a VirtualTourist member from Brooklyn
Hi VTers! Planning a week+ on Hawaii in October.Our top priorities are to see lava flowing at Volcano National Park and go on a manta ray cruise. What is the best way to see lava flowing into the ocean? Also,what is the best manta ray trip? Any suggestions on B&Bs on the big island?
Thanks for your help!
Hello and welcome to VT.
When we were there years ago one could simply hike to the lava flows and you still can, depending on how far/near the lava is flowing.
There are monitoring sites for tourists where you an check as well as clearly marked trail heads. We had to hike almost an hour in the evening/late afternoon. Returning it was pitch black - we were glad we had stopped to purchase flashlights at the rangers suggestion.
One of the sites you can monitor lava flows is this one:
or this one:
I do seem to remember that to view the lava flowing into the ocean one could only do so with a guide as it can be quite dangerous. Lava "explodes" when it meets cooler water and large rocks, etc. can be launched.
By comparison, when we hiked to the lava flows we were able to get within inches of it at our own discretion. Pictures here: [original VT link]
In addition to the hiking and guided boat tours mentioned, the helicoptor tours take you along the coast and right up to the caldera as well for a very close look into the crater if it's relatively quiet. I was able to get some great photos shooting straight into the crater.
You can see if from the Pride of America as it goes around from one side of the Big Island to the other (at night some distance away). As mentioned a helicopter flight is a good way to do this - I think mostly in the daytime so try to pick a day that is overcast because you will be able to see the lava better.
I took my grandson on the NP and we stayed up in Volcano, and at night we drove to the visitor's center where he could see the lava bubbling away. It shows up better at night. At that time the visitor's center had the lava viewing locations posted.
You can hike through the lava beds to the area where the lava flow goes into the ocean. Sometimes you can't get so close because the steam is toxic, and it is very hot. Carry water bottles with you, and you MUST wear good hiking shoes. The lava beds are sharp and I have seen people try to wear sandals or even thongs (totally stupid), and they don't get too far.
You can also go on a helicopter tour and they get pretty close.
Ask your hotel to tell you what small beach has the turtles...There is one place where you can swim with them, no touching allowed. They are big, and this is also a nice place to bring a swim mask and look at the fish swimming around your feet and legs.
Live lava flow viewing is awesome when you can do it. As other people wrote, it depends on the where the flow is when you are there if you will be able to see it. My husband and I were extremely blessed in 1989 - actually saw it creeping across the road - close enough to touch it!.... the rangers at Volcano National Park advised us where to go at night to see it drop into the water! Incredible site!!!
Check the website page below - has all pertinent website resources to keep track of the lava's path.
Best advice - go to Volcano National Park when you get there.... rangers will advise you where to go, and IF, it is safe to view it yourself.
Another UNIQUE option would be www.lavaocean.com
I have never done it - it is not for the faint of heart.... but there is a boat company that takes you out by boat to see the lava flowing into the ocean.
Last but not least, the most incredible B&B we stayed at on one of our more recent trips on the Big island is Volcano Mist Cottage
www.volcanomistcottage.com ..... it was not as far as Hilo... on a secluded road, and in a beautiful part of the big island. Highly recommended... I would assume it is still well kept and in great condition.