While COVID-19 regulations continue to make international travel complicated, we recommend looking closer to home – to the islands of Hawaii – for your next vacation. Not only do the islands boast incredible beaches and awe-inspiring volcanoes, but they are easily accessible, as only domestic travel regulations apply.
Top of my list to visit in Hawaii is the Volcano National Park, which extends from sea level to 13 677 feet, offering some of the best volcano viewing in the world. The park is home to two of the most active volcanoes in the world including, Kīlauea and Maunaloa and offers150 miles of hiking trails through varied scenery, ranging from volcanic craters to scalded deserts, lush rainforests to jet-black beaches and snow-capped heights.
Not to be missed is the 10.6 mile Crater Rim Drive which circles the volcano of Kilauea. Veering south of the Crater Rim Drive is the Chain of Craters Road – this 3 700ft drive eventually ends where lava flow has overtaken the road.
We also recommend exploring the Coastal Trail that traverses a 550 year old lava field to one of Hawaii’s most extensive petroglyph fields. This site features approximately 23 000 petroglyphs, or local rock etchings, many of which can be viewed from the trail’s boardwalk.
At Ha’akulamanu (The Sulphur Banks), volcanic gases seep out of the ground along with groundwater steam. These gases are rich in carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and hydrogen sulfide – the gas that smells like rotten eggs. Some sulfur gases deposit pure crystals at Sulphur Banks. Other sulfur gases form sulfuric acid which breaks down the lava to clay. This clay is stained red and brown with iron oxide.
The DevastationTrail is another fascinating day hike, which traverses through a starkly beautiful recovering landscape that was buried by falling cinder from the spectacular lava fountains of the 1959 Kīlauea Iki eruption. Witness life returning to this once devastated area.
The Halema’uma’u Pit Crater, within the much larger Kilauea crater, is a sacred site known to be the home of Pele, the volcano goddess. Pack a jacket if you are planning on visiting this site as temperatures drop at this high elevation.
The Volcano House Hotel, which overlooks the Halema’uma’u Crater, has been operating since it was a grass Shack in 1846. Mark Twain once stayed here when visiting Hawaii.