Hawaii 2024: 4) Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii 2024: 4) Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park
The sky was good up to this time.

National Parks have been the main inspiration behind our recent family trips, so we couldn't pass up visiting the Hawaiian Volcanoes National Park. While I still don't understand why Mauna Kea isn't designated as a National Park, while this place is - there must be some criteria for these designations. Unfortunately, our timing was less than ideal due to heavy rain. The sky was clear when we arrived at the park entrance, but much like our experience at Mauna Kea, we ascended into the clouds. By the time we reached the visitor center, it was completely enveloped in mist.

Hoping the rain would subside, we visited the Volcano Art Center. Although our wish wasn’t granted, we discovered stunning artwork by local artists, which turned out to be an unexpected delight.

The visitor center area offers several excellent trails that could easily occupy 1-2 hours. Unfortunately, the rain kept us from fully enjoying them. We managed a brief walk along the Sulphur Bank Trail and reached the craters, but the mist obscured our view, and we could barely see the deep crater.

The Lava Tube is a popular attraction in the park, but parking was quite challenging. We eventually found a spot along the roadside, though it wasn’t an official parking area, and walked down to the tube. It was more of a short detour than a hike. While we’ve seen more impressive caves before, the rain and humidity created a slightly exotic atmosphere that enhanced our experience.

Our next destination was the Holei Sea Arch, located over 20 miles from the visitor center down by the seashore. As we descended, we were greeted by the sun and blue sky once again. Curious about what the 'Arch' would look like, we finally spotted it at the edge of a sea cliff. While the arch itself wasn't as striking as the Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, the scenery along the way was breathtaking and far exceeded my expectations.

After a long day, we dined at The Rim at Volcano House. Despite the rain obscuring the stunning crater view from our window seat, the restaurant was excellent, and it provided a much-needed opportunity to recharge before heading back home.

The return journey was another incredible experience. We took Route 2000, which cuts through the middle of the Big Island, and the rain continued to obscure our view heavily. However, as we descended into Waikoloa, the clouds suddenly turned a deep red, making us feel like we were on Mars. Breaking through the clouds, we were greeted by a stunning sunset. This breathtaking moment rivaled the sunset at Mauna Kea, reminding us once again of nature's unparalleled beauty.




And After