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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Day Trip Highlights

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Day Trip Highlights

Visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, on the Big Island, to walk through lava tubes, see ancient petroglyphs and walk around the rim of Kilauea volcano.

About Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is home to two of the five volcanoes on the Big Island – Kilauea and Mauna Loa – which are also among the most active volcanoes in the world.

Due to the nature of the unpredictable nature of volcanoes, you may or may not see lava flow or glow during your visit. Check the website before you plan your visit if this is the primary reason for going. No matter if you do or don’t see lava, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is absolutely worth visiting.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is so big that you could easily spend a few days exploring. If you are pressed for time however, it is possible to see highlights on a day trip to the park.

It costs $25 per car to enter the park. The pass is valid for up to seven days, so you can return and see more if you like.

Getting to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is located in the Southeastern part of the Big Island in a region called Puna, right by the appropriately named town of Volcano.

There are two ways to reach Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: from Kailua-Kona (a 2 hour drive) and Hilo (a 45 minute drive). We have done a tour group which is great for ensuring you see the highlights and don’t have the driving fatigue if you are returning back to the Kailua-Kona side, but you can also hire a car and self-drive around the park, which we have also done and enjoyed for being able to pick and choose what we wanted to see and spend as much or little time as we wanted doing it.

Where to stay at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

If you want to stay inside the park, Volcano House your best bet. It’s located right across from the Visitor’s Centre.

Most people visit the park as part of a day trip and afterwards to head to Hilo for the night or returned to Kailua-Kona and other towns further north.

Kīlauea Visitor Center

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Kīlauea Visitor Center is the best place to stop when first entering the park (just past the park entrance station on the right). You can pick up a map, get advice from rangers and volunteers on the current conditions, things to do and the daily schedule of ranger-led activities. You can also pick up a kids’ guide to the park.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

There is a small shop inside the Visitor’s Center operated by the Hawai‘i Pacific Parks Association selling books, posters and other educational materials.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Kīlauea Visitor Center hours: Daily, 9am-5pm
Open today: 9:00 AM–5:00 PM

Steam Vents at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Wahinekapu aka Steam Vents is less than a mile past the Kilauea Visitor Center in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. It’s an easy spot to access (parking can however be tricky) and perfect for introducing kids to the power of a volcano. The steam vents are where rain and water seeps into the warm volcanic rock, which omits the steam we see from the surface.

You can also look out over Kilauea volcano from Wahinekapu Steam Vents. The area is of special significance to Hawaiians who view it as a place of healing or an area where they can come to release bad toxins or vibes.

Nāhuku – Thurston Lava Tube

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Walk through a 500-year old lava tube where a river of 2000 degree fahrenheit (1093° celsius) lava once flowed. The path leading to the lava tube winds through a lush rainforest. Note there are lots of steps involved getting down to and from the lava tube so the path is not suitable for strollers or wheelchairs.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Parking is extremely limited at Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube). We parked instead at nearby Kīlauea Iki Overlook and walked the 2.4km round trip trail which is actually a lovely reasonably flat and easy loop walk. The lava tube is lit 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Flashlights are recommended outside of those hours. Please check that Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube) is open before attempting to visit. It closed indefinitely right after our visit in July 2022.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Get more ideas on a Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Day Trip.

Rainbow Falls Hilo: Waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii

Rainbow Falls Hilo

Rainbow Falls Hilo: Waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii

Rainbow Falls is located in Hilo, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Named for the rainbows that are often spotted in its mist each morning, Rainbow Falls are 80 feet tall and almost 100 feet in diameter. Waianuenue Falls is its Hawaiian name and means “rainbow seen in water”.

Part of the Hawai’i State Parks, there is no fee to see the falls.

Legends say that the cave beneath the waterfall was the home of Hina, mother of the demigod Maui.

Follow the path to the left of the look out to walk to a viewpoint at the top of Rainbow Falls.

Restrooms are available. To get to Rainbow Falls, take Waianuenue Ave. from downtown Hilo mauka for approximately two miles. Rainbow Drive branches off to the right just after crossing a bridge. Follow the signs to the parking lot. The park opens at sunrise and closes at dusk.

Read more about Rainbow Falls

ʻAkaka Falls State Park: Waterfalls of Hawaii

ʻAkaka Falls State Park

ʻAkaka Falls State Park: Waterfalls of Hawaii

See majestic ʻAkaka Falls, 442 ft high & one of the most iconic waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii, & Kahuna Falls in the one short hike.

