Pu’u ‘Ō’ō Lava Flow – Part 1 – Get Ready

UPDATE: 02/2015 – The Lave Flows have dramatically changed. The directions posted on my site are no longer applicable. I will update as information changes (if it changes). Lava currently is NOT accessible.

In my opinion standing next to flowing lava is one of the most amazing nature experiences! If you are contemplating this for your vacation, I highly recommend taking the day or two needed. Even if you are a long time Hawaii resident, this is one of those hikes that if you are able, each person must do at least once.

Information online isn’t easy to find for this hike, so I endeavor here to create an easily laid out guide to help you. Broken up into four sections, it is meant to be read in order but you can jump to any page of information you need.

Photos of our Trip

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1 Minute Video of the Lava Flow

As always, I’ll try to answer any question you may have.

Comment on any page for help!

12 thoughts on “Pu’u ‘Ō’ō Lava Flow – Part 1 – Get Ready

  1. Reply
    David Mathis - May 4, 2013

    we are going to Kona in Jan 2014. which route should I take to get close to the volcano to see the lava  and how much walking did you have to do when you took these pictures.  thank you very much

    1. Reply
      tcroke - May 11, 2013


      My apologies for my slow reply, I have been backpacking the Grand Canyon. Planning out for January, I can’t say the best route due to the fact that the volcano shifts lava output as it wills; it could change completely before then. Checking today the lava is pouring out two spots into the ocean but is flowing on the surface about same place as I inicate on my map. We hiked about 11 miles round trip. There is no elevation gain, but ground is tricky to walk over. We paced at 3 miles an hour (two hours out and later 2 back). I’d say message me mid-Dec and I can update the route. It is well worth the effot however! – Tom

  2. Reply
    Pete - June 25, 2013

    Hello Tom,

      I will be on the Big Island Hawaii, on Jul 16, and plan on hiking to the lava.  A couple of questions:

    1.  Is there usually more activity in the morning or evening, i.e. is there any diurnal pattern to the lava flow?  I want to get some good photographs?

    2.  What is the easiest and most accurate way to get information about where the active lava flows are located?



    1. Reply
      tcroke - July 18, 2013


      I’m sorry I missed your comment. Not sure how it slipped through my email. If you haven’t hike out yet the answers are here.

      1. Activity of lava flow is near continous throughout the night and day. It is pretty consistant. The best photos are at sunset and sun rise. Most photos you see of lava flow are at these times. It allows you to clarly see the lava but also frame the picture well. Although night photos are great too. But you won’t see much other then the glowing lava.
      2. Best place for information is the National Park Service. (808) 985-6000 Second is http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php but much technical info is there. Below is the common man language for what they are reporting.

      Their language: “Southeast of Pu`u `O`o, the Peace Day flow hosted a diminishing number of breakouts scattered midway across the coastal plain near the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park boundary. Most of the Peace Day flow, however, remained in lava tubes that emptied into the ocean in at least one place – a main entry area producing a persistent gas plume just east, and outside of, the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park boundary. A smaller entry that produced a weaker, infrequent gas plume just inside the National Park has not visible in the webcams over the past several days and may no longer be active.”

      Normal Launguage: “There are a few spots it is flowing on the surface and you could walk up to the lava, but these are becoming less frequent. There are a number of lava tubes that are pouring into the ocean and can be seen. One is a large tube and one is smaller.

      Based on this, once you see the smoke from ocean entry you’ll know where to go. USE CAUTION!! Ocean entries are the most dangerous place to observe lava flow. Pay attention to the smoke. Also a collpase is possible the closer you get.

      Again, sorry for the slow reply. Don’t know why I didn’t get your email sooner. – Tom


  3. Reply
    John - September 29, 2014

    Hi Tom,

    I see the above comments were from a while ago, but I was wondering if you could answer the same questions again. I will be in Hawaii in December 2014, and don’t want to miss the lava! Do you have any updates (or let me know the best place to find, ask, read, etc.) on the current lava flows or projections of where the best location for viewing is? Thank you for your help!

    1. Reply
      tcroke - October 19, 2014

      John, my apologies for the delay, it has a been month. I just checked online to see what is going on with the Volcano. I must say, things are REALLY different now from what I posted online. The breakout in the past month has dramatically changed the flow of lava. it is quite exciting right now; however, I have updated my map to reflect the current flow. It may be viewable in December in the town of Pahoa — but it is too soon to determine.

  4. Reply
    Rick - October 31, 2014

    Hello Tom,
    Hope this message finds you doing great. I will be visiting March 13 through the 20th of 2014 and was wondering when would be a good time to maybe get information from you about the lava flows and if they are flowing and view able at that time?
    Thanks for reading this

    1. Reply
      tcroke - February 10, 2015

      Rick, I have been watching the flows for a few months. Sadly, although the lava continues to flow every day, it is currently inaccessible to people via foot or vehicle. I will keep checking to see if this changes, but all indications point that this may be the new flow path for a while. A good source for weekly updates is Big Island Video News. You MAY be able to hire a local in Pāhoa to take you to the active flow, but I do not know.

      Wish I had better news, – Tom

  5. Reply
    Samir - February 9, 2015

    Hi Tom,

    I’ll be going to the big island mid March 2015 and was wondering where I could see the lava flow as this is the main reason I’m going. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Reply
      tcroke - February 10, 2015

      Samir, I checked yesterday and sadly, the lava flows are unable to be viewed at this time. It isn’t flowing anywhere you could walk to see them (see map). This may change by March, but it is doubtful. Sorry, to tell you this. You may be able to drive to Pāhoa, HI and view the glow from a distance, or find a local willing to take you on their private land to view it. But it appears the lava is only viewable via helicopter. Mother Nature is unpredictable.
      – Tom

      1. Reply
        Samir - February 23, 2015

        Thanks for the update. If the situation does change by March 15, please do let me know!


  6. Reply
    Asit - February 17, 2016

    Hey, i was debating if it is worth going to Kalapana viewing area to see the Lava or I should just stay at teh park. I have a 6 year old and a 1 year old with me so will not be able to hike for more than a mile or two.

    Do I have a place where Lava could be visible next week Feb 26, 2016. Any help is appreciated.


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