Same-Same, But Different: Exploring the Big Island’s New Landscape

By Karen Rose

Photo courtesy of ldeld

Hawaii island is an adventurer’s playground.

One of the biggest draws to this geographically diverse island is the on-going volcanic activity that awes and inspires those who witness its magnificent power.

In May of 2018, Kilauea set off an eruption that would change the island of Hawaii forever. For three months, lava flowed across the landscape southeast of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, leaving a wake of powerful devastation across roughly 1 percent of the island’s 4,028 square miles.

The good news is that 99 percent of the Big Island was unaffected by the eruption, and visitors from around the globe continue to explore and enjoy this island paradise. There are many fun and exciting activities to do in and around the volcano, as well as newly created beaches to explore. So, pack your bags for adventure, and see Hawaii Island like you’ve never seen it before.

Here are a few activities to add to your next visit to the Orchid Isle:

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is now open for business and welcoming thousands of visitors every day. This is a great opportunity to see the dramatic changes brought about by the tens of thousands of earthquakes that occurred during the eruption, as well as the massive collapse of Kilauea caldera.

Check out the Kahuku Unit of the park, which is often overlooked and underrated. Once a historic ranch, this gorgeous 116,000-acre plot of land holds the remnants of ohia lehua trees and boasts views of old lava flows from the 1868 Kau eruption. There are five different hikes to venture out on, as well as guided hikes offered on Saturday and Sunday mornings. A park ranger will explain the history of the volcano as well as its recent activity.

Volcano Winery

Volcano Winery is located in the town of Volcano, adjacent to the national park. The winery holds daily wine tastings of delicious local wines inspired by the beauty of Hawaii Island. Taste wines with hints of tropical fruit like yellow guava, starfruit, papaya and jaboticaba berry. They even offer wines made with honey from local Big Island bees who work fields of Macadamia Nut and Ohia Trees. Wine tasting at Volcano Winery is a lovely, relaxing way to spend an afternoon.

Pohoiki Black Sand Beach

Visit Hawaii Island’s newest beach created by the 2018 lava flow. Pohoiki is a newly formed crescent shaped beach, enticing visitors to the east side of the island. Be among the first to witness first-hand what Kilauea’s river of hot molten lava created.

As of June 2019, the National Park Service lists the following sites at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park open to the public:

  • Chain of Craters Road
  • Volcano House
  • Crater Rim Drive to Kilauea Military Camp
  • Halema‘uma‘u Trail via Crater Rim Trail by Volcano House
  • Devastation Trail
  • Steam Vents
  • Sulphur Banks
  • Most of Kilauea Iki Trail
  • Pu‘u Pua‘i Overlook
  • Kilauea Military Camp
  • Crater Rim Trail from Volcano House to Kilauea Military Camp
  • Ka‘ū Desert Trail to Hilina Pali (the six-mile section west of Jaggar Museum remains closed)
  • Kipukapuaulu
  • Tree Molds off Mauna Loa Road
  • Hilina Pali Road is open to Kulanaokuaiki Campground to vehicle traffic, and to pedestrians and cyclists beyond
  • Kulanaokuaiki Campground
  • Nāmakanipaio Campground (managed by Volcano House)
  • Backcountry
  • All of Mauna Loa Road
  • Mauna Loa Summit (may temporarily close on occasion due to severe weather conditions)
  • Kahuku Unit

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