Fall 2017 • 39
38 • Vacations
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
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
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
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.