ʻAkaka Falls State Park is located at the end of End of ʻAkaka Falls Road (Hwy. 220), 3.6 miles SW of Honomū on the northeastern Hilo Coast.

ʻAkaka Falls State Park

The 0.4-mile hike goes down into the valley via quite a lot of steps, so the path is not wheelchair or stroller accessible. It is, however, a short, easy walk for kids. The path weaves through a lush rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns.

ʻAkaka Falls State Park

Along the paved path first is 100-foot Kahuna Falls, followed around the bend by towering ʻAkaka Falls which plummets 442-feet into a stream-eroded gorge.

ʻAkaka Falls State Park ʻAkaka Falls State Park ʻAkaka Falls State Park

There is reasonable parking in the car park. A fee must be paid to enter ʻAkaka Falls State Park and see the waterfalls.

Read more about ‘Akaka FallsnState Park

Punaluu Black Sand Beach on The Big Island of Hawaii

Punaluu Black Sand Beach on The Big Island of Hawaii

Punaluu Black Sand Beach on The Big Island of Hawaii

Punaluu black sand beach, on the Big Island of Hawaii, was once a white sand beach that was turned black by lava flowing over it and into the ocean. The black sand is formed by smooth fragments of lava that cools at it hits the ocean and splits into tiny pieces that, over time, build up to form the black sand beaches.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach on The Big Island of Hawaii

There are several black sand beaches in Hawaii due to the constant volcanic activity in Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, with Punaluu Black Sand Beach probably the most famous of them.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach on The Big Island of Hawaii

While Punaluu Black Sand Beach isn’t the best swimming beach on the island, people do swim there. Facilities include a picnic area and restrooms, however there are no nearby cafes or restaurants so bring in your own picnic.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach on The Big Island of Hawaii

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach is also famous for its large honu residents. Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles frequent the beach to bask in the sun. There are often sea turtles and beautiful fish offshore if you are a strong swimmer and into snorkelling.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach on The Big Island of Hawaii Punaluu Black Sand Beach on The Big Island of Hawaii Punaluu Black Sand Beach on The Big Island of Hawaii Punaluu Black Sand Beach on The Big Island of Hawaii Punaluu Black Sand Beach on The Big Island of Hawaii

There is plenty of free parking both next to the beach and it an adjacent car park. Lifeguards are on duty during daylight hours (they also yell at the tourists to keep away from the honu). Grills are also available for bbqs and there is a camping ground.

Punaluʻu Black Sand Beach is best tied into a drive to or from Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The beach is a short detour off Highway 11 between the towns of Volcano Village and Naalehu.

Get more ideas on things to do on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Manta Ray Night Snorkel on the Big Island of Hawaii

Manta Rays

Manta Ray Night Snorkel on the Big Island of Hawaii

Watch giant mantas up close on a manta ray night snorkel in Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii.

The Mobula alfredi species of manta rays that live in the Hawaiian waters are the second largest species of manta rays. They can grow up to a wingspan of 5.5m (18 ft), with the rays around Kona around 12ft.

The Manta rays live in the waters off the Hawaiian islands their entire lives, filtering plankton out of the water with their giant mouths. With life spans of up to 50 years, each manta ray is well known and all of the Kona manta rays have been named.

There are several tour operators and locations where you can enjoy manta ray snorkelling. If you get seasick like I do, I suggest choosing a company that has a short distance to travel from where their boats launch and the manta ray site they visit.

There are three main locations on the Big island that are recommended for swimming with manta rays. The two most popular and consistent for the manta ray sightings are nicknamed “Manta Village” and “Manta Heaven”. A third, less reliable but also less crowded location, is off the Waikoloa coast near the Kohala Coast Resorts. You can get further info on the pros and cons of visiting each site on this excellent website: lovebigisland.com/big-island-manta-ray-night-dive.

We had booked our tour many months out (and highly suggest doing the same as the tours book up). While we were on our trip however we were struck down with a virus and unable to do our booked tour. As we were desperate to still do the tour and at short notice our options were limited, we called around every tour operator until we found one with vacancies. While initially I had done my research and chose the tour with the shortest distance travelled due to my propensity for seasickness, at the end of the day we just had to take whatever we could and it was absolutely fine. The moral of this story for me is don’t stress the decision because any tour will be a good tour at the end of the day if you swim with manta rays!

The tour we ended up taking was booked through Hawaiian Island Ocean Tours – the actual tour was run through their sister company Snorkel Big Island. I cannot recommend either company highly enough for their help in booking us in at extremely short notice and for the amazing tour.

