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“Worst tour! It was a waste of time and money...”
Review of Vavoom Volcano Tours - CLOSED

Vavoom Volcano Tours
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Attraction details
Owner description: Vavoom Volcano Tours has been providing fun and educational tours of Volcanoes National Park, Rainbow Falls, Akaka Falls and visits to other popular spots in the Hilo area such as the Mauna Loa Mac Nut Farm since 2007. We can now customize your tour to also include ziplining, horseback-riding and ATV adventuring on the slopes of Kilauea. Just call or email us to reserve your Big Island adventure with Vavoom Volcano Tours today.Note: The business has a new owner as of June 2013. The new owner is Kyle Rogers and can be reached at the listed number and email address which has been updated.
Reviewed December 8, 2012 via mobile

I hope this feedback on Lori, owner of Vavoom Tour will help you in your selection. I booked this tour on Thanksgiving day because my husband mistakenly booked our rental car at Kona airport and our flight was arriving at Hilo airport about 3 hours away. Realizing this on thanksgiving day, the day before our flight, I found Vavoom Tour after not being able to find a rental car. She was available to do the tour for $130 pp +$80 for child. Total cost $610 for a private tour. Then when we arrived Friday am, there was a rental car and I asked if we could cancel and she said no and that there is a 48 cancellation policy even though I booked it 10 hours before and this was not said to me. She said this was on their website which I did not go on the night before. She was not flexible despite my situation and also tried to add two other people even though she said this would be a private tour the night before. Because she was going to charge, we went ahead with the tour and everything went downhill from there. First, She missed the turn for the waterfall and we had to reverse. She told us that it would take 30 mins to walk the waterfall trail when in fact it took 15 mins. She kept saying to my family (my mother and father inlaws are from Japan age 68 and in excellent health) that the walk is not for this with health issues. She said this also at the volcano which was really insulting. We collectively decided as a family to do this tour and she kept insinuating the tour walk will be difficult for people with health issues. It was as if she did not want to do the walk and just wanted to take us around in the vehicle. She also forgot to bring bottled water for us even though it was suppose to be included. Then at the end of the tour, she took us to the macademia plant which closes at 5pm. We got there at 5:20 pm and it was closed. How could a tour operator not know the closing time? Then the last insult was she tried to charge $120 additional for going over the tour time. I had explicitly told her that our flight was at 7:30 pm and we had to be back at the airport by 6:30 pm which was the time she dropped is off. She said her tour is 6 hours and additional time over that would be charged. I told her that was not explained to me at the beginning. To throw this at the end of the tour is sneaky and not acceptable. I would avoid using this tour company. To me it felt like Lori was all about money and not focused on the customer experience. You are better off renting a car or another tour with a better reputation, or going with a taxi company.

11  Thank yleeito
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviews (89)
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5 - 9 of 89 reviews

Reviewed November 26, 2012

I travel quite a bit and must admit that I use tripadvisor often for information but don't post reviews (I know..I should post reviews). However, I felt compelled to write a review for Vavoom Volcano Tours because of the recent reviews from two people who said this was the worse tour ever. I was there that morning and as you can see in the pics I have attached, it was the exact opposite.

We had been told by Lori, the tour operator, to meet at 9am (I still have the email). We assembled at the meeting spot at 8:45am, looking around for a Vavoom sign. After about ten minutes, I inquired and was told that tour was meeting at the gate (the area were were waiting was crowded so we thought: "No big deal, we'll just walk up to the gate to meet them.") When we arrived, there was a group of people assembled and a gentlemen on his phone yelling into his cell phone while everyone was staring. I asked if this was for Vavoom and people said yes. The gentlemen on the phone hung up and then starting telling everyone around him "Start looking for a different tour...she's not coming." Myself and a few people asked what she said and he wouldn't give us solid information; instead, kept trying to get the group all worked up asking how people paid and we better hope we used a credit card, etc.

