Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Just Added More Than 16,000 Acres

The expansion includes cultural sites and habitats for endangered animals.

Entrance sign to Hawaii volcanoes national park
Photo: Sylvain CORDIER/Getty Images

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park expanded its footprint this week with a more than 16,000-acre Pōhue Bay addition that includes Hawaiian cultural sites and habitats for endangered animals.

The Pōhue Bay, which includes the area from the Māmalahoa Highway to the shoreline, was donated to the park by the nonprofit Trust for Public Land, according to the National Park Service. The new land includes important cultural sites, like the largest recorded abrader quarry in Hawaii, lava tubes, a burial site, mauka-makai (or mountain to sea) trails, fishing shrines, and more, as well as acts as a critical habitat for federally-listed endangered Hawaiian species like the Hawaiian hawksbill turtle and the Hawaiian monk seal.

Public access to the new land is currently restricted while the NPS works to "better understand the land's cultural, historical and ecological significance."

"Pōhue is an incredibly precious and culturally significant landscape that needs to be protected. We are actively seeking community feedback to get a better understanding of the natural and cultural resources in the area," Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Rhonda Loh said in a statement. "The park is working to develop an interim operating plan for Pōhue that explores opportunities for public use compatible with resource protection."

The land was first purchased by the Trust for Public Land for more than $9.4 million, according to the NPS, and then transferred to the park. It had previously been the target of several resort proposals, The Associated Press reported.

Lea Hong, the associate vice president, Hawaiian islands state director for the group, said in the statement the transfer ensures the NPS "will steward the area with the support of the community, ensuring the history, culture and natural beauty of this place are protected for future generations."

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park sits on the Big Island and includes the summits of two of the world's most active volcanoes: Mauna Lo and Kīlauea, which erupted in spectacular fashion in September 2021. The park requires visitors to pay an entrance fee, and recently started allowing people to purchase a digital pass up to six months in advance.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.

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