We decided to view the flowing lava by boat versus a guided hike (3 miles each way, ~$100/person) or by helicopter ($200/person).
It was probably the most intimate way to view the lava hitting the sea, and is certainly a unique and fascinating experience (5 stars). They get you pretty close, up to 10 feet, and it feels reasonably safe and that they have a lot of experience.
The trip out there and back was a bit bumpy but we took some precautions (my wife can get seasick). We sat in the last row (facing forward) and my wife chewed on ginger (supposed to help). It was calmer than usual conditions as well (you can check marine forecast by NWS), and the morning is supposed to be calmer than later in the day. Although most people got soaked, everyone seemed to be having a good time. The driest people were in the back left of the boat (facing outward, not forward). We brought beach towels (in plastic bags) behind our backs to make it more comfortable (they have padding for your butt).
Even though we did the sunrise tour (5 AM), the sun had almost risen by the time we got out there, so if you want lava in the dark pictures, perhaps the sunset tour is better? It still looked really cool (err, hot) in the morning light, though.
My main complaint is that this is overpriced. $175+ per person for a 2 hr boat ride shared with about 20 people seems overpriced. There was some info shared by the guide, but you have to be near him and to ask him questions. No food, water, or anything else. It was not worth $350 to us, maybe $200 max (for 2 people). In hindsight, we would not have done it given the cost. Unfortunately, there are not many options, which is probably allowing them to charge so much. Lava Roy is a small boat (we saw it out there) that looked more uncomfortable and perhaps less stable, and it's still over $150/person. Those are the only 2 main options, and I was hesitant to uncover a less known option, since an inexperienced or careless Captain could potentially be dangerous.
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