If you want to experience a piece of original Hawaii, you should not miss a visit to the former fishing town of Kalapana. In 1990, lava from the Kilauea volcano buried Kalapana and the famous black sand beach of Kaimu. Pele, Hawaii's fire goddess, also destroyed the oldest Hawaiian heiau (temple), two housing developments, and several miles of interstate highway. There were no deaths, but over 180 houses were engulfed by the lava. Today, a completely new coastal strip has been created here, which in some places is still painfully reminiscent of the once thriving city. Kaimua Black Sand Beach, with its fine sand and magnificent coconut trees, was considered one of the most beautiful beaches of all the islands, and the residents miss it very much. So they planted palm trees again on the new coastline to create a new beach. A visit to Kalapana reveals in a sobering way the destructive power of nature. The inhabitants, however, deal calmly with the whims of Pele. They feel like visitors on Pele's land. Now and then she takes it again and the inhabitants have to cope with it. During eruptions, when houses fall victim to the lava, everyone sticks together and helps each other.
From Pahoa, take Highway 130 south, which meets Highway 137. At the end of the road you reach the few remaining houses of the fishing town.
When lava runs down the slopes of the Royal Gardens Subdivision and flows into the sea, it's one of the most exciting experiences on the Big Island. And relatively safe. Nowhere else in the world can you be so close to the forces of nature. If you don't dare to go alone, you can book a Guided Lava Tour with the residents. The "Kalapana Cultural Tours" offer tours on foot or by boat and can be booked at Kalapana Village Cafe, or Uncle Awa's Bar. The residents are very knowledgeable about lava and will guide adventurous people equipped with GPS into the active areas. However, the last lava flows in the Kalapana area percolated in 2010. When Pele will send her lava flows towards the sea again to fight with her sister Namaka (goddess of the sea) is not known. It can and probably will happen again and again. But even without active lava, a visit is definitely recommended. The residents also offer other cultural tours, such as to MacKenzie State Park and the like.
Due to the largest fissure eruption in Leilani in 2018, this region is highly recommended to all volcano enthusiasts.
Visitors on foot must strictly observe all warnings and are not allowed to leave the designated areas for safety reasons. New lava shores are unsafe terrain and could slide into the sea at any time. There is also a risk of lava gases escaping. This dangerous chemical reaction of hydrochloric acid and seawater occurs when extremely hot lava hits the sea (ocean entries), causing the water to boil in seconds and evaporate again in plumes of white smoke. Since it is difficult to predict where and how fast the lava will continue to flow, the area can be closed at any time.