The Big Island of Hawaii is arguably the most dramatic in the Pacific archipelago, boasting everything from snow-tipped volcanoes and green-sand beaches to active lava flows.

And yet, the island is precisely as its moniker suggests: Big. Coming in at 4,028 square miles, it’s larger than all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined. Translation? Visitors are often flummoxed by the most expedient way to absorb all of its beauty during their stay. The Big Island Volcano Tour is here to give you the most of the volcanic side of the Big Island in one day.

Big Island Volcano Tour Highlights

Enter the Big Island Volcano Tour. This full-day excursion departs from Hilo on the Big Islands’ eastern shore and takes guests through the most significant areas of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Rainbow Falls State Park, and more of the most beautiful spots around this area. Journey through lava fields and lush rainforests to picturesque waterfalls, steam vents, and lava tubes. Along the way, certified guides provide an ongoing narration of Hawaii’s intricate history, while island treats—including lunch—fuel the fun.


Here’s a breakdown of the Big Island Volcano Tour’s highlights—and why you should book a seat:


Volcanoes National Park

Many visitors choose the Big Island because it boasts Hawaii Volcanoes National Park—an enormous swath of land, stretching from sea level to the peak of the largest volcano on Earth, that boasts two of the world’s most active volcanoes, the epic landscapes that arrive with them, and 70 million years of history.

hawaii volcanoes national park


Halemaʻumaʻu Crater

Halemaʻumaʻu Crater is a significant geological feature located within the summit caldera of Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, situated in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This crater has undergone dynamic changes over time, serving as a focal point for volcanic activity and scientific study. In recent years, particularly during the 2018 eruption, Halemaʻumaʻu experienced dramatic transformations, including the collapse of its summit lava lake and subsequent explosive events, reshaping its landscape and impacting surrounding areas. Its significance lies not only in its geological activity but also in its cultural and spiritual importance to native Hawaiians, who regard it as the home of the volcano goddess Pele.

Big Island Volcano Tour Halemaumauline

Rainbow Falls State Park

Waianuenue Falls came to be known as “Rainbow Falls” due to the prism of color that arcs over its cascade. Located within Hilo—the largest town on the island—the broad, misty waterfall, situated on the Wailuku River, drops from a height of 80 feet into a placid blue pool. The caves that it shrouds are believed to house the ancient goddess of the moon, Hina, while the lush forests that surround the falls make the site one of the most idyllic in Hawaii.

Rainbow Falls on the Big Island of Hawaii


Kilauea Iki Overlook

In 1959, Kilauea Iki (or “Little Kilauea”) ignited a fiery inferno, transforming the land into a simmering lava lake with fountains that soared upwards of 1,900 feet and sending two million tons of lava into the sky per hour. Today, it’s a more peaceful place (the lake solidified thirty years later), offering visitors a peek at Iki’s astonishing crater; Mauna Loa and Halema’uma’u, meanwhile, loom in the distance. The colors here are tremendous, providing another reminder to always have your camera ready.


Steam Vents

To visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is to witness history in the making—a truism that’s made clear at the Steam Vents. Located less than a mile away from the Kilauea Visitor Center, here you’ll find steam generated from groundwater seeping down to the hot volcanic rocks. The treeless plain around this area—evidence that the ground is too hot for roots to survive—hammers home the fact that Hawaii is an active, ever-evolving site. (And don’t fret: this is a rather gentle steam “bath,” not a scalding blast.)

Big Island Volcano Tour Steam Ventsline

Chain of Craters Road

Chain of Craters Road is a scenic route that winds its way through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, offering visitors a captivating journey through diverse volcanic landscapes. Stretching approximately 18 miles from the park’s summit region to the coastline, the road showcases the island’s volcanic history with panoramic views of craters, lava fields, and lush rainforests. Along the way, guests of the Big Island Volcano Tour can witness the dramatic effects of past eruptions, including hardened lava flows and steam vents, providing a tangible connection to the island’s dynamic geological processes. Despite its name, the road does not lead to a single, continuous chain of craters but instead provides access to various volcanic features and viewpoints, making it a popular attraction for both tourists and scientists seeking to explore the island’s volcanic wonders.


Kealakomo Overlook

Kealakomo Overlook is a stunning vantage point, offering panoramic views of the park’s rugged coastline and the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean beyond. Nestled along Chain of Craters Road, this overlook provides visitors with a serene setting to marvel at the raw beauty of the island’s volcanic landscape. From this elevated perch, travelers can witness the powerful forces of nature at play as waves crash against the ancient lava cliffs below, creating a mesmerizing spectacle. The overlook also serves as a prime location for observing wildlife, with opportunities to spot seabirds soaring overhead or marine life frolicking in the azure waters. Whether gazing out at the horizon or exploring the surrounding trails, Kealakomo Overlook offers a memorable and immersive experience in the heart of Hawaii’s volcanic terrain.


Nahuku Lava Tube

The Nahuku Lava Tube is a captivating natural wonder formed centuries ago by flowing lava, this underground tunnel offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the island’s volcanic history up close. As visitors venture through the dimly lit passage, they are transported into a subterranean world adorned with intricate lava formations, including stalactites and stalagmites. The cool, damp atmosphere within the lava tube provides a stark contrast to the island’s sun-drenched surface, adding to the allure of this geological marvel. Nahuku Lava Tube serves as a tangible reminder of the island’s dynamic past and offers an immersive experience that showcases the remarkable forces of nature at work in shaping Hawaii’s landscapes.

Big Island Volcano Tour Lava Tubeline

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls is a breathtaking waterfall nestled within the lush tropical landscape of Akaka Falls State Park. Plunging 442 feet into a gorge surrounded by verdant rainforest, the waterfall captivates visitors with its sheer beauty and thunderous cascade. A short, scenic hike through the park’s well-maintained trails leads visitors to multiple viewpoints offering stunning vistas of the falls and the surrounding landscape. The sight and sound of the cascading water, combined with the vibrant greenery of the tropical vegetation, create a serene and rejuvenating experience for all who visit Akaka Falls, making it a must-see destination for nature enthusiasts and adventurers alike.


Hilo Town

Located on the northeastern side of the island of Hawaii, Hilo offers breathtaking natural beauty plus all the amenities of a vibrant town. On the geographic flipside of the volcanic Kohala Coast, the region is blessed with dramatic waterfalls, fertile rainforests, and blooming gardens. A busy farming and fishing area in early times, Hilo evolved into a commercial center for the sugar industry in the 1800s. Downtown Hilo was built around its crescent-shaped bay and became the seat of county government. Today, Downtown Hilo is a charming town offering museums, art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Discover the area’s fascinating history at the King Kamehameha Statue and learn about the terrifying tsunamis that nearly swallowed Hilo at the Pacific Tsunami Museum.




big island volcano eruption

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