Tip #3: Don't Get Too Close To the Volcano
Many visitors to the Big Island expect to see a giant volcano spewing lava when they step off the plane, something like the one in the background of the Flintstones cartoon. Well, our volcano (Kilauea) is a more subdued "shield" volcano, which looks like a warrior's shield due to the multiple lava flows that pour out the sides. That's not to say that it can't be dramatic, but you most likely won't be able to get up close and personal with the lava because it is extremely hot and dangerous. The best way to get a glimpse of the lakes and rivers of lava that are seen in documentaries is by helicopter, where you can safely fly directly over the flow. There are even tour boats that approach the lava that pours into the sea. Whatever you do, don't ignore the warnings of the rangers who work in the park - they really are the experts and your safety is important to them. Even though the acres of black lava may seem solid, they are often shallow shelves that innocently hide boiling pits of lava that hover around 2,000 degrees.
Since Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where Kilauea is located, is enormous by any standards, it's best to plan to spend an entire day exploring. The park is filled with very helpful rangers who are only too happy to answer any questions. Consider participating in one of the short hikes that the rangers offer near the visitor's center at the entrance of the park. They're usually very entertaining mixtures of fact and folklore, with some easy exercise as a bonus. It's best to pack a cooler with lots of water and snacks before you enter the park since there currently are no restaurants in the park itself.
To see tip #1 click here
To see tip #2 click here
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