Lava is beautiful to look at, but from a safe distance.
You're headed for Hawaii's Big Island, so all you're packing is a bathing suit, shorts, a sarong or pareu, and some sandals, right? Auwe! (Oh no!) Not if you're hoping to view the Kilauea lava flow, a fiery river of molten rock.
Lava lovers will want to spend an entire day exploring the 333,000-acre Volcanoes National Park. But save the hike to the flow for late afternoon. By day, the lava's ashy crust and milky smoke obscure the drama. In the dusk, you'll see the lava shape-shifting into slithery red rivulets and fierce orange eyes that stare from the darkness.
However, the nighttime hike back can be treacherous. You'll need boots, long pants, gloves, flashlight, walking stick, and water. For a safe, informative tour, sign up with Arnott's Lodge in Hilo. Information: (808) 969-7097, www.arnottslodge.com, www.nps.gov/havo.
Illustration by Michael Klein
This article was first published in May 2005. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.