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“Amazing Tour, Worth every penny!”

Big Island Outfitters
Ranked #29 of 43 Tours in Hilo
Attraction details
Level 4 Contributor
29 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Amazing Tour, Worth every penny!”
Reviewed February 17, 2013

First off, the one bad review was from someone who asked around if there was lava flowing in the Volcanoes National Park... this tour is not in the park... his loss for not taking this tour.

What we did:

My father and I took this tour on the 2nd week of December 2012 and it was one of the most memorable experiences I've ever had. We met up around 3:30AM and hiked to the lava fields. We got to the lava while it was still dark, so we were able to take really cool photos at night and also of the lava and us standing in front of it when it got light out. Chris was so much fun to hang out with. He lets you play with the lava, poke it with sticks (in my case fling it too) but also makes sure that you are safe. We also did lava surfing (standing on a cooled piece of lava riding on top of molten flowing lava), which lasts about 1-2 seconds if you can bear the heat.

Chris is a really laid back guy and knows a lot about Lava, the island and its history. He's also very opinionated about current events, politics and conspiracy theories.

About the Hike:

The hike is about 3 miles each way and it's over lots of dips and rises and large cracks. The lava field is very uneven because the lava flows underneath and then breaks up from underneath, causing the top layer to crack upwards like small hills. The top layer of cooled lava gives you lots of friction so it's hard to slip, however it is almost like very tiny glass shards in some cases (you will hear it crunch underneath your feet), so you don't want to fall. I picked up a piece just to look at it and noticed i had small pin pricks that started bleeding... that's how sharp it is!

What to bring:

Wear shorts, t-shirt and some good hiking shoes (boots not necessary). Bring lots of water, some snacks or food, rain jacket, hat, sun screen, camera and extra batteries because you'll want to take lots of video. When you are hiking back, it will get hot if it's sunny and not raining. Chris provides walking sticks, hats with lights on them and even had toilet paper (i would suggest to bring some of your own just in case) and also juice when we got back to the cars.

I would also suggest some skin lotion, being around the lava where it's incredibly hot will dry your skin, especially your legs and face when the wind blows across the molten lava right at you.

This was such a memorable trip that if I go back to Hawaii, I would like to do this again with some other friends and will definitely be relying on Chris' services.

Visited December 2012
2 Thank janding
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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33 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Santa Cruz, California
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed December 21, 2012

Wow... Meet up at 3:30 am in the middle of nowhere?. mile marker 21? OK.. Ill be there!..
Suggest to bring good and comfortable hiking shoes. In a backpack, carry 2 liters of water per person, sunglasses, sunscreen, hat, light rain jacket, snacks, TP (and zip baggie for that if you are particular),

Chris will provide you with a well seasoned walking stick and a headlamp to help you find your way and a fruit juice afterwards is quickly gone. He carries a pack w. a first aid kit. and talks story the whole way. He will answer any question you have.

He guides you in the pitch dark directly up to flowing lava, you cant get any closer than this folks. its amazing to feel the heat under your shoes, up your legs to your face...I could not stop saying Holy Moly as I was just truly amazed at what was under my feet.. earth being formed.

I would have loved to see more, but honestly, I don't think I could have walked much further. We did 3 miles (the same as the review before mine)..I am very athletic in nature, but the unsure steps in the wee early dark morning hour on lava that is either super solid, super pebbly, or slabs cracked w. a half a foot opening that you can not see...,WATCH where you are walking and keep on eye on the crew if they get ahead.(I was slower than the rest.. my feet were aching on the way back)

Chris gets really excited about being there and encourages, you to explore on your own. Sometimes, he will take his pack off and put it on the colder lava area, so you can explore. I suggest to carry your pack all the time.. that way you have whatever you need.. and you dont need to BACKTRACK to get your things over hot lava... carry it.. your feet want that, trust me.

I have heard others say that they will just go on their own. I would have NEVER just gone out there and tried to find Lava without a guide leading me in and out to safety... its WAY further than it looks and the landscape is unpredictable, rough and discouraging at times.. I would highly suggest getting up EARLY to make this venture w/ Chris. Seeing the glow get closer and closer.. and to see the sunrise while lava is flowing.. priceless.