After about 5 mins of hearing this guy work the group up, I found the email on my phone from Lori with her contact number and called. She answered right away. I told her where we were and asked if she was on her way. She stated "Yes, I am really sorry...I will be there in 5 mins...I had a break light out and wanted to switch vehicles. I just told the other gentlemen I would be there in 5 mins...is he letting everyone know." I told her "...he was now across the street asking other tour operators for prices and had informed us that you were not showing up." She then said "I'm really sorry...please tell everyone I will be there any minute." Within 5 mins, she parked her vans and we could see her approaching us.

In any case, as you can see...what this person wrote was false. Yes, Lori was late by 15 mins...she arrived at 9:15am and was very apologetic and told us she would make up any lost time on the back end of the tour. Things happen and once everyone else in the group had accurate information (and not incorrect information from the other person who seems like his goal was to ruin Lori's day), we all smiled and hopped in the vehicles. The fact of the matter is we are in Hawaii on vacation and the rest of the group laughed it off, hopped in the van, and off we went. The other guy (and his group) were still at the pier looking for another operator.

The tour was exactly what was promised. We first drove to the falls, the whole time Lori giving us information about the island and surrounding area. After spending time there, we went to Kilauea Volcano. What was great about this tour was at each stop, it was just the 12 of us in her van. We could hop out, explore, and then get back in when we as a group wanted. All around us at each stop were big tour buses with people lined up to get on and off their buses. This flexibility to get out and explore and then get out of there was nice.

The next stop was the lava tubes were we hiked through a lava tube and spend time taking pictures. Next, we went to the crater. Lori had three vehicles that day so anyone that elected to not do the hike was offered an alternative thing to do at this point.

The hike across the crater was unbelievable. When we got down there, Lori gave us marshmallows and skewers to roast over some vents. It was a fun and a unique thing to do and great opportunity for pictures.

After the hike back up, we drove to the Mauna Loa Macadamian Nut Plantation. Along the way, Lori had us laughing in the back while she did a trivia contest on all the information she had told us through out the day. We shopped at the Mauna Loa factory outlet, had some amazing coconut macadamian nut ice cream there, and then after time spent walking around, we gathered up again and head back to the ship.

Please look at the pictures I have attached. You'll see Lori in the picture between my parents and sister at the Macadamian Nut Plantation with a volcano hat on. Lori was warm, friendly, gracious, and information. This is a family run business and she made us feel like we were friends and she was giving us a tour of the island for the day.

It's sad that the two other bad reviews can even be published, as they are completely false. I can say that because I was there and witnessed it. He mentions "she finally shows up at 9:45am with one van". She showed up at 9:15am with three vans and I'm not even sure how he would know what she had, as he took off with his group in search for another van.

In addition, the other reviewer mentioned "Lori's van was pretty beat up...". Again, you have to remember this reviewer never was in Lori's van, as they didn't take the tour. The van was absolutely fine and we had no problems. In fact, we all commented on how the van was much better than a large bus.

In closing, I am all for people being able to use this forum to provide feedback on their experience. However, I feel these two reviewers were way off-base and far from accurate on what transpired that morning. Did she have an issue with a break late and show up 15 mins late. Yes. Did it ruin the day? Certainly not for those, including myself, that kept our cool and waited the 15 mins for her to arrive. Their reviews were nothing more than a mean attack on her with the sole purposing of hurting her business. We need to support these businesses these days, not destroy them with exaggerated, false claims. What these two reviewers have done is mean-spirited and irresponsible.

Please check out my pictures and see for yourself the great day we had. If you have any questions, I encourage you to contact me via this website. Thanks Lori...the tour was great! Keep doing what you are doing and others will see how great your tour is.

For the record, I have no affiliation with Vavoom Tours or Lori. I live in San Diego and my only contact with Lori was before this tour and the day of the tour.

8  Thank bsm9034
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 26, 2012

We were a group of 4 that enjoyed our tour. Yes there was a delay as a van had a problem and had to be replaced, I don't know how those people can rate a trip if they don't experience it. Thoses people must never have car trouble. Patienence is a virtue. and we got plenty of tourist time in Hilo. My only issue was the food time ( it was late) as I need to eat at a more specific noon time. They agreed and apologized. Joy was a wonderful guide. They otherwise were very accomidating and made sure all the patrons were happy. As for the van they replaced it with, I was in a brand new van which is why it could not go through the gates as it had to be permitted along with the driver. I was also in a wheelchair and they couldn't have been nicer. I loved seeing the crater,sulfur steam pots, films, Park and the macadamian nut factory. So give this tour company a try! Thank you!

