Lava Viewing at Kilauea

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.

The former sign for Kalapana

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 path to the viewing area is outlined by markers

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.

Steam clouds reflecting the lava moments after sunset

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
http://www.nps.gov/havo/

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park: Lava Flows
http://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/lavaflows3.htm

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory: Recent Kilauea Status Updates
http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hvo/activity/kilaueastatus.php

Nadine Nettmann

Nadine has a taste for travel, adventure, delicious food and a great glass of wine. A foodie from a young age, she loves trying meals from around the world and does her best to travel and dine on a budget. Originally from Los Angeles, Nadine and her husband stored 95% of their belongings and moved to Maui with two suitcases in 2006. She is an avid cook and while she loves living on the island, she will admit she misses some of her kitchen appliances in storage. When she’s not baking a cake or out on the water, she can be found at her computer working on her novel.

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