Pictured: Women’s Willow Lace
If Hawaii had a heart, you’d find it in Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. Home to Earth’s youngest and most active volcano, the park is alive with the smoke and fire of the volcanic process—visit and you get to watch the island of Hawaii grow right before your eyes.
“To see the destruction and life that the volcano causes is amazing,” says Lady Slider’s Tara Michie. “I think the park is the only place you can get a front row seat to lava gushing toward the ocean!”
And while one might associate volcanoes with destruction, Michie says volcanoes actually bring lots of life to the island. Volcanoes National Park is one of the most diverse and fragile ecosystems in the world, filled with flora and fauna found only in Hawaii.
“When I was growing up, there were very few birds in the park as their environment was being threatened by invasive species,” says Michie. “Since then, they have grown in numbers and you can see and hear them all over the park thanks to the vigilance of the park the the education of visitors.”
Here, Michie shares her Field Notes so you can make the most of a weekend in Volcanoes National Park.
Pack the Right Shoes
“We weren’t expecting to do any really strenuous hikes or major adventures. We just wanted to enjoy the outdoors,” says Michie. “The Willow Lace shoes and Original sandals worked out perfectly for us. They were comfortable and fashionable. Since I started wearing Teva footwear, I prefer to hike in the sandals, believe it or not! My feet feel so free. But on colder days (it got down to 60 degrees at night in the park and it’s summertime!) the shoes worked out perfectly.
Walk through Nāhuku
Also known as Thurston Lava tube, this formation was created several hundred years ago by hot lava rushing through it. The walk is absolutely beautiful, with large Hapu’u fern canopies and the sweet sound of native Hawaiian birds singing.
Go for a Hike
See the vast difference in terrain and hike through Kīlauea Iki or the Devastation Trail, both caused by different lava flows throughout the years.
Visit the Halema’uma’u Crater
Pictured: Women’s Original Universal Ombre
At night, you can see the orange glow of lava coming from the puka (“hole” in Hawaiian) in the middle of the crater. Even better, grab a drink at the Volcano House and watch it from the comfort of the lounge!
See the Petroglyphs
Head down Chain of Crater Road and check out the Petroglyphs there. There’s also a natural sea arch on the coast that’s worth the hike.
Watch the Lava Show
Conditions permitting, you may even be able to get a glimpse of the lava up-close! Check at the Visitor’s Center and chat with one of the friendly rangers to find out lava conditions and if it is safe to venture to. We got a chance to see the lava outside of the national park at Pu’u O’o while we were there.
Give Back to the Park
I think it’s incredibly important to give back to the places that give to you. I highly suggest anyone visiting the park find out how they can do more to make the national park a better place. Educate yourself on the threatened ōhiʻa lehua blossom, which is rapidly dying from a newly identified disease (most of the birds in the park collect sap from the flower). The park has a great volunteer program that offers a variety of opportunities including removal of invasive species, protecting and assisting native sea turtle hatchlings, and leading interpretive hikes. To learn more visit: NPS.gov/havo/getinvolved.
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