Lava Ocean Tours Inc
Lava Ocean Tours Inc
4.5
Adrenaline & Extreme ToursBoat ToursEco ToursNature & Wildlife Tours
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Monday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Tuesday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Wednesday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Thursday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Friday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Saturday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM
Sunday
7:00 AM - 9:00 PM

Most Recent: Reviews ordered by most recent publish date in descending order.

Detailed Reviews: Reviews ordered by recency and descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as wait time, length of visit, general tips, and location information.


4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles1,290 reviews
Excellent
998
Very good
122
Average
42
Poor
21
Terrible
107

Fred V
Mesa, AZ17 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Couples
Outstanding time! Shane knows his stuff and is truly a class act. He made us laugh many times. When he says your gonna get wet, it's no joke! Everything in Hawaii is expensive, this is a front row seat to main event. We did sunrise tour, seeing the glow from far away is impressive. Bring a change of underwear for the ride back. Thanks Shane 👍😁👍
Written August 22, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Diane O
Fair Oaks, CA1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2013 • Family
We decided to book a trip with this company after our Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tour. From the vantage point of the aircraft we could easily see lava enteriing into the sea over 1/2 mile of the coastline. While we loved the helicopter tour it left us wanting a closer and more intimate look at the lava - and we could clearly tell it was deffinitely entering the ocean during our stay. I decided to look at the reviews on this site after we got back from our trip. I didn't bother with the positive reviews since I already knew our experience was so awesome, but was curious about the most negative reviews. What I read was fairly entertaining. To be fair, this trip isn't for everyone. There are all kinds of people in the world and no tour operator is going to be able to make everyone happy. However, I think some of the negative reviews are a little dramatic, and certainly embellished. Anyone that has been coddled their whole life, or never been out on the ocean, or lacks the gene in their body that makes them a little bit of a risk taker should stay away from this trip. It is not a controlled walk in the park. The three main complaints from the one star ratings seem to be as follows: 1) Ocean Conditons are rough and the ride to the site is hell. 2) No lava is hitting the ocean and the trip is a rip off for the price since it doesnt always deliver on seeing actual lava. 3) These guys are Mavericks, operate from a parking lot near bathrooms and are going to get you killed. Overall, here is my advice if you want to book this trip. Regarding #1, tough it out or try to cancel way in advance if ocean conditons are expected to be rough. Dope yourself up on dramamine or bonnine and wear a rain poncho and cover your camera for the boat ride - don't come unprepared. Yes- the ocean on this side is famous for being rough, but these guys can't control the sea and they make no secret of the rough conditions. In addition what might seem unreasonable to you in regards to surf/swell conditions is a fairly regular occurrence to them and they don't see it the same way as you do when going out. Our ride was bumpy and rough, and we got wet, but that is the way it is unless you are lucky enough to get a rare weather day on the Hilo side where everything is totally calm. People's predictions that wave heights are 20 feet are completely embellished. If you want to see the lava, the boat ride is part of the package, so deal with it and prepare for it . Regarding #2, yes I think the trip isn't worth it if no lava is reaching the ocean. As far as the glow of the distant crater from the ocean, save yourself the money and drive to the overlook at the Jagger Museum within Volcano National Park to get a up close and personal look at a glowing volcano. Rather than asking the tour operator about lava flows, my suggestion for determining lava flow is take it into your own hands by either driving chain of craters road and looking for the steam plumes off the shoreline so you know lava is hitting the sea, or better yet take a helicoper tour first from the air the day before and confirm it, or if you aren't loaded with cash, call one of helicopter tours and see if you can find out from a pilot that flew that day, or day before if they saw any lava hitting the ocean. They fly several tours per day and always have up to the hour reports on conditions. When we booked, we knew there was a ton of lava dumping in the sea because we saw it with our own eyes - and we had to get there to be part of it! Regarding #3, Yes, these guys are a little Maverick and I don't think sympathy is their strong point when someone needs a bathroom or is puking over the side. Forget their bedside manner, because they are there for one simple task - put you on the lava if its there. They deffinitly put us up close and personal to the lava - within 20-30 feet of some break outs, but they make an effort to position the boat to avoid the steam and gas whenever possible. If you are worried about the fumes bring a mask or something. These guys do it every day and they are still alive, but that gas may be toxic. We took our chances, and were barely exposed to it from what we could tell. You can see the wind blowing it away from you in most cases, but sometimes it does shift. You can feel the heat of the lava on your face and that was the experience we were looking for. A lot of the negative reviews claim your life is in danger due to fumes, explosions, cliff collapses and so on, or chastise the captain for not handling out life jackets (which they have) etc., but my assumption is you are probably in more danger driving back to your hotel then being caught in the freak lava explosion or sleeper wave that sinks the boat. Personally for us, we didn't want the sterilized white washed version of the trip were we are looking at lava from 200 yards away behind yellow caution tape and being read a prepared statement by a state employee. We wanted a close up and personal experience with the lava, and we got it in its full glory. So, this trip is amazing - and was the highlight of our trip to the big island. If the lava is hitting the sea and you and your family are tough enough get up at Zero Dark Thirty and watch it as the sun comes up - do it becasue its mind blowing. Also, by the way, thank god they pick you up in the parking lot and don't depart from the Hilo harbor. If they did, all the complainers would get an extra 30 minute rough boat ride. I find it amusing that some reviews rip the company for launching at the closest site to the lava. What are they thinking? I would much rather launch closer to the lava from a parking lot than boat for an extra half hour in the dark from a marina. Regarding our specific trip, we took the morning trip and left Volcano at 2:45 am. We met at 4:30 a.m. at the lot next to the ramp. We are a family of four with a 5 year old girl and and an 8 year old boy. (our kids are used to getting up early and off shore fishing and don't get seasick, so we knew before hand there was no issue with swells or sea sickness). We brought our own life jackets for them which we made them wear the whole time. As adults, we elected not to wear one of the ship's life jackets even though it was pointed out where they were stored. The boat is really nice even if it does lack a bathroom, its not a piece of junk as some of the reviews state and it has a lot of safey railing, is covered and sits 2 to a bench. If you are prone to sea sickness take medicine for it and sit towards the back. Those negative reviewers are overly dramatic about being exposed to getting killed and are out of touch with reality. I read the company's rebuttals and they are rational and well founded in nearly every case. There were also a couple of couples in their 80's on board and they toughed out the ride, wore rain slickers and loved the trip and seeing the lava. We were back at the ramp by 8:00 am. Good luck with your camera - they take horrible pictures in low light on a bobbing ship. A tripod doesnt help. Either bring a fast lens and tune up your shutter speed or wait for better lighting as the sun comes up. THe I phone actually took pretty cool video and pics! If this trip is available and your not a whiner and complainer book it because its one of the coolest things you will ever do.
Written January 26, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

