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Hawaii's Big Island: Alternatives to Volcanoes National Park

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© Getty Images PHOTO: Hakalau bay where Hakalau stream meets the ocean, Hamakua Coast on the Big Island of Hawaii. (Photo…

By Will McGough, TravelPulse

As Kilauea continues its latest eruption, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains closed, even as the eruption becaomes an opportunity for tourists to explore. But, those who want to avoid the area shouldn't fret—there are plenty of other wilderness areas worthy of your time on the Big Island.

Honua'ula Forest Reserve

On the hillside above Kailua-Kona is this cloud forest full of ferns, 'ohi'a, and hapu'u trees. The Painted Trees of Hawaii nonprofit offers guided hikes of the forest.

Pu'u Wa'awa'a State Wildlife Sanctuary

Located on the northern flank of Hualalai Volcano, this protected area offers several hiking trails and cinder cone views.

Pu'u O Umi Natural Area Reserve

The cliffs of the Waipi'o and Waimanu Valleys are prominent figures in this watershed region that features two bogs, 'ohi'a forests, and grasslands. Advanced hikers can check out the Waimanu campsite at the end of the Muliwai Trail.

Hamakua Forest Reserve

Kalopa State Recreation Area in the Hamakua Forest Reserve has cabins and campsites for rent as well as family-friendly hiking trails, such as the Kalopa Loop Trail.

Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge

While this refuge is currently closed to the public, it is accessible via commercial tours. This is an excellent area for birding and a good place to learn about a disease called Rapid 'Ohi'a Death that has plagued the Hawaiian Islands. Contact Hawaii Forest & Trail for guided tours.

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