We did the Honokohau Manta tour. Participants must be aged 8+. The tour goes for two hours, with only six passengers on board. This makes for a much more personal experience with the manta rays. Snorkeling with the mantas on this tour is either at the Northern site near the Kona Airport (Manta Heaven) or down South at Keauhou Bay (Manta Village) depending on which area is having the better sightings. We were provided with mask, snorkel and wetsuit.

The Honokohau Manta ray night snorkel tour departs from Honokohau Harbor in the evening, with a  20-30 minute boat ride to the manta ray site. It’s pretty stunning watching the sun set over the ocean as we make our way out to the manta ray site.

At the site, after donning our wetsuits, we slid into the water and hung on to their custom-made light board to watch the huge, acrobatic, gentle giants feed on tiny pieces of plankton.

Manta Rays

The time in the water is about 30 minutes. Keep in mind the tour is at night and even with a wetsuit on it can get cold in the water.

In the water, the manta rays swoop through the water in circles, coming right up to the swimmers and often brushing up against them with their massive wings as they open their mouths and catch plankton.

Manta Rays

The bright lights brought by the tour operators attract the plankton, and the plankton attracts the manta rays. To me it looks like an underwater ballet as they gracefully swim and somersault through the light beams.

Back on the boat, we were given hot cocoa and light snacks while we head back to the harbour. Make sure to take a towel to dry yourself off and a jacket to keep warm, plus underwear and a wetbag for swimsuits.

Manta rays in Hawaiian waters are protected by law. If you do a tour, please observe the rules that make this incredible experience possible by ensuring the safety of the manta rays:

Observe only: No touching. Resist the urge to “pet” the mantas. This will rub off their protective mucus coating. Do not chase, grab, or try to take a ride on the mantas.

hawaiiislandandoceantours.com
snorkelbigisland.com

A huge thank you to Hawaii Island Ocean Tours and Snorkel Big Island for the amazing experience and the photographs!

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours – Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours – Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

See the lava inside the Kilauea volcano, rainforests, beaches and an optional landing at a 1200-ft. waterfall on Hawaii Big Island helicopter tours by Blue Hawaiian.

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

The best way to see the Big Island’s majestic volcanoes, black sand beaches, lush rainforests and sparkling waterfalls is by air.

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

There are a few helicopter tours of the Big Island available. We chose Blue Hawaiian because we loved the sound of their Big Island Spectacular tour which covered the entire island as well as a waterfall landing add on, which is exclusive to Blue Hawaiian.

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

Blue Hawaiian helicopter tours depart from both sides of the island. We chose the Kona departure helicopter tour vs Hilo as different tours operate from each location.

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

The Blue Hawaiian Helicopter base is located at Waikoloa Village, which is about a 40 minute drive from Kailua-Kona. The helicopters fit five passengers plus the pilot. Two in the front and three in the back. You can pay an extra fee for guaranteed front seating, otherwise it’s up to luck if the other passengers do opt to pay for this better view or it comes down to weight distribution.

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

The Big Island Spectacular tour heads inland to get a close up look at the famous Kilauea volcano, which has been continuously erupting since 1983.

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

The tour flys over the arid volcanic landscape where lava had flown during previous eruptions, to the edge of the volcano itself. We saw red lava in the crater of the volcano, and steam gushing out – what an incredible experience.

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

Next we head over the lush rainforests of the Hamakua Coast and the scenic valleys of the Kohala Mountains, where countless waterfalls pour from the cliff edges.

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

The highlight of the Big Island Spectacular comes at the end – the optional landing at remote, isolated Laupahoehoe Nui, a majestic 1200-ft. waterfall on the Kohala Coast. Landing at the base of the waterfall was very much a Jurassic Park movie moment.

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

On the ground we had 20-25 minutes to take photos and explore this untouched area before boarding the helicopter again and heading back to base.

Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian Hawaii Big Island Helicopter Tours - Big Island Spectacular with Blue Hawaiian

The entire tour goes for roughly 1h 45m.

We highly recommend Blue Hawaiian for their Hawaii Big Island helicopter tours.

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
68-690 Waikoloa Rd, Waikoloa Village, HI 96738
bluehawaiian.com

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm Kona Hawaii

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm Kona Hawaii

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm Kona Hawaii

Get up close to seahorses at Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm in Kona on The Big Island of Hawaii.

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm is a family-run aqua-farm. They breed and provide farm-reared seahorses to aquariums and hobbiests to protect wild seahorses facing the threat of extinction due to being taken from their homes in the wild.

