The Hawaiian chain of islands are relatively young, with the Big Island's land mass still growing. Lava fields are fascinating proof of just how young the Hawaiian Islands are. Hawaii is filled with some incredible lava field hikes. Lava fields, however, are also an extremely harsh terrain and hikers should be well prepared before attempting a hike across lava.
Keawanaku Beach Hike, Maui
The hike to Keawanaku Beach begins at the parking lot to La Perouse Bay and takes you along the King's Highway Trail to a secluded black and white sand beach that is accessible only via this trail or by boat. The trail will take you southeast and through a wire fence before taking you back inland through a massive lava field. Eventually you will come across vegetation (the first you will see in a while), which lets you know to look for the spur trail leading back toward the ocean and the beach. The terrain consists of fist-sized chunks of lava that can be unstable and will cut up your shoes if you are not wearing proper hiking boots. Additionally, there is very little shade along this hike, which is two miles each way.
Kilauea, located at Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island, is well known for its active volcano. Visitors can hike up to see the lava flow, but the location that you hike to will depend on which direction the lava is flowing that day. The park will have the most current updates in regards to eruptions and the directions of lava flow. The best time to see the lava flow is after dark when you can witness the orange glow of the lava. Remember to bring a flashlight with you when hiking after dark. You may also consider bringing a hiking stick or pole because the terrain is uneven.
Waianapanapa State Park, Maui
This trail begins at Waianapanapa State Park, near Hana. The hike can be as short as 30 minutes or as long as several hours depending on your preference. If you follow along the coast to the right you will come across breathtaking scenery featuring impressive black sand beaches and pounding ocean. About 30 minutes into your hike you will arrive at a Heiau, which is a Hawaiian temple. From this point, you will find yourself traversing on rocky lava that is less than 500 years old. The trail ends at Hana Bay and is a total of seven miles round-trip. While there is a great deal of breathtaking scenery--some of which will take you along the edge of a cliff--if you plan to hike the full seven miles, make sure to wear good shoes and bring plenty of water.
Article Written By Shiromi Nassreen
Shiromi Nassreen has been writing professionally since 2005. She specializes in travel and outdoor topics, and her articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including "DISfunkshion Magazine" and Matador Travel. Nassreen holds a Bachelor of Arts in theatre studies from Rose Bruford College of Speech & Drama.