The latest eruptions at Kilauea volcano on the island of Hawaii are spectacular. New vents opened up in early July 2008 at Pu’u O’o (shown above) and Halema’uma’u. Molten lava hits the warm ocean, sending billowing plumes of smoke and sparks of rock high in the sky.
Lava is currently flowing from the Pu’u O’o vent, which is outside of Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. The site is east of the eastern boundary of the park and about 12 miles from the summit caldera of Kilauea.
(Pele’s Hair July 9, 2008; courtesy of Adam Burgasser)
To see the fire goddess Pele in action, Hawai`i County has opened a viewing area in Kalapana at the end of Highway 130 (the Kea`au – Pahoa bypass road; View Larger Map). Visitors may access the viewing area between 2 pm and 8 pm daily. However, vehicles must exit the area by 10 pm when the gates will be locked. For a humorous look at volcano viewing etiquette, see the post “Volcano Viewing Etiquette”.
Leave Hilo in the afternoon, around 4 or 5 pm, and drive south to Kalapana. There will be some local traffic through Kea’au, so just be courteous and patient.
- Tip #1: By going later in the day, you’ll hit a little traffic, but you’ll avoid walking across the scorching sun-baked, hot, black lava beds.
Park and take the 15-minute walk across the hardened lava field by about 6 pm, just in time for “magic hour” (that gorgeous light around sunset).
- Tip #2: Wear sturdy, closed toe walking shoes. Follow all posted safety precautions.
Plan to stay until well after dark to really see the show.
- Tip #3: Bring a flashlight and a liter of water per person. You may also want to bring a small beach chair or mat to sit on. Lava is not easy on the tush.
Visitors may call the lava update recorded message for more information about the lava viewing area: (808) 961-8093 or visit the National Park Service website .
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Additional articles on the eruptions have been published in the area newspapers: