Kalapana was a very special place to visit. I remember when I first visited this quaint little village, beautiful black sand beach and friendly people in 1979. I remember being so excited to visit this beautiful black sand beach for the 1st time. We were headed for the beach and passed the little white church and stopped at the little store for some snacks and drinks. We parked in the parking lot and I could not wait to get out and finally feel the dark black sand between my toes. This black sand beach was the largest and most beautiful black sand beach in Hawaii.
The shores lined with coconut palm trees that swayed in the tropical breeze. This beautiful town and beach were located at the end of the Chain of Craters Road. If visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, you could exit through another gate and continue on the road to Kalapana. The people living in this quaint, picturesque little fishing village knew they lived below a looming volcano. This area was a very tropical area and there was a riverbed that came down the mountain through Volcanic rock to meet the ocean. This was called the Queen’s Bath.
In early times only the queen was allowed to bath in the cool fresh water within the “ Lava Tub”. When I was there, local children were playing in the bath. I only wish I had taken more photos of this beautiful beach and town. On November 27, 1989, Madame Pele, with all of her might caused a violent eruption from within Kilauea. Massive amounts of lava poured from the bowels of Kilauea and flowed toward the town of Kalapana. All of the people living in Kalapana, as well as other Hawaiians came together to save the beloved historical Star Of The Sea Church. With the help of the Islanders the church was moved to a safe location and spared from Pele’s wrath.
The lava continued to flow from April through December 1990. The lava flowed rapidly and relentlessly down the Pulama Pali, destroying everything in it’s path. Entire neighborhood subdivisions were wiped out. Entering Kalapana, the lava engulfed cars, homes, palm trees, the Queen’s Bath and the beautiful black sand beach. Everything in the path of the lava was GONE!
House engulfed in Lava
There a few homes that the lava seemed to miss. It headed toward the homes and at the last minute changed course. There are a handful of people still living in these homes today . They have no water, or power.
Today the beach is nothing but a barren lava field. You can hike across this lava field and see what is left of this beautiful beach.
At night red hot lava can still be seen entering the ocean
Many Hawaiians who have grown up swimming at this beautiful black sand beach have planted palm trees where the beautiful palms and beach once were. These trees were planted in remembrance of this beautiful shore and that one day future generations can enjoy this area as well.
Kalapana may be gone, but the memories of the people that have been there will live forever!
Copyright 2007 Discover-Oahu.com