Big Island Activities: Volcano

Hawaiian History and Beauty Awaits.

Take the Pu’u Loa Petroglyph Trail

Puu Loa meant 'Long Hill', and the Hawaiians interpreted it to mean 'Long Life.’ So for countless generations, fathers came to Puu Loa and placed their newborn’s umbilical cord in small holes scattered about the site, hoping for a long life for their children. Stand quietly here, and listen to the loud silence, and feel the mana of this still very spiritual area.

The Puu Loa Petroglyphs, located off the Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are also worth viewing. Petroglyphs were carved into lava rock: circles, human figures and turtles. The trek to the petroglyphs takes about an hour.

Get up-to-date information on the Volcanoes National Park page for this hike here.

Photo Credit: National Park Service

Hike Across the Kilauea Iki Crater

The walking path leads you through the tropical jungle with tree ferns, wild impatiens and birds. The trail follows the crater's edge before eventually descending into it. Kilauea Iki crater, the "little Kilauea" crater, is not an active volcano at the moment. From the many trails that you can hike in the Volcano National Park, the Kilauea Iki is a must.

This loop of 4 miles takes about two hours and leads through jungle-like vegetation as well as across black lava. The trail can be described as medium heavy, and medium heavy only indicates that you have to descend 300 feet down to the bottom of the crater and ascend again, and the temperature can be around 90 degrees or higher already on a normal day.

The trail itself is short, has no difficult passages for average people and the bottom of the crater is rather flat.

This 4-mile loop takes about two hours and leads through jungle-like vegetation and across black lava. Because of the 300 foot crater descent (and ascent), the trail can be described as medium heavy. Temperature can be around 90 degrees or higher already on a normal day. It takes an hour and a half to do the entire walk.

Learn more and see up-to-date information on the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Day Hikes page.

Photo Credit: National Parks Service

Walk through the Thurston Lava Tube

Get a close-up look at a Hawaiian rainforest and the Thurston Lava Tube. Also called Nahuku, it is located in the rain forest ecological zone. A visit here consists of a short walk down a paved trail as it descends into a pit crater (covered with vegetation). The trail then goes through a short section of a lava tube, before looping back to the starting point.


You'll see the general structure of a Hawaiian rain forest here and become reminded of the evolutionary importance of the underground ecosystems.

The tube is named for Lorrin Thurston, a newspaper publisher that played an instrumental role in creating the park. Thurston lava tube is also called by its Hawaiian name, Nahuku, which refers to the small protuberances on the walls of the tube.

Photo credit: National Parks Service

It's an easy, lighted underground stroll on a smooth floor. The flora at the cave entrance seems especially lush when you look at it from the darkness of the cave.

To get there:

The Crater Rim Road takes you to this site. This is a popular visitor stop and the small parking lot is often crowded with cars and buses