Kilauea Volcano is the star of the Big Island’s Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii's only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Kilauea Volcano remains active, spouting orange lava, venting steam, glowing, and sputtering. When conditions are safe, it’s possible to drive around the volcano's edge on the 11-mile (17-kilometer) Crater Rim Drive.
As a highlight of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (and the Big Island as a whole), Kilauea features on just about every sightseeing tour. At the Jaggar Museum and Observatory, you can see steam rising from Halema‘uma‘u Crater and, as it begins to get dark, a glow from the lava lake within. Those craving a more adventurous experience can opt for a guided cycling tour through the national park, hike to the summit of Kilauea, or combine a national park tour with an afternoon of ziplining over the Umauma River.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Kilauea is an active volcano, so some parts of the park can close at short notice as conditions change.
- The volcano is a must-see for nature lovers, adventure travelers, and first-time visitors to the Big Island.
- Dress in layers—temperatures can change significantly as the park’s elevation changes.
- Wear sturdy shoes and lightweight pants, especially if you plan to hike on the lava fields.
- The Kilauea Visitor Center, Jaggar Museum, and Volcano House are all wheelchair accessible, as are several pathways throughout the park.
- There are no gas stations within the park, so remember to fuel up before your visit.
How to Get There
Kilauea Volcano is a 45-minute drive along Highway 11 from Hilo on the island’s south coast. The best way to get here is by rental car or organized tour.
When to Get There
Plan to visit the park in spring or fall when the island sees fewer visitors. If you’re visiting during peak summer season, arrive at the Jaggar Museum first thing in the morning or late in the evening after the crowds have dispersed.
The Kilauea Visitor Center
To get the most out of your visit to the volcano, especially if you’re visiting independently, make the Visitor Center your first stop upon entering the park. Here rangers can update you on the latest conditions, offer suggestions for the best hikes, and let you know about any special programs or events happening within the park.