Niaulani Rain Forest

Photo: Jesse Tunison

What to See, Do and Eat at Big Island's Volcano Village

The town of Volcano, right on the slopes of Hawaii Island’s Kilauea volcano, is easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there.

Hidden by rain forest off Mamalahoa Highway, the town of Volcano is easy to miss if you don’t know it’s there. It sits on the slopes of—you guessed it—Kilauea volcano, right outside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at a cool elevation of 3,750 feet. Once you lay eyes on the quaint country town and spend some time in its tranquil setting, you’ll be glad you made the stop.

A. Wine Down
 

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A red and white wine from Volcano Winery.
Photo: Ron Paul

It’s not very often you’ll get a chance to sip on wine made from grapes grown on the high slopes of a volcano, but the novelty of it shouldn’t be the only reason you visit Volcano Winery. The unique tastes and mix of flavors is what sets it apart. Currently, the winery sells three types of wine: grape wines, using symphony, cayuga white and pinot noir grapes; fruit wines blending grapes with local fruits; and a macadamia-nut honey wine, which also has a version mixed with black tea. Pull up a stool for a tasting of seven wines before purchasing a bottle of your favorite. 35 Pii Mauna Dr., (877) 967-7772, volcanowinery.com.

B. Walk This Way
 

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Niaulani Rain Forest. 
Photo: Ron Paul

A 4-acre native Hawaiian ecosystem, Niaulani Rain Forest is home to rare old-growth koa trees that were spared from logging, and ohia rainforests, which grew out of an old Kilauea lava flow. Managed by the Volcano Art Center, guides lead tours every Monday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on the short 1/7-mile walk through the rainforest to see native trees, ferns, herbs and shrubs, as well as invasive plants such as the kahili ginger. Or, drop by any day for a self-guided tour. 19-4074 Old Volcano Road, (808) 967-8222, volcanoartcenter.org.

C. Pizza Heaven
 

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Get a fresh slice from Oehlo Cafe.
Photo: Ron Paul

Named after a berry favored by fire goddess Pele, Ohelo Café is a casual sit-down lunch and dinner restaurant known for its wood-fired pizzas: white, pesto, Margherita and four cheese. But, the menu’s other entrées—a 14-ounce rib eye, baby back ribs and rack of lamb—shouldn’t be overlooked, and each plate is impressively presented. No matter what you order, we recommend the wood-fired cauliflower as an appetizer to start. Reservations encouraged. 19-4005 Haunani Road, (808) 339-7865, ohelocafe.com.

D. Super Sandwiches
 

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A freshly made sandwich from Eagle’s Lighthouse Café.
Photo: Ron Paul

To the right of Volcano Store on Haunani Road, you’ll find Eagle’s Lighthouse Café, a cute little eatery with plenty of seating. Its deli sandwiches are big enough to share and made with fresh ingredients, but if you’re looking for something heartier, there are also daily specials on the menu that include hamburger steak, roast pork and lasagna. Grab a brownie or half of a papaya for dessert and eat outside to enjoy the cool mountain air. 19-4005 Haunani Road, (808) 985-8587, eagleslighthouse.com. 

E. Lounge Around
 

kilauea lounge
The historic Kilauea Lodge.
Photo: Ron Paul

Originally built as a YMCA camp in 1938, Kilauea Lodge offers a handful of rooms and cottages for those guests lucky enough to snatch one up. The draw, of course, is that it’s one of the only places to stay near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but it also has a highly rated restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. The International Fireplace of Friendship is a unique feature of the dining room—it’s a hearth constructed with 100 stones from 34 countries. Reservations encouraged. 19-3948 Old Volcano Road, (808) 967-7366, highwaywestvacations.com.

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