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Hawaii Eruption Becoming an Opportunity for Exploration

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© Travalliancemedia Owned Media (Staff Photo) PHOTO: Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii's Big Island. (photo by Noreen Kompanik)

By Will McGough, TravelPulse

Kilauea volcano continues to huff and puff on the Big Island. But, don’t run away—instead, run towards it for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Unlike the conical volcanoes that blow their tops in dramatic fashion, Hawaii’s gradually-sloping shield volcanoes erupt slowly, allowing them to be approached and viewed safely from the sidelines. As the lava continues to flow, there are many ways, new and old, to experience it.

Here are a few of our best recommendations, as per the current conditions:

Please note: While this eruption is fascinating from a geological and adventurous perspective, it has been a tragic event for many who have lost their homes and endured hardship. Please be respectful and keep this in mind when touring the Island of Hawaii.

Volcano Viewing—Private Tour

The best way to ensure you max out what you see and learn about the Kilauea Volcano and its current eruption is to arrange a private tour. While the area directly surrounding the eruption is closed to the public, the guides from Hawaii Forest & Trail, who are experts on volcanic activity and geology, can lead you to several viewing points and lookouts outside of those boundaries that will allow you to observe the ongoing eruption safely.

“Because Kilauea is surrounded by tall mountains, it’s possible to see it from up to 10 miles away,” said Jason Cohen, Hawaii Forest & Trail Vice President of Sales. “There are several locations where we can view the eruption while showing complete respect for locals who have been affected.”

Tours can include lava viewing, hiking, and geological and cultural explanations of volcanos.

Hidden Craters Hike—Public Tour

One of Hawaii Forest & Trails newest public tours, the Hidden Craters Hike, takes you on a 4-mile journey into the slopes of the Hualalai Volcano in Kona. The tour is led by a volcano expert who explains the eruption process and walks guests through craters, lava tubes, fissures, and cracks from previous lava flows. “The tour illustrates exactly what’s happening in Puna right now,” said Cohen. “You get to experience all the features of the volcano, how it works, and what it leaves behind.”

See the Lava from the Sea—Lava Boats

A ride along the coast to spot lava coming down the slopes towards the sea—and possibly going into the sea—is one of the finest, up-close-and-personal experiences that lava viewing has to offer. Lava boat tours are still running at this time, but instead of leaving from Kalapana, they are departing out of Hilo.

This increases the time of the tour by approximately two hours, which, from our perspective, is a good thing. Consider a small boat tour with Kalapana Cultural Tours.

Drive to a Viewpoint—The Halemaumau Ash Cloud from a New Perspective

Halemaumau Crater is a full-on participant in the latest eruption and is currently putting on a show, billowing its gas into the sky in dramatic fashion. Unfortunately, as of this writing, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and the Halemaumau Crater viewing area remains closed. But visitors can still get a sense for its power.

The impressive exhaust cloud can be safely viewed from the Volcano Golf Course.

Fly Over the Flow—Helicopter Tours

Paradise Helicopters offers daily tours over the lava flow. This is by far the most comprehensive way to see the eruption and its aftermath. Right now, there is a temporary flight restriction over the eruption site, requiring helicopters to remain 3,000 feet above.

This area is also frequented by low clouds, so some tours have had to be canceled of late. Because of that, you’ll want to book this tour for one of the first days of your trip, so that if it does get canceled, you have a few days afterward to try again. Don’t be discouraged—you’ll be very happy once in you’re in the air over the lava field.

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