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Where Should I Stay to View the Lava?

Updated: August 13, 2016

A common question we receive is: "Do I really need to plan a night in the Volcano area? Can't I see the park and the lava flows on a day trip from the Kona side?" so we thought we would put together some information for those who might be wondering the same things!

The short answer is that a day trip IS possible - but not ideal by any means. The Kona Coast is a 2.5 hour drive each way from the Volcano area, so doing the park in a "day trip" means spending 5 hours in the car just getting to and from the park. That drive time significantly decreases your time in the park and pretty much eliminates your chance of hiking out to the lava flow. (Not to mention all the wonderful stops you could make along the way, if you weren't in a hurry to get to the park!)

"So, where should we stay?"

The Innkeepers at Volcano Village Lodge recommend splitting your time on the Big Island between the Kona Coast and the Volcano Village area. At a minimum, we suggest spending 2-3 nights in the Volcano area in order to see the highlights of the park and have time to either do a guided hike to the lava flows or take part in a boat or helicopter tour.

Why Volcano Village? Volcano Village sits just outside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park boundary.  The National Park is filled will wonderful hikes, scenic drives, and lava viewing at both the Jagger Museum Overlook and the end of Chain of Craters Road - so Volcano Village is the perfect place to stay. It's also centrally located for those wanting to visit Hilo (30 minutes North) and Punalu'u Black Sand Beach (30 minutes South).

The lava flows are spectacular right now and not to be missed. Call us at 808-985-9500 for information about rates and availability!

Lava Flow Update : Ocean Entry

Updated August 1, 2016

The lava flow reached the ocean on Monday, July 25 for the first time since 2013. There are now three fantastic ways to view the lava: by land, by air, and by sea!

Lava boat tours are officially back up and running on the Big Island. The ocean entry is fantastic and best viewed by boat. The staff at Volcano Village Lodge recommend reserving a sunrise or early morning tour. The water is calmest in the morning and photographs will be much easier to take when water is not too rough.

Helicopter tours are an excellent way to view the entire lava flow - from mauka (mountain) to makai (ocean)! Most tour companies will also fly you over Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and a few of the waterfalls on the east side of the Big Island. A great option for those who want to see a lot in a short amount of time.

For those wanting to get an up-close experience with the current lava flow (not too close, please!), hiking to the flow is still a great option. There are two ways to get to the flow - from the Kalapana side or the Hawaii Volcanoes National park side. Our Innkeepers have done the hike from each starting point to provide you with the best information.

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park access begins at the end of the Chain of Craters Road. It is just slightly longer to hike in from the national park side, however, the park is open 24/7 and rangers are there in case of an emergency - which is invaluable. The Kalapana access begins at the end of Highway 130 and is open from 3pm-9pm. The parking area will close to incoming traffic at 8:30pm We hear there are some bike rentals available from the Kalapana side, for those who have experience biking on gravel.

When hiking, remember to be prepared. The walk from either side is along a nice, gravel road - but the road can be hot and windy. There is no shade along the 9-12 mile hike. They recommend bringing a gallon of water per person on this hike, along with snacks. Wear a sunscreen, a hat, long pants, and sturdy shoes. Bring a flashlight and extra batteries if hiking out in the afternoon. The lava is amazing to watch and you do not want to get stuck walking back in the dark without a light.

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Lava Viewing Area is OPEN!

Updated July 2, 2016

Volcano Village Lodge is excited to announce an update for lava viewing! The most recent flow is still making its way towards the ocean, but hiking tours have resumed and a viewing station has officially opened.

Here is what the Hawaii County Civil Defense published on June 29th, 2016:

"To maintain public safety and to preserve the emergency road or Highway 130, the County of Hawai‘i will open the emergency road to lava viewing on June 30, 2016.

Lava viewing along the three mile stretch of the County’s portion of the emergency road is permitted between the hours of 3pm to 9 pm, daily. Vehicular traffic on the emergency road will be limited to local residents and emergency vehicles.

Security guards will be posted on the emergency road or Highway 130 before the entrance to Kalapana Gardens to provide lava viewing information and to direct parking. As in previous lava viewing events, visitors will be asked to park in marked areas near the end of the paved portion of Highway 130.

Again, it is approximately three (3) miles from this parking area to the end of the County portion of the emergency road, and vehicular traffic on the emergency road will be limited to local residents and emergency vehicles."

For the full press release, click here.

For those wanting to see the lava up close, please remember to plan ahead and be prepared. Wear sturdy hiking shoes, bring ample drinking water, sunscreen and at least one (1) flashlight for each individual, if going after dark.

Interested in taking a guided hike to the lava flow?   Check out Kalapana Cultural Tours  (website: ). We have personally tried their tours and highly recommend them for an up-close, but very safe experience with the lava.

