East Berlin, Pennsylvania
April 29, 2006
Kalapana is located in the Puna District - a gorgeous section of Hawaii that is jungle in many areas and partially developed in others. This area is still in danger of lava flows. See it now before this entry is outdated!
One note: not ALL the locals like tourists here... usually nothing BAD happens, but if folks don't appear friendly, don't push the issue. This is the only area we encountered that was "iffy" in this aspect on the Big Island. Some folks just want to keep their beauty and paradise to themselves. Others were as welcoming as any other area. There are supposedly some awesome snorkeling spots along here. We didn't get to see them this time, but WILL be back someday...
For a pretty drive, head from Volcano up to Kea'au (or Hilo down) and start on Rt 130 south. If you're in a hurry, stay on 130. If you have time, switch to Rt 132 and take the scenic route. You're simply driving and enjoying the natural beauty. If you have more time, stop and see some of the beaches. We did, and encountered the "iffy" part... so opted to drive.
Your destination—well, OUR destination was seeing the end of Chain of Craters Road from the other side where the lava destroyed Kalapana (the village, beach, etc). This is at the end of 130, follow the signs. You reach an area where the road appears to end, but a bulldozed path has been made. There's a sign saying "resident's only" but our guidebook claimed otherwise. We weren't sure, but then saw real estate ads encouraging folks to go past the signs to look at lots so we figured it MUST be ok. We drove up on to the lava...
The road goes like this for a few miles, on lava, off lava, back on "real" road, then more lava. It's unreal and really cool. The real estate ads were correct... there ARE lots for sale out there - priced at $14,500 when we were there. I'm not so sure it's a great investment, but wow, what an awesome souvenir for those who have money to spare, isn't it? For just over 14K you have a pretty decent chunk of relatively new rock (created in 1990) and few neighbors (at this point). No lawn to mow either.
Keep going till it ends. Along the way you CAN see some signs left of the destruction, along with a couple houses the lava didn't touch but rendered inaccessible. You can also hike at night to see the lava at times from here, though when we were there the views were better from the National Park side. Beware though, this is no theme park. Your safety out on the lava depends on you.
From journal Hawaii Vacation: The Adventure Continues