Often referred to as the world’s most active volcano, Kilauea on the Big Island of Hawaii has been erupting continuously for twenty-seven years and shows no signs of stopping.
When Kilauea began its current eruption in 1983, it slowly and steadily made its way to the ocean, taking out neighborhoods and towns in its path of destruction.
The sign pointing to Kalapana has been altered to reflect what is no longer there. The entire community of Kalapana was destroyed by lava flows in 1990 and all that remains in the direction of the arrow are miles of black lava fields and memories.
A viewing area has been set up by the county of Hawaii so visitors can see Madame Pele (the lava) flowing into the ocean.
When you travel to the viewing area, you’ll notice a few residents still living in the area. The lava spared a small amount of houses and other residents simply pulled trailers over what used to be their land before the lava claimed it back. But life there, like the layout of the lava fields, is ever changing and those residents live with the knowledge that they might have to evacuate at any moment.
The hike to the lava viewing platform is anywhere from a ½ mile to a 1 mile from the road, depending on where the platform is currently located. Due to the fickle nature of lava, the location is changed when safety becomes an issue or when lava covers the current viewing area.
Get there early, wear sturdy shoes and bring a flashlight, which you’ll need for the hike back.
Take a seat and relax as the sun sets while Mother Nature puts on a show.
There is nothing quite like watching the haunting red glow of the steam clouds as lava from the center of the earth pours into the ocean. Because all nearby towns were wiped out by lava years ago, the only light for as far as you can see is from the lava.
Be sure to check the current status of the flow and the viewing area before driving to Kalapana. Conditions are constantly changing and the lava flow causes the viewing area to be moved.
Information on Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and viewing of the lava can be found at the following links:
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Lava Flows
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: Recent Kilauea Status Updates