You want a quick answer? Sorry, the answer is constantly changing.
As we mention all over this site, the volcano is active. That means that it is moving and hard to pin down. You might see photos from a friend who saw lava flowing into the ocean a month ago, but now it is nowhere to be seen.
This is why a volcano tour is the best way to view the volcanoes. Tours will take you to see the sights in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Then the guide will use his contacts to find where you have the best chance of seeing lava.
Sometimes it is best viewed from inside the National Park. Sometimes it is by the shore in Kalapana. Sometimes it can only be seen from helicopters. Some days you can’t see lava anywhere you look.
The key to an enjoyable visit to the Big Island volcanoes is to go for the volcanoes and consider any sighting of lava as a bonus. If you’re whole purpose is to see lava, you could be setting yourself up for disappointment.
If you insist that lava is your focus, then a helicopter tour has the best chance of seeing lava. The pilots search for lava and communicate where the sighting is the best. When you get close, you can actually feel the heat from inside the helicopter.
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