5 Things to Know About Visiting Volcanoes National Park in the COVID-19 Era

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When I travel, I like to look at photos and ask people for suggestions and get my expectations all set up. Nowadays, thanks to COVID 19, I have had MANY of my expectations dashed like a plate thrown against the wall during a spat! In order to not let that happen to you, I wrote this post if you plan on visiting Volcanoes National Park

Going to a National Park in America during COVID will always have some twists and turns greet you that you didn’t experience the last time you were there, and for Volcanoes National Park, there are a few things you need to be aware of, as well. My top 5!

1. Closed or Changed Due to COVID

The Visitors Center (with its cool exhibits and theater) are closed, but the book store and restrooms are open. Masks are required in ANY indoor building in the park, including the Volcano House.

And speaking of Volcano House, I stopped in for a cup of coffee and was eagerly anticipating sitting next to my husband in the wicker rocking chairs in the lounge area with floor to ceiling windows looking at out over the Halema’uma’u caldera. They removed most of the furniture out of the room and have spaced the remaining chairs pretty far apart for social distancing. I still sat there, with my hubby twenty feet away, to enjoy my coffee with the view! The restaurant is still open and the view is gorgeous from there, too.

The Thurston Lava Tube IS open after being closed for months after the 2018 eruption. We got there at 8 am, just as they turned the lights on inside the lava tube. (I think they used to run them 24/7) We brought a light stick for our video work and got to see the walls and ceiling in a whole new way! They only want you to go ONE WAY (again thanks to COVID) so you must enter at the top, go through the path through the rain forest, go through the cave and come up the other side where there are restrooms.

2. Better Than Ever!

We had a chance to almost be alone at the farthest parking lot in the park near the Jaggar Museum. This parking lot/look out area has been closed since over 10,000 earthquakes shook it from May to August 2018. The museum itself is still closed due to extensive damage, BUT the view into the caldera and the now 700 foot deep lava lake that formed since last December (and has hardened and turned black, sorry!) is on full display! On a clear day, you can see mighty Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea in the distance. (You can watch our YouTube video on our staycation to Volcano and check out the view we captured!) 

You can still enjoy the hikes through the park including Kilauea Iki and the Crater Rim Trail, our personal favorites. We even discovered one that was EPIC, Byron Ledge Trail. It does not mention it on the NPS website, but you can walk the trail all the way down until you STEP OUT ONTO THE CALDERA! It’s pretty awesome and not a hard hike at all.

When the island was closed for the shut down in 2020, we were one of the few people in the entire park. We rode our bikes on all the trails and even to the backside of the caldera down the Chain of Craters Trail. We did a video about THAT, too! So, much to discover and explore that you can go from sun up to sun down and exhaust yourself with geologic beauty the entire time! When you are outside enjoying the view, you don’t have to wear a mask either! 

3. Volcano Art Center

If you love art, not only can you take a nice tour of the Volcano Art Center located near the Visitors Center in the park, you can take hands on art classes there, as well! Plan your trip around a silk painting class or a writers workshop or make an ornament for the holidays. Here is the site with the events calendar. 

4. Enjoy The Mana

When you look out over the caldera, be sure to look for the signage explaining Pelehonukea or Pele, the fire goddess of Hawaii. For those who are intuitive, you will most likely feel the energy coming from the caldera. It is an amazing feeling!

5. Watch the Video And Get Some Ideas about Visiting the Town of Volcano!


If you DO feel the energy of Hawaii and would like to learn more about life on the islands, check out my OTHER site, Move to Hawaii 365! 

Spread the word if you love what you heard! #365kona so we can say Thanks!

Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at 365Kona.com and MoveToHawaii365.com and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

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