Valentine’s Day is right around the corner and it’s the perfect time to reflect on all we love about Volcano, Hawai’i! From shopping and dining in Volcano Village to nature and culture in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, here are 12 things we’re sure you’ll love about Volcano too!
12. Ancient Petroglyphs
Puʻu Loa (long hill) is the site of the largest field of petroglyphs in the state of Hawai’i. There are around 23,000 petroglyphs etched into the hardened lava of this nearly 550-year-old field. And hiking to this sacred display of ki’i pohaku (stone carvings) in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is an experience that is hard to forget.
11. Fun & Games
Located in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Kīlauea Military Camp (KMC) is a 50-acre campus that includes a six-lane bowling alley, the Crater Rim Café, live music at the Lava Lounge, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts, an arcade and game room, and a theater. With the exception of lodging, which is limited to military personnel and their families, KMC is open to the public and it’s the perfect place to head on especially rainy days in Volcano.
Let’s face it, with Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park in our backyard, the lava really is the main attraction. The park is home to Kīlauea, the most active volcano in the world. And within the caldera at Kīlauea’s summit, you’ll find the pit crater, Halemaʻumaʻu. If you’re visiting the park, seeing the active lava lake within the Halemaʻumaʻu crater should be at the top of your itinerary. For the best view of Halemaʻumaʻu’s lava, take Old Crater Rim Drive Trail from the Devastation Trail parking lot to the eruption viewing area near Keanakākoʻi crater. It’s a moderate 2.5-mile round trip hike to the crater that is well worth the effort.
No trip to Hawai’i would be complete without hula and what better spot to experience this treasured tradition than in Volcano, HI. The Volcano Art Center (VAC) in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park offers the opportunity to experience hula kahiko (ancient hula) both weekly and monthly.
Participate in an Aloha Friday Cultural Demonstration on the lanai (porch) of VAC’s Gallery. Here, Hawaiian practitioners share their connection to hula with storytelling and hands-on activities, including lei making, kapa beating, lauhala weaving, hula, and ʻukulele playing. And one Saturday every month, VAC welcomes hula hālau (schools) from around the country to share a hula kahiko performance. There’s something about experiencing ancient Hawaiian sounds, dance, and rhythms while facing Halemaʻumaʻu crater, the sacred home of Pele the volcano goddess, that always gives us chicken skin.
8. Bird Watching
The Big Island is renowned for its stunning array of land birds. And you can find many of these endemic birds less than two miles from our Volcano Heritage Cottages in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Look for our official state bird and the rarest goose in the world, the nēnē, when visiting the park. Considered a threatened bird, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park has been conducting a program for captive breeding and reintroduction of the nēnē since the 1970s.
You can often spot the majestic ‘io, the only hawk species native to Hawai’i, circling along Mauna Loa Road and above Kīlauea’s summit. And right here at Volcano Heritage Cottages, you might catch a glimpse of the nonmigratory ‘amakihi, one of the most common of Hawaii’s native forest birds. ‘Amakihi are known for their vivid yellow-green color and can often be found perched on the branch of an ō‘hi‘a tree.
7. Lunchtime Strolls
After a morning of exploring the park, stop by Cafe Ono for a vegan or gluten-free lunch that tastes especially delicious when enjoyed in the cafe’s cultivated gardens. The historical farmhouse-turned-gallery attracts visitors and guests with its art studio, lush gardens, statues, and greenhouses. When you’re done dining, peruse the treasures in the gift shop (many made by the owner and artist Ira Ono himself) or wander down a blissful trail through the cafe’s rainforest for a true Volcano Garden Arts experience.
6. The Night Market
From produce, plants, and jewelry, to garden decor and custom doormats, the Night Market will have you declaring your love for all things Volcano! For dinner, choose from salad, sandwiches, soup, and more at the Volcano Cookshop. Or indulge in some spicy ahi rolls from Love Sushi, steak plate lunches from Shakedown Treats ‘Ohana BBQ, and Hopper’s Street Food’s stroganoff. For dessert, sweet treats, Hawaii chocolate, and homemade fudge are sure to satisfy your sweet tooth!
5. A Kipukapuaulu Picnic
Visit the spot where Volcano Heritage Cottage’s own Albert proposed to Lorna! At Kīpukapuaulu (Bird Park), you can explore an island of native forest drifting in a sea of more recent, hardened lava. Enjoy a casual 1.2-mile hike along a loop trail through well-protected rainforest as the rare and unique birds of the kīpuka serenade you. Pack the leftovers from your time at the Night Market for a fantastic picnic lunch once you reach Mauna Loa Road. And be sure to visit early or late in the day, since the park’s rare birds are not particularly active during the middle of the day.
Volcano is home to some of the most unique gifts and goods, thoughtfully crafted and created by local artists. The Volcano Gallery features koa wood plaques born from an artistic collaboration between renowned artist Dietrich Varez and Volcano designer Bea Arnopole. For you crafters out there, look no further than Kilauea Kreations for an array of fabrics and supplies for quilting and crafting, as well as handmade luggage tags, key chains, oven mitts, and more! And we can’t forget the Kilauea Lodge Gift Shop for locally-sourced and inspired gifts, including wines, island-designed jewelry, shirts, soaps, lotions, stained glass, books, and stuffed animals, to name a few of our favorites.
3. Wine Tasting
Speaking of vino, wine tasting in Paradise is just a sip away when you visit Volcano. Stop by the Volcano Winery for local wines inspired by volcanic fire and crafted by blending traditional wine grapes with exotic tropical fruits. With its laid-back atmosphere, you can come in for wine tasting as you are, hiking boots and all. Or enjoy a bottle of fire-inspired local wines enhanced by Hawai’i’s abundance while lounging around a firepit on the winery grounds.
2. The Weather
Staying in the village of Volcano and spending the day visiting the park? The Village’s weather can be quite different from that in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, even though they’re next to each other. Like much of the Big Island, sunny days prevail in the park, as it is located in the Ka’u desert. Volcano Village, however, is nestled within a rainforest that runs the gamut from drizzly and misty to partly cloudy and yes, even sunny. Volcano Village and the park are in distinctly different micro-climates and we love the diversity!
Many online weather sites do not make this distinction, however, misreporting the park’s forecast as rainy when it’s actually a beautiful, dry day. Here’s a tip from long-time resident, Tutu Lorna: Just because a weather site forecasts rain in Volcano does not mean that it’s a wet day in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Pack your rain jacket and you’ll be ready for the sunshine and rain!
- The Ono Food
For a small village, we have a remarkable variety of ono grinds (delicious eats) to choose from. Visit Ohelo Cafe for everything from seafood to pizza in a casual setting. At Kīlauea Lodge, enjoy exquisite dishes that pair local ingredients with international flavors. Volcano’s Lava Rock Cafe is also an ideal outpost for locally sourced fare and live music. We’re particularly fond of the cafe’s brunch menu. And if you’re looking for takeout to bring back to Tutu’s Place or the Ola’a House, pick up some spicy curry, stir-fry, noodles, and other classic Thai eats from the Tuk-Tuk Thai Food Truck. When it comes to reasons to fall for Volcano, HI, we’re just getting started. And your own love affair starts at our charming cottages, Tutu’s Place and the Ola’a House. Book your stay today and get ready to experience the enchanted village of Volcano!