See Active Lava
biking to an active volcano
Spending a minimum of a day in Volcano National Park is a must while on Big Island. This National Park is unlike any other becuase you get to explore the grounds of old craters, lava tubes, and see real lava from an active volcano. How many people can put that ✔️ on their BucketList? There will be more posts on Volcano National Park soon, but today is all about seeing the active lava flow into the ocean.
before you go...
Please note that this experience may not be available everyday because this is an active volcano that can be unpredictable. Massive chunks of land can fall into the ocean without warning, the lava stream can disappears and reappears overnight, and VOG can get so bad the park may close. All these are important conditions to check prior to your visit to make sure you have the most enjoyable experience.
biking to the lava hose
Big Island is full of Big experiences. From unique beaches, to 400+ foot waterfalls, it is easy to fall in love with this island. Before venturing off to Hawaii I knew that the island was home to active volcanos and the National Park, but I will be honest I had no idea you could see real life active lava in front of your very eyes. In fact I still didn't know this was possible until the end of our Chain of Craters Drive. However in order to see the lava flow into the ocean from inside the National Park, it requires a 10 mile hike. So I thought my dreams were defeated and all hope was lost until I ran into a super sweet park ranger.
By entering the lava hose on the East entrance you can rent bikes to the lookout! It is so much easier, quicker, and in my opinion, way more fun to bike than walk. The distance is still 10 miles but we biked the 5 miles to the lava in less than an hour, a task that would have taken almost 4 hours to walk. If you choose to walk you can take the West or East entrance, bikes are East only due to the lava run of 2014 on the West entracne.
There are tons of bike companies and rentals available so this adventure can be done on whim, or you can plan ahead. I called ahead a few hours before we went and had our bikes reserved and pulled to the side so when we got there we could go! We used Kaimu Rentals - who I highly recommend. For starters they just charge a flat $20 fee while other companies here make you pay per hour. We could have our bikes for as long as we wanted. They also give you a helmet, a bike lock, a bike light, first aid kit, and a card to call if you need anything (including a new bike) on your ride and they will come help you. I thought it was amazing how much you got for such a great price! Plus the staff is so friendly and helpful.
This bike ride was amazing. In 2014 an eruption sent a giant gush of magma down the mountain destroying 100's of homes and cutting off the Chain of Craters Road which used to take you to the lava hose. You bike down a large gravel path through mounds of the dried lava. It is amazing to see it in so many formations and designs. Some people have chosen to live out of small shacks, school buses and cars on top of the old lava. The ride is fairly easy and people of all ages and walks of life were attempting it. Jut pace your self, walk if you need to, and bring plenty of water!
Once you arrive at the vieing area park your bike and lock it with others in your party. Please stay within the marked areas. Going outside the roped area can be fatal as this land can crack or shift at any moment. Do not get any closer to the lava then the rope allows. The cloud may cover the lava hose but it will become visible in time.
a few tips...
- I recommend going in the day time becuase when we road back in the dark it was extremely hard to see even with the flashlight so please only attempt night viewing if you are an experienced bike rider and comfortable in the dark
- Bring lots of water and some small snacks because you will work up an appetite getting here and there is no food or water the whole way but there is a porta-potty
- Remember to have fun snap lots of pics and enjoy the moment you are standing on history
The lava hits the ocean at almost 200+ degrees causing massive steam puffs of toxic gas. These plumes are what we call VOG here in the islands and can cause very bad allergies and coughs when present in the air. There is boat services to view the lava but please sign up for these at your own risk!
It was so amazing to check seeing active lava off my bucket list here in Hawaii. Witnessing new land form in front of my eyes was an experience I will never forget! Tell me about your experience in the comments!
how to get here
Kaimu Rentals are located at the end of the dirt road at the end of Highway 30. This is about one hour from Volcano National Park toward Hilo. GPS there address above. There is a a large dirt parking lot where someone will direct you into a spot. From here you will see the various bike rental companies. Kaimu is located on the right hand side, you will see a large hand made sign!
Please do not go outside the marked barrieers and paths as this can lead to a fatal accident. Do not breath in the toxic gas and turn back if it is blowing in your face. Always check conditions before you leave. Pack proper water and snacks for the ride and and always be cautious of your surroundings.