Volcano National Park on Big Island

vnpWe left Maui yesterday and boarded a small nine passenger puddle jumper airplane to Big Island. Traveling with two kids, five checked bags, three carry-ons, and two car seats is not my idea of a fun way to travel. But luckily our short trip to change islands went as smooth as possible.

Yesterday we got checked into our resort in a small town about a half hour north of Kona. Our room wasn’t quite ready for us, so we decided to drive around a bit. We quickly found out why they call this island Big Island – it takes forever to go anywhere! Big Island is more than twice the size of all of the other Hawaii islands combined.

Sophia and Sawyer point out the lava glow that is visible at night at Jagger Museum.

Sophia and Sawyer point out the lava glow that is visible at night at Jagger Museum.

Today was our first full day and we decided to check out arguably the biggest tourist attraction on the island – Volcano National Park. Big Island is the newest of all of the Hawaiin islands. There have been a number of volcanic eruptions in the past two hundred years, but the latest eruption started in 1983 and is still going strong.

We started our touring in the visitor center and watched a quick video about the park. It gave an update on all of the eruptions over the past few years and the current status of the volcano. The volcano is very active with lots of lava and steam pouring out. However, there is currently no viewable lava.

After the visitor center, we started driving to the best place to view volcanic steam. It is called Jagger Museum. The plume of smoke is visible 24 hours a day coming out of a well defined crater. It was quite a site to see!

Just a short drive from the museum was a place called Thurston Lava Tube.  It is exactly what it sounds like – a cave that lava carved out while flowing underground.  The kids thought it was pretty cool to walk through such a big cave.

Lava flow in 1983 caused a few problems for this road.

Lava flow in 1983 caused a few problems for this road.

Then we ventured down the Chain of Craters road down the side of the volcano. You can see evidence of multiple eruptions through the years as you make your way all the way down to ocean level. One cool thing at the bottom of the volcano is a spot where the lava spilled over the road and into the water. They never fixed the road, so you can park your car and climb around on the lava on top of the road.

After that we had a decision to make. We could start the long, 2.5 hour trek home. Or we could kill a few hours and come back to the park at night to see the lava glow. Like I said earlier, you can’t see any lava flowing. However, at night, you can see the glow of the lava at the Jagger Museum. We decided the possibility of seeing active lava was worth killing a few hours, so we drove around for a while and found some dinner.

The lava night glow was definitely worth waiting around to see.

The lava night glow was definitely worth waiting around to see.

We returned to Volcano National Park right at sundown. There was a very slight glow at first, but as the sky got darker, the glow grew very bright. It was qutie a site to see the lava in action!

Today was a long day with lots of time in the car. Tomorrow we are sticking closer to home. One thing we have learned during our travels is you don’t want to push the kids too hard. Otherwise nobody has any fun!

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