Even with the events surrounding Kilauea Volcano’s most recent eruption, park rangers of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are still greeting and serving their visitors. And no, this doesn’t mean they’re at the park braving the volcanic fumes and ash with an umbrella in hand. They’ve temporarily relocated to the Mokupapapa Discovery Center in downtown Hilo, ash-free.
The park, which attracted more than 2 million visitors within the past year, closed indefinitely on May 11, due to the continued safety hazards following the volcanic activity, ranging from the growing seismic activity to summit deflation. A small part of the park still remains open—the Kahuku Unit, which is an hour’s drive from the park’s main entrance. Visitors can inquire about the park from a safe distance at the center, where park rangers will also give daily updates at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to teach visitors about the ongoing volcanic activity as well as clarify the conditions about the summit.
The Mokupapapa Discovery Center also serves as a museum to educate the public on the nature, culture and history of the seldom visited Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. With a 3,500-gallon aquarium housing some of the rarest aquatic life found only in the deep coral reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, interactive exhibits and interpretive panels translated both in Hawaiian and English, will make you feel like you’ve stepped foot on these remote islands which, according to its website, “Most people will never have the opportunity to visit.”
The Mokupapapa Discovery Center, 76 Kamehameha Ave., Hilo, is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.