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Vacations® •

Fall 2017 • 39

38 • Vacations

®

Fall 2017

Rare, dangerous and spectacular – what’s not to love

about lava? Writer Max Anderson takes his twin boys to

Hawaii for a red-hot encounter

On the

Hunt

for

Lava

in

Hawaii

By Max Anderson

Ultimate Family Vacations

“As we’d learned in Bishop

Museum, we’re witnessing

the Earth renewing. Hawaii’s

islands are a long chain of

extinct volcanoes”

A HANDFUL OF BLACK VOLCANIC SAND

LAVA STREAM OF KILAUEA VOLCANO AT DUSK

AERIAL VIEW OF VOLCANIC ROCK KAUAI

HALEAKALA VOLCANO ON MAUI ISLAND

KILAUEA CALDERA VOLCANO ON THE BIG ISLAND HAWAII

If your twin 13-year-old boys are anything like mine, they

won’t want to go to Bishop Museum in Honolulu to see sacred

sculptures and portraits of dead Hawaiian royals. They’ll want

to see only one thing.

LAVA. If you’re anything like me, you’ll threaten your

13-year-old boys that they will go to Bishop Museum or else

lose surfing privileges. But luckily for all, the state museum

has a new science display where Hawaii’s volcanic legacy is

demonstrated daily.

Behind a chain mesh curtain, a man in a silver fire suit attends

to a crucible of rock that has been in a furnace for five hours.

He tips out a small slick of livid orange treacle. This impresses

the boys, especially when it quickly cools and shatters into

shards of black obsidian.

If lava is hard to make in a museum, it’s even more difficult to

see au naturel. There are active volcanoes all over the globe,

but lava breaches the surface very rarely – and usually with

such violence that no one has any time for selfies.

Enter Kilauea, an active volcano on the easternmost island

which is confusingly called Hawaii, (and more often referred

to as ‘Big Island’). Kilauea is one of only half a dozen

volcanoes in the world where lava reliably shows, plus it’s

sedate and (reasonably) accessible.