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A Word About “Daredevil” Lava Photos

July 18, 2013

Captivating photographs of lava taken at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and outside the park go viral through the media and Internet regularly. These images include everything from kayakers paddling onto highly hazardous lava benches with lava pouring into the sea around them, to a photographer who used an accelerant so lava would ignite his shoes and tripod. These actions are extremely risky, potentially deadly, and in the latter case, deeply offensive to many Hawaiians, who consider lava to be the physical embodiment of volcano goddess, Pele.  Poking sticks into Pele,  spraying her with chemicals, and similar actions are disrespectful to a culture deeply tied to this dynamic landscape.

While the national park does not prohibit access to the lava from Kīlauea currently pooling on the coastal plain, and periodically flowing into the ocean near its easternmost boundary, park officials remind the public to use common sense and caution when viewing and photographing lava flows. Be prepared for an extremely grueling hike, carry at least 3 quarts of water per person, wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes or hiking boots, pants, a long-sleeved shirt, gloves, hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Bring snacks and a flashlight. Always check with rangers to see what conditions are like, how far the flows are, and what closures are in place.  (Scientists at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory report that coastal flows inside the park boundary may now be inactive).

And please, remember to practice cultural respect in the park, and wherever you are in Hawai‘i.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sean King permalink
    July 18, 2013 9:50 am

    I can not agree More!!!! I live here on the BI and love Taking pictures in the Park and out on the Flow as well
    I tred lightly,never disrespect and always want my pictures to show my Love and respect for this Island, the culture and Madame Pele.
    from time to time i see the stick pokers, the litter bugs and the disrespectful . all i can do is pick up after them and ask them how they would feel if i poked their Mom with a stick and just try to teach them how to be respectful for the culture and the Land.
    Thank you for caring !!!!! Sean King

  2. Nanea permalink
    July 23, 2013 11:53 pm

    I also agree. I am dismayed by the stick poking frenzy I see on the lava flows, especially when it disturbs the beautiful natural flow of lava and the enjoyment of other onlookers. I hope that gimmicky practices like these will fall out of favor as more visitors to Hawai’i learn that they are indeed disrespectful. Flowing lava is a magical thing to behold – like a flower opening or something being born. It deserves to be met with awe and great respect.

  3. Malia permalink
    October 5, 2013 10:26 am

    I was happy to see this post and am encouraged by the way it has been received. I am a lava guide and have the great privilege to bring guests from all over the world to experience flowing lava. Most people do act respectfully when viewing lava but daredevil stunts are truly out of place there. Mahalo for bringing up this topic. – Malia

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