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm Kona Hawaii

The aqua-farm began raising mustang seahorses in 1999 and now breeds over 25 species of seahorses in captivity, including some on the verge of extinction. Their amazing variety of seahorses can be viewed on a guided tour.

Ocean Rider’s vision statement is to eliminate the need to take wild seahorses off the reefs by providing home and public aquariums with healthy, eco-friendly, hand raised, domesticated seahorse pairs to be kept as pets for many years to come.

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm Kona Hawaii

Join an Ocean Rider seahorse tour and learn about ocean conservation and the amazing seahorse. The Kona seahorse guided tour lasts about 60 minutes and is an indoor and outdoor tour so wear a hat and sunscreen plus good walking shoes.

Tour times are Mon – Fri at 10am, 12pm and 2pm except for low season (May and September) when there is only one tour per day which is at noon.

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm Kona Hawaii

We were extremely excited to take a tour on our recent visit to The Big Island of Hawai’i. We were able to see thousands of seahorses from babies to pregnant males, as well as leafy sea dragons and a variety of beautiful fish, plus enjoy an interactive tide pool.

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm Kona Hawaii

The highlight of the tour is holding a seahorse (extremely gently!) at the end of the tour. Visitors must be aged 5 and up to be able to hold a seahorse.

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm Kona Hawaii

Book online to guarantee your spot on a tour. Walk-in spaces are available if tours are not fully booked, however the price is higher so I highly recommend booking online at least 24 hours before the tour.

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm Kona Hawaii

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm Kona Hawaii

Ocean Rider Seahorse Farm Kona Hawaii
73-4388 Ilikai Place
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740
Phone: 808-329-6840
seahorse.com

Top things to do in the “Top End” Northern Territory

Top Things To Do In The Top End Northern Territory

Top things to do in the “Top End” Northern Territory

The “Top End” Northern Territory is where the tropics meets the outback. Visit the Northern Territory’s capitol city Darwin, World Heritage-listed Kakadu National Park, the Katherine region and remote Arnhem Land.

Darwin and Surrounds

We visited the Top End during the pandemic and while we had a great run through the surrounding area, unfortunately the pandemic caught up with us and we spent our scheduled time in Darwin mostly in lockdown. Darwin is a beautiful, coastal city, with stunning street art, fantastic cafes we were thankfully able to try prior to lockdown, and plenty of activities to do in the city and surrounds. There are so many things to do in the Top End Northern Territory, allow a good 10 days or so to see as much as you can.

Mindil Beach Sunset & Markets

Sunsets at the Top End must be experienced over the beach – there are few so famous for their sunsets than Mindil Beach. During the dry season (May-Oct) the Mindil Beach Sunset Markets are the place to be on Thursdays and Sundays. Try food from 60 stalls and eat on the beach while watching the sun go down. 

Crocosauraus Cove


See crocs up close at Crocosaurus Cove, right in the heart of Darwin. watch crocs being fed, wander through the reptile enclosure, hold a baby croc and other reptiles and, if you’re feeling brave, “swim” with a croc in the “Cage of Death”.

Crocosaurus Cove

Crocosaurus Cove Crocosaurus Cove

crocosauruscove.com

Darwin Waterfront Precinct


Stroll around the waterfront through the lush parklands overlooking the ocean and Darwin’s most popular attraction, the Wave Lagoon.

The Wave Lagoon at the Darwin Waterfront Precinct includes a huge pool with an artificial swell for riding boogie boards on and shallow water play areas for littlies, too.

The free, patrolled Recreation Lagoon in the same area has a sandy beach and safe swimming in salt water.

Kids can also hand feed fish at Doctors Gully where, at high tide, hundreds of mullet, stingrays, barramundi and plate-shaped moonfish swim in to let tourists feed them bread from their hands. 

There are also playgrounds dotted around the water front area that kids will love.

Darwin Street Art 


Darwin features a stunning collection of vibrant street art. International, national and local artists have contributed to this open-air gallery  adorning the city’s walls.

Download the Darwin Street Art Festival app for insight into the artists and their works and bring the murals to life using augmented reality. 

activatedarwin.nt.gov.au/local-favourites/guide-darwins-street-art

Where to stay in Darwin

In Darwin we stayed at the DoubleTree by Hilton. I couldn’t fault the hotel, even when the entire city was placed on lockdown. The included breakfast we experienced prior to lockdown was fantastic.  

