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“Warning rough waters ahead !!”

Lava Ocean Tours Inc
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Hot Lava Hike to See Lava Volcano Tour
Ranked #2 of 14 Tours in Pahoa
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Lava Ocean Tours is your exclusive way Explore the Hilo side of Big Island. View volcanic activity on our boat & hikes to see the LAVA. Our state of the art vessels are modern aluminum catamarans including the "Lavaone" 49 passenger 40x14 catamaran powered by 4 Honda 250hp motors. Whether lava is flowing on the land or sea we will get you to the closet viewing point safely possible. We also offer the Ultimate Boat Waterfall Tours departing Hilo to see over 30+ boat only waterfalls and dolphins in uncrowded waters. During Hawaii Whale Season (Dec-Apr) enjoy whale watching in Hilo Bay and surrounding waters on an intimate ocean cruise. Our tours include Lava Boat Tours, Guided Lava Hikes, Volcano Boat Tours, Waterfall & Dolphin Tours, Charter Fishing, Hilo Whale Watching and Private Tours.
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Lockers / storage, Activities for older children, Stroller parking, Bathroom facilities
Reviewed May 29, 2013

Ok so they say the waters are rough and it's like being on a white water rafting trip. WRONG !! Imagine being on a runaway boat, sitting in a metal seat with a small wafer of a seat cushion, being violently tossed into the air and slammed into concrete. That's a pleasant trip compared to what we experienced. It took 45 minutes to get to the lava flows. And yes they were spectacular !! But the ship, in my opinion got dangerously close to the lava flows. We only stayed for 22 minutes, I counted, and the trip back, 45 minutes in the dark, was rough, painful and terrifying !! They were trying to rush back to shore to load up the boat for the next night tour. This outfit is dangerous and WAY overpriced. They had the nerve to shill for tips at the end !! Look for a smaller craft, something safer at half the price.

8  Thank Neil N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"captain shane"
in 111 reviews
"lava ocean"
in 125 reviews
"boat ride"
in 170 reviews
"once in a lifetime"
in 153 reviews
"sunrise tour"
in 80 reviews
"the big island"
in 119 reviews
"both sides"
in 56 reviews
"change of clothes"
in 19 reviews
"roller coaster"
in 30 reviews
"high speed"
in 12 reviews
"rain gear"
in 20 reviews
"pm tour"
in 15 reviews
"getting wet"
in 18 reviews
"foot ladder"
in 13 reviews
"an amazing experience"
in 44 reviews
"rough seas"
in 23 reviews
"great photos"
in 11 reviews

927 - 931 of 1,149 reviews

Reviewed May 27, 2013

We booked a tour for 2, got the confirmation email saying show up at 530 for a 6pm tour. We drove 2 1/2 hours to get to the starting point. We waited until 715 and the boat captain finally showed up telling everyone the boat wasn't working properly and the tour wouldn't be happening. During the 2 hours we were waiting we tried calling the phone number given to us and no one answered. Why wasn't someone sent to tell us the tour had been cancelled? Very unprofessional. Most people drove from Kona and spent around 