As the only guest accommodations located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Volcano House sits on the edge of Kilauea Crater, one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Its surroundings include lovely rain forests and fresh mountain air in concert with steaming lava fields and black sand beaches that have attracted visitors by the millions.
More than 20 years before Volcano House opened, Chiefess Kapiolani had a grass shack built here on the crater rim. When the first U.S. Geological Survey of the area was conducted in 1846, lodgings were needed for the survey team and the first Volcano House was erected by Benjamin Pitman, Sr. Twenty years later, the house was fortified and expanded using native grass and ohia wood.
In 1877, Volcano House was rebuilt with wood. Its welcoming fireplace was added, along with six bedrooms and a large dining room. The continuously tended hearth in the lobby has been a symbol of "warm hospitality and aloha spirit'' ever since, surviving an accidental fire that burned down the main building in 1940. When rebuilt in 1941, the accommodations were expanded to 30 rooms.
The old-style country lodge has been welcoming guests for more than 135 years, making it the oldest continuously operated hotel in the state of Hawaii. Mark Twain once stayed here and said, "The surprise of finding a good hotel at such as outlandish spot startled me, considerably more than the volcano did.''
The most popular rooms of Volcano House are its crater view rooms located in the Deluxe Wing and the Main Building. Today, there are 42 guest rooms, each furnished with Koa wood furniture in a distinctly Hawaiian motif. Small heaters have been provided in the rooms to ward off the nightly chill.
The Ka Ohelo Dining Room has a picture window facing the smoldering Kilauea Caldera. Breakfast and lunch buffets are served daily, from 7am to 10:30am and 11am to 2pm, respectively. The dinner service is from 5:30pm to 9pm nightly, and reservations are recommended. Menu selections include an award-winning blend of Continental, American and Pacific Rim cuisines.
There are two gift shops located on the premises, offering a variety of items made by local artisans. The Curio Shop next to the lobby entrance features inexpensive Hawaiian gifts and souvenirs, including unique volcano T-shirts. The Crater View Gallery on the opposite side of the lobby facing Kilauea Crater specializes in handmade Hawaiian crafts, such wood carvings, jewelry, glassware, and floral fabrics. There are also books, photos, prints, Aloha shirts, Volcano House logo items, Hawaiian style skirts, and Hawaiian Music CDs for sale.
Volcano House is located 40 minutes southwest of Hilo on Highway 11 inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. A week long park entry permit costs $10.00 per vehicle or $5.00 for each bicyclist, motorcyclist or hiker. The mailing address is P.O. Box 53 Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii 96718.
NOTE : Visitors should be aware the National Park Service decided to close Volcano House temporarily for renovations, effective January 1, 2010. Until the work has been completed, potential guests are being directed to Volcano House's sister hotel on Hilo Bay, the Naniloa Volcanoes Resort. Information on the reopening of Volcano House will be provided through the National Park Service as soon as specifics are available.