Stand Up Paddling near Lava – Article and Pics


Leleo Kinimaka stand up paddling near lava

Check out this article from today’s Advertiser on Reid Inouye and Leleo Kinimaka stand up paddling along the lava flow on the Big Island. That looks pretty crazy. Looks like a big old school Hawaiian hot tub.

The ocean was calm off the Big Island three weeks ago, yet that’s when Reid Inouye and Leleo Kinimaka shared their most memorable day of stand-up paddle surfing.

“It was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Kinimaka said. “I will never forget that day for the rest of my life.”

Paddling in the presence of a mythical Hawaiian goddess can be that powerful.

Inouye, Kinimaka, two photographers and others aboard a boat crew ventured off the southeast coast of the Big Island on that day. Inouye and Kinimaka rode their stand-up paddle boards in the ocean area where the current lava flow from Kilauea is spilling into the ocean.

“It was a 30-minute boat ride, then we put our boards in the water and started paddling toward (the lava),” Inouye said. “We went there to take a cover shot for a magazine … and it turned into the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

Inouye is starting a magazine for the sport of stand-up paddle surfing, and he asked Kinimaka to accompany him for the photo shoot.

The lava was flowing into the ocean at a slow pace, so Inouye and Kinimaka were able to get as close as 10 feet to the action.

“We knew anything could go wrong, and we were respectful,” Kinimaka said. “But it was incredible to see it that close. I actually saw the lava change colors as it hit the water.”

Inouye said he fell off his board and discovered the ocean was a perfect temperature.

“We knew it wasn’t a dangerous hot, or we wouldn’t be that close,” Inouye said. “When I fell in, it felt like I was in a hot tub — so relaxing. Just everything about that day was really special.”

Prior to paddling in the area, the group said a Hawaiian prayer (pule) and made an offering (ho’okupu) to the Hawaiian goddess of fire, Pele.

Kinimaka said he had made similar offerings to Pele from the land, but never before from the ocean. He lives in Kona, but grew up surfing at various spots around the Big Island.

“I would say 90 percent of the year, that area is really rough — too rough for stand-up (paddling),” Kinimaka said. “We asked Pele for permission, and I guess she was OK with it. That day, the conditions were just right for us.”

Once he got comfortable in the conditions, Kinimaka said he decided to perform a surf dance with his board for Pele.

“He was spinning his board around, doing some turns,” Inouye said.

Inouye and several others in the crew said they saw the face of Pele appear in one of the lava flows while Kinimaka was doing his surf dance.

“It truly was like she came out to watch,” Inouye said. “I’m still amazed.”

Inouye said he now has some priceless memories of that day captured in photographs and video. He said the photographs will appear in the initial issue of Standup Paddle Magazine, due out in July.

Kinimaka said it may have been a one-time session, and he would not recommend it for non-experts.

“It’s important to let people know that I went there out of respect for my ancestors, for my culture, and for Pele,” he said. “I feel good, I feel at peace with what we did. But it’s not something everyone can, or should, do.”

Reach Dayton Morinaga at

Leleo Kinimaka stand up paddling near lava

 Reid Inouye stand up paddling near lava

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2 Responses to “Stand Up Paddling near Lava – Article and Pics”

  1. Bob 1Bob

    Extraordinary experience is an understatement.

  2. Fernando 2Fernando

    Sois grandes!!! Enhorabuena. Saludos desde SPAIN.

    He colgado este artículo en mi blog.

    Gracias por vuestro tiempo.

    Fernando Labad.
    Delegado SUP de la Federación Española de Surf

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