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Hawaii: 'Commemorate Kalapana' tours offer close look at lava's toll

A Big Island tour operator is adding a unique offering to its lineup of tours: the sharing of the secrets of a village buried under several feet of lava.

Kalapana, a thriving fishing village, was destroyed in 1990 as red-hot lava from the still-erupting Kilauea volcano engulfed homes and businesses.

Once each month through June, Kalapana Cultural Tours will lead six-hour guided excursions across the barren wasteland of black lava rock to the spot beneath which the community is buried.

Participants will learn how residents fled as the molten lava inched toward their homes. According to the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s website, nearly 200 houses and Hawaii’s oldest heiau (temple) were consumed. Fortunately, no one died.

Kalapana was located just east of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, at the southern tip of the island.

The “Commemorate Kalapana” tours will include stories of how lives were forever altered by the active volcano. Legends of Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes, will also be shared.

The treks will start at 10 a.m. the third Friday of each month beginning Feb. 21. Tickets are $125 per person.

Info: (808) 936-0456.

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