4. Waikoloa/Kohala: Elite Volcano Hike
Your experience begins as you head out of Hilo to the Puna Coast, the location of the historic 2018 eruption and where your first stop of the Mackenzie State Recreation Area is. The highway there was closed by the marching 40-foot-tall wall of crumbly a’a lava as it continued to the sea. You will take a hike along the now-closed highway, and then follow the lava flow through the pine forest to the altered coastline and cliffs overlooking the new black sand beach.
Isaac Hale Beach Park is next, where you can drive along the infamous “Fissure 8”, which erupted in the heart of Lelani Estate's subdivision. A picnic-style lunch will be served at the park, weather permitting. You will then travel to the crown jewel of the Big Island, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. You'll begin by briefly visiting the Kilauea Iki Overlook, before heading off on foot down the paved road to Keanakakoi. You can check out the activity there from the historic 2018 eruption, which buckled the road and caused racks and sinkholes. You’ll also get a birds-eye view of the Kilauea Caldera and the enormous Halema’uma’u Crater, along with views of the trail you will take into the Caldera. Throughout your 2-mile hike you can look for native birds, such as the yellow ‘amakihi and the red ‘apapane.
Huge boulders came to rest at this location during ancient rock slides and eruptions, and you can look for marks left by previous visitors such as Benjamin Boyd and John Webster, just to name a few. Reaching the floor of Kilauea Calder there is an incredible rock slide to your left, evidence of the 2018 eruption, as well as the Halema’uma’u Crater which sits before you. The crater increased in size during the eruption, with the lava lake draining out of it leaving behind an enormous 1,000-foot-deep pit.