Kilauea has been erupting almost continuously since 1983, but the 2018 flow was completely different. The volcano essentially replumbed itself. The park, which had been where the action was all these decades saw the magma source cut off and diverted out onto the flank of the volcano into Lower Puna 25 miles to the east. And as the lava retreated, groundwater seeped into the hot rocks more than a thousand feet below Halema‘uma‘u Crater, flashing into steam and sending coughing fits of ash into the air from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Meanwhile, Lower Puna saw volcano fissures sending curtains of lava into the air, which ran into the ocean.

But all that seems to have ended. There are no surface flows anywhere on the island. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, battered by countless earthquakes and explosions from Halema’uma’u Crater is quiet now and reopened in September. Hwy 130 is open all the way down to the coast and along the coastline past Kehena Black Sand Beach to where lava covered the road at MacKenzie D-State Recreation Area. But Hwy 132 to the former town of Kapoho is covered over with lava and blocked.

Hawaii Volcano Update

Whether lava is flowing in liquid form or not, this island is made from the stuff and the results of millions of lava flows are something that needs to be on your bucket list.  Here is only a taste of some of the lava features you can see whether the volcano is flowing or not.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was closed when it got rocked by over 6,000 earthquakes in the summer of 2018 but they are open now and, though large swaths of it are still closed, parts are open and more will be opening over time.

Halema‘uma‘u Crater is still a raw wound. This is the very heart of Kilauea and you can’t say you’ve been to the volcano unless you come here. Steam vents not far from the visitor center.

The volcanic eruption in 2018 covered over lots of highways. Want to see what that looks like? Venture to MacKenzie State Recreation Area where the lava flowed right over the highway and into the ocean. You can even see the remodeled (courtesy of the eruption) Isaac Hale Beach Park. The most recent flow cut this beach off from the rest of the world with cooled lava on both sides, but they have since added a road over the new lava rock. The whole bay is a brand new black sand beach.

Kalapana is a town destroyed by the volcano in the 1990s and the tiny portion that remains holds the excellent Uncle Robert’s Market twice a week. You can also stroll to the black sand beach that replaced the old coconut-filled beach and see the new trees that have been planted by the community in their place.

To get real-time Hawaii volcano updates and more information about the volcano lava and the incredible story of how the eruption ended in 2018, check out the free chapter in our Hawaii Revealed app

Volcano lava flow 


See Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s website for a list of specific closures.

Hawaii Volcano Lava Map 2019

Big Island Lava Flow

Hawaii Volcano Eruption 2018

An Except from our blog on Hawaii Lava 2018 – Read the full blog.

News reports on the volcanic eruption have done a good job of capturing the world’s attention, but some important details are still being left out. While we don’t know the full extent of how this will directly affect the Big Island, most of what is happening is restricted to a relatively small area–the volcano crater, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the neighboring town of (the appropriately named) Volcano Village, and the southeastern part of the island known as the Puna district (i.e. where the lava is). Everywhere else in the state, from South Point to Hawi, Kona to Hilo, Honoka‘a to Waimea, is not directly impacted by the eruption. Businesses are open, air travel continues as scheduled, and people are going about their vacations across the Big Island and the rest of the state. We have received a lot of messages from readers that are afraid they’ll need to cancel their upcoming Hawaiian vacations. Although Hawai‘i is facing some challenges at the moment, it is still safe to travel to and we encourage everyone to keep their travel plans in place.

Read the full blog.

Big Island Hawaii Lava Flows Map

The Big Island is made up of five volcanoes. Kohala in the north is the oldest. Next came Mauna Kea, Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and finally Kilauea. None of them are truly dead, but only Mauna Loa and Kilauea make regular appearances, with an occasional walk-on by Hualalai. Nearly the size of Connecticut, the Big Island’s 4,000 square miles can easily hold all of the other Hawaiian Islands combined. And it’s the only state in the union that can get bigger every year (thanks to Kilauea’s land-making machine).

See the Big Island Hawaii Lava Flows Map here. You can also read more about Big Island Hawaii volcano at this link.

Frequently asked questions about Volcano Eruption

Is there a volcano erupting in Hawaii right now?

