Visit Volcanoes National Park

When we visit a place that is unlike anywhere we’ve seen, so totally new that it’s mesmerizing, we are often excited to get up close and personal. When you visit Hawaii, you will see many natural wonders that are unique to the islands, and they will inspire curiosity so strong that you may get the urge to reach out and touch the new sights.

When you visit Volcanoes National Park, on The Big Island of Hawaii, you are bound to be blown away by the primordial forces at work and taken aback by an ecosystem that is unlike any other on the planet. You’ll be face-to-face with Mother Nature at her finest, viewing plants and animals unseen by many.

However, you need to be careful when visiting Volcanoes National Park! Adhere to the sacred ways of the Hawaiian people and honor their culture and their land. Above all, stay safe.

When you look at a volcano, what do you see? To most, it’s an enormous extension of the Earth that bestows an awe-inspiring brilliance, but it is also capable of the fieriest kind of destruction. Remember Pompeii?

Hawaiians see beyond all of that. They know volcanoes as the origin of their home, the birth of a place so beautiful and so diverse that everyone on the planet should experience it at least once in their lifetime.

Let’s take a look at why volcanoes are so important to the people of Hawaii, and how you can share in their celebration of such a powerful creative force.

The Power of Hawaii’s Volcanoes

Our planet is ever-changing, constantly going through processes that are beyond our control. We can shape and shift the world all we want to comply with our needs, but there are still some things that are too much larger than us, forces so grand we can only surrender to their awesomeness.

Volcanoes are a great example of the magnitude of what the planet is capable of, and the Hawaiian people consider this power absolutely sacred.

It is a series of volcanoes that created the Hawaiian island chain. In fact, two of the world’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa, are still adding to the chain as of this day.

Mauna Loa is the largest mountain on the planet, standing at 56,000 feet above the sea floor—making it 27,000 feet taller than Mount Everest. It is quite different from the erupting volcanoes you’ll see elsewhere in the world, as it chooses to take a more liquid and molten path toward expansion. Its lava flows are more like rivers than spouting explosions.

Life in the Shadows of Volcanoes

Layer upon layer, lava has run from these two volcanoes, producing a desolate landscape where only a few species of plants and animals have managed to survive. The early Hawaiians, the Polynesians and then some Europeans, found a way to live alongside the volcanic activity of Mauna Loa and Kilauea and participate in a way of life that honors the volcanoes as creators and supporters of their land.

Today, Volcanoes National Park is bursting with more than 70 million years’ evidence of volcanic activity, species migration and evolution. Add a culture of appreciation for the earth and its inhabitants to the mix and you’ve got a tourist attraction that draws thousands and thousands of visitors from near and far, all wanting to experience the greatness of the area.

Volcanoes National Park is the Hawaiian people’s attempt to protect and preserve their birthplace, and it is a refuge for the plants and animals that make this part of Hawaii their home. Managers at Volcanoes National Park try to instill a basic understanding of the importance of these two natural wonders in the Hawaiian way of living, sharing information on how islands are formed with tourists.

This brings us to what you need to remember when you visit Volcanoes National Park.

Sacred Ground

The Hawaiians acknowledge the massive forces that have lined up to give us the air we breathe, the ground we walk on and the water that provides life all over the world.

Touching sea turtles is considered a major faux pas in Hawaii because they are protected, and the volcanoes at Volcanoes National Park are given the same protection. Some say that certain violations are punishable by death, whether that be ancient myth or not.

In any case, remember to show that you understand and plan to abide by the sacred nature of the volcanoes and the surrounding terrain by doing the following:

  • Keep Rocks Where They Belong – Park managers, geologists and the Hawaiian peoples will ask you to leave rocks where you find them and refrain from stacking them in piles. Piling rocks, rearranging them or—heaven forbid—taking them disturbs the sacred and pristine area, leaving it altered significantly from what nature intended.
  • Keep Garbage With You – If you have any trash, please keep it with you and off of the ground. Volcanoes National Park is a place of sheer beauty, but it will only stay pristine if all visitors respect the landscape.

There are many ways to show respect for the Earth, but they all boil down to leaving it in pretty much the same state it was before you arrived. Geologists use this area to create field data that sheds great light on the history of Hawaii, and native Hawaiians want to preserve their heritage in these sacred spots, so please make sure you follow this golden rule.

A great tour guide will help you enjoy the best of the Hawaiian Islands without disturbing them. To book walking tours and other guided activities, check out Hawaii Activities. They’ll match you with a reputable tour for the right price.


Be a responsible tourist. If you always treat the land with the utmost respect, Hawaiians will respect you in return.