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Kilauea Lava Fields
Get up close to oozing hot lava from Kilauea

Kilauea Lava Fields

Kilauea is an active volcano located on the southern side of Hawaii’s Big Island that had been continuously erupting in an unspectacular way for decades. In 2018 Pele, the goddess of volcanoes decided to put on a badass show for the entire world to watch as the volcano erupted massive jets of steam, gas, and oozed rivers of 2,000-degree molten lava through the eastern rift zone.

The lava fields directly to the south of Kilauea are a popular destination to explore when the volcano isn’t doing explosive volcano things. The county’s designated viewing area is relatively safe for tourists and keeps visitors pretty far away from everything dangerous (and pretty). You’ll need a good camera and zoom lens to get pictures where the lava meets the ocean.

The chances of serious injury (and worse) are very high. Use extreme caution; the terrain is awful, hazardous gasses are always a threat, and there’s freaking lava.

In late 2017 when I visited, Kilauea was actively erupting, so I embarked on an epic journey through the lava fields, outside of the county-marked area where there are no paths, no lights, and no signs.

You’re literally on your own; you have to find your way there and back. The most important thing that you must fully understand is that you have to be prepared to take this on; bring adequate water/food and multiple flashlights (headlamps are the best) with lots of extra batteries.  If you get caught there after dark without a flashlight – you can’t see your hand in front of your face.

The 15-mile round-trip hike through uneven terrain covered in razor-sharp volcanic glass, jagged pumice, and deep crevasses means every step is a chance to injure yourself. For 2+ hours, you’ll jump from rock to rock and in and out of old lava trenches making your way deep into the lava fields.

There’s no guarantee you’ll find flowing lava, but you’ll know when you’re close.  An intense heat emanating from the ground is your first sign you’re in the vicinity of magma. Once you can visibly see lava (no matter the distance)  – the heat intensifies dramatically – similar to opening your oven door while it’s on broil.

Interested in visiting Kilauea Lava Fields? Travel Blogger and author of DESTINATIONS UNKNOWN Sean Brown has compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help make your trip a breeze.

What is the closest airport to Kilauea?

Hilo International Airport (IATA: ITO) is the closest airport to the Lava fields, however it can also be reached via Kona International Airport (IATA: KOA) with a 90 minute drive.

What is the local currency at Kilauea?

United States Dollar (USD) is the local currency. The park is free, however parking is not.

When is the best time to visit Kilauea?

Daytime is stupid busy with idiots everywhere. The park rangers stay past dark but if you’re stuck in the lava fields, they’ll wait to find you in the morning.

Kilauea Lava Fields

12-7845-12-7861 Kalapana Kapoho Beach Rd Pāhoa, HI 96778

Latitude: 19.351867

Longitude: -155.010845


Official Website:


World traveler, travel blogger and sarcastic genius. Masters degree in blanket fort engineering and double minor in Netflix and nachos.