2  Thank Knotsnut9
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 26, 2012

Lori and the other tour guides could not have been any more accommodating! We were witness to the behavior of the people who wrote the two negative reviews. They were rude and impatient.
Lori had called and stated she wanted to check the brakes on her van because she was concerned about the safety of us tourists, At best, she was ten minutes late to get us. It did not diminish the quality of the tour. It was misty to start so she offered packaged ponchos for our comfort if we wanted them. She had bottled water in the van and offered it to us at each destination. She brought us to the most amazing crater and actually brought marshmallows to
roast over the steam holes. She has an infectious personality and made our tour so enjoyable!!
She went above the benchmark as far as our expectations for this tour. The negative remarks were unwarranted and she was only concerned about what we wanted to see and making sure we
Came away from Hilo with a wonderful appreciation of the big island. Shame on these nay sayers
who embarrassed themselves by treating this lovely woman with such disrespect!!

Thank Linda M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed November 11, 2012

Booked our tour on phone about 6 months in advance. Got confirmation paperwork that Lori would pick us up at pier at 8:30. Called at 8:45; she said p/u is for 9:00 but she was running late, so expect 9:30. Corrected her error b/c 8:30 was in writing. At some point were told the van broke down and had to be replaced. Had to walk outside pier area b/c Lori's driver didn't have right approvals to get on pier. No van outside pier fence either. Meet about 14 others waiting for her, in addition to our party of 8. She finally shows up around 9:45 with one van! Told her to forget the whole thing and process our refunds ASAP. She may have worked for others in the past (based on other reviews here), but I would stay far, far away! If I could click zero instead of one circle, I would.

3  Thank Sept16
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
HawaiianTigerlily, Owner at Vavoom Volcano Tours, responded to this reviewResponded November 17, 2012

This review of Vavoom and the one dated November 8th were both the same day of tour. What happened was one of the 3 vehicles we had , had a brake light that suddenly turned on while we were en route to the pier. Rather than take a chance and drive a van that could possibly have brake problems as indicated by the light, we decided to change out the van for another.. even if we had to delay the tour a 1/2 hour and then make it up by adding more time at the end (which we did). EVERYONE else that was signed up that day went on tour and told me they had a great time! (and tipped me generously to boot!)We did everything that was desired and MORE. The people who wrote these reviews 1) never even bothered to meet either Joy , Jasun or me (all vavoom employees) and 2) would not bother to even talk to us face to face. AND 2) acted absolutely horrified that we delayed the tour by half hour even though I assured them that we would extend the time at the end to make up for it. and that the delay was for their own safety and security. This did not make the man on the cellphone any more understanding. I was pleading with him/them on the cell to meet with us and board the vehicles but no, they would not do it. All the other passengers met us enthusiastically and boarded the vehicles immediately. The parties who wrote these reviews I couldn't pick out in a line-up as I never even set eyes on them for one second...they never would even give us the opportunity to serve them. I regret that very much because had they given us a chance,they would've had a wonderful day. The man (speaker for the group) just demanded 'a refund' angrily on the phone and yelled at me in a rash of repetitive calls which was problematic as I was trying to transaction switching out the van for another one at the time. (difficult to do when the phone is ringing every three minutes with a yeller on the other end) I do not know WHAT the customer means that I had only 1 vehicle. Simply false. There were three Vavoom vehicles that day---and these parties who are complaining wouldn't know what the vehicles even looked like since they refused to meet with us. As far as "I am not authorized to go on the harbor" that again is completely false and I don't know where this info was gleaned. My MARSEC card is on file at Hilo Harbor and I took the Maritime Security class back in 2003. Anyone can call Hilo Harbors Division and verify that I am allowed on the Harbor and Vavoom Volcano Tour has had a Marsec security clearance since 2003. My TWIC card# which allows me on to the harbor with or without a vehicle and was presented to me in 2003 as well, is #074232047099.

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