The islands of Hawaii are a truly living landscape, with regular volcanic activity providing a reminder of how the islands came into being out of the vast Pacific ocean. The lush vegetation and beautiful views invite spending time outdoors, with hiking being a popular choice for visitors and locals alike. If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience, consider turning up the heat and choosing a hike on one of the islands’ volcanoes.
The most impressive volcano hikes are to be found on the youngest and most active of the islands, Hawaii itself. Big Island is home to five volcanoes: Kohala, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea. Kilauea has been erupting since 1983, spewing tonnes of lava onto the island and into the sea – and provides many amazing hiking opportunities. Try the classic ridge walk around the edge of the Kilauea Iki crater before descending into the caldera, taking time to observe the unique plant and animal life which creeps back after eruptions lay waste to the landscape. Heading up to the summit of Kilauea provides views of more recent eruption sites where glowing red lava is still visible, and at Nāhuku you can walk through a tunnel created by lava.
One of the most spectacular sights of the islands is where the lava meets the sea, sending plumes of steam high into the air and demonstrating the formation of land right before your eyes. One of the best areas to see this is on the south-eastern coast of the Volcanoes National Park, either from near Kaimu Beach and Kalapana, or from the Chain of Craters Road. Viewing spots change regularly with the ebb and flow of the rock, so consult park rangers or local websites beforehand to avoid a wasted trip.The landscape is rough and harsh, so go well prepared with plenty of water, sturdy boots, and a pair of supportive trekking poles.
Other equally beautiful hikes can be found on the other islands in the archipelago; these older volcanoes have been softened more by the passage of time but offer their own challenges and rewards. Try the Ka’au crater hike on Oahu for waterfalls, rope climbing, and some stunning panoramic views, or head to Kauaʻi to experience the Waimea Canyon – and soak up the best of what these beautiful islands have to offer.