The Hawaiian Islands were created over millions of years as they moved over a hot spot under the ocean. The oldest islands have disappeared back under the
ocean. On the Big Island, the newest of the chain, fresh lava can be seen in many areas. Eastern Hawaii is the newest. The Hawaiians call smooth, traversable lava "pahoehoe",
and rough, cindery lava "a'a". Both kinds abound in the Kapoho area.
Some fifty years ago, fountains of lava destroyed old Kapoho town and flowed out into the sea, adding new land. This flow can best be experienced by looking across or traversing the new land between Cape Kamukahi Light House and Kapoho Beach Lots. A rough road paralleling the ocean from the Light House to Kapoho Beach traverses the area (high clearance vehicle required).
Approached through a tunnel of trees, this park offers a short, paved hike through tropical vegetation dotted with standing tubes of lava tree molds (where flowing lava wrapped around trees). An interesting, scenic walk. Bring mosquito repellent.
The Park is located between Kapoho and Pahoa near milepost 2 on Highway 132.
Kalapana and Active Lava Flow!
Only 50% of tourists return, so bring your mother-in-law! (Just kidding.)
Lava has flowed off and on since the 1980s, destroying homes and even whole communities, roads, Volcanoes National Park facilites, historic sites, and the famed Kalapana Beach. A visit to the area is well worthwhile and you may even be able to see an active flow (hike required, tours available). The lava flow is near Kalapana, past the south end of Highway 130 (what's left of it). Wear good shoes and bring a flashlight.
Kalapana is 13 miles from Kapoho at the south end of Highway 137 (Kapoho-Kalapana Road). This is a good place to see interesting lava formations. At the end of the road there is a path through the flow to a beach (no swimming). Also there is Uncle Robert's, a property left untouched by the flow, where you can find vendors and something to eat. Wednesdays, beginning at 5 p.m., Uncle Robert's offers live music, lots of dinner possibilities from vendors, arts and crafts, spirits, and dancing. The evening is very popular with tourist and locals alike.
The Park visitor facilities and Kilauea Crater are a 40-mile drive from Kapoho, just past the town of Volcano on Highway 11. Park roads and facilities nearer Kapoho, on the northwest side of the Park, were destroyed by lava flows. Certain parts of the park may be closed due to current lava activity.