Kakadu and Surrounds

Things to do in Kakadu National Park

Spot wildlife, swim in waterfalls and see ancient Aboriginal rock art. There are so many incredible things to do in Kakadu National Park. Three hours’ drive from Darwin, Kakadu is Australia’s biggest national park. Covering nearly 20,000 square kilometres, Kakadu National Park is World Heritage listed for both its cultural and natural values.

Read more about things to see and do in Kakadu National Park

Jumping crocodile cruises

No trip to the Top End is complete without seeing crocodiles. A highlight of our trip was the Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise on the Adelaide River, an hour out of Darwin, between Darwin and Kakadu.

Read more about taking a Spectacular Jumping Crocodile Cruise on the Adelaide River.

Katherine and Surrounds

Nitmiluk Katherine Gorge

Plan to spend several days at the remarkable Katherine, a big country town located three hours drive south of Darwin on the Katherine River. 

Swim in waterfalls, get an authentic Aboriginal experience, relax in hot springs and go underground at Cutta Cutta Caves. 

Read about about the best five things to do in Katherine

Litchfield National Park

Litchfield National Park

Located just 90 minutes from Darwin, Litchfield National Park is the perfect Top End day trip with waterfalls, swimming holes, walking trails and termite mounds to see. 

Read more about things to see and do in Litchfield National Park.

Arnhem Land

When we visited the Top End during the pandemic, Arnhem Land was closed to the public. It has since re-opened, and is a place to immerse yourself in an ancient landscape stretching over 97,000 square kilometres, filled with Aboriginal culture, stunning scenery and rare wildlife.

Read more about things to do in Arnhem Land.

Read about more things to do in the Top End.

Read more about visiting Litchfield National Park

Take a dip in Katherine Hot Springs.

Visit Cutta Cutta Caves

Get information on visiting Maguk Falls.

Visit Jim Jim Falls.

See the Spectacular Jumping Crocodiles.

See some of the world’s oldest rock art at Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) Rock.

Stay at the Mercure Crocodile Kakadu Hotel.

Spot wildlife on a Yellow Water Billabong Cruise.

Find things to do in Kakadu National Park.

Take a dip at Edith Falls.

Experience a tranquil Katherine Gorge Cruise Tour.

Check out things to do in one day at Litchfield National Park.

Find the 5 best things to do in Katherine.

The Five Best Things To Do In Katherine, Northern Territory

Nitmiluk Katherine Gorge

The Five Best Things To Do In Katherine, Northern Territory

Plan to spend several days at the remarkable Katherine, a big country town located three hours drive south of Darwin on the Katherine River. 

1. Explore the mighty Nitmiluk (Katherine) Gorge

Experience the wonder of Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park with a Katherine Gorge Cruise Tour.

The tranquil Katherine Gorge Cruise Tours are the perfect way to experience the highlights of Nitmiluk National Park, particularly if you are time pressed or aren’t into long hikes or kayaking. They are especially suitable for families with kids whose legs aren’t up for long walks.

Nitmiluk Katherine Gorge

Read more about taking a Katherine Gorge Cruise Tour at Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park.

2. Enjoy an authentic cultural experience

Enjoy an authentic Aboriginal experience at Top Didj & Art Gallery in Katherine, NT, including storytelling, spear throwing, fire-lighting and traditional Aboriginal rarrk painting.

The Top Didj Cultural Experience was a highlight of our Top End NT trip. The cultural experience is led by Manuel Pamkal, a traditional indigenous man who grew up in the Top End. Manual very generously shares his experience as a child living On Country and surviving in the bush, giving visitors like us a deeper understanding of Australia’s indigenous communities.

Top Didj Cultural Experience and Art Gallery

Read more about visiting Top Didj & Art Gallery in Katherine.

3. Go underground at the Cutta Cutta Caves

Discover natural limestone caves at Cutta Cutta Caves Nature Park in Katherine, Northern Territory.

The caves, located 27km south of Katherine, were formed millions of years ago. They are easily reached by the Stuart Highway, with the caves themselves a short walk along a dirt path from the visitors centre.

Cutta Cutta Caves

Read more about visiting Cutta Cutta Caves.

4. Relax in the Katherine Hot Springs

Take a dip in the refreshing Katherine Hot Springs, natural thermal springs on the banks of the Katherine River. The spring water is the perfect swimming temperature year-round, a balmy 32 degrees.

Katherine Hot Springs

Read more about visiting Katherine Hot Springs

5. Leliyn (Edith Falls)

Swim underneath a picturesque waterfall at Leliyn (Edith Falls) Nitmiluk National Park.

