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“The best experience of my life yet!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Ahiu Hawaii Guided Lava Tours

Ahiu Hawaii Guided Lava Tours
485 Kinoole St, Hilo, Island of Hawaii, HI 96742
+1 808-769-9453
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Ranked #11 of 59 Activities in Hilo
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Owner description: COME & SEE LAVA UP CLOSE & PERSONAL WITH EXPERIENCED HAWAII VOLCANOLOGIST! Aloha! Mahalo for choosing ‘Ahiu Hawaii for your REAL LAVA ADVENTURE!! We have two different tour times. One at 8:00am and the other at 4:00pm. The price is $155 per person, which we provide a backpack, snacks, water, headlamps, backup headlamps, gloves and also a stick to walk with but also to interact with the lava! Private tours are $195 which you decide what time you want to check in and how you would like to go about your tour. We hope you care about your safety. Cause Your safety is our #1 priority! Our tour groups are small which we never book no more than 10people per tour guide for safety and personalism. Plus all of our guides are REAL geologist/volcanologist and biologist who REALLY know what's going on about the lava and will safely get you there! The hike out is approximately an 1hr and a half. Then you'll have an hour of viewing, then the same time to walk out. So approximately 4hrs.
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3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“The best experience of my life yet!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 11, 2014

Yeah I'm glad we did this. This is by far the most challenging thing we have ever done in our lives. We had booked the morning 9AM tour. But the tall started at 11:30. But Orion what is good enough to get us some cake and coffee. We also had to wait for another group of six people to join us we finally hit the trail at about 1145. They had the backpack ready with waterbottles rain ponchos snacks and gloves. We Had to walk in deep mud swamps and slush we also had to cross lot ot obstacles like crossing over tree branches humid forest. Because we Started late we had to hike back in the dark. During our hike up the forest another guide Chris joined the group He was immensely helpful to us during our way balk into dark and prevented us from falling into the mud or Any Other mishaps. We were given a good 1.5 hours at the lava fields itself. Our guides were very enthusiastic to find lava In more than 3 places for us to see. It is more than once in a life experience. If you are young and physically fit DONT MISS THiS. Currently This is the only Company Offering tour to He lava flow by foot.

If we decide to come back to Hawaii again, we will do this hike again. Thanks for everything.

Shashi and Rohini

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Calgary, Canada
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5 reviews 5 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“Would do again (and probably will the next time I am back)”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 2, 2014

Absolutely the best thing that I did during the 2 weeks in Hawaii. The experience of being with the lava is unlike anything else that I've ever done. Totally, totally worth the money and hike.


Nevertheless and to be clear, the "hike" should not be referred to as a "hike". It gives the impression that this is just a lot of walking. It'd be more correctly labelled an endurance test. During our roughly one and a half hour visit to the lava on Dec 16th, we had t invest 3 hours of climbing over logs, under logs, up muddy hills, down muddy hills, slipping/sliding/falling/scrambling along the slippery forest floor an following the odd red ribbon here-and-there which were the only indications that we were on a "trail". There was no path except for where the mud bogs forced us to hop from log-to-log in an attempt to stay out of the thigh-deep mud and yes, there were other kinds of obstacles, we hiked through thick scratchy, humid jungle/forest.

As much as I don't believe that my experience should have been described as a "hike", other groups may have a very different time. It'd be hard to characterize what future groups may experience and what they should expect to encounter as the conditions change, sometimes unpredictably. We were told that as the lava flows/stops flowing, new trails are made to get to the best spots. Our trail was actually shorter - by almost a half an hour - than the one that had been used just a few weeks earlier. Also, if the weather had been a bit drier prior to our hike, we would have had a long walk in the forest, but without the mud, I would have described the experience as a long, but otherwise medium-intermediate level hike. The mud made it very, very, difficult.

