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World's most active volcano
World's most active volcano
68C when it hits the water
Volcano House
Halema'uma'u crater

Hawaii Volcanoes

Thursday, July 10, 2003
Here you will find scenic drives, kilometres of hiking trails, campgrounds, a visitor centre, museum, observatory, art centre and five volcanoes!

Most travellers who have headed in an easterly direction out of Australia have spent some time in the Hawaiian Islands, most on the island of Oahu, home of Waikiki.

These days they are discovering the other islands and the diversity they offer. Just a short flight from Oahu is Hawaii, known as the Big Island, which offers coffee plantations, macadamia orchards and flower farms. But most of all the attraction is the 100,000 hectare Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There you will find scenic drives, kilometres of hiking trails, campgrounds, a visitor centre, museum, observatory and art centre.

The island has five volcanoes. Kilauae has been erupting in one form or another since 1983. Tours will take you to the lava flow. To prepare for the half-day tour you need sturdy footwear, a jacket, hat, torch, water, camera and sunscreen.

Superlatives abound when people describe their Kilauea experience — spectacular, unbelievable, nature at work … As you watch the molten lava flow and cascade to the ocean, steaming, churning and forming new land, you are a witness to creation.

To get the most out of the area, guided tours are the way to go. They start with early morning or late afternoon pick-up from your hotel in the Hilo area, cruise ship or airport. You travel in a luxury SUV past yellow and white wild ginger, guava and ohia trees and lehua blossoms.

When you enter the national park, you tour the Kilauea caldera, Halema'uma'u crater, Jagger Observatory and National Park Visitors Centre. The real adventure begins as you descend Chain of Craters Road to the current lava flow. A short hike through a rainforest takes you through Thurston lava tube. The views are amazing.

You can walk to the edge of the Halema'uma'u crater — it last erupted in the 1920s — and you will see gifts locals have left for Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire. They are a very superstitious people and it is said a curse will befall anyone who takes lava rocks from the island.

Chain of Craters Road heads towards where the lava flows into the ocean. Rangers at the visitor centre will let you know how viewing conditions are. If flows are accessible, trails from the road's end mark a safe viewing area. They do advise that for those who have breathing problems, heart conditions or are pregnant, the fumes could be hazardous.

Another option for seeing the sights is to go in a Blue Hawaiian helicopter. Their flights go right over the crater and you see all the volcanic action.

The only hotel in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is Volcano House. It has been there for over 125 years. It is an old-style country lodge with a proud history.

Chiefess Kapiolani built a grass shack on the crater rim and ancient Hawaiians went there to worship Pele with offerings and prayers. The fireplace is symbolic and has been burning non-stop for 125 years.

In 1895 Greek immigrant George Lycurgus bought the hotel and his name — "Uncle George" — is synonymous with the hotel. He died at 101 years of age. In 1940 the main building was destroyed by fire caused by an oil burner (not Pele). Embers of the everlasting were rescued, the Koa piano standing in the lobby and a few art pieces. Uncle George rebuilt in 1941 from wood and stone and the hotel became a popular place for locals as well as visitors. Franklin D Roosevelt, Mark Twain and Queen Liliuokalani have stayed there.

The hotel is just steps away from the edge of Kilauea crater and views of it, Mauna Loa mountain and native forest of the national park are magnificent. The 42 guest rooms are furnished with rare Koa wood furniture and a quilt pattern meaning "the beauty of the home".

Ka Ohelo is a dining room with a view and the snack bar serves fast foods to take on your outings. Uncle George's lounge is an intimate room where guests enjoy some great cocktails while checking out the views of splendour outside.


The south-east of the big island of Hawaii


Hawaii Volcano Tours operate full-day Kilauea Lava Flow Tours from about $200 per person.
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters 50-minute Circle of Fire tours start at around $250 per person.
Volcano House rooms start at around $130 a double a night.
Qantas flies three times a week to Honolulu, with fares starting at $1633 from Sydney, $1710 from Melbourne, $1760 from Brisbane, $1991 from Adelaide, $2468 from Perth and $2378 from Darwin, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing, but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Hawaii Volcano Tours
Box 672
PO Hilo Hawaii 96721
Ph: 808 935 5992
F: 808 935 6165

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
Hilo International Airport
Hilo Hawaii 96720
Ph: 808 886 1768
F: 808 961 0404

Volcano House
Crater Rim Drive
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii 96718
Ph: 808 967 7321
F: 808 967 8429

To book a flight, visit or call 13 13 13.

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