Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
For a primordial experience, head to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, home of two active craters: Kilauea and Mauna Loa, the world’s largest.
On Thanksgiving Eve 2007, Kilauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, had a massive eruption. This eruption produced numerous new lava flows that significantly expanded its already existing lava fields. The event was so significant, it is known as "TEB" or "Thanksgiving eve breakout" among scientists. Volcanic activity on this scale has not been seen since 1990, when hot lava poured out of Kilauea, burying a highway, the town of Kalapana and its famous black sand beach while adding several thousand acres of new land to the shoreline of the Big Island. This spike has excited volcanologists and visitors alike with an unprecedented opportunity to study the dynamic forces at work.
The vivid landscape changes daily due to continuous lava flow. Be sure to check in at the Kilauea visitor’s center which has everything you ever need to know about the park including an educational movie, a fascinating three-dimensional map and a live ranger's orientation. They will also advise you as to any closures of trails or roads — please heed all warnings as this is real nature, up close and potentially dangerous. The more you know, the more you will appreciate the marvels surrounding you. Visitors can participate in a number of ranger activities that vary from day to day, or you can simply grab a map and start exploring.
A helicopter tour (which focuses on the Pu'u O'o vent) truly brings home the grandeur of this landscape, while a boat expedition gets you up close and personal with the newest land on earth when molten lava flows right into the water. While you can easily experience the area in one day by driving through it, we recommend settling down for a few days near the summit of Kilauea. Located within the park on the rim of Kilauea caldera, the Volcano House offers 33 guest rooms, a dining room, snack bar, lounge and gift shop, along with cultural events and demonstrations.