Anyway, the hike was treacherous, but as my title indicates, the reward was well worth the effort. The first thing that we encountered when we emerged from the forest was the A'a' lava. This is the fragile, loose rock that one usually associates with volcanoes. It is incredibly light and full of bubbles. It crackles under foot and after a bit of cautious walking over this section, we soon found our way onto the more abundant, black lava rock. Full on folds and undulations it is a spectacular sight. Heat can be felt emerging from the cracks and it wasn't long before we came across an area of lava that had an almost chromium look. Shinier than the rest, this lava was very new. Red glowing portions became visible and suddenly the walking stick that helped us through the forest became our lava-testing tools for poking, stirring, stabbing and stretching out the lava. There are no words to properly describe the simultaneous sensations of the heat, sounds and the sight of molten rock. Simply fantastic.

As far as advice for any would-be adventurers, bring water, lots of water. At least 2 liters and bring along some high energy snacks. The company will provide a few items, but in our case, it wasn't enough to compensate for the difficulty of the hike.

Secondly, wear proper layers of hiking clothes. Be sure to wear some really comfortable hiking boots that can be laced-up TIGHTLY. The mud will suction off anything that is not tightly laced up.

Lastly, if you are not very fit and not accustomed to intense and prolonged exercise, do not attempt this hike. We had two people turn back after the first hour of hiking... And that was the easiest part of the hike! Remember that you are committing to at least 6 hours of intense, strenuous exercise and another hour or so of walking on the lava. Even after the drop-outs, we still had a couple of older people who were quite slow and the group had to make frequent stops to allow them to catch up. So, again, if you can't imagine hiking for 7 or 8 hours through very difficult terrain, do yourself and the others a favor and don't attempt this.

Personally, I can't wait to do this again!

Scott

Visited December 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Louisville, Colorado
Top Contributor
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21 attraction reviews
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83 helpful votes 83 helpful votes
“Awesome Experience.. Be prepared”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 27, 2013

We were the second group to hike on the new trail (Dec 11) with our guides (also their first time). We had our GPS with us and the totals are as follows:

3.4 miles in the jungle each way
1.1 other, walking across the crater, poking lava, looking for lava, etc.
Total for the day, 7.9 miles

It was a great adventure. We were warned when checking in that the lava had moved but they had a new trail that was still being developed and was rough and challenging but cut off a few miles of the jungle hike and additional hike time on the crater. Our group was given the option of the old vs. new trail and we opted for the new. The nice thing about the new trail was it wasn't very muddy (after the initial mutual portion), but it was not developed, particularly the last half mile which added to the challenge. We were behind one of the trail builders and when we caught up to him we were able to see him in action with his machete, carving out the best route. Pretty cool! There were several pits and areas we had to scramble, jump and pull ourselves up and down that are probably in much better condition now that the trail has had more use and development.

Your experience and difficulty rating really depends on your fitness level and how prepared you come. We are in our 40s and we came prepared with our personal Camelbacks, rain gear, hiking boots etc. and it made a huge difference. We really didn't find the trail as challenging as most state and part of the annoying factor was being held back and having to stay with the group.

We had a large group of 10 (five couples plus a baby, so actually 11). Yes a German woman with a baby under a year old on her back hiked this trail and kept up with pace leaders. They do have two guides so if you are in a group you will see a natural split in the beginning, the faster hikers will go ahead with one of the guides. If we had been on our own we would have powered through and made it to the crater a lot faster. On the way back, once our guide had us on the right trail and past the old trail fork, he let us go ahead and we were out of the jungle within 2 hours of leaving the crater, well before dark, which is key. The first four couples and our guide arrived sporadically within about 5-25 minutes of each other.

