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“Great experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Kalapana Cultural Tours

Kalapana Cultural Tours
12-5038 Kalapana-Kapoho Rd, Pahoa, Island of Hawaii, HI 96778
+1 808-936-0456
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Ranked #1 of 11 Tours & Activities in Pahoa
Certificate of Excellence 2014
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Owner description: Proud pioneers as Hawaii's FIRST LAVA TOUR COMPANY, we HIKE & BOAT to WHALES, secret WATERFALLS, hot lava up-close, volcanic craters, rare birds, lava tubes, water-caved caves, & tropical valleys. OUR MISSION is to perpetuate Hawaiian CULTURE by sharing unwritten cultural details and hidden Hawaii. Your Native Hawaiian tour guide ONLY takes you to Hawaii's most unattainable & unknown areas that very few locals even know exist. WHALE sightings are 99% success and are accompanied by WATERFALLS only accessible by boat along Hawaii's most tropical coastline in Hilo. Or hike or boat with us to HOT LAVA in our devastated hometown of Kalapana, now buried under the volcanic eruption. LA TIMES features our event, "Commemorate Kalapana," *WHY choose KCT: Our well-rounded Native Hawaiian owned and operated team is made of our family who are professional musicians of Hawaiian music with performances worldwide, practice Hawaiian fishing and hunting the Old Hawaiian way, multilingual, hold Bachelor of Arts & Masters Degrees in Hawaiian Studies, Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology, Masters Degrees in Tropical Conservation Biology, PhDs in Geology and will show you that ALOHA is more than a greeting--ALOHA is our WAY OF LIFE.
Calgary, Alberta
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Great experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 1, 2013

We hiked with two kids age's 12 and 15 years old and had no trouble at all. Yes it is long, hot and you return in the dark, but if you have water and watch where you step, it's pretty basic. Our guide didn't have a lot to say and tended to repeat himself, but he was well prepared when it came to flashlights, poncho's etc. and was a pretty nice guy. The lava itself was amazing, lots of surface flow and cool formations. The group that came with sticks shared with the kids, so they could "poke" it too, which was great. Overall, well worth the money, it's their land so if you want to get up close, pay the fee and have an amazing time! Unbelievable photos!!!!

Visited August 2013
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Kalapana_CT, Owner at Kalapana Cultural Tours, responded to this review, December 20, 2013
Kids and teens love our volcanic home (sometimes the uniqueness feels like another planet) and we think we are able to really make it fun --and safe-- for them since we all grew up here and remember running around here as kids like it was yesterday! Great to hear that your guide was well prepared with lights, ponchos and the safety essentials. We are constantly working hard on the improving as a whole including the quality information our guides provide to guests. Our family business now has weekly "workshops" with our Hawaiian elders simply to discuss the volcano, our town that the lava buried and how our elders believe we should relay this history to visitors. This helps us maintain our Hawaiian roots, have endless Hawaiian myths/legends/facts to share with guests, and ultimately, perpetuate our Hawaiian culture in a way our elders find respectable which is our business mission. Please contact us if you would like more information on the area where you hiked. Our goal is always to EXCEED your expectations. Mahalo for joining us and bringing the family! A hui hou. Sincerely, Ikaika
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155 reviews from our community

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2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“The walking lava tour was the highlight of our vacation to the Big Island!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 28, 2013

5 mile round trip over hardened lava fields. We saw stunning views of surface lava flows within a distance of only a few feet. We would recommend this tour to anyone! Be sure to check their website to check current lava flow conditions before booking. We took the 5 pm tour which made seeing the lava at night even better!

Visited August 2013
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Kalapana_CT, Owner at Kalapana Cultural Tours, responded to this review, December 20, 2013
The evening tours are my favorite also to see the sunset over the glowing lava field! Right you are that our blog (on www.kalapanaculturaltours.com) has the most current lava conditions - we work with USGS and visit the lava site wherever the lava flows daily as research to update this daily blog. It is fun to look back and see how much the lava has changed since you last took the tour also! Mahalo for joining us and aloha!
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5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
“Absolutely the best experience we had in Hawaii”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 26, 2013 via mobile

We visited the big island for 2 weeks and drove over from Kona to Pahoa to see active lave flows from Kiluea. The guides were very informative and made sure everyone on our team were comfortable during the entire hike. We had the most amazing lava viewing. Do make sure you take the last trip, later at night the views are better. We saw the ocean entry as well as surface lava flows. There was enough moon light to add to the awe inspring once in a lifetime experience. Highly recommend, must do activity when you are on the big island. You see nature at its most powerful and get to talk to the local guides and understand their culture.

