Photograph courtsy Frans Lanting/National Geographic Stock
With dense rain forests, continuous eruptions, and new lava flows, things get pretty primal in the Big Island’s Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Unpredictability comes with the territory, and when rains roll in, the cedar cottages and Japanese soaking tubs hidden among the ferns at Volcano Rainforest Retreat will satisfy anyone’s hankering to hunker down. On cool nights warm up with the spicy soups and curries at Thai Thai Restaurant. Pack it in early because the time to visit Kilauea’s erupting Halemaumau Crater, ten minutes away, is before dawn, when its lava lake glows against the plume of ash and steam, and the crowds are nonexistent. Nearby, the four-mile Kilauea Iki Trail drops through forest, then crosses a steaming crater that erupted in 1959. Kilauea has lured tourists for 170 years; in an 1877 building that was once a hotel, the Volcano Art Center Gallery exhibits works by the many painters, printmakers, and woodworkers who live in the area.