Lava Viewing On The Big Island!

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.

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Website

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.

Camping in Hawaii Volcano National Park, Kulanaokuaiki Campground

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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.

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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! 

Camping in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park: Kualanaokuaiki Campground

This is a wonderful campground located inside Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. There is no camping permit required, no reservations necessary and is an absolutely beautiful retreat for those wanting to camp in the park.

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There are two campgrounds in the park, but I much prefer this one over the Nāmakanipaio campground site. I have camped in both, and the Kualanaokuaiki, 8 site campground is a much more private setting, where you can enjoy the peace and quiet of the park. Nāmakanipaio, has both drive in/hike in sites, but is located right off highway 11. This campground tends to be more occupied, and has less of a privacy feeling.

Kualanaokuaiki campground is located directly off Chain of Craters road, about 5 miles into Hililina Pali road, at an elevation of about 2700 feet.. Temperatures in the evenings can range in  the 40s to 60s, make sure you are prepared for this. Having a good rain fly on your tent is also a good idea, as light showers can move in quickly.

There is no running water or electricity in the campground, but there is a vault type toilet on site. Be sure to bring what you need! Open fires are not allowed.

This is a beautiful location that is incredibly quite and peaceful, just what you need after a day of adventuring in Hawai’i volcanoes national park!

Enjoy your stay, and I hope you enjoy the campground as much as we did!

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