Leliyn (Edith Falls) is located on the western side of Nitmiluk National Park, a 60km drive north of Katherine along the Stuart Highway. It is easiest to access when driving between Kakadu National Park and the town of Katherine as a stop over.

Leliyn (Edith Falls)

Read more about visiting Leliyn (Edith Falls)

Where to stay

We stayed at Pine Tree Motel, which was reasonably priced and included a hot and cold breakfast. The motel was clean, conveniently located and the staff were friendly and helpful. Facilities at the Pine Tree Motel included a swimming and laundry.

Katherine Pine Tree Motel Katherine Pine Tree Motel Katherine Pine Tree Motel Katherine Pine Tree Motel

Read more about things to do in Katherine.

Read more about visiting Litchfield National Park

Take a dip in Katherine Hot Springs.

Visit Cutta Cutta Caves

Get information on visiting Maguk Falls.

Visit Jim Jim Falls.

See the Spectacular Jumping Crocodiles.

See some of the world’s oldest rock art at Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) Rock.

Stay at the Mercure Crocodile Kakadu Hotel.

Spot wildlife on a Yellow Water Billabong Cruise.

Find things to do in Kakadu National Park.

Take a dip at Edith Falls.

Experience a tranquil Katherine Gorge Cruise Tour.

Check out things to do in one day at Litchfield National Park.

Find the 5 best things to do in Katherine.

Top things to do in one day at Litchfield National Park

Top things to do in one day at Litchfield National Park

Located just 90 minutes from Darwin, Litchfield National Park is the perfect Top End day trip with waterfalls, swimming holes, walking trails and termite mounds to see. 

Litchfield National Park

While you could easily spend days slowly enjoying the area, if you’re tight on time it is possible to hit up many of the highlights in one day. 

Litchfield National Park

Download a full-size version of the map and fact sheet here

Tips for visiting Litchfield National Park

Ensure your car is full of petrol. There are no petrol stations in the park.

Bring food and water. There are very limited places to buy anything to eat or drink (just one small kiosk)

Bring sunscreen, hats and sunglasses. Even in winter the park is blazing hot.

Magnetic termite mounds



The magnetic termite mounds of Litchfield National Park are up to 100 years old and two metres high. 

Litchfield National Park Litchfield National Park

Wangi Falls

The iconic Wangi Falls feature picturesque walking tracks of varying and stunning waterfalls. Camping is permitted at the falls – facilities include a kiosk, hot showers and barbecues. 

Litchfield National Park

Florence Falls

Visit a secluded plunge pool in the middle of a monsoon rainforest at Florence Falls.There are a number of walks around the falls, and Florence Falls is open for swimming for most of the year.

Litchfield National Park

Buley Rockhole

A popular spot with locals and tourists alike, the Buley Rockhole is a series of cascading small swimming holes fed by waterfalls in the middle of a rainforest. Buley Rockhole can get quite busy. Picnic and barbecue facilities are available. 

Litchfield National Park Litchfield National Park Litchfield National Park

Tolmer Falls

Tolmer Falls is one of the most spectacular falls in Litchfield National Park, cascading over two high escarpments into one deep plunge pool. A short walk from the car park leads to two viewing platforms at the top of the gorge. The 1.6 kilometre Tolmer Falls loop walk takes you to two viewing platforms at the top of the gorge. It’s an easy walk (that is rocky in parts), taking about 45 minutes. Swimming is not permitted.

Litchfield National Park

Sandy Creek Falls (Tjaynera)

Access to Sandy Creek Falls/Tjaynera is limited to 4WD access only, plus a 1.4km trek through the rainforest. Sandy Creek camping ground is available for those wishing to stay the night. Swim only in the areas marked safe to do so. 

Lost City

Visit the unique rock formations that make up the Lost City of Litchfield National Park. A 4WD is essential to access the Lost City. 

Read more about visiting Litchfield National Park

Take a dip in Katherine Hot Springs.

Visit Cutta Cutta Caves

Get information on visiting Maguk Falls.

Visit Jim Jim Falls.

See the Spectacular Jumping Crocodiles.

See some of the world’s oldest rock art at Burrungkuy (Nourlangie) Rock.

Stay at the Mercure Crocodile Kakadu Hotel.

Spot wildlife on a Yellow Water Billabong Cruise.

Find things to do in Kakadu National Park.

Take a dip at Edith Falls.

Experience a tranquil Katherine Gorge Cruise Tour.