Big Island

Good Things to Know Before Visiting a Lava Flow in Hawaii

Being able to view an active lava flow in person is one of the many reasons that draw countless visitors to the Big Island of Hawaii. If you’re on the Big Island, you can view one for yourself if you drive to Kalapana and enter the viewing zone at the end of Road 130.

Things You’ll Need to Bring

Below are three things you’ll want to remember to bring before you decide to visit a lava flow.

Good shoes (not slippas!): Because you’ll be doing a little hiking, you’ll want to be sure you wear sturdy shoes with good traction. There can be slippery areas in addition to other places you’ll want to be wearing supportive, closed-toed shoes.

Water: Remember, you will be walking a little ways and will want to stay hydrated, so make sure you bring plenty of water for everyone in your group.

Flashlight: When lava hardens it is often black, and when you are in the middle of acres of black lava, you will have little to no bearings. Bring a flashlight so you can walk safely (it is also comforting seeing all the other lights flickering like fireflies).

Best Time to See Lava Flows

Lava flows are best viewed at night. You’ll want to arrive with a little daylight left so you can make your way to the viewing spot.

Arrive at dusk and you will only see the plume, but as nightfall descends, a ribbon of red will emerge from the flow and you can often trace it to the source. Sometimes, if you walk toward the water, you will see lava spilling into the ocean.

You can also go to Volcanoes National Park in Volcano and hear the Ranger talk from dusk to dark and join people from around the world in snapping photos of the emerging lava around the rim of the crater.

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