I had a great time. and to save space.. I ditto the last comment too...Knowledgeable and friendly. you will be done before noon... GO and USE this OUTFITTER!!

Visited December 2012
1 Thank Tiff H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Northmead, New South Wales, Australia
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Unique experience”
Reviewed December 20, 2012

My boyfriend and I did this tour this morning after I read the reviews right here on trip advisor. It sounded like a great off the beaten track type of tour and he and I were keen to get in on the volcano action the big island has to offer but try something a bit different rather than your stock standard helicopter tour. We found it with Big Island Outfitters, you will not find this brochure at your hotels concierge.

Our tour guide Chris was fantastic! The hike starts promptly at 3.30am where you meet Chris out in the middle of no where. He provides the essential gear, does a safety briefing you sign your waiver and then you're off!
You walk in the dark for a while only being able to see the shoes of the person in front of you & Chris talks to you about the land and guides you carefully towards the glowing red of the magma and the excitement starts to set in. Once you make it to the hot spots where the magma is Chris allows you to explore the area at your own leisure while he himself explores and takes photos. We stayed around the one area until the sun came up which in Chris's opinion is the best time to take photo's of the magma. You get so close you can feel the heat on your face it was just awesome. We sat and all chatted while watching the sun come up then made our way back. The hike was about 2.5 miles each way on uneven lava rocks so be sure to prepare yourself for some rough terrain.

The Pro's
Chris is awesome. He's a local and has been hiking in that area since he was a kid. He has a great knowledge of the area, the island history and also has a degree in anthropology so the guy knows what he's talking about.

This was an intimate and unique experience. Our group consisted of 4 people and our guide Chris & he literally makes up the trail as we go depending on where the most action on the mountain is.

Although it starts at 3.30am it finishes around 9.30 so you are free to spend the rest of the day doing whatever you like

You can pay cash once the tour is done

The Con's
I read the 1 bad review in relation to the lack of professionalism and communication. After being on several tours these past few weeks I will admit that this is the case BUT this is only apparent due to the fact that most people are used to more structure provided by tour companies as they are dealing with large scale tours with a high volume of people. Chris is a local guy who runs small tours, in true Hawaiin fashion he is a super laid back chilled out guy so do not be put off by his nonchalance. When you are sitting on the side of the road at 3.30am wondering if he will show up or not trust me he will and it will be AMAZING!!!!

There is no food provided on this tour so bring snacks as you will probably get hungry.
Ladies bring toilet paper and prepare yourself to get reacquainted with squatting

Visited December 2012
1 Thank Renee L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Anchorage, Alaska
1 review
“Amazing Experience!”
Reviewed December 16, 2012

When I talked to Chris the day before going out, I thought we must be crazy. We're paying some guy $150 to go for a hike, and I have to get up at 3AM? I'm from Alaska, I don't pay to go hiking. Well, I have to say it was worth every penny. I'd have paid 5 times that much. Not only was this one of the most amazing things I've ever seen, but hiking around with Chris was great too. He's an anthropologist, and is from Hawaii, so he's a wealth of knowledge and a very interesting guy. If you're into molten rock from the center of the earth, you'll love it!

Visited November 2012
Thank shane c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ambler, Pennsylvania
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Up close and personal with lava”
Reviewed November 20, 2012

Chris Arruda is the man! We went on a lava tour with him at 3:30 am a few days ago in a group of 6. He was on time for our meeting and brought us head lamps and juice. The magma was about a 3.5 mile hike (one way) over old lava fields, but it was totally worth it! Chris grew up in the very spot where the lava is and has a lot of experience getting around with lots of stories to tell from his past. He will take you right up to the magma and let you spend hours poking it with sticks, taking pictures, making pots out of molten hot magma, and even surf magma if you get the chance! He is as enthusiastic and excited as you are to see the magma. This is the best experience you will ever have!

P.S. Have no fear-- mile marker 21 is the last mile marker before the lava flow of the past and is just a convenient spot for Chris to meet you!

Visited November 2012
2 Thank jesicams
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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