Between May 11-22, KHON2’s Wake Up 2day and Living808 are airing a special series from the Island of Hawaii. Kathy Muneno went exploring and found the joys of a staycation on Hawaii’s largest island.
If visiting Kilauea’s Halemaumau Crater isn’t enough for you, you can also sleep right next to it.
Volcano House first opened in 1846 and remains the only hotel in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
It has one of the island’s highest occupancy rates, especially now with all the activity in the crater.
Located just across Kilauea Visitor Center, the two-story hotel recently underwent a multimillion-dollar refurbishment.
Lodging director Sabrina Cantan says all 33 rooms were remodeled. “They redid our furnishings inside. They didn’t do anything to the building itself because it is a historic building,” she said.
There are three different types of rooms, including Deluxe Volcano Crater View, Volcano Crater View and Standard guest rooms.
Unlike other hotels, none of the rooms at Volcano House come with televisions (though the hotel does provide free Wi-Fi).
“Our thing is you’re in a park, get out, explore the park,” Cantan said. “There are a lot of hikes you can do, there’s so much you can do all day here.”
Step outside the Deluxe Volcano Crater View guest room, and you can understand why it’s called that. The patio has a direct view of Halemaumau Crater.
“Due to the activity that Halemaumau Crater has been showing these past few weeks, our rooms have been 100-percent occupancy,” said administration manager Ann Lorenzo. “It’s really nice because May’s usually one of our slowest months during the year.”
The original Volcano House consisted of a simple one-room shelter made of grass and native Ohia wood poles.
It was replaced with a four-bedroom structure in 1866. Then in 1940, a fire destroyed the entire hotel. Volcano House was rebuilt a year later southwest of the original site.
Lorenzo says modern-day renovations began in 2011, when Ortega National Parks took over the hotel.
“This was… the main stop when we have travelers traveling from Hilo in between to Kona and this is where they would do their stops and I don’t blame them. It’s such a peaceful, historic place even now,” she said. “That’s why, when we did the renovation, we wanted to keep it that way. We wanted to have that historic Hawaiian feeling.”
The hotel also has a restaurant called The Rim, as well as Uncle George’s Lounge, and both offer locally sourced dishes with ingredients from local ranchers, farmers and suppliers.
Volcano House also offers a limited number of bicycles, which are available to guests free of charge. “We try to accommodate all of our in-house guests,” Lorenzo said. “We’d like guests to be more active in the park.”
For a more outdoor experience, the hotel also operates newly refurbished Namakanipaio Cabins located three miles away at Namakanipaio Campground.
There are 10 one-room cabins that can sleep up to four people at a cost of $80 per night with kamaaina rates available.
The community bathroom was also renovated and features hot running water for showers and plumbing.
Lorenzo admitted, even though she herself is not a camper, she loved the experience. “It was such a treat,” she said. “We roasted marshmallows. We had s’mores. It was very pleasant.”
Jaggar Museum is a leisurely half-mile walk from the campground.