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Frank’s Big Island Travel Hints #12: More fun in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii
by Frank Burgess, brought to you by Tour Guide Hawaii

Frank Burgess at Hilina Pali Overlook: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Frank Burgess at Hilina Pali Overlook: Photo by Donnie MacGowan

Tour Guide Hawaii is proud to announce the release of their new iPhone and iPod Touch App available at iTunes…this App will help you plan your trip to Hawaii, help you decide what you want to see, how you want to see it and help you get there with GPS, interactive maps and on-board driving instructions.  The Tour Guide App presents hours of interesting videos and information about places of historical, cultural and recreational interest, giving you a sense of the people, the natural history and the unique specialness of each destination.  The information is so comprehensive and complete they even tell you where all the public restrooms are!  What else will Tour Guide help you find?  Let’s look at a trip down Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park…Tour Guide will not only help you find many amazing sights along the way, it will tell you all about them, what to take and what to expect.

Today’s hints cover the area along the very top of Chain of Craters Road in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Driving through The Park  there several fantastic places to stop and explore, but there is also a lot of lovely, open countryside for several miles, so enjoy the panoramic views. Your Tour Guide download from iTunes will give you more detailed information about this area.

Deeper and Deeper into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

As you continue driving around and exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park you will find many great hiking and bicycling opportunities. Tour Guide has some 50 sights to see in the park and has details such as, parking, food and water and restroom facilities along the way.

One of the best day hikes in the park is the Kilauea Iki Crater Trail. This four mile round trip hike, about three hours at a nominal pace, will descend into the crater itself. From the floor of the crater, you will see fern, o’hia, and tropical rainforest crowding right up to the rim. The floor itself is stark desert, by comparison, as the trail takes you across and then up the other side. Make sure to bring plenty of water and maybe even some snacks for this hike.

To see even more of the parks wonders, we at Tour Guide suggest a drive down the Chain of Craters Road. This drive unlocks dozens more sights, hikes and vistas from high mountain rainforest to the barren lava landscapes and scenic ocean views below. Along this road are a number of overlooks for some fabulous photography. It ends at the sea where waves crash and spew against cliffs with steam clouds in the distance where lava reaches the ocean. Let’s see what this stunning area has to offer.

Lua Manu is a pit crater formed before written records were kept of the eruptive activity in the park. You will notice no cinder around the rim. This indicates no eruption here but a lava lake that formed inside the pit. As it drained, the pit collapsed, the latest of which was in 1974.

There are several more pit craters to see along this route and then you will come to Hilina Pali Road. This nine mile road takes you to some of the most magical views of the National Park. From forest down to the coast, the breathtaking scenery with leave you with the awe and majesty of Mother Nature and Madam Pele. For the hearty campers, Tour Guide will lead you to Kulanaokuaiki Campground. There are restrooms here but no water is available. At the end of Hilina Pali Road is an overlook not to be missed.

Back on Chain of Craters Road, Tour Guide brings you to Pauahi Crater, a large hourglass shaped crater that has held lava from many different flows over the years. Most recently, the 1979 earthquakes opened the south rift of the crater and issued steam and lava fountains. Though this episode only lasted one day, it was precursor to the current flows from Pu’u O’o in 1983 that destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses miles away in the Puna District.

Tour Guide will guide you to Kipuka Kahali’i. A kipuka is a hole or space where the lava surrounded forest or grassland but did not burn it. This one was partially devastated by the 1969 hot ash eruption of Mauna Ulu. The tallest trees survived and some hearty species of plants have returned.

To see the new iPhone/iPod Touch App, please visit  The best of Tour Guide Hawaii’s free content about traveling to, and exploring, the Big island, can be found here.  For more information on traveling to Hawaii in general and on touring the Big Island in particular, please also visit and

Copyright 2009
by Frank Burgess; photography copyright 2009 by Donald B. MacGowan. All rights reserved.


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