When the Hawaiian volcano of Kilauea erupted onto the news, it was hard to avoid.

Last month the closure of the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park has cost the island $166 million, according to the National Park Service.

In spite of price cuts, hotel rooms were left empty and the heavily tourism-dependent Hawaiian economy has been despairing.

However there's one tourist attraction on the coastline which has never had better conditions for its particular brand of sightseeing.

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Thriller in the mist: Kilauea volcano lava entering the steamy Pacific at dawn. Photo / Getty
Thriller in the mist: Kilauea volcano lava entering the steamy Pacific at dawn. Photo / Getty

Lava Ocean Tours has spent the last thirty years of voyaging out to the Puna coastline to see the lava in motion.

It's a phenomenon unlike anything else on earth.

As the glowing, molten rock flows into the ocean new rocks form, spewing billowing clouds of steam. From the aluminium catamaran Lava Ocean Tours visitors can see new chunks of coastline forming before their eyes. This spectacular process is growing the island's coast by as much as 42 acres per year.

The Hawaiian island's biggest volcano has been erupting continuously since the early 80s, around the same time as the boat tours company has been operating.

What started as a fishing trip became the setting for a business idea.

"Down near the lava flow zone we noticed the fish liked to bite so naturally it was a hot spot on the weekend family fishing trip," said the company. The unique backdrop was an inspiration.

Now the company runs tours out of two catamarans. With space for up to fifty passengers the fleet were specially designed to view the lava. In this current climate, the sea is possibly the safest place from which to view the activity and areas on the Puna coastline now under threat by the flows.

The historic eruption which began in May has continued to flow, providing plenty of opportunities for tours specialising in lava viewing.

The conditions have led to "one of the largest volume flows we've ever experienced at the oceans edge," wrote Ocean Tours in a Facebook post, with pictures of huge salt-water geysers.

While Kilauea continues to cause problems for the inhabitants and other areas of the tourism industry, companies running sorties out of Hilo bay and specialist lava tours have continued to operate.

Much of the island's Lower East Rift Zone eruption remains closed to tourist traffic.

"The affected area is closed to all visitors but it is possible to see the lava either from the air (helicopter tours) or, if the lava is flowing into the ocean, from the water (lava boat tours)" advised local travel guide lovebigisland.com.

Helicopter touring company Paradise Helicopters, which assisted in the evacuation of Leilani Estates, continues to fly tours over the area. The company provides aerial views over the lava fields and the areas worst affected, and will be making donations from its proceeds "to support relief efforts serving Leilani Estates evacuees."