My only complaint was we had one young couple that were so slow the 2nd guide had to take them back alone and it took them FOUR HOURS to hike out. Everyone else had been done well under two and half hours so we all were forced to wait in the cold dark for this slow couple. It was okay for the first 45 minutes when we were changing, having a beer and trying to clean up a little but then it got really annoying and frustrating since we had no idea how long we were going to have to wait. It would have been nice if they could have taken us back to Hilo. I really don't want to complain too much (I can only imagine how the family with the baby felt, they suggested we call them but our guide said if we didn't hear anything it was actually a good sign and he didn't want to slow them down anymore) and it didn't ruin the experience but it would have been nice to be able to get back at a decent time. And it really tested everyone's patience waiting when they took another 10 minutes to try to clean-up. It was a very quiet ride back to Hilo.

When the slow couple finally finished she proclaimed this the first and last hike she would make.

So in sum if someone that has never hiked can do this hike along with a woman carrying a baby in a backpack I think anyone can technically make this hike. We weren't very sore the next day either. I also asked if people ever aborted the hike and turned back and my guide had only had that experience once but they do take two guides to handle the different skill levels and allow for a contingency plan should someone want to turn back.

I do agree with another reviewer, you can't clean-up well afterwards and I too wore capris and had mud caked all over my legs. Since I had to wait almost 4 hours to wash it off it was dried on and was painful and time consuming to remove.

I would suggest wearing nylon hiking pants to protect your legs. We wore shorts and capris and our legs were trashed. Also you won't want to keep anything you wear on this journey. I changed and threw all my clothes out and left them with the guide to toss. They were torn, stained, and destroyed. If you plan to do any hiking on the island bringing a Camelback is a tremendous help. They do provide you with a backpack full of supplies but you have to stop to take the bottle out to drink. The Camelback gave us the edge and ability to keep the pace because we were well hydrated. Also bring your own rain gear... it didn't rain for us but had it I would have been glad to have our own jackets. The ones they provide are super thin plastic bags that are ill fitting and would have ripped to shreds.

Seeing the lava itself is amazing! Fortunately our fast group had about an hour and 15 minutes to play around in it. Great to fulfill your inner child's urges.

If we do it again we will ask for a private tour so we can keep our own pace and not be put out by others. I see people complain about the cost but $160 for a once-in-a-lifetime experience is well worth it. And it is an entire day.

Also our guide Matt was awesome! He really made the day for us leading the front group and having a bunch of supplies and a few cold beers at the end. He made the waiting time pass as quickly as possible too. I can't comment on our other guide since we never really saw him.

Visited December 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Santa Rosa, California
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Reviews in 68 cities Reviews in 68 cities
150 helpful votes 150 helpful votes
“The most challenging hike of my life”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 24, 2013

This review is for the "new trail" lava hike on the north side of the volcano, which goes through a muddy jungle. This is an advanced, technical hike for active, athletic people who enjoy spending most of the day sweaty and muddy. This trail has been the only way, by foot, to see lava for the last 3-4 months, and the new portion of this trail has been open since early December. (The traditional lava hike that takes place mostly on dry lava fields is currently not available, as of fall 2013, because the south flow dried up. )

This is the most challenging, technical hike I've ever done. I am not a novice hiker either. I'm athletic (run six miles a day five days a week) and hike Yosemite once a year. Ahiu Hawaii's website doesn't fully explain the scope of this adventure, so I'll give you the down-low and tips here. It's not that you won't have a good time--if you're into spending a day in jungle-like bootcamp--you just need to be mentally and physically prepared. I was not.

The description of this being 2.5 miles or 4 miles, depending on your source within their company (employees still debating which is correct), doesn't really matter. What matters is the environment you're hiking in and the length of time it will take. This hike is two solid hours of trekking through a thick, muddy, humid jungle--and that two hours is if you are a skilled hiker and/or in good shape--followed by one hour at the lava field and then another two hours minimum back through the jungle the way you came. We were hiking in soupy mud up to our knees at times. We had to climb over fallen trees and under branches. We had to hop across small earth cracks along the trail and slide on our butts a foot to get down elevated portions of the trail. Hikers are given gloves and you'll need them to grab at trees along the way to keep you from slipping and falling. We left their office at 9:30am and didn't return to their until 6:30pm. We were told we were a very fast group. If you haven't seen lava before and you're into wet, dirty adventure, you probably think the hike was worth it. If your idea of a vacation excursion is a walk to the beach chair, this is probably not the activity for you.

