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“Unique but overpriced” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Lava Ocean Tours, Inc

Lava Ocean Tours, Inc
Isaac Hale Beach Park, Wailoa Small Boat Harbor, Pahoa, Island of Hawaii, HI 96778
+1 808-966-4200
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Ranked #6 of 18 Activities in Pahoa
Type: Tours, Adventure
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Owner description: In 2006 Lava Ocean Tours became the first licensed lava ocean tour company & soon after began offering lava hikes. Our Hawaii Lava Tours & Volcano tours take you to see the current eruption on the Kilauea Volcano. Whether lava is flowing on the land or sea we will get you to the closet viewing point safely possible. Lava Ocean Tours,INC offers exclusive tours to boat or hike to access to East Hawaii's pristine Volcanic Coastline. Tours include Lava Boat Tours, Guided Lava Hikes, Volcano Boat Tours, Waterfall & Wildlife Tours, Charter Fishing, SCUBA Diving and Private Tours.
San Diego, California
Top Contributor
53 reviews 53 reviews
19 attraction reviews
Reviews in 48 cities Reviews in 48 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
“Unique but overpriced”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2013

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.

Visited April 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LavaOcean, Manager at Lava Ocean Tours, Inc, responded to this review, June 4, 2013
When compared to your other options you'll find the our tour is very fair prices and the only US Coast Guard inspected multi passenger vessel operating tours out to see the lava flows. Our tours range between $125-$175 depending on tour and time of year. Helicopters start at $165 for a 45 minute flight. Hiking tours are $100-$150. Most of our competitors operate fishing vessels or LavaRoy uses a inflatable zodiac type vessel no comparison to our Aluminum twin hulled catamaran. When we first started our operation in 2007 on our 22ft fishing boat the tour was $200 per passenger now we boat you in much more comfortable boat for a cheaper price. Please consider this is not a one person show we have 3 crew at the dock, a reservation call center, and a maintenance team to keep us on the water let alone the costs of doing business. No fly by night operation here...
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English first
Saint Louis, Missouri
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
12 attraction reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Exhilarating experience!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 1, 2013

What a ride! The ocean was a little rough on our Sunrise Lava tour, but it was well worth it. We saw volumes of lava flowing into the ocean! The waves hitting the lava sizzled, and sent sprays of lava chunks and lava sand into the air. An unforgettable experience!

Visited April 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LavaOcean, Manager at Lava Ocean Tours, Inc, responded to this review, June 4, 2013
Hard to beat seeing the spectacle of lava entering the ocean a trip of a lifetime. Mahalo for your business
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Vienna, Austria
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Words fail me”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 30, 2013

Read the following e-Mail, which I sent to Lava Ocean Adventures on March 4th, and you will know why I'm warning against booking at this company. I did not even get an e-mail-answer, not even a "kiss my backside" ... Words fail me, regarding such practices...

Dear Sirs and Madams,

unfortunately you did not answer to my e-mail from Wednesday, January 30th, 2013. Thus I am a little bit disappointed and will hope that you will keep your promise and give us the promised refund.

We booked the Lava Ocean Tour, but on the tour-day (Dec. 12, 2012) there was very rough sea with a lot of huge waves. So the tour guide told us (at the tour briefing half an hour before tour start) that we need not join the tour if we are afraid oft he rough sea and that it is possible to cancel the tour and to receive a 90% refund (10% processing fee). We cancelled the tour and did not board the boat and we did also not make use of another date.

Well, you charged my credit card accound with $ 350.00, but until now I did not receive any refund. Please be so kind and fix that situation and refund me $ 315.00.

Thank you very much and kind regards from Vienna,
Günter & Tina

Visited December 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LavaOcean, Manager at Lava Ocean Tours, Inc, responded to this review, June 4, 2013
Customer did not read & understand that tour was an extreme adventure in rough water after Captains briefing they decided to cancel. Even though they were cancelling at the dock well inside of our cancellation policy we extended them a %90 refund which they were issued.
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San Francisco, California
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“A recent tour with lava ocean adventure”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed April 29, 2013

What you need to know!!!

1. First of all, this tour is overpriced for the service you are getting and by the way very poor service.

2. This tour indicated it’s about 2 hr... you will actually spend no more than 20 minutes watching the lava and it is extremely spectacular. One hour and half (round trip) just getting there.

3. We did the twilight tour after sunset. The captain told us not to use our flash light in the camera because he got distracted.. so now all my pictures are blurry because "the captain is distracted". If we knew this we would not have booked the tour and wasted our money.

4. The water in that area is extremely rough and high waves. I totally understand no one can control the ocean but at least you need to know that before you book. Why? because they won’t tell you.


Your best option is to hike and if you know the land you can do it for free.
I am extremely disappointed.

Visited April 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LavaOcean, Manager at Lava Ocean Tours, Inc, responded to this review, June 4, 2013
The tours was one of our discounted tours so quite a bargain considering the type of tour were talking about is hiring a captain to take you out to enjoy the raw beauty of the lava in complete darkness in one of Hawaii's most remote ocean areas. 20- 30 minutes is actually time spent at lava depending on travel time most passengers begin to feel ill if at the lava area for more then 30-40 minutes due to the slow rocking nature of our seas. Blinded is different then distracted, captain informed passengers that if flashes remained off he would be able to get closer to the active flows the bright lights from camera flashes blind both captain and other passengers from viewing the flows. If passengers want to u their flashes captain stated he would stay a distance of 1/2 mile vs 100 yards for safety purposes. It is no secret that the east side of Hawaii is rough but we do not operate our twilight tours accept when conditions are calmer then usual and for this reason they are only booked a day or 2 in advance. Good luck getting the view from land you get from the boat!
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Quebec City, Canada
Top Contributor
52 reviews 52 reviews
45 attraction reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
“An experience of a lifetime !”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 27, 2013

Wow ! Wow ! and Wow ! One of the best experiences in my life ! We are in a boat, about 400 feet from the lava flow entering in the ocean ! Spectacular. Felt very safe all the time. Do not miss that ! Worth every penny !

Visited April 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LavaOcean, Manager at Lava Ocean Tours, Inc, responded to this review, June 4, 2013
The right tour for the right people, after decades of boating to see the lava & 7 years of commercially offering sightseeing tours its always great taking passengers to experience the exciting lava flows bursting into the sea glad we could make your trip the lava a special memory
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