One of the many things visitors want to see when coming to Hawaii are the active volcanoes. There is only one of the eight islands in which you can see this. Go to the Big Island of Hawaii and you will experience the steaming vents and amazing lava flow found nowhere else in the state.
The Island Name
The Big Island is the youngest of the Hawaiian islands, having been created only about 800,000 years ago. Its official name is “Hawaii,” which is the same name as the state. It was given the nickname of “Orchid Isle” about 100 years ago, due to the many patches of orchids found in numerous areas around the island. “Orchid Isle” is still sometimes used today, but the more common nickname is “Big Island.” This name seems to be more fitting because it is, in fact, the “biggest” Hawaiian island. And it’s the only island that continues to grow in land mass due to the continuous volcanic eruptions and lava flow.
Kona or Hilo
When visiting the Big Island, you have two choices of airports. You can fly into Kona or Hilo. It’s important to choose wisely depending on the activities you want to do here because these two airports are literally on opposite sides of the island. And since the island is pretty large, it does take a few hours to drive from one side to the other.
Kona is located on the west side and has some great weather. There’s lots of shopping, places to eat, and a number of overnight accommodations. If you’re into diving or snorkeling, go north of Kona to the Gold Coast. There are some amazing beaches there. Hapuna Beach and Kahalu’u Beach Park are also great sites for snorkeling.
Hilo is located on the east side. This is the place you want to go if you’re more into exploring the volcanoes. There are five volcanoes on the island, two of which are active within Volcanoes National Park. There’s a lot more rainfall on Hilo-side and not as many hotels to choose from. However, there are a few bed and breakfasts and small cottages around the volcano area available to rent.
For the budget traveler, there is one hostel on Big Island that we always recommend to our guests and that is Arnott’s Lodge. This unique traveler’s lodge is located in Hilo in close proximity to all the major beaches. You can pitch a tent, rent a dorm, or check into one of their more deluxe suites. They have bike rentals for exploring the area and even offer their own tours to nearby volcanoes, waterfalls, and mountain hikes. You can’t go wrong by booking a few nights at Arnott’s Lodge.
Volcanoes National Park
Volcanoes National Park is the place to go if you want to see actual lava flows. However, there have been some extreme changes taking place at the same time as the writing of this post. In the recent months of May and June 2018, there have been hundreds of earthquakes and massive eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano. As a result, a good portion of the park has been closed.
Due to this sudden change in mother nature, the park cannot be visited as it once was. And park management is unsure of when they can safely open the remainder of the park. However, there are other portions of the park still open and worth visiting. Guided hikes are provided in the Kahuku Unit and other educational programs are being presented just outside the park.
Since changes are happening so frequently in Volcanoes National Park, it’s a bit difficult to provide up-to-date and accurate information in this post. So if you’re planning a visit, we suggest checking out the Volcanoes National Park website for more details.
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Image By: Hawaii Guide