Right now (July 2016) there’s a precious moment going on the Big Island of Hawaii: lava is flowing off a steep cliff into the ocean and it’s attracting thousands of visitors. If you ever get the chance, you must go see a lava flow in Hawaii from active volcanoes!
Why would you want to see lava flow in Hawaii from an active volcano?
The very first time I saw a lava flow was at night from a distance and there was something about the brightly lit orange red color that immediately captivated my attention. I just stood there in the middle on nowhere on the Big Island, dumbfounded, watching. I’ll never forget it. People watch lava flows much the same way they watch sunsets: we all just stand there and watch, utterly mesmerized by this oozing, flowing, red hot liquid rock.
1. Watching lava flow in Hawaii on the Big Island is like a time machine
There is something incredibly primordial about it. You are, literally, watching the creation of new land which for all practical purposes is happening in the same way it did millions of years ago. And on the Big Island, if you’re close enough to see it, there’s a good chance you’re standing in a very new lava field that’s certainly less than 1000 years old which is still a “newborn” in geological time scales. It’s as if you’ve been transported back through time, before life itself appeared on earth and you’re watching creation happening right before your eyes. If you take the time to explore the area, you will also see lava rock in various stages of aging which is a geological lesson in and of itself.
2. It can be a deeply spiritual experience to connect with Godess Pele
AKA “Madame Pele”, native Hawaiians have deep regard for one of their most cherished deities. From Pele’s Wikipedia page: “There are several traditional legends associated with Pele in Hawaiian mythology. In addition to being recognized as the goddess of volcanoes, Pele is also known for her power, passion, jealousy, and capriciousness. ”
If you are the spiritual type and can “connect” to a given place, prepare to be overwhelmed by the spiritual power (or “mana” in Hawaiian) if you allow yourself to get into witnessing a live lava flow in Hawaii.
One night I was visiting the Big Island with my daughter (on a field field trip, if you can imagine that!) and Halemaumau Crater was rather active that night. We walked to the Volcano House which is right on the rim and looked out. This is what we saw and just stood there for an hour, mesmerized:
3. It’s the safest thing you can do near the most destructive force on earth
The Big Island of Hawaii is home to the world’s most active volcano. The lava flows have destroyed hundreds of home and essentially cannot be stopped. Yet the lava is not explosive like other volcanoes (e.g. Mt. St. Helen) and rather calm. You can practically stand next to a live lava flow in Hawaii (though I do not recommend it) and other than get pretty hot, not be harmed. It’s quite wild to be so close to something so primordial, so destructive, yet at the same time you don’t feel you are in danger (but of course you are in danger to exercise caution!).
4. Don’t miss the chance to see a live lava flow in Hawaii without visiting the Big Island and Kilauea Volcano
You may be back an then again you may not. If (when?) you come to Hawaii, make a point to visit the Big Island and see the volcano and if you’re lucky, you’ll be a witness to a live lava flow in Hawaii. There’s no knowing what conditions will be like when you get here, but regardless, you don’t want to miss one of the most amazing, powerful, spiritually intense experiences you’ll ever have.
Writing this makes me want to go there right now, as a matter of fact! Here’s a video instead :)