Question - Visiting the Big Island to View the Lava Flow

Viewing the Kilauea Lava Flow

We received this question by email:

I’m interested in the best way to travel to see the lava flows?  We would fly out of Seattle.

1) Is it best to fly to Honolulu and then drive, or continue on to a different flight destination? (If it’s more than a three hour drive from Honolulu, I’d prefer to fly if that’s an option.)

2) Also, in what town near the lava flows would we stay overnight?


Dave B.



Dave, unfortunately, if you are flying to Honolulu (the island of Oahu) to view the Kilauea lava flow — you are headed to the wrong island!  The active lava flow from the Kilauea Volcano is located on the Big Island of Hawaii (not on the island of Oahu).

That said, if you are coming from Seattle, you will need to fly to Honolulu, then take an inter-island flight to the Big Island (either the airport at Keahole Kona or Hilo).  The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is located about 45 minutes outside of Hilo - so the closest airport is the Hilo Airport.  However, many visitors will stay over in Kona (about 2.5 hours from the Volcano Park) because of the preponderance of mega-resorts and plentiful beaches on the Kohala Coast.

If you plan on staying late at the Volcanoes National Park (i.e. past dusk) and the 2.5 hour drive back to Kona doesn’t sound appetizing, we recommend checking into one of many hotels in Hilo.  The next morning, you can hit one of several black sand beaches in the area as well.

Enjoy your trip!

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Hawaii Activities


  1. Sindi says:

    Planning trip in summer of 2013 and would like to know which island besides Maui has any similar sea caves to the one at the black sand beach in Maui. It needs to be somewhat accessible as the one in Maui. Hope someone can answer this one quickly so I can start to plan our trip. I see there are some caves on web sites but you have to kayak to them and I am deathly afraid of going out in the water.

    • letsgo-hawaii says:


      Unfortunately, I am unfamiliar with the sea cave in Maui that you mention… The sea caves on the Big Island (near Honaunau and Keauhou Bay) are all only accessible via ocean craft (kayak, zodiac boat tour, etc.) Are you opposed to a boat tour such as on a zodiac or other small water craft? If you are adverse to this, then my next recommendation is probably out of the question… The island of Kauai’s na pali coast is spectacular, rugged, and also has several dramatic caves - only accessible from the ocean.

      On the Big Island, there is a large lava tube (underground cavern) that you can visit - not exactly a sea cave, but still quite amazing. Check out the tour provider for this trip on their official website.

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