Chain of Craters to Kulanaokuaiki Campground to Hina Pali Overlook
Hilina Pali descends from Chain of Craters Road to the Hina Pali overlook, which on clear days provides a stunning vista of the coastal plane, including the pali (cliff), Kaʻu Desert Wilderness extensive lava flow shelf and the dramatic coastline which extends the view for miles. The journey there and back is equally as impressive on this single lane, low traffic, 20 mile bicycle route through the between rift zones of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
Hina Pali Road is a paved road with a gradual slope and limited traffic. This, plus generally nice weather, makes it a perfect destination for family bike ride in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The first segment to Kulanaokuaiki campgrounds is about 4 miles on a winding, narrow road that travels through sparse forest and old lava flow. Not overly steep, the curves and landscape keep it interesting.
ASIDE: If you have the opportunity to camp in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Kulanaokuaiki campground is highly recommended. Remote and quiet, the land breathes the desert wind. You are surrounded by views of Mauna Loa. Kulanaokuaiki campground has no running water and only pit toilets.
After the campground, the road continues to curve and weave, with a steeper grade. This terrain on this segment of the bike ride is more varied and interesting as it cruises through the Kaʻu Desert. Planet of the Apes had scenes filmed in Kaʻu Desert. Discover its unique beauty as the road meanders around blind curves and through forested segments, grassy plains, and across lava flows. Thereʻs even a few water bridges (sans water in my experience) and a fire shed. Within this short route, youʻll find microclimates as the pali, the surrounding lava and ocean breeze influence the land temperature and wind.
Once you arrive at the lookout, there is a phenomenal view of the coastal plain below. The pali extends in front of you, running the length of your view of the island. Below you can see different lava flows that varies the vegetation and color of the landscape. Most attractive is ocean expanding out beyond comprehension. Often the pali is quite windy so hold steady!
At the lookout are covered and sheltered picnic table and pit toilets.