Visited August 2013
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Kalapana_CT, Owner at Kalapana Cultural Tours, responded to this review, December 20, 2013
It feels so great when folks tell us that this is the best experience they had in Hawaii - or even their lifetime- because we strive to provide just that. The guides work hard to provide a safe, comfortable and hospitable experience so that you can just ENJOY our home! Our goal is to provide you with the absolute best experience by featuring the unbelievable wonder of lava while sharing our personal Hawaiian culture. Mahalo for joining us in our hale and welcoming our culture and natural surroundings with open arms! Aloha and a hui hou.
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Oxfordshire, England
Senior Contributor
27 reviews 27 reviews
10 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
92 helpful votes 92 helpful votes
“Simple - this is a must do.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 25, 2013

A few days prior to the hike I went and hiked the short 4 mile crater route at Volcanoes National Park and then went to the viewing area at night. That experience whetted my appetite to get a bit closer It was nowhere near as spectacular as this hike. If you go all the way to the Big Island you have to get up close and personal!

First off - I would absolutely not recommend coming down to the Pu'o'o uu crater and trying to 'do it yourself'. Number one it's private land, and number two if you want to see the lava in the dark, you'll be hiking in the dark. The guides we had were excellent and answered any questions about the island. There's a viewing area for the public about a gazillion miles from the lava - you will see very little.

The walk out to the lava flowing into the ocean was easy, in the daylight at a relaxed pace with a break half way. We went on the 5pm hike. They have others earlier but it's more spectacular after dark. You're given ample time here to take photos and soak it in. After this we hiked up to see some new flow - now in the dark, with flashlights. Broke my foot a few years back rolling my ankle, and rolled it a few times here but thankfully no injury - to be honest I am a bit prone to doing it. Another girl in the group who wasn't enthusiastic about all the walking hurt herself and chose not to continue but the guides sorted things out quick, passing us on to another group and slowly making his way back with the injured party. A few people stumbled but I wouldn't say it's inherently dangerous - you're walking at night on uneven ground. If that doesn't sound good, take a helicopter/boat tour.

As long as you're reasonably fit you'll be fine. There were a few ten year old kids on our tour who did it with a smile. You will be walking for four hours, but as it was night the temperature was pleasant in shorts and t-shirt. We stopped off for food but honestly we needed half of what we took. A few bottles of water is all you need and perhaps some energy bars. You won't starve out there! The hike back was a little faster paced but each time someone's torch ran out you'd stop for a bit of a breather anyway. I got chatting to a few of the other hikers and the time whizzed by.

The surface flow we hiked to was super cool. You don't have to worry about getting too close - the heat will stop you doing anything silly. It's very intense. It's just awesome to watch, an unforgettable experience.

As with anything natural, there are no guarantees so if you're on the island for a while, I would wait until you get here to book a trip, checking with your concierge about current conditions.

So, as long as you can handle a bit of a walk, I would absolutely recommend this tour. It's once in a lifetime stuff. They were very professional throughout and I always felt safe.

Visited August 2013
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Kalapana_CT, Owner at Kalapana Cultural Tours, responded to this review, December 20, 2013
Yes, we do take you as CLOSE as safely possible to flowing lava -- a completely different experience than anything in Volcanoes National Park. I see that you agree that this part of the island is simply worth touring since it is so naturally unique and packed with history and Hawaiian culture. I'm happy to hear that the hike was manageable and that you felt very safe: Our guides are very well qualified and prepared for any situation such as the rarity when someone cannot handle the hike. Since the hiking conditions change quite often (sometimes daily) we are ready for emergencies and try our best to screen guests and describe the hiking conditions before guests depart. Mahalo for joining us and aloha!!
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2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“No words to describe how awesome”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 21, 2013 via mobile

No words to describe how awesome.. We saw the flowing lava and we cooked s'mores and grilled cheese on steam vent.

The hiking was very hard. Need to wear knee/support pads, pants, gloves, hiking shoes, ankle support, all kind of support.

The bad part of the trip when we got lost going back. The tour guide who was supposed to be knowledgeable cant find the way home.

Visited August 2013
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Kalapana_CT, Owner at Kalapana Cultural Tours, responded to this review, December 20, 2013
We are happy to have provided you with a nice lava viewing experience plus the opportunity to roast grinds (food) over the natural heat! There are actually numerous trails back to home-base and the flattest & least strenuous trails tend to be longer distances, and therefore, take a longer time. The guides access the individual group's needs and decide which trail is the safest for that particular group. Your guide chose the longer trail for safety reasons and walked slower and that is why you arrived later than planned. Also, we HIGHLY stress that anyone with ankle and knee problems (among other health concerns) should not attempt the hike at all. We offer gloves to protect hands if one does happen to fall on the shark lava rock. Mahalo for joining us and much aloha!
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