One of the most exciting adventures on island is viewing Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. For the first time since 2013, lava from Kilauea’s Pu‘u O‘o vent is flowing into the ocean, providing residents and visitors with an opportunity to see the lava up close.
There are great options in viewing the current ocean entry of the lava flow: hike in from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park side; hike in from the Kalapana side or via lava viewing boat tour.
Hike in from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
You can hike out to see the lava form the bottom of Chain of Craters Road within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Lava conditions change constantly so check with park rangers before setting out on a hike. This is a strenuous 11-mile round trip hike over rough terrain. Sturdy hiking boots, a hat, long lightweight hiking pants, and plenty of water are absolute musts.
A complete list of safety tips can be found on the Park’s website: https://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/safety.htm.
For persons looking to make a multi-day trip, camping in the park is a great option, and there are a multiple campsites to choose from in the park.
Viewing from Kalapana side of the flow
At the end of Highway 130 in Kalapana, Hawaii County officials have opened a three-mile stretch of an emergency access road complete with a free parking area in order to view the lava. However, visitors must leave their cars in the parking area and hike in on the gravel road – no cars are allowed. It is a seven-mile round trip hike to view where the lava crossed Chain of Craters Road and entered the ocean. Breakouts in the lava can occur at any time and you may be able to get up close to lava oozing out of one of these breakouts.
The viewing area is open from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily and rangers are on hand to answer questions. As with the hike from the national park side, a hat, water, and sturdy shoes are a must as is a flashlight if you head out in the early evening.
Ocean lava viewing
Boat tours are an incredible chance to see the lava entering the ocean from just feet away. There are guides that offer both hiking and boat tours of the lava and Kalapana area in general. They also offer bike rentals for biking out to see the lava from the Kalapana side.
Whether you view the lava by foot, or boat it is sure to be a memorable experience you’ll never forget. Be careful, be prepared and enjoy!