Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of fire, lightning, wind, and volcanoes. Her power still holds the imagination of people in Hawaii today as legends suggest that taking rocks from her home on the island of Hawaii will lead to bad luck. She is said to live in the very active caldera of Kilauea. The visitor's center receives a number of returned rocks each year from tourists who have challenged this myth and found themselves in a rut of poor fortune when they returned home with her piece of lava.
Poke a Stick Lava Tours offer all sorts of hikes to see the lava up close. On this particular day, the lava flow was best seen as it violently entered the peaceful Pacific Ocean. While the private tour is rather pricey, it is by far the safest way to see the volcano in action (the company is also fully insured, though everyone is required to sign a release) and the guides are knowledgeable about the area and where the best viewing locations are. Evening tours are phenomenal because the lava lights up brilliantly. Pack a lot of water and a snack or two. The seemingly easy 2.5+ miles each way becomes quite long when you are negotiating jagged lava flows.