1 Day Exploring Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a place where the earth comes alive with the fiery dance of molten lava. This This Big Island park showcases the raw, dynamic forces that shape our planet, from towering volcanic peaks to lush rainforests and coastal wonders. In this blog post, we’ll give you an itinerary for what to do in one day exploring the primal energy where creation and destruction intertwines in a spectacle unlike any other.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park 1 Day Itinerary

  • Hike Sulphur Banks Trail

  • View Kilauea Overlook

  • Walk through Thurston Lava Lube

  • Drive the Chain Of Craters Road

  • Check out Holei Sea Arch

  • Eat Dinner at The Rim Restaurant with Caldera Views

Prefer a tour?

Here are some great adventures you can book that include Volcanoes National Park.

Big Island: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, & Coffee Farm Day-Trip: Explore the varied landscapes and eight climate zones of Hawaii as you visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a Kona Coffee Farm, Waipio Valley Lookout, Akaka and Rainbow Waterfalls, and Punalu’u Black Sand Beach.

Big Island Twilight Volcano and Stargazing Tour: Join a small-group tour to witness the Big Island's incredible natural wonders. Explore Volcanoes National Park, and gaze at the clear night sky. Learn about the island's rich history and vibrant culture along the way.

Kilauea: Volcanoes National Park Guided Hike: Take a guided hike and dive into the fascinating world of volcanoes, geology, botany, and the history of Volcanoes National Park. It's like a crash course in all things awesome, led by someone who really knows their stuff!

Would you rather see Volcanoes National Park from an aerial view? Get ready to be amazed (and spend a pretty penny) on the Fly over Volcano National Park and Waterfalls tour.

Hike Sulphur Banks Trail

There's a volcanic spot called Ha'akulamanu, where the underground heat is so intense that there aren't many trees around. It's famous for its birds, vibrant deposits, and steam. If you're up for an easy nature walk, the trail is just 1.2 miles round trip from the Kīlauea Visitor Center. You can start at the western end of the parking lot and head towards the Volcano Art Center Gallery.

Tip: If you need a wheelchair-friendly route, you can start up the trail on the other side of the street from the Steam Vents parking lot.

Once you're at Ha'akulamanu, also known as Sulphur Banks, you'll notice volcanic gases sneaking out of the ground, bringing along steam from groundwater. These gases pack a punch with carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and hydrogen sulfide—that's the one that smells like rotten eggs, by the way. Some of these sulfur gases even create pure crystals at Sulphur Banks, while others turn into sulfuric acid, breaking down the lava into clay. The clay gets a reddish and brownish hue thanks to iron oxide. It's basically a volcanic chemistry show, and it's pretty fascinating!

Check out the View from Kilauea Overlook

If you're into jaw-dropping views, Kīlauea Overlook is where it's at! You get an insane panorama of Kaluapele (aka Kīlauea caldera) and Halemaʻumaʻu crater.

Fun fact: that crater had a major collapse during the eruption of 2018.

Right from the overlook, you can jump on the Crater Rim Trail. It's like the VIP path that takes you all around the tippy-top caldera of Kīlauea.

Walk through Thurston Lava Lube

Take a stroll through this lush rainforest and then dive into this ancient 500-year-old lava tube called Nāhuku. The Hawaiian name means "the protuberances," maybe because of the lava drips that used to hang from the ceiling, but those got swiped by souvenir hunters in 1913.

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Drive Chain of Craters Road

This 18- mile road isn't just any road—it's got twists and turns leading you to all sorts of cool stuff. Pit craters, snoozing lava flows, plumes from lava tubes. Plus, you get killer views cutting through tropical rainforests and cruising along the coast.

At the end of Chain of Craters Road you’ll find Hōlei Sea Arch. Since there aren’t any restaurants or general stores, you might consider hauling in your own picnic to enjoy on this coastline.

Eat Dinner at The Rim Restaurant with Caldera Views

It’s not everyday you get dinner with this kind of view. The Rim Restaurant is located inside the Volcano House on the edge of the Kilauea caldera. Indulge in dinner delights like the island fish wrapped in pineapple, Hilo coffee-rubbed lamb, and the catch of the day grilled to perfection with Waimea bok choy and lilikoi butter sauce. Jam to live music every Saturday through Wednesday from 6 pm to 8:30 pm. Secure your spot by making advanced reservations for a table!


Book Your Trip

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Shop Comfortable Hiking & Athleisure

Shop Vuori for long-lasting comfortable hiking and workout apparel for men and women (my fave!)

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