Hawaii Volcano Visits Are Hot for Millennial and Experiential Travelers

kilauea volcano, hawaii
Photo by knkhoenke/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The temper and tremors of Pele, the Hawaiian fire goddess, have their own timetable, and right now she is particularly active, making this a great time to send Millennials to Hawaii. The boiling summit of Kilauea and lava oozing toward the ocean are irresistible lures for experiential travelers. 

Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park — celebrating its 100th anniversary this year — can see the glowing lava lake known as Halemaumau from the park’s Jagger Museum, just a short drive from the park visitor center. Hiking trails lead across the still-steaming surface of a cooling lava lake that filled the Kilauea Iki crater in 1959, and Millennial travelers can also walk through a lava tube, see boiling steam vents, and drive the spectacular Chain of Craters road from the summit to the sea (rental cars are available at both the Hilo International Airport on the island’s east coast and the Kona International Airport on the west coast).

See Steam and Lava by Land and Air

The best way to see active lava flows is on the 45-minute Circle of Fire tour from Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours, which operates out of the Hilo airport. Agents looking to customize a tour for clients should contact Deborah Lawsongroup sales manager, at [email protected] or call 808-442-3342. 

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The Kilauea caldera is best viewed before dawn or after dusk. The Hawaii Volcano Housebuilt on the crater rim in 1941, is the only hotel located inside the park, and the hotel’s Deluxe Volcano Crater View Guest Rooms have unobstructed views of the caldera. Volcano House offers a 10 percent commission on bookings. Agents looking to book Hawaii Volcano House should contact Pilita Winchatz, sales manager, at [email protected] 

The Kilauea Lodge is just outside the park gate in the small Hawaiian town of Volcano, surrounded by tropical foliage. Travel Agent loved the Ohia room, which is closest to the rustic outdoor hot tub. The hotel offers agents a 10 percent commission. Agents looking to book rooms here should contact Janet Coney, office manager, at [email protected]kilauealodge.com or 808-967-7366.

Flights into Hilo will put clients closer to the national park (about a 45-minute drive) than flying to Kona (roughly three hours). Hilo lodging options are limited, however, so Kona is more convenient for those who want to stay at the more upscale resorts on the Kohala Coast, Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona), and Keauhou.

The Fairmont Orchid, a green oasis amid the vast lava fields of Hawaii’s west coast, features guided walks to Native Hawaiian fishponds, shelter caves, and petroglyph fields nearby. The Fairmont Gold level rooms here are nearly all-inclusive: guests enjoy breakfast, afternoon snacks, and a light dinner in the exclusive Gold level lounge. Agents should contact Noelani Yamamoto, sales manager, at [email protected].

The Mauna Lani Bay Hotels and Bungalows has an excellent Hawaiian cultural program led by historian and kahn (Hawaiian priest) Danny Akaka. Free activities at the resort include traditional throw-net fishing and ukulele and hula lessons.

“Bungalow inclusive” rates include accommodation in luxury standalone bungalows with heated pools and Jacuzzis, three meals daily, airport transfers and rental car, daily $500 credit for golf or spa, and a stocked pantry upon arrival. Millennial couples will love the oceanfront, one-bedroom unit 1, but book unit 5 — the only two-bedroom condo at the resort — for clients with kids or other traveling companions. For all additional inquiries, agents should contact Peter Thoene, director of sales and marketing at [email protected] or 808-885-6622.

Drive to the Sunrise and Take the Road to Hana

Unlike Kilauea, the Haleakala volcano on neighboring Maui has been dormant since the late 18th century, but a visit to Haleakala National Park offers some unique thrills nonetheless: clients for a taste for soft adventure — and tolerance for an early wake-up call — can watch the sun rise from the summit of the 10,023-foot mountain, a must-do for any Maui visitor.

Kahului Airport is the main international gateway to Maui, and all of the island’s rental car agencies — chain and independent — are located on or near the airport in Kahului. As with the Big Island, renting a car on Maui is highly recommended for Millennials who want to visit the national park and the island’s other top attractions, especially the legendary Road to Hana. 

It’s a two- to three-hour drive to the Kilauea summit from major resort areas like Wailea, Kapalua, Kaanapali and Lahaina. Driving the park’s twisting Crater Road in the predawn darkness is a memorable experience, but clients may also opt to join a tour that includes transportation to the summit, a park tour, and then a thrilling 20-plus-mile downhill bike ride from just outside the park entrance to sea level, with amazing views of clouds, rainbows, and the lush Maui countryside at every turn. We think Maui SunRiders sunrise tour is the best option at $99.95. Agents with inquiries should e-mail [email protected].

The 64-mile Road to Hana is one of the most beautiful drives in the world, a serpentine course through lush canyons and across waterfalls spanned by countless one-lane bridges. It’s also the only way to reach the Kipahulu section of Haleakala National Park, home to the famous Pools of Oheo, a stepped waterfall that leads directly to the sea. Hana tours are included in Hawaii packages from Pleasant Holidays via their Pleasant Activities brand.

The best way to avoid traffic jams on this popular drive is to stay over in Hana: the Travaasa Hana is the top hotel in Hana, offering luxury stays wrapped around cultural and adventure experiences like outrigger canoe tours of Hana Bay, lei making, and bamboo pole fishing.

Recently renovated oceanfront bungalows ave private lanais and endless views. Travel Agent recommends booking room no. 216 for a hot tub on the lanai. The horel offers a 10 percent commission. Agents with further inquiries can contact reservations at [email protected] or at 808-359-2401.

An overnight in Hana also gives daring Millennials the opportunity to thrill to a coastal tour on an ultralight aircraft (basically a powered hang glider) with Hang Gliding Maui, located at tiny Hana Airport. Excursions of 30 to 60 minutes are available. We think the $190, 30-minute option is a great value. Agents should contact Armin Engert, pilot and owner, at [email protected].

Nearly all of Maui’s resorts are on the island’s west coast, a two- to three-hour drive from Haleakala National Park. The best is the beautiful beachfront Grand Wailea Resort, which offers the concierge services and high-end lodging and amenities that take the edge off of a lovely, but long day trip. Deluxe ocean view rooms on the upper floors of the resort’s Haleakala, Wailea and Molokini wings have the best views and private lanais. Agent bonuses include $500 for three bookings and $750 for five bookings. Agents should contact June Nozoe, director of leisure sales, at [email protected].
 
Lahaina has a historic downtown with boutiques and restaurants and concert series featuring traditional Hawaiian music that’s a great place to mingle with the locals; the town also is home to the excellent Old Lahaina Luau, which features music and hula dancing, cultural demonstrations, and a Hawaiian feast complete with pig roast. Agents should contact Kerri Aotaki, sales manager at [email protected].

Visit www.gohawaii.com and keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for all your latest Hawaii travel news. 

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