The town of Kalapana on the Big Island of Hawaii is a haunting symbol of volcanoes’ unpredictable and destructive nature. Once a thriving community, Kalapana was buried under 30 feet of lava by the eruption of Kilauea Volcano in 1983. Today, the town is a ghostly reminder of the devastation these natural phenomena can wreak.
Despite the tragedy that befell Kalapana, the town remains a fascinating destination for visitors to Hawaii. Accessible via rough roads chiseled over the lava, exploring Kalapana on foot is an eerie experience that offers a glimpse into the power and majesty of nature.
This article will provide an overview of the location and access to Kalapana, the history of its destruction, and tips for exploring the town respectfully and informally.
- Kalapana was a town on the Big Island of Hawaii that was buried under 30 feet of lava in 1983 due to the eruption of Kilauea Volcano.
- The eruption destroyed 181 homes, historical and archeological sites, highways, community center, painted church, black sand beach, and Queens Bath, and had a profound impact on the people who lived there.
- Efforts have been made to preserve the cultural significance of Kalapana, including walking trails that allow visitors to learn about the area’s history and the eruption’s impact on the community.
- Visitors to Kalapana, Hawaii can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the resilience and cultural significance of this haunting ghost town on lava, and see the creative ways the residents have adapted to living in a town partially destroyed by a natural disaster.
Location and Access
Kalapana, a ghost town buried under 30 feet of lava by 1990, is located in the southeastern part of the Big Island of Hawaii. It can be accessed via Hwy 11 South of Hilo to Hwy 130 or Hwy 137.
However, exploring this ghost town on wheels may not be the best option as the roads are rough and chiseled over lava. Those with a regular two-wheel drive rental may find it challenging to drive on the roads, and exploring the area on foot is recommended. Sometimes, 4-wheel drive may be necessary to maneuver through the rough terrain.
Trailer living is common in Kalapana, where some residents have placed their trailers on top of the lava and trucked in dirt to fill the cracks. These residents have made the most of their situation; some have even planted coconut trees on their lava property.
Visitors can see the creative ways the residents have adapted to living in a town that a natural disaster has partially destroyed.
History and Destruction
The 1983 eruption of Kilauea Volcano was a catastrophic event that caused significant destruction to the community of Kalapana. The lava flow buried 181 homes, historical and archeological sites, and highways. The eruption also destroyed the community center and the painted church. The black sand beach and Queens Bath, part of Kalapana, were also lost to the lava flow.
The eruption significantly impacted the community, and rebuilding efforts were challenging. Despite the destruction, Kalapana remains culturally significant. The community was known for its unique blend of Hawaiian and Western cultures, and the eruption profoundly impacted the people who lived there.
Efforts have been made to preserve the cultural significance of Kalapana, including moving the painted church to a new location. The community may be a haunting ghost town, but its history and cultural significance continue to live on.
Tips for Exploring
Exploring the area on foot may be a better option for visitors with a regular two-wheel drive rental who want to experience the cultural significance of the remaining parts of the community.
Walking trails allow visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area, while also providing access to residents’ stories and experiences.
As visitors explore the trails, they can learn about the history of Kalapana and the impact of the volcanic eruption on the community.
In addition to walking trails, visitors can also take advantage of the video documentary available about the event.
This documentary provides a comprehensive overview of the eruption, its impact on the community, and the efforts to rebuild and preserve the remaining parts of Kalapana.
Whether exploring on foot or watching the documentary, visitors can gain a deeper understanding and appreciation for the resilience and cultural significance of this haunting ghost town on lava.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are there any plans to rebuild or restore Kalapana, Hawaii?
There are no current plans for restoration of Kalapana, and it is unclear if community involvement in such efforts would be feasible or desired. The focus remains on preserving the area as a natural and historical site.
How do residents cope with living on top of lava and dealing with ongoing volcanic activity?
The residents of Kalapana, living on top of lava and dealing with ongoing volcanic activity, have adapted to their challenging living conditions. However, the constant threat of destruction may impact their mental health. Despite this, they persevere and maintain a respectful relationship with the land. “Living on the edge” is an idiom that aptly describes their situation.
Are there any active lava flows in the area that visitors can see?
Visitors can view active lava flows in the area, but safety precautions must be taken due to the unpredictable nature of volcanic activity. Lava viewing options include guided tours and hiking, but visitors should follow all warnings and stay on designated paths.
Are there any guided tours or hikes available in Kalapana?
Guided tours and hiking options are available in Kalapana, allowing visitors to explore the remnants of the town buried under 30 feet of lava. These tours offer a descriptive and informative experience, showcasing the destruction caused by the eruption of Kilauea Volcano in 1983.
What is the current state of the black sand beach and Queens Bath that were once part of Kalapana?
The black sand beach and Queens Bath, once part of Kalapana, have been impacted by black sand erosion. The environmental impact has caused the beach to shrink in size, and the Queens Bath to become more dangerous due to rough waves.