What are the Must Do's?

posted Jul 6, 2014, 1:19 PM by Matt Hubner

Coming soon!

What to Pack?

posted Jul 6, 2014, 12:03 PM by Matt Hubner   [ updated Feb 18, 2016, 9:13 PM ]

Following questions about the weather and what to do during a visit to the Big Island, what to pack for a stay in Volcano is the next most frequently asked question.  As you may have read in the Weather blog post, the weather in Volcano is very dynamic.  It can range from hot to cold and wet to dry in a matter of hours.  Being prepared by packing the right attire can make all the difference in enjoying your stay.

A lot of people come to the Volcano area completely unprepared.  Evidence of this is the abundance of visitors in the park you will see on a chilly day wearing long sleeve shirts bought from the park visitors center.  It's good business for the park, but bringing a couple layers can save you some $$ that you could spend on something you really want (you know you want that koa paddle).  

So, yes, layers.  Layers, layers, layers.  It's all about being able to stay warm and get down to the bare minimum as quick as possible (and stay dry if need be).  To do all this, I highly recommend packing the following

  • All your island attire (swimsuits, shorts, t-shirts, rubbah slippahs etc).
  • light jacket
  • light sweater
  • long-sleeve shirt
  • pants with zip-off legs or pants that you can wear over shorts or a swimsuit
  • hat
  • disposable poncho
  • waterproof hiking boots (if you plan on doing some serious hiking)
The reason for having some of these items is because one day you might be wearing shorts and a t-shirt at Kilauea summit, but the next it could be chilly and cool.  You can almost count on most nights that you choose to go out to see the glow of Halema'uma'u from Jaggar Museum there will be a slight to moderate breeze and chilly temps.  Having a jacket and long-sleeve shirt will allow you to stay longer to gaze at the mesmerizing sight.  

Also, one of the benefits of staying so close to the park is that you can get up early and head into the park and hit the trails and popular sights long before the crowds from the cruise ships and resorts show up.  But, most mornings in the area can be fairly cool and you'll want to start off layered up.  Typically, by mid-day, if you're hiking Kilauea Iki for instance, it might be getting pretty warm compared to the morning, and this is where being able to remove some layers will make you much more comfortable.

Finally, having a poncho will set you up to not be delayed by intermittent showers or the occasional day of rain that can occur anywhere on the island.  As long as there's not severe weather warnings, it's quite often that most rain showers will pass by and be followed up with a rainbow and clear blue skies.  Be sure to always check the weather and speak to Park Rangers if you're unsure about the weather, but don't let the rain discourage you.  Having waterproof hiking boots and a poncho will make a world of difference.

Some additional items that you may wish to consider bringing are:
  • Sunscreen - kind of obvious but it bears repeating
  • Trekking poles - great for allowing you to look around in awe and avoid falling face forward after tripping on lava rock
  • Binoculars - we have some at the house, but you may want to bring your own for driving around the island, especially during whale season
  • Mask and snorkel - we have a couple sets available at the house, but we cannot guarantee they will be there or undamaged by the time of your stay.  You can also rent gear in town or buy some at Wal-mart, but if you have your own, you may prefer to bring it and keep it in your car trunk (you never know when you might drive right past an awesome snorkeling spot)
  • Waterproof case - Most rental car keys are electronic these days.  And, most of us have cell phones.  Both don't really like getting wet. If you don't want to force someone to stay on the beach and watch your valuables, bring one of these that can be tied around your arm or ankle and don't fret about leaving items on the beach.  
I'll continue to update this post as I think of other items to bring.  If you have any suggestions of your own, please feel free to contact me or leave a comment below.

What's the Weather Like in Volcano?

posted Jul 5, 2014, 11:20 PM by Matt Hubner   [ updated Feb 18, 2016, 9:22 PM ]

I get this question a lot, and it's usually quickly followed with "when's the best time to visit with the best weather?"  These are not the easiest question to answer for visitors used to well-defined seasons.  Weather is very dynamic in the Volcano area.  The temperatures can range from the 70s to 80s in the daytime to the upper 40s in the winter evenings (spring, summer, and fall evening temps tend to be more in the 50s).   Days can be full of drizzly rain or completely sunny and clear.  The majority of days (and nights), however, are a mix of both.  

Kilauea's Glow from Hale Hubner Lanai

The above time-lapse above was taken from the lanai at our rental.  As you can see the video starts off slightly cloudy and there are periods of clear skies followed with more clouds.  This is quite often the case in Volcano, during the day or evening. However, there are times when the skies are perfectly clear as seen below.

Milky Way on a Clear Night at Hale Hubner

NOAA's Hawaii climate page notes that there are approximately two seasons in Hawaii "summer" between  May and October and "winter" between October and April.  Typically, the latter part of the summer tends to be "drier", but Volcano is located on the windward side of the island and at the right elevation for elevated rainfall year round.  This is why the surrounding forest of Volcano is so lush.  My advice to guests is often not to seek to arrive when the weather will be "best", but to accept that clouds and rain may be part of your experience in Volcano and the Big Island.  With the right preparation, any visitor can be ready to get out and explore the amazing sights of the Big Island, rain or shine, cold or hot.  In a separate post I will detail "what to pack", which includes some ideas for clothes and items that may enhance your expereince no matter the weather.

The following graphics are from's Volcano page and may be useful for those who like to crunch the the data in order to make their trip decisions:

The above information may be useful, but remember that the island of Hawai'i is extremely dynamic in its weather, as is Volcano; meaning you don't know what your going to get weather-wise. Don't let the possibility of rain and clouds daunt you.  Four of the five major climate zones can be found on the island as well as a majority of sub-climate zones.  If you wake up to rain or fog in Volcano, there's a good chance that it could be partly cloudy at the Park or completely sunny just a few miles down the road in the Ka'u desert or makai (down the mountain).  Weather reports can be typically confusing, and you will quickly learn that the best forecast on the Big Island is to step outside or look out the window.  That being said, this is a good link for current weather information: Weather Underground Volcano, HI.

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