The public now has a safe way to view the Puna lava flow up close.
Hawaii County Civil Defense opened public access to the Pahoa transfer station Wednesday morning, where visitors can see lava that has now cooled.
People can walk the station grounds and along Apaa Street up to the flow, officials said. The flow itself and nearby private property remains restricted.
“Because the surface of the flow presents many trip hazards, a lot of cracks, a lot of unstable ground on the flow itself, the access will be limited to just the safe walking areas, which is the pavement and road shoulders and not actually the lava itself,” said civil defense administrator Darryl Oliveira.
About 60 cars came through within the first three hours, and emergency officials say the viewing has gone pretty smoothly so far.
“The flow of traffic, everything has been working well,” Oliveira said.
“I’m a lava nut and it’s really intriguing to see what’s been such a mystery for us for so long,” said resident Kimball Trump. “Since October, we haven’t been able to see the lava and to come and see the actual event here is very significant and interesting. It’s exciting.”
“I’m at awe to see what’s happened over here. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life,” said Hawaiian Beaches resident Melvin Borges. “I come here every week to dump rubbish and I can’t believe what’s happened.”
Viewing hours are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Civil defense, private security and volunteers are all helping to monitor and educate visitors.
“I was surprised. I expected they would ask about the new lava flow, but what they’re talking about instead is they just want to know the nature of this lava, how it inflated, whether or not the utility pole protection worked, which it did,” said educational specialist Darcy Bevens.
Parking is available along Apaa Street and buses are allowed to drop off passengers at the transfer station.