"Experience of a lifetime! They can't guarantee lava, but we got to see it!"
Our Big Island customers frequently ask: "Will we actually see lava?" Kilauea is the world’s most active volcano, having erupted almost continuously since 1983. You will most likely see flowing lava when you fly near Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, although there is no absolute guarantee because routes vary due to weather, volcanic activity, and wind. This is mother nature and Pele, not a theme park! Depending on her mood, Pele can show us many things, and if you are lucky, you may even witness an actual surface flow.
There are two distinct types of hardened lava: A'a (pronounced ah-ah) and Pahoehoe (pronounced puh hoy hoy). Pahoehoe lava has a ropy, smooth texture, because it is hotter and more fluid than A'a when it erupts. A'a has a rougher, chunkier look, and may be spiny. All over the Big Island you can find areas of smooth, pudding like Pahoehoe and the very rough A'a.
When hot flowing lava explodes into the ocean, tiny particles of the material are carried by currents toward nearby shorelines where black-sand beaches form. From above you can see the lava steaming as it reaches the Pacific ocean, and new land is being created.