I highly recommend taking a day trip over to volcano village and volcano national park if you have the time. we spent a full day in volcano and hit all the stops!
1. helicopter tour
the tours technically leave out of hilo airport which is 45 minutes from volcano village. start with a morning tour of the volcano by air, read more here – then head over to volcano village afterward and enjoy lunch before all the activities. I won’t talk too much about our helicopter experience since I’ve already posted about it – it was awesome!
if you google restaurants in volcano village, kilauea lodge is listed as the nicest restaurant in volcano. don’t be intimidated though, it’s casual. I am so glad we went here because of its special story! back in 1986, a couple visited on their honeymoon and felt so drawn to the restaurant – they bought it, despite no chef skills or really any of the necessary skills to run a restaurant. they ended up going to culinary school and the rest is history. the best part about the lodge is the international fireplace of friendship.
3. hawai’i volcano national park: lava tube and chain of craters
after having lunch, drive over to hawai’i volcano national park. there is a visitor center and the jagger museum to check out, depending on the amount of time you have. admittedly, we skipped these items and drove straight to the volcano lookout at jagger first. from there, we drove the chain of craters and stopped at the lava tube (pictured below).
you have to know that a winery will always make my list! volcano winery is a really cool spot to check out. while most of the varietals were a little too fruity for me, we bought a couple bottles of the symphony white blend and enjoyed the cheese spread plate. funny story – while we were enjoying our cheese plate, another patron came over to us, grabbed a cracker, looked at us and said, “can I get some?” stephen and I were totally taken off guard… but said “sure.” she then realized that we had paid for it and was mortified haha!
one thing to make sure you do on the way back from hilo is to check out a coffee plantation. there are coffee spots lining the road, but I recommend greenwell plantation. they’ve been in kona forever and as a local put it, “didn’t just pop up to make money.” they offer an hour-long tour of the grounds, but you can easily pop in just for samples too.
bonus – greenwell has orange and avocado trees near the parking lot. I can honestly say I’ve never seen an avocado tree before – how cool is this!