If you choose to accept this mission, here are tips to make your jungle lava hike as enjoyable as possible:

1) CLOTHING -- Bring your own hiking clothing: items you would have no problem throwing away after the experience. Do not wear your fancy tennis shoes. They will mostly likely be ruined. Other hikers have complained and asked for reimbursement for shoe damage. Take some old sneakers or hiking boots that lace up tight and won't slip off in the mud. Velcro shoes will just slip off once their Velcro gets wet. If you only have one pair of sneakers for your trip, you might want to rethink wearing them or be prepared to go shopping. That's just the muddy part. The lava gets hot under your shoes and may make the soles come unglued. The guide brings duct tape to tape your shoes together to get you back. But you'll still be out a pair of shoes. (They have about a dozen pairs of used shoes you can borrow but sizes are limited.) For pants, jeans will protect your calves the best from scrapes and bruises, but the jungle is humid and your jeans will get muddy-wet from the knee down. Hiking pants are recommended, especially the kind wear you can zip off the legs (great for the end of the tour). Capris and light yoga pants will lead to scraped legs. I washed my capri-length hiking shorts and tank top as soon as we got back to our rental house, but the mud stains were permanent.

2) TIMING -- Take the morning hike so that you won't have to hike the jungle in the dark--that is unless you enjoy hiking at night with a headlamp through slick mud with the occasional tree trunk and earth crack below your feet. Also, you'll probably need to give your body 1-2 days to recover--my calves and arms were really sore the next day--so you might want to avoid booking a different excursion for the next day.

3) GEAR -- Take the walking stick when you're offered it, ladies. Don't try to be tough. You'll need it to keep from falling and to poke in the mud to find the deepest spots. Bring your own backpack if it has padding. Their backpacks are basic and don't have any padding to make the carry weight more comfortable.

4) FLUIDS -- Take both giant bottles of water you are offered, despite the backpack weight, and drink them--one out and one back. It will keep you hydrated. If you don't need to go to the bathroom in the woods at least 1-2 times, you probably aren't getting enough fluids. I drank one big bottle the whole trip, and the effects of dehydration set in later that night.

5) CLEAN UP -- Bring a gallon of water and ask to keep it in their van. (Or try to make arrangements with the guide during reservation process to bring washing water.) Use it to wash your toes, feet and legs roadside before you get back in the van. That's one of the biggest downsides to the entire experience--they offer no clean-up facilities. You are muddy, sweaty, sore and exhausted, and you have to ride in the van back to their Hilo office in your own muck. No place to clean up at their office in Hilo either. By then, the mud is caked on. It took me 15 minutes to scrub off all the mud and it hurt.

Was this review helpful? Yes 9
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Allentown, Pennsylvania
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5 reviews 5 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Best and worst experience!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 24, 2013 via mobile

This was a two-in-one experience for me, best and worst. I think no one realizes how tough this hike is until they actually do it. We were told about the knee-high mud etc. but the general expectation was that it can't be THAT BAD. Well, it is as bad as they tell you if not worse. Even the most experienced hikers had problems with it. I think the worst part of it is just wrapping your mind around the fact that you are bound to step into mud, very deep mud, no matter how hard you try not to. It's just not something you can avoid in this hike. HOWEVER, in the end, the experience is like no other you have ever had. It is extremely worth all the effort. When we went with our group, we were lucky enough to experience an EXTREME white-out. It's just a sight that you don't forget, simply amazing. The fact how close you
can get to lava is both, exhilarating and scary! In the end, I would totally recommend this hike to anyone who is willing to "get down and dirty" and is mentally prepared for extreme hiking conditions. A+ to all guides for doing these tours, it is definitely something I would not do for pleasure, once is enough for me, but those guys seem to really love what they do. Props to them!

Visited December 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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