Watching an active lava flow, seeing the fire and water come together in the rawest form had always been a travel dream of mine. Naturally, when I read that the famous episode 61g had started flowing again, and flowing into the Pacific, I had to be there. Fortunately, it had been consistent for a few days in April, 2017. Hence, I took off to Hawai’i or the Big Island with red hot hopes.
The only active ocean flow was happening near Kalapana, on the west coast of the island. There are quite a few different perspectives you can get of the active flow: hiking, getting up-close in a boat, or an aerial tour. With recently proposed regulations by the U.S. coast guard, I was skeptical about the safety standards of these boats. But one thing was sure – I wanted to get a closer peak at the elements coming together.
There are only a couple of boat operators in the region: and how close you get to the core flow depends on which captain is taking you out. I was fortunate (or otherwise depending on your perspective) to be with an audacious captain. After 30 mins of setting out from the boat launch in Isaac Hale Beach Park, the first sight of the steaming lava flow appeared in the distance. As we got closer, the sulphurous smell got stronger and the flowing lava started becoming more apparent. With every minute, we got closer and closer to the flow – and eventually dangerously close enough that the lava heated ocean water filled the floor of the boat, and the boat completely engulfed in the gaseous steam. But he seemed to be in control.
The venting steam from the volcanic steam, the glowing red active lava flowing into the ocean, the wild pacific – it was a powerful. spectacle. As the lava would cool down upon contact with water, parts of it would solidify immediately, small pieces of it would splinter in all directions. I switched between merely observing my surroundings to clicking-away furiously, trying to protect my camera all the while.
If you are in Hawai’i, I highly recommend checking out this amazing display of nature’s elements, and see the island constantly reshaping itself. They don’t get better than this.
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