August is a big month for Hawaii’s National Parks.
Both Haleakala National Park on Maui and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island celebrate birthdays on August 1st. 2018 marks the 102nd anniversary for both parks.
Many of Hawaii’s 8 National Park units also plan events celebrating the establishment of the National Park Service on August 25.
Today we’re joining the August fun by sharing a collection of our favorite Hawaii posts.
In 2014 we visited 6 of Hawaii’s national park units, including stops on 3 different islands. The trip was one of our most memorable vacations. So full of history, Hawaiian culture, and some amazing hiking trails. It was also one of the first big #parkchasing vacations we planned ourselves. We learned a ton about what makes a good itinerary, how to plan full days of fun things to do while still on a budget, and the diverse experiences you can have in a national park.
Park Chaser’s Best of Hawaii’s National Parks
If you’d like the full run-down on all of Hawaii’s National Parks, this post is the best place to start. Find out where the sites in Hawaii are located and passport cancellation information for each.
We started our Hawaiian #parkchasing trip on Honolulu with a full day at World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. More than 1.5 million people visit the Pearl Harbor Historic sites, including the USS Arizona Memorial (now closed due to structural damage). In this post, we go through a sample itinerary for the day and how to avoid the crowds for the best visit.
After leaving Oahu, we next flew to Hawaii Island for 4 days of surfing, relaxing and touring the 3 national park service units on Big Island. First, we visited Pu’uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park near Kona. The park protects an area called the “Place of Refuge,” where in ancient times anyone who broke the sacred laws known as ‘kapu’ would flee for safety. If you reached the walls of Pu’uhonau, then no harm could come to you.
When we visited Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site along the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, we were thrilled to meet a fellow Minnesotan serving as the park ranger on duty. Pu’ukohola Heiau was built in the 1790’s by Hawaiian King Kamehameha. The fully preserved and restored heiau is one of the oldest structures in the entire National Park System!
A #parkchasing trip to the Big Island would not be complete without a stop in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. We camped in the Namakamipaio Campground and spent much of our time driving and hiking the park. As you may know, in May 2018 the activity patterns of the Kilauea Volcano changed. The drive along Chain of Craters Road is one of the areas changed by earthquake and volcano activity. When the park re-opens, we hope this beautiful drive is again available.
Lava tubes form when scorching hot magma travels underground during a volcanic eruption. Tubes form anywhere there is space for the molten rock to squeeze through. As a result, the magma slowly melts the rock around the cracks to form large hollow channels below ground. Once the eruption is over the rock hardens and leaves the tube formation behind. There are few lava tubes in the world as accessible as the Thurston Lava Tube in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It makes it one of the top attractions in the entire park.
One of the most popular trails in the park and often listed as one of the top hiking trails in the United States, the Kilauea Iki Trail has something for every hiker. The 4-mile trail winds through dense Hawaiian rain forest along the rim of Kilauea Iki Crater before descending 400 feet to the hardened crater floor of the still steaming volcano.
While not exclusively a Hawaiian post, we did include this last post in our “Best of” list since what better virtual get-away can you have than to the sunny island of Hawaii? This post includes lists of webcams from all around the National Park Service, including links to the Hawaii Volcano Observatory. They offer live views of the volcano overlooks and the Mauna Loa summit.