Last updated: 03:00 PM ET, Fri July 29 2016

How To Get Up Close To A Lava Flow in Hawaii

Destination & Tourism | Monica Poling | July 29, 2016

How To Get Up Close To A Lava Flow in Hawaii

PHOTO: Do not try this on your own. (Photo courtesy of KapohoKine Adventures)

Extreme selfiers, take note, there’s a new photo opportunity unfolding in Hawaii right now.

That’s because molten lava—and we aren’t talking the kind that comes from chocolate cake—is flowing into the ocean. The lava which first started flowing from the Kilaue'a Pu'u O'O Crater this past May, has now forged a path all the way to the ocean.

To quote the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), “The 61G lava flow extending southeast of Pu'u O'O Crater towards the coastal plain on Kilaue'a's south flank remains active, and its ocean entry in the Kamokuna area continues.”

The flow, which measures at least 20 m (66 feet) where it flows over the sea cliff, is quite literally causing new land to be formed. This isn’t necessarily an unusual phenomenon in Hawaii, but it hasn’t happened since 2013 either.

READ MORE: Hawaii Tourism on Pace for Record Year in 2016

“The experience of witnessing rock in its bright molten state and watching land being formed has fascinated and inspired everyone who has been lucky enough to see it,” says a tip sheet at the USGS. But, warns the agency, witnessing the event requires extreme caution.

In an era where common sense seems to be in short order, the agency is warning travelers that hazards can include steam blasts, acid fumes and scalding waves, just to name a few.

For visitors who want a safe, sane experience, KapohoKine Adventures has restarted its famed Lava Expedition tour, which takes visitors as close as it’s possible to the see the molten lava. They can then set off on foot to explore the most recent surface outbreaks and ocean entries. It’s a rugged 6-8 mile hike, round trip, but definitely worth the effort.

The lava tube system features “skylights” where the lava flows to the surface and glows bright red and you can literally hear the hiss of escaping gasses and watch as liquid rock turns into its solid state.

The tour starts from $129 per person from Hilo, and includes transportation, a certified guide, military-grade flashlights, walking sticks, sunblock, dinner and drinks.

For more information on the tour, visit

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