D B
Vancouver, Canada3 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2014 • Solo
I joined the 7:00 a.m. departure on May 7, 2014 and had a fantastic day that exceeded my expectations. Our guide (Aaron) was very enthusiastic, positive and a great guy to spend the day with. We saw several lava breakouts in numerous areas over the recent flows. If you can handle a muddy, 2.5 hour hike one way over pretty gentle terrain you will not be disappointed! My tip is to wear solid shoes (hiking boots best) and just accept that your feet will get wet, your pants will get muddy so just plod striaght through the puddles.

Here's what I did not like -- volcano politics. As a tourist you should understand that your dollars are a sought-after commodity that the lava community competes for. This is my second trip to the Big Island and last time (2 years ago) I settled for a helicopter tour of the lava flows. This time I was determined to see the lava on the ground so I did quite a bit of research to get the story straight. Know that the volcano is a dynamic natural phenomena and the volcanic activity shifts irregularly such that much of the advertising messaging is out of date. The best example is the Lava Ocean Tours own website and ads that are widespread in the free tourist magazines. The image of the boat in front of the lava flowing into the ocean is completely misleading since this has not happened for more than two years!!! In spite of this, they still offer lava tours by boat (some Trip Advisor comments record the disappointment of travelers who went by the picture and didn't read the fine print).

The reality of the trip I took yesterday is that Lava Ocean did not operate the tour. They act as a referral agent to Epic Lava Tours (they are on Facebook and will have a website soon) who are the people who actually take people on the hikes. The owners of Epic Lava Tours live at the trail head and the active lava is on state forest reserve land south of their properties. So my positive comments are really owed to Epic Lava and if they had a Trip Advisor I would give THEM five stars.

More on the politics. The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has this to say (May 6, 2014):

"The eruption of Kīlauea continues at two vents. One at the summit of Kīlauea within Halema‘uma‘u Crater and the other on the east rift zone, 10 miles east of the summit. Flowing lava is not accessible by foot or by car. No lava is flowing into or towards the ocean."

