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Experience the Wonder of Kilauea

Published: June 16, 2021

Found in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Kīlauea is one of two active volcanoes on the Big Island (the other being Mauna Loa). In 1983, the Kīlauea Volcano began what would be a 35-year eruption streak.

Sometime around 2008, a rather uncommon occurrence transpired – Kīlauea began erupting in two separate places, down at Puʻu ʻŌʻō’s East Rift Zone and at the summit in Halemaʻumaʻu’s crater. This dual eruption continued until April 30, 2018 when the summit of Puʻu ʻŌʻō collapsed.

48 hours later, the lava lake at Kīlauea’s summit began dropping substantially and a new, more dramatic Puna eruption on Kīlauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone began. But by August, the eruption subsided, leaving many to suspect that Madame Pele, the goddess of volcanoes and fire, had left as fast as she arrived.

The lake of water forming in Halemaʻumaʻu since then suggested otherwise. By December 20, 2020, lava began erupting from vents on the northwest side of the Kīlauea Volcano’s caldera after more than two years of inactivity.

Pele has indeed returned to Volcano, Hawaii, turning the lake into a pool of lava, from which plumes of gas and steam ranging from gray to smoky pink can be seen during the day and the red glow of the lava within the crater at night.

According to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s recent updates, Kīlauea continues to erupt and the ever-rising crater lake is estimated to be 644-feet deep.

Is it safe to visit the Kīlauea Volcano during my Hawai’i vacation?

That’s a good question and one we hear often, as many visitors to the island are concerned that the volcano’s eruption will affect their trip to Hawai’i.

You can rest assured that it’s not only safe to visit Hawai’i Island in light of Kīlauea’s activity, but exciting! Madame Pele is currently in residence, and given her unpredictable nature, it’s hard to say how long her creative forces will be visible.

To behold Pele at work and do so safely, here are a few precautions to take when visiting Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and getting a closer look at the wonder of Kīlauea:

  • Do not enter closed areas. This includes areas marked off by tape, cones, and signs, as well as cracks in the earth and cliff edges.
  • Stay on the designated trails and in designated overlooks, no matter what other visitors may be doing.
  • Drive safely and within the speed limit, and park only in designated areas.
  • Be aware that volcanic gases rising from the crater can be a health hazard, especially to infants, pregnant women, and those with respiratory or heart conditions. Visit the USGS Kīlauea updates or contact park staff at 808-985-6011 for the most current information on vog and air quality.

When it comes to COVID, keep a social distance of six feet from other visitors to the park and wear a mask to flatten the curve.


When and how should I visit the Kīlauea Volcano? 

Seeing erupting Kīlauea is an experience of a lifetime that you don’t want to miss! Fortunately, Kīlauea’s activity can be observed from several points in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, including Kīlauea Overlook, Keanakākoʻi, Wahinekapu (Steaming Bluff), Waldron Ledge, and other designated overlooks along Crater Rim Trail.

The best time to see Madame Pele’s masterpiece is before sunrise or after 9 PM. Since the park is open 24 hours a day, this is completely feasible and recommended if you want to avoid crowds.

Kīlauea’s summit is at 4,000 feet in elevation, so shoes, socks, a hat, pants, and a rain jacket are suggested. And a flashlight or headlamp will help you get around after dark.

Although you can see the lake’s glow and billowing plume with the naked eye, binoculars don’t hurt. Capture the sight of the active volcano with your smartphone or camera, but do be respectful of others around you and of the sacred nature of this area to the Hawaiians.

Kīlauea is a Hawaiian word meaning “much spreading” or “spewing” and it also happens to be our namesake here at the Kilauea Lodge! And we’re located in a lush rainforest, just one mile from Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park.

After spending a day in the park, join us in our restaurant for delicious Kilauea Lodge cuisine while you reminisce about your adventures over a beer or glass of wine… and plan your next day’s adventure!


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