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Lava Flow Questions - From a first timer

Singapore
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Lava Flow Questions - From a first timer

We are scheduled to visit Hawaii this June. Our base will be Honolulu and I am planning to take a one day Volcano tour to the Big Island. I know the Big island has other great sights, but we would be obviously delighted if we get a chance to watch the lava flow at least from a distance, if not close up. I have googled/yahooed for information and read that lava flow direction has been mainly eastwards since 2010 and that the best places to watch lava are a few privately owned estates around Kalapana. Is this information true and still valid? If this is true, what are the chances of being able to see the lava flow if I take a standard volcano day tour conducted by operators like Roberts Hawaii or

Discover Hawaii tours, since I believe they will able to take tourists only to the areas with public access?

I also found interesting, Kalapana Cultural Tours which conducts treks inside the private estates and takes tourists real close to the lava flows, but I am wary about fitting in a 10 mile trek in our hectic itinerary, especially with the youngest member in our family being an 8 year old. Is there any other way to access the lava flow (eg. in a 4WD vehicle + a short trek). For safety reasons, I not considering the boat tours as an option.

Thanks in advance for your replies!

Big Island, Hawaii
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1. Re: Lava Flow Questions - From a first timer

Basically here's the deal. It's impossible to say what conditions will be like when you get here. Right now there are some surface flows that are visible from several miles away at the bottom of chain of craters road and the public county viewing area at Kalapana. The 5-7 mile roundtrip hike which will get you up close and personal is not suitable for an 8 year old, even a strong hiker. There is no option to 4wd and get closer.

There is currently a great, dramatic, up close, drive up view of the "glow" from the lava lake in Halema'uma'u crater from the Jaggar museum. It's more impressive than it sounds.

The main problem is both the hike in and view of the glow basically start after sunset. It will be near impossible to see them on a day trip. Your best option is probably a helicopter tour which will get you active surface lava views, if any, as well as a view of the crater lava lake.The boat tours only are interesting if there's ocean entry, which there isn't currently, and as you say, safety is an issue.

Edited: 12 April 2012, 09:00
LA
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2. Re: Lava Flow Questions - From a first timer

Stick with a helicopter tour.

Pahoa
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3. Re: Lava Flow Questions - From a first timer

Yes I think your child is too young for the hike. KCT does a really good job on there tours but I would recommend the helicopter tours or checking out the lava lake in Halemaumau crater.

Singapore
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4. Re: Lava Flow Questions - From a first timer

Hi, thanks all for your replies. From all the responses, I gather that I need to be mightly lucky to be able to see the lava flow in a day tour, unless I take a helicopter tour!

How far does one have to walk up to the Kalapana public viewing area from the end of the road? I believe it is a short walk over solidified lava. Just wondering if it is feasible to visit that place or end of the Chain of Clusters Road just in case lava flow is present when I am there.

Big Island, Hawaii
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5. Re: Lava Flow Questions - From a first timer

The new county viewing area at Kalapana is a bit of a hike, about a mile, mostly on pavement. When we were there last month the viewing at Kalapana really wasn't any better than at the bottom of Chain of craters road, but we also walked about a mile across older lava flows there to get to a high spot. It's really hard to

say what it's going to be like when you're there.

Edited: 13 April 2012, 09:00
Toronto
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6. Re: Lava Flow Questions - From a first timer

Hi, MRahul. We were at Kalapana a couple of weeks ago. The location of the viewing area apparently changes regularly. When we were there it was an easy walk of about 10 minutes or less.

However, it wasn't worth it. We happened to be staying very close by and so it was no big deal. But I would never make a special trip, at least based on what we saw. The view was extremely faint, and the lava was very far away. You could barely see it, even with binoculars. So I wouldn't advise going out of your way to get there.

Big Island, Hawaii
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7. Re: Lava Flow Questions - From a first timer

The lava flow is less than a mile from the ocean now and the views from Kalapana are pretty good but it's an ever changing experience. I think it's worth the drive to Kalapana anyway to stop at Kaimu and other area attractions.

Kamloops
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8. Re: Lava Flow Questions - From a first timer

We visited Kalapana a few weeks ago and were thrilled...it was a short walk from the car parking area- maybe 10 minutes? To us it looked like campfires up on a mountain side. We knew that was what we were going to see though, so for us, it was fantastic. When I honeymooned on BI in Sept of 2010, there was no surface lava so we were just happy to see something.

LA
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9. Re: Lava Flow Questions - From a first timer

"I believe it is a short walk over solidified lava"

Solidified lava is rarely flat or smooth. It is full of holes, sharp edges, some fractures, and can be quite difficult to walk on. A fall may result in lacerations (it can be as sharp as broken glass), sprains or fractures. It is especially bad at night when you can't see the contour as well, even with a headlamp or flashlight.

San Diego, CA
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10. Re: Lava Flow Questions - From a first timer

we just got back - i will be doing a trip report shortly but here is my input:

I really dont think its worth it to go to the big island just to see lava especially from Honolulu. the plane flight each way is over an hour. From either airport its at least a 2.5 hour drive. And then getting to the lava is not that easy. And the Kalapana site is FAR from anything.

A note about the helicopter ride issue - we met a few people on the trip who did this and they said they would NEVER do again and didnt think was worth it. It REALLY depends on the weather and there are NO REFUNDS. While we were there (obviously april) the weather was hit and miss especially near VNP. You may take the helicopter and see nothing not lava, not even the park.

Also I have an 11 year old boy and he had a few bored times and I cant imagine an 8 year old. The 8 year old would probably have more fun taking a boat ride or just going to the pool.