Clearly this is wrong because I walked a few miles into the jungle myself and saw lots of flowing lava. So why do the supposed experts on the volcano not want you, the tourist, to know that private operators will take you to the active lava? Beats me, but my guess is that they don't want to divert visitors away from the park.

The helicopter operators may be even more unscrupulous. I heard stories of tourists being told (very recently) that the lava is "...flowing into the ocean so come on out for a flight." I got this line myself two years ago but while in the air the story was, "oh well, I guess it isn't happening today so bad luck for you."

I understand that people need to make a living, but misleading visitors of this fine island who are willing, in good faith, to pay significant amounts of money for a unique experience is unforgivable in my opinion.

Good luck to the new players in this game -- Epic Lava Tours. They seem honest, genuine and enthusiastic. I hope the lava continues to flow In their backyard.
Written May 9, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.
Mahalo for your review DB glad to hear you had a great hike with us. Since 2006 when we first commercialized the lava tours we've maintained a mission to assist the public in accessing the best views of the active eruption possible at any given time. Hopefully you understand the volcano/lava is ever changing and as a responsible operator we do our best to offer the public the change to witness the special natural occurrence. Due to these changes we are constantly updating our departure points and trails in order to get you the closest & safest route to the active lava flows. When you contract Lava Ocean Tours you can be assured to receive a high level tour whether by land or sea by an experienced team of guides & captains. As you can see on our website the first paragraph explains the current activity of the lava which has not entered the sea since August 2013. As for Lava Boat Tours they have not been available since August 2013 we operate similar boat tours aka our Volcano Boat Tours but inform our clients there is no ocean entry of the lava to be seen. As in most company's we are a multifaceted organization who employs qualified guides the particular tour you were on was operated as our Epic Lava Tour which is the current tour due to the location and length of tour. Aaron is one of our lava guides who works in conjunction with us to provide you the best lava experience possible.
Written May 12, 2014
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Falconfixer86261
Indianapolis114 contributions
2.0 of 5 bubbles
Oct 2013 • Friends
We originally booked our night time ocean lava tour in August of 2013. In September we got a weird e-mail stating that some of the tours had been canceled and we should contact them. When we called they acted like we were crazy for calling and said the early morning cruises were cancelled but not the night ones and that our trip was still on. Once we got to Hawaii I heard that the lava wasn't flowing into the ocean anymore so I called LOT and asked about it. They said conditions changed every night and on some night there wasn't a lot of lava flowing. They said our tour was still on. I did some more research and found out that the lava tube supplying the flow to the ocean had collapsed in September and the lava was five miles from the coast. Sometime after our purchase they renamed the tour to a night time volcano tour. We got our money back after applying considerable pressure because the tour we bought was called a lava tour. Had we not cancelled I'm sure we would have cruised around the island in the dark and not even seen a glimmer of red. We flew over the volcano in a helicopter the next day and it was obvious we would have seen zero lava. It just wasn't there. And they knew that would be the case. If you buy this tour make sure to find out if lava is entering the ocean and if it isn't be sure you follow their cancellation policy or you wont get your money back. We feel like they had opportunities to tell us what was going on but would have rather just disappointed people instead of being open about the situation. I'm sorry they built a business on mother nature - but that's the risk.
Written October 26, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

puritan9
Boston, MA8 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Very dangerous! They were told by officials to stay about 300 yards away and got to 10 to 15 feet from the lava where we could have had a bench collapse. We were also right in the hydrocloric acid, although they said the dangerous gases were on the top and the botton gases were safe. (Hydrocloric gas stays in your lungs and can lead to cancer.) They also had children on board breathing in the hydrocloric acid.

I have no idea why they are allowed to do this. They lie to you and only want your money. Keep away! I am very sorry I went.
Written October 12, 2009
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

DFromShanghai
Shanghai, China26 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2017 • Family
The operator still makes you believe that this will be a life changing experience, while in fact they knew that there is no lava flowing for weeks now.

I fully understand that nature can’t be controlled and that the operator wants to earn money, but at the same time, they should make it very clear during the booking that the lava isn’t flowing at the moment. E.g. by entering the last date of „having seen lava flow“, then people can judge for themselves.