Looking for the Lava?

by Kim LaPat,
Travel Editor, Emma Spencer Living

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Small-scale lava flow map, June 23, 2016, photo courtesy of USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

With the entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park just minutes from Volcano Village Lodge, most of our guests are looking for the lava! The most recent flow from Kilauea Volcano, which has been continuously erupting for more than 30 years, is located southeast of Puʻu ʻŌʻō, high on the mountainside. According to Big Island Video News, the flow is just over 3 miles long and is advancing steadily about 330 feet each day. The active flow poses no immediate threat to populated areas, and it’s still quite a distance from the ocean. Currently, the lava can only be seen via helicopter, but eventually there will be hiking and boating tours available. Although it may be tempting to try to access the lava on your own, it’s not something anyone should do without a knowledgeable and professional guide.

Meanwhile, there are excellent viewing opportunities of the bubbling and churning lava lake at Halema’uma’u crater within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. At the Jaggar Museum overlook, a daytime plume of smoke is visible, but the nighttime view is the true money shot, with the impressive glow of lava breathtakingly contrasted with the dark sky. Bring your camera!

To find up-to-the-minute reports on current lava activity and viewing opportunities, call Hawaii Volcanoes National Park at 808/985-6000 or visit the website at Then book your stay at Volcano Village Lodge, where looking for the lava is just one of the amazing and memorable things you’ll do!

Eruption Updates

Lava Lake in Halemaumau Rises to a New High

Kilauea’s summit eruption is drawing in thousands to the Volcano Village area. Since 2008, Halema’uma’u has been emitting tons of gas from a lava lake that wasn’t visible. It wasn’t until a few days ago that Pele, our fire goddess, did something spectacular… The lava level rose above previous records and is now VISIBLE from Jaggar Museum. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Avoid the crowds and stay with us! Take advantage our close location to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, a 15 minute drive to the actual viewing station to see the active, molten lava. Call us today for current promotions and availability or check online!

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Lava and Volcano Village Lodge

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By Meghan Jerolaman
Innkeeper, Volcano Village Lodge

Not surprisingly, lava has been the talk of the Island—and throughout the world—for the past few weeks. With Pu’u O’o’s June 27th flow steadily advancing upon the town of Pahoa, residents and town officials are nervous, but powerless to stop the force of nature that has always been a part of Hawaii’s culture. As Pele’s lava collides with society, we’re reminded of the unique juxtaposition of beauty and devastation that so powerfully defines the Big Island.

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What does this mean for Volcano Village Lodge and surrounding areas? Fortunately for us, the lava flow is downslope and moving towards the ocean. Here in Volcano, we are currently a 45-minute drive from the lava front. Over the past few days, the flow front has moved into a residential neighborhood, where residents have been advised to evacuate. While currently, the County of Hawaii is limiting access to residents only, upslope of Hwy 130, in the near future a viewing station should be open to the public. Meanwhile, there are several helicopter tour companies that offer aerial views of the current lava flow.

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Traffic and tourism are likely to increase in the coming weeks and months, since it’s been years since lava has been accessible by foot or car. If you’re interested in taking a last minute trip to the Big Island, be sure to book soon! Our rooms fill quickly, especially during such a momentous lava event.

All Photos are from USGS. More photos, maps, videos, and eruption updates can be found at


Update: September 15, 2014

By Meghan Jerolaman
Innkeeper, Volcano Village Lodge

The lava from the June 27th Eruption of Pu'u O'o is still moving northeast, flowing downslope towards the town of Pahoa and the ocean. This lava flow DOES NOT affect Volcano Village Lodge, Volcano, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, or Hilo.It still is NOT accessible to the public and County officials are asking the public for cooperation. While there is no immediate threat, roads are being constructed in case an evacuation is in order.

To track the lava flow and for daily updates visit

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USGS Map, September 12, 2014


Kilauea's Lava Update

By Meghan Jerolaman
Innkeeper, Volcano Village Lodge

Pu'u O'o, part of the active Kilauea has been erupting since 1983. For the past year the lava has been pretty remote and retained to one general area. However, a few months ago, a new breakout occurred on the flanks of Pu’u O’o. This time, instead of flowing downhill towards the ocean, the lava headed north and a little towards the east. Last week, USGS personnel met with County officials to explain current hazards in anticipation of the current flow.

As of now, the lava continues to move at a steady pace towards the upper region of Pahoa. If the flow continues, some homesteads may be in jeopardy. When last checked on August 27, the lava broke out into the forest about two miles from the closest house. However, lava, like most natural phenomena, is unpredictable.

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USGS Map, September 3, 2014 showing the advancement of lava.

So what does this mean for public access? Currently, there’s quite a bit of surface lava that can be seen from a helicopter. Hiking to the lava is still off limits, but this could change soon. There's also no lava flowing into the ocean at this time.

Hawaii Volcano Observatory, County of Hawaii, and other organizations are closely monitoring this breakout. For more information about the current lava conditions, visit