There is currently active lava flow that is accessible to the public.
Hike to active lava flow on the Big Island! Web camera images show surface lava flow activity persisting on the upper portion of the flow field, on the pali, and in scattered areas along the coastal plain. It is possible to do the hike without a guide. A recent guest who went out there said it was about 2.5 hours hiking each way and was close to 10 or 11 miles round trip. This is subject to change daily, depending on where the lava flow has moved overnight, and depending on current conditions. The County of Hawaii has set up parking and viewing hours between 3pm and 9pm at the end of HWY 130 in Kalapana, HI
Hiking to Lava Flow
From Volcano Inn it’s approximately a 55-minute drive to the beginning of the trail. There is a lot of parking, as well as a lot of vendors renting bikes and equipment for the hike (including headlamps). Bicycles are available to rent (at roughly around $10/hr), however, you may or may not want to do this. If the winds are strong it is very difficult to ride the bike along this trail and you will see others walking the bikes back. The trail is a gravel emergency access road for a portion of the hike followed by lava fields for another portion of the hike. If you hike up the hill you will have to leave the bike and pick it up on your return.
It is possible to approach the lava flow from within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, but only if there are NOT trade winds. It’s recommended against on most days, because most of the time we have trade winds and the trail puts you downwind of the smoke and fumes. The chain of craters road is the most scenic drive in the national park, with many cool stops along the way.
Schedule everything to arrive at lava around twilight. Sunset is around 5:45pm for those wanting to make the hike back after dark. Follow others, look for heat shimmers in the daytime and red spots at night. Enjoy viewing “breakouts” in the dark, which is 10x more beautiful than in the daylight.
Recommended Items to Bring for Lava Hike:
- Hiking Boots
- Rain Jacket
- Sunscreen, Hat, Sunglasses
- 1.5 to 2 liters of water per person depending on the distance of the hike which changes with volcanic activity
- Headlamp for night hiking
If you do not feel comfortable hiking to the lava alone, check out our friend Fabienne for a guided tour.
Additional Lava information and resources: