Hikes to the current surface flow lava
This tour gets an early start, leaving from Volcano Village at 4 am where a Mercedes sprinter van will take you a few miles deep into the volcanic desert to begin a 4-5 mile hike to where the lava has spilled over the road. No parking is allowed at this drop-off point but taking a tour bus will get you several miles closer than others starting from the designated parking areas. From here, the hike through the lava field is a fairly level, gravel road and of medium difficulty. It may be slightly strenuous due to the lack of shade and the distance, but well worth it. As you walk, you are sure to hear the helicopters above providing aerial tours of the flow and will likely pass several vendors selling coconut water fresh from the coconut or additional drinks and snacks.
The hike is timed to see the sun rise over the fiery Halema’uma’u crater, with ocean views as you walk through the remains of past lava flows in their varied textures and formations. You will also be able to see steaming cliffs in the distance from where the lava is flowing as you make your way toward the 40-acre bench collapse from 2005 – the largest ever recorded.
You are welcome to freely explore off the gravel path, over the lava rock and right up to the ocean cliffs where the lava is entering the ocean. An expert guide will be available to point out the most active regions where you can hear it crackle and pop, red-hot and flowing slowly, and then quickly cooling into a hard, silver form. As a truly unique experience, you will be the first to ever see the slow formation of this brand new land.
You will get plenty of time to explore and work up an afternoon appetite until getting back on the bus to make it back to Volcano Village for lunchtime (around 11 am). Comfortable, close-toed walking shoes are a must and no slippers/flip flops are permitted. A backpack with snacks, water, gloves and a raincoat will be provided. We also recommend bringing a hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a flashlight, and a fully-charged camera. Remember that Hawaiian legend brings bad luck to those who take volcanic rock off the island, so limit your souvenirs to your amazing photos or purchases from vendors.
Since volcanic eruptions are truly unpredictable, this hike will only be available as long as nature continues to allow it and is a must-do for anyone with access. Even most locals from all over the island are doing this hike at least once for the unique experience. The hike will no doubt leave you breathless and change your perspective on volcanoes as well as Hawaiian culture and terrain for the remainder of your time in Hawaii.