Lava Flow Conditions

Lava Flow Conditions: What will you see?

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A great day on the flow field. – Photo: Lavaland Hawai’i

Lava flow conditions are ever changing, and it’s impossible to predict what may happen from one day to the next. But believe it or not, that’s part of the fun.

Many people see photos of lava cascading into the ocean or flowing in rivers right past onlookers and wonder if they’ll get to see the same thing when they visit. The answer all depends on what the volcano has in mind at the time of your visit.

Here’s what you need to know:

Lava Hikes and Bike and Hike Tours: Where do you take guests?

Our guides will take you to the best activity available on the day of your tour. You’ll see the same things on both our Lava Hike Tours and our Lava Bike and Hike Tours. Because activity changes frequently, often in a matter of hours, there is no way to predict what you will see in advance.

Ocean Entries: Will I see lava going into the ocean?
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An ocean entry photo from the sea cliffs using telephoto lens.  – Photo: Lavaland Hawai’i

As of early November lava stopped flowing into the sea at the Kamokuna Ocean Entry. There is currently no lava flowing into the ocean here in Hawai’i and the nearest active flows are located miles from the ocean.

Surface Flow: Can I stand next to lava?

Surface flow is what we call lava that flows on the ground which you can approach close up. These happen when lava breaks out of the tube system. Surface flow can last from a few days for larger breakouts, to only a few minutes for smaller ones. They change literally moment to moment.

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Guests photograph a recent large pahoehoe flow – Photo: Lavaland Hawai’i

What if lava stops flowing?

Lava flows sometimes surprise us by taking a break and then starting up again due to pressure changes beneath the volcano. And, as with all things, lava flows have a life span which will someday come to an end.

The best minds in science cannot yet accurately predict when a lava flow will end. It may happen gradually, or as is more often the case, quite suddenly, and without warning.

So what happens if the lava flow shuts off, or moves into a closed, legally inaccessible area before your visit? We’ll be happy to change your reservation to another of our tours if you like. Or if you prefer, we’ll refund you in full. That’s our guarantee to you.

Ka Makana: The Gift

While it can be a bit frustrating to make travel plans around Kilauea’s unknowable schedule, the unpredictability of lava flows is one of the things that make them so special. There’s no way to know exactly what you’ll see until you get there. It’s always a surprise, like a present you get to unwrap. If you’re here on the Big Island when there is accessible lava to see, count yourself lucky! Whatever you see will be a gift. 

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  • Lava Activity Update

    Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park remains closed due to the current volcanic activity but we're hopeful we'll be able to resume tours soon. We'll post any new information here as we receive it. Please check back!