The way it presented itself today, felt like a rip-off and me and my three girls all went back to Kona highly disappointed, since this was one of the unique Hawaii attractions we came to see.

I know, we could have educated ourselves a little bit in advance, but this is also what I would expect from a responsible tour operator. Therefore the lowest scoring.
Written December 26, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Gunnel M
Sweden43 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2013 • Couples
I cannot recommend this tour to anyone. It is dangerous and not safe at all and it left me with a very sad and bad memory – a severely and permanently injured back. We went on the early morning tour and it was black as in a sack and one of the first surfs was so high and steep and the landing on my back was harder than anything I ever experienced. I completed the tour however but with pains that was beyond what I have ever had before in my life. At the hospital I was diagnosed with a vertebral compression fracture on one of the vertebraes (one inch) which furthermore has caused paralytic symptoms from the nerves involved. I was on sick leave and put on strong painkillers (morfin) for several weeks and still, five months after the tour, I need different painkilling treatments every day to have a reasonable life. The pain affect my life quality and has intruded on my work and social life with friends and family.
Before leaving the shore I signed a paper to ensure that I, among other things, did not have any spinal problems. I didn’t have any problem to sign that as I have always had a very strong back. I have never ever had any problems at all. When the accident happened I was in very good shape, strong and well trained. I have been training for as long as I can remember, so I know my body and its limits – and it has never, ever been my back. Me and my husband are furthermore experienced mountain hikers and used to extreme hardships spending weeks in for example the Nordic wilderness with all what it takes of rough terrain and hard weather conditions.
The service level from the crew at the boat was furthermore nil – or below if that is possible. After the accident had happened, I asked for a glass of water to swallow an aspirin that I had brought, the assistant at the boat gave me the water but threw a rude comment directly in my face like “what are you doing on this boat if you have a bad back”. No one in the crew ever returned to ask how I felt. Of course, that shouldn’t have helped my injured back – but I would have felt that they at least cared a little about their passengers.
Written August 17, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

ddpaulbubbin
1st Arr. - Louvre, France42 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Dec 2012 • Couples
My wife and I signed up for the hike component that Lava Ocean Adventures offers. We met our "guide," Jake at 4 am at the end of route 130. He was on-time, which was nice. We followed him beyond the "limited access" sign and parked in a driveway to a house that they have worked some arrangement with. Jake was a 24 year old nice guy, but he certainly was not knowledgeable about the situation that he (and Shane and Lava Ocean Adventures) are putting people in.

Jake had head-lamps for us, which was great. But that's where anything positive ended. The hike out was treacherous. You can only see maybe 5 feet in front of you given the darkness, and you're walking on rocky, craggly, crevice-laden terrain. Think hiking on giant Cap't Crunch, though extremely sharp. We hiked for maybe 2 hours. Jake didn't have a path he was following; rather he was following the lava glow.

As we got close to the ocean where the lava was pouring in, he led us on a route where we were walking over "skylights." In other words, you look down and there were cracks between your feet, with red lava flowing underneath. We were walking on top of a lava tube. While that might sound cool, we subsequently found out from a park ranger at Volcano National Park that walking over skylights is extremely dangerous, as they can give way at any time. My wife and I were instinctively nervous and we told Jake to get us off the skylights. He poo-pooed our concerns, saying that the lava rock on top of the skylights was solid. I'll take what the schooled park ranger at the VNP said over what the 24 year old surfer said. (By the way, I'm not faulting Jake in any way; he didn't know better and was a nice guy. And I don't think he knows how dangerous these tours are.)

Since we wanted off the skylights, Jake took us on a route that was probably 25 to 50 feet from the ocean cliff, on super craggy and rocky terrain. We were petrified and told him that we wanted to turn back. He mocked us slightly and said that nobody ever said that. But he acquiesced and found a tamer route to see the lava flowing into the sea. Thankfully our instincts were correct because in addition to easily tripping in the dark on the lava rocks and sliding down the cliff to our death, the VNP ranger told us that those ledges often collapse into the sea.

Thereafter we made our way to lava flows that were a little inland. We were able to go right up to them and poke a stick in them. Pretty cool stuff. Though we found out later that the lava, along with the rain water and sea water, can be dangerously toxic. Some tours provide their patrons with gas masks, come to find out.

