December 2, 2023

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10 Things You Shouldn’t Do At Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the experience of a lifetime. To make it the best it can be, avoid these mistakes.

Caldera of the Haleakala volcano (Maui, Hawaii)

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is one of the many attractions to visit in the gorgeous US state in the Pacific. The national park is located on Big Island and centers around two active volcanoes, Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. The park alone is reason enough to add Big Island to a trip to Maui or Oahu. However, due to the unpredictable nature of the volcanoes in the park, it’s critical to keep safety on top of mind while visiting. These are some top things to avoid for a safe and pleasant visit.

Don’t Stray From Marked Trails

The US National Park Service reminds visitors on its website of the importance of staying on marked trails while exploring the park. Choosing to step off a trail in an area where this volcanic activity is extremely dangerous and can have dire consequences. It’s also important to only explore areas that are open to the public and to respect signs indicating temporary closures.

Don’t Wear Sandals

Although travelers may feel compelled to wear beachwear like sandals to the national park since they are on an island, it’s important to understand that this is an area designed for hiking. There are unstable and uneven surfaces that hikers will have to navigate, and there may also be sharp terrain since the area has a lot of lava rock. Wearing closed-toed shoes that are sturdy and support your ankles is essential to safely enjoy the beauty of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

Don’t Be In A Rush

There are both trails and roadways within the national park, so travelers should take their time when hiking and driving. Hikers should leave ample time to complete their circuits before dusk or come prepared with the necessary gear to light the way, such as a headlamp. Drivers should be mindful of the narrow roads and lower speed limits and give themselves plenty of time to get from place to place to avoid endangering themselves and other visitors.

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Don’t Forget About Sun Protection

Travelers will spend a lot of their time within the park hiking across lava fields. These areas are vast, open expanses of rock. Therefore, there is no shade or other sun protection available for significant periods of the hike. These rocky areas also become extremely hot. For travelers’ protection, they should come prepared with a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen to prevent damage to their skin and eyes from UV rays. The CDC recommends wearing a sunscreen of SPF 15 or higher that blocks both UVA and UVB rays.

Don’t Hike Without Drinking Water

Once travelers are en route and hiking within the park, there will be no access to water. Not only is there nowhere to purchase water while hiking, but there are also no natural water sources where people with refillable bottles with filtration systems can refill their water along the way. Besides purchasing water at the Park Store on arrival in the park, travelers should bring all water they anticipate needing during their excursion. The National Park Service recommends carrying at least two quarts of drinking water for every person in your group.

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Don’t Approach Or Feed Wild Animals

There is always a possibility of encountering wildlife while exploring Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Notable animals within the park that hikers and drivers can expect to see are the Nēnē (a bird) and wild pigs. As with any wild animal, the safest way to view them is from a distance. Do not approach the animals or try to touch them because they are unpredictable. Do not feed any wild animals because they may become dependent on or develop food aggression towards humans.

Don’t Hike Alone (If Possible)

As with any hike in the wilderness, there are risks involved with exploring the national park. For travelers’ safety, the National Park Service recommends hiking with at least one other person whenever possible. Whether you’re hiking alone or with a partner or group, it’s always a good idea to let someone else know where you are, the route you’re planning on taking, and what time you expect to return.

Don’t Wear Shorts And A T-Shirt

Travelers planning to visit Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park during their trip to Hawai’i should plan to back more than shorts and t-shirts. The summit of Kīlauea stands at 1,219 meters above sea level, meaning that weather is unpredictable and can be cold and damp regardless of the season or time of day. Hikers should bring appropriate garments, including a rain jacket and long pants.

Don’t Forget To Check The Air Quality

There are certain individuals who are at a higher risk of health complications due to the hazardous volcanic gases that escape the crater. People who might be more sensitive to poor air quality include those with respiratory or heart conditions, children, babies, and pregnant women. Individuals who belong to any of these groups or will be hiking with someone in this grouping should check the air quality in the park before arrival.

Don’t Stand Too Close To The Cliff Edge

Within the park, there are uneven surfaces, gaps in the terrain, and cliff edges. This is especially prevalent in the crater when witnessing volcanic eruptions. Follow marked signs and stay back a safe distance from the cliff edge. The surfaces can be slippery or unstable, presenting the risk of a fall.