During my time down in Hawaii, I had the unique opportunity to stay in an open air loft situated on the Kalapana lava field, an area that was once a town by the same name up until the early 90’s when it was wiped out by the slow moving flows that are still visible miles out. Attracted by peaceful living and affordable prices, a few dozen people and families have since come back to build simple homes knowing that new active flows could easily wipe their work out (a home was destroyed as recently as 2010). Deciding to live here might seem unusual, but after a week I was already dreaming of building a loft of my own there.

My housemate, a young German Shepard pup, helped keep stray cats and mongooses away.

An example of one of the homes. In the background are trails of steam, created by the lava and the light rain.

Lava glow, seen from the loft at night.

Being in close proximity to the active lava flows tempted me into a day long hike over the fields to see them in person, and I was a bit unprepared for how brutal the walk is. Lava rocks make short work of any shoes you bring along, and can be just about as awful against your skin if you trip. The local government discourages visitors from this, as the fields do occasionally take lives.

Signs of destruction.

Finally up close, the air gets significantly warmer as you approach.

Near the spot where the lava meets the ocean.

Hours later and safely back at home, I head out in the opposite direction to where the edge of the lava field meets the end of Highway 137. Here sits Uncle Robert’s Awa Bar, which hosts an farmers market for the local community.

The Hawaiian mixed plate was easily the best meal I had while visiting.

Locally grown papayas, bananas, and coconuts can be purchased for small fractions of the prices that we pay in the mainland.