is massive, and there are so many cool sights to see. Even if you have a full day to devote to the park, you still might not be able to see everything you want to see. Though the park is technically open 24 hours a day, you don’t want to take a wrong step at night.

What to make the most of your visit to Kilauea volcano? Follow these helpful tips and get the most out of your visit to Kilauea.

Plan in advance

As previously mentioned, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is expansive and offers plenty of great sights that you should check out. Unless you have more than one day to devote to the park, however, you need to be economical with what you really want to see, and what could be skipped.

Before you go to the park – or even before you leave for your vacation – do some light research about the park and check out the sights that you think will interest you the most. Perhaps you really want to see the black sand beaches or maybe you want to see a river of lava. Knowing what you want to see will help you save time and get you to the sights you want to see the most.

You should also be looking into tours of Kilauea. Though some people like to explore on their own, taking a tour can save you time and energy. You won’t have to worry about finding each sight. Your guide will lead you there. You’ll also have the knowledge and expertise of your guide to help you along. You’ll learn tons of cool facts about volcanoes and the Hawaiian Islands themselves.

Learn more about each attraction

Volcanoes are great wonders of the earth, and on the Hawaiian Islands, they’ve produced some amazing sights. But how much do you really know about these natural wonders of destruction?

Of course, you know that you can visit Kilauea’s summit and take the long Crater Rim Drive, but did you know about some of these lesser known Kilauea creations:

  • Thurston Lava Tunnel: This incredible tunnel was created hundreds of years ago by a rolling river of red-hot lava. Today, you can walk through the tunnel and feel the cool lava now turned to rock.
  • Steam vents: Just past the Kilauea Visitor Center are the steam vents where steam created by ground water dripping onto the hottest volcanic rocks. The area below is too hot for trees to grow.
  • Sulphur Banks: Ever wanted to smell a volcano? If you follow the path down to the Sulphur Banks, you can. This area gets hot quickly, and the air really does smell like rotten eggs. On the ground, you’ll see red clay. It was once lava, but was broken down by sulphur gases that created sulfuric acid. Still, you can brag to your friends that you smelled a real volcano.

In addition to these cool natural wonders, the park also has a few cool indoor locations that you need to check out. The Kilauea Visitor Center is often considered one of the best first places to stop once you enter the park because all the information about the current eruption is readily available. You’ll also get a complete schedule of the daily ranger activities and all the information necessary to make your hike through the park a successful one. You can also watch the feature film, “Born of Fire, Born of the Sea,” at the center.

Just three miles away from the Kilauea Visitor Center is the Thomas A. Jaggar Museum, which is situated on the very edge of Kilauea Caldera. You’ll see not only the caldera, but also the main crater, Halema’uma’u, at this vantage point. The museum’s overlook is the absolute best place to see the erupting mountain and learn tons of great facts about the volcano itself and volcanology.

Book a tour to Kilauea

To make your visit to Kliauea more enjoyable, choose a cool tour that will take you around the park and to the places you want to see the most. Tour companies know which areas are most popular with visitors, and they craft their tours to give visits the best experiences possible, no matter their time limits.

In fact, if you only have a few hours, a tour is the best way to visit Kilauea and see her up close. For example, choose a helicopter tour and see Kilauea from the air. These tours – narrated by an experienced guide – take you right to the heart of the action and provide you with an amazing aerial view of the volcano. The helicopter can also fly over other popular attractions you want to see.

With tours, you also have the benefit of a knowledgeable tour guide to lead you through. Tour guides are a wealth of information, and they want to ensure that you have the best experience possible. You’ll learn all sorts of fascinating facts and figures about Kilauea, her sister volcanoes, and the Hawaiian Islands, and if you have a question, all you need to do is ask.

If you’re prone to getting lost or turned around, a tour will do all the navigating for you. You won’t miss out on any of the great volcanic attractions because you made a wrong turn.


On a visit to the Big Island, it’s always worth it to spend a day at Kilauea. This majestic volcano continues to erupt today, and future generations will continue to see its effects. Even if you only have a few hours to spend at the volcano, book a tour in advance and see the parts of the volcano that interest you the most.


So tell us, which part of Kilauea are you most interested to see? Share with us in the comments!

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