Volcano Viewing Etiquette

There is an etiquette to watching the spectacle of molten lava flowing into the ocean (as described in the post “New Vents in Kilauea Volcano Spout Fountains of Lava”). Here are my top five tips for good volcano viewing manners:

  1. Come prepared. Walking out to a recently hardened field of lava to watch another, active field of lava is about as rugged as terrain gets. No one is waiting there with a tray of cool towels and cocktails. Bring your own water, snacks, sunscreen, hat, jacket, tushie cushion, and wear sturdy shoes.
  2. Down in front. Crowding up to the front of barrier erected by the park service seems like a good idea, but it actually just blocks everyone’s view. A lava field isn’t stadium seating. Plus, all those flash pictures of your partner in the dark with the lava flow a mile in the distance will still be dark, even if you take one more.
  3. Aim your flashlight at your feet. Pointing your flashlight up into other people’s eyes does help you to see them, but then they are blinded. If you really want don’t want to trip and fall into a deep crevice of sharp lava, aim your flashlight on the ground just in front of your feet.
  4. Don’t throw rocks. This may seem obvious, but just in case it’s not, lava stones are sharp, jagged and could easily take someone’s eye out. That could put a real damper on watching Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of fire, in action.
  5. Pack out what you pack in. Leaving trash, empty bottles and soiled toilet paper on newly formed land is pretty insulting, as is taking home pieces of it for souvenirs. According to local lore Pele will find you, and in case you hadn’t noticed, she’s pretty powerful.