Shame on us for taking such stupid risks. But the website looks legit. Shame on Shane and his crew for trying to make a buck on unsuspecting tourists while putting them at serious risk. It's shocking that the Hawaii Department of Tourism allows these places to operate. Which reminds me: They claim that they are permitted to bring people across private property, but that seems very sketchy as well. But as said above, once we learned how dangerous the whole thing was, hiking across private property was the least of my concerns.

The boating tour sounds decent and safe. But the hiking tour should be shut down. We were so horrifed by the whole experience, particularly after speaking with the VNP ranger, that I intend to send this review to the Hawaii Department of Tourism.
Written December 16, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

breoni
Topeka, KS768 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Feb 2013 • Couples
My hubby and I were on the Big Island this month celebrating our wedding anniversary. Coming back from an incredible snorkel tour this morning on the Fair Winds, another tourist mentioned the lava tours. So, we called the Lava Ocean Tours (also known as Lava Ocean Adventures, seelava.com) ... and this is where our problems began.

We talked to a young man who gave us availability for a tour. I started giving him our contact information, and then he asked for our weight. The man told us that since we weighed over 250 lbs., we were going to have to pay an additional $50 each. We asked the young man why, and he snarkily said that it was what his boss told him to say. When I mentioned that it could be considered discrimination, the employee said that "larger people are more of a liability" for them and that "larger people break bones more easily." We didn’t want to miss this opportunity, even though we felt extremely insulted. Because this employee already had all of our contact and payment information, we proceeded to book the more-expensive seats. BUT… then the employee said that there were now no seats left. I asked the employee to have his manager call us back, and the kid gave me all sorts of excuses.

Surprisingly, the Captain did call us back a few minutes later and explained that his staff was very overworked and that they had people flying in from all over the world to see the lava... and we explained that we were two of those people, as well. I attempted to tell him about what I was told earlier so he could better train his staff, but he had no interest in learning what was told to us. He said "that was in the past, but I can try to help you now."

So, we again asked for availability, and found out that there were actually still seats available. Then we were told that there wouldn't be an extra $50, that we would now have to pay for a total of FOUR FULL-PRICED seats for the two of us. He then rambled on about how that they are cost-guard rated and have to log every passenger and that is was the Coast Guard's regulations that they were following. (Which is NOT true… the Coast Guard doesn’t set his prices or his policies). He also mentioned something about having to get a different ladder for us, but then offered to sell us a kids package on top of the adult package... which was now the FOURTH price quoted for these seats. At this point, we were completely disgusted and felt like we were dealing with a less-than-honest company, and we simply said that we would pass. I also called my credit card company, since they had all my information, to make sure that they didn’t try to process any charges (they haven’t as of yet).
Luckily, this story has a happy ending… we called the Blue Hawaiian helicopter tours, booked a wonderful flight and saw amazing lava! Our pilot, Jeremy, was fantastic. This company also had a weight limitation, but Blue Hawaiian handled it so professionally and with such dignity. I would recommend Blue Hawaiian to everyone, and I would warn everyone to stay away from Lava Ocean Tours / Lava Ocean Adventures.
Written February 22, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Samantha T
Rochester, MN34 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Mar 2012
My mom and I went on the sunset 5pm lava boat tour in March, 2012. We would not recommend you go on this tour. While the website does not lie, we think it advisable to tell you it does not tell you the whole truth either. In all fairness, the company was easy to work with over the phone and was professional in person. However, the boat tour was not as advertised. The trip itself will be exceptionally wild and bumpy. You do not need to have any prior back or neck injuries to become injured on this boat ride- it is that jarring each time the boat slams down on the waves. During our tour, it was raining heavily and the waves were massive. While the boat captain seemed to have good control of the ship, it was miserable the entire time and we were freezing. You will get SOAKED from head to toe despite wearing rain jackets and ponchos. The second half of the trip was completely in the dark and rain which made it overwhelmingly scary and we were litterally praying the entire way back to make it back safely and without injury. Because it was dark and we could not see the shoreline or horizon, my mom became very sea sick despite the dramamine. I am not a boat captain so I cannot say with certainty that the conditions were not safe to go out in. However, the conditions were not good enough to have an enjoyable time and we felt like the company took us out anyway instead of cancelling to avoid losing our money. Last, but not least, we DID NOT SEE ANY ACTIVE LAVA OR STEAM- and they could have told us the chances were next to slim when we booked but they did not. Do not take this boat tour.
Written March 20, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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Lava Ocean Tours Inc - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (2024)

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