No. Since the very first edition of our Big Island guidebook, we’ve always had a section on how to hike to flowing lava and we know our existing readers will be looking for this. But Kilauea ended its 35-year flow in 2018 with great fanfare and there is no telling when Madame Pele will reappear.

The 2018 eruption covered over lots of highway. Want to see what that looks like? Venture to MacKenzie State Recreation Area where the lava flowed right over the highway and into the ocean. You can even see the remodeled (courtesy of the eruption) Isaac Hale Beach Park. The most recent flow cut this beach off from the rest of the world with cooled lava on both sides, but they have since added a road over the new lava rock. The whole bay is a brand new black sand beach.

What areas of Hawaii have been affected by the volcano?

Lava began erupting on May 3, 2018 from Leilani Estates, a residential area below the intersection of Highways 130 and 132 in Puna. It ran for over 3 months and caused major damage and disruptions. The lava has stopped now but everything past Pahoa on Hwy 132 is not accessible until further notice. However, Hwy 130 from Pahoa leading to Kaimu, Kalapana is open and Highway 137 along the coast is open to Kehena Black Sand Beach, ultimately stopping at MacKenzie State Recreation Area.

What was the last volcano to erupt in Hawaii?

Historically (meaning since 1778), most Hawaiian eruptions have lasted days or weeks, rarely months. Until 1983, only once—from 1969–1974 at Mauna Ulu—has an eruption outside the crater lasted more than a year. All that changed Jan. 3, 1983, when a fissure opened up in a place later called Pu‘u ‘O‘o, shifted to a vent called Kupaianaha from 1986 to 1992, then shifted back toward Pu‘u ‘O‘o until 2018.

Kilauea started its eruption in 1983, but rather than apocalyptic explosions, the volcano mostly drooled and dribbled. Prior to its explosion in 2018, it has exploded on a large scale only twice in recorded history, once in 1790 and once in 1924. (There is evidence that it may have exploded more often in the distant past.) These eruptions are phreatomagmatic, meaning steam-induced (but you knew that).

Lava Volcano


The lava flow is currently about half way between the park side access and the county side access. It’s slightly closer to the county side. The easiest access to the lava flows is to take the newly scraped lava road 3 miles (each way) to where the lava is flowing. Unfortunately, the road was paid for by the Federal Emergency Management Agency when lava was threatening another area. Since FEMA carved the road for a different purpose, federal bureaucrats didn’t want you to walk on it, and the park officials were in the unenviable position of being the killjoy enforcers for FEMA’s ridiculous policy. Common sense has now prevailed and you’re allowed to walk on it. Bring plenty of water because it’s hot where you’re going.

Hawaii The Big Island Revealed: The Ultimate Guidebook

8th Edition

“Hawaii The Big Island Revealed” is the #1 best-selling guide to everything there is to see and do on The Big Island. Author Andrew Doughty’s engaging and humorous writing style makes planning your visit almost as fun as it is to go explore pristine reefs and secluded beaches, stand on a mountaintop above the clouds, and marvel at fumes billowing out of an active volcano. The guidebook is full of candid, anonymous reviews about which businesses are best—and which to avoid. No advertisements. The 8th edition includes more restaurants, new hikes and new adventures, including (for the first time ever) where to swim with dolphins in the wild. Don’t waste time searching through hundreds of online reviews—order today.

Smartphone and Tablet app

Hawaii Revealed app is the perfect companion to the book, or you can use it as a stand-alone app. You’ll still get all of the relevant content, plus updates with the most current information. The GPS feature works even when you don’t have a signal, making it easy to find secluded beaches or hike to flowing lava. Works on iOS and Android devices. Download and preview free information about Hawaiian culture, hotels, activities, restaurants and more for all four islands. When you’re ready for even more, use the in-app purchases to gain full access to every detail. Download Now!

  • High-resolution specially designed interactive map with pinch-to-zoom detail
  • Map works without a cell signal or data roaming charges
  • Geo accurate hiking trails, beach access paths and points of interest
  • “Search” lets you quickly find guidebook entries
  • “Map It” button lets you locate guidebook entries on the map
  • “Locate” finds and tracks your current position on the map
  • “Favorites” lets you keep track of what you want to see and do