Amazing views of a Live Volcano

We started driving from Kona towards the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. While we were driving what struck us was the variety in tropical plants and flowers. The rainforests here were amazing!! We were so enthusiastic; we bought a book about tropical plants and flowers, and started identifying them as we passed them.



Tropical Plant - Anthurium

Tropical Plant – Anthurium

Our next stop was a black sand beach. Big Island is known for its black sand. Black igneous rock from the lava flow gets disintegrated into sand particles and forms these beaches. This beach was supposed to be a rest area for turtles. We went, spread our mat, and sat down on the beach. Immediately we saw turtles popping their heads out of the water. There were a few green turtles that came and slept on the beach. It was wonderful.



We reached the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at 5:30 PM and started driving on the Chain of Craters road. On the way we saw old craters, fuming vents – proofs of past and current volcanic activity.

Chain of Craters View

Chain of Craters View

The Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has been erupting since 1983. It is not your typical volcano where there is a tall mountain and lava flows out through a crater on the top. Lava from the volcano travels several kilometers in lava tubes under the ground and pours into the ocean. We reached the volcano view point and immediately realized that we should have come an hour early. Cars were parked at least a mile away from the rangers office. The radio told us that lava was visible after a 2 mile walk from the office. After we reached the rangers office, we noticed that there was no road anymore. Lava from a few months back had closed a vast stretch of the road. The trail was marked, but most of the hike was boulder hopping!!

Lava on the Road

Lava on the Road

We keep walking on huge lava fields with the ocean on the right. We walked 1 mile when the trail ended. The ocean breeze kept us cool and we kept walking beyond the trail as were a few hundred people. After a while, we noticed that the ground below our feet became a little warm. The park ranger told us that we were walking on active Lava Tubes! There was a mountain there that was feeding this lava and it was transporting it through this lava tube into the ocean. We finally reached a place where hundreds of people were sitting on the rocks and watching something like they were in an amphitheater. This was it!!

Lava flowing into the Ocean

Lava flowing into the Ocean

After a 3-mile hike, we finally saw hot red lava flowing into the ocean in 3-4 channels. It was awesome. We were speechless. It was one of those incredible sights that you only get to see on the National Geographic Channel, except this was happening live in front of us. The sun had set and we saw the bright red lava and the red glowing smoke it was creating.

Lava flowing into crashing waves

Lava flowing into crashing waves

We spent over an hour there and turned back only when it started drizzling. Night had set it, but luckily for us it was a full moon day. Even otherwise we had come equipped with flashlights. The rest of the hike would have been lackluster except that in the mountains, another vent became active and lava started flowing out. What started as specks of light became a flow of at least mile lava flow by the time we got done. It was an amazing sight that would remain etched in our memories forever.


  • Ram Dhall says:

    Thanks for taking us to this amazingly beautiful world of nature. Though I have heard about lava flowing out of mountains, it’s the first time I am reading about lava on the beaches, on the roads, falling in the ocean and people walking on the live lava tubes.

    Excellent description and equally well photographed.

    Look forward to your next post.

  • vamsee says:

    Thanks for your comments Ram. There are very few places in the world where you can see an active volcano and we were lucky to have been there at the right time. It was quite a thrilling experience.

  • anjaly says:

    Hi Vamsee, Brilliant! Brilliant! It must be nothing short of a miracle to be able to witness such an amazing sight! great write up too…and thanks for bringing us these pctures live… seems like a great place to go….

  • vamsee says:

    Thanks Anjaly (interesting spelling for the traditional name). Seeing the volcano was pretty awesome.

  • Sudhir says:

    Wow, what an experience !
    It must have been thrilling. Nice pics with good description.

  • Patrick Jones says:

    Nature is truly amazing. Thanks a lot, Vamsee.

  • Celine says:

    Wow. Wow. I have an idea how fascinating it must have been to watch the lava flow into the sea. Thank you for sharing and virtually transporting us into the wonders of nature!

  • vamsee says:

    Sudhir / Patrick / Celine
    Thanks for your comments. I feel the same awe every time I see these images and remember the trip. I guess that is the main reason all of us write travelogues

  • nandanjha says:

    This is probably my closest encounter with a Volcano. After reading it, I get this funny feeling, as if I am right there.


  • vamsee says:

    Thanks Nandan. That is a great compliment. You are running an excellent website here.

  • Cuckoo says:

    Ohhh I too have seen the volcanoes in New Zealand.. the boiling mud and the smoke… what an experience.

    It’s a different experience altogether, isn’t it ?

    Last 3 photos are very good.

  • Manish Khamesra says:

    At the beginning, I thought that you would give us glimpses of rain forest, but you took straight to the raining lava :)

    BTW what are lava tubes ? I guess a way to divert Lava directly from mountains to the sea.

    Like Cuckoo, I too felt that the last three photos are really amazing (I esp liked the thrid from last), as it shows the road immersed in lava.

    Good work Vamsee, though a little hurried one :), but an altogether differet experience for the ones who have only heard about Volcanos or watched them on TV.

  • Vamsee says:

    Thanks for your comments, Manish. You answered your own question about lava tubes:)
    You are the only one who realized that the report was hurried!! I was too excited to talk about the volcano, so skipped over the details about the rainforest and the black sand beach. Those paled in comparison to the hot lava pouring into the ocean.

  • nandanjha says:

    I was browsing through some of the posts categorized as ‘International’ (adding some more sub-categories after an Author requested) and read this again.

    funny feeling remains Vamsee :-)

    Its been a while we saw you here. Write as you find time please.

  • Nice to see an old log being republished ! Now as I read this post, I just felt as excited as I always feel while watching NGC ! Vamsee, I feel just how you did when you were at the spot witnessing the volcano. Which simple means, your post has done all the bit needed for experiencing it! Thanks a ton for touring us there.

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