Kalapana Lava Viewing Area
Address: Highway 130 until it ends
UPDATE: The lava stopped flowing into the ocean at this location in 2017. The gravel road is interesting to talk or bike down for a while to see the development of homes by “off the grid” types. Below is what the destination was prior to the stop of lava flowing….
This is the start of the Royal Gardens subdivision that was wiped out during the 90’s when the Pu’u 0’0 vent of the Kilauea volcano started to flow down the volcano toward the coast. Lava flowed into the ocean during the 1990s until 2014, with some interruptions. Then it stopped flowing in this direction. It started flowing back in this direction As of July 25th, 2016 the lave has reached the ocean. Almost all visitors go to Volcano National Park, at the Kilauea crater. But there isn’t much to see there. The crater has lava in the caldera, but deep in the caldera. It varies from 60′ to 160′ below the top of the caldera. You see the glow of the lave at night and the steam during the day, but that is it.
I find it at least as interesting to see the recent effects and scale of the lava flow. Here you can park your car and view the aftermath of the lava flow on what was a thriving community. In 2014 Hawaii built an emergency road across the lava field. They do not allow anything motorized on this road. They only allow walking and bikes. This road is only open for access from 3:00 until 9:00 pm. Don’t arrive too early. Bring plenty of water and walking shoes. If you venture off the road, the walk is difficult and if you trip you will cut your legs. The lava is sharp. If you are going later, make sure to bring a flashlight with fresh batteries.
The hike to the lava flow is at least 4 miles each way. This is a very long way by foot, but quite easy by bike. Then you just walk about 50 yards from the access road to the viewing area, which is as close as you are allowed. A couple outfits offer a tour where they provide mountain bikes to bike on the road. The only company that I know of that provides these tours at the moment is http://lavalandhawaii.com. The price is $99. Whether you make a quick visit to the Viewing Area to simply go on a short walk, or spend half a day and bike to the active lave depends on the time and level of interest. The mistake people make is going to the Volcano National park and spending too much time there.
For daily updates from the USGS: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php
For a news report of the opening of the Viewing Area click here. The is before it crossed the access road and into the ocean. http://www.hawaiinewsnow.com/story/32341706/lava-flow-advancing-down-the-pali-on-the-big-island
After parking your bike on the road you walk just about 50 yards to this viewing area. Great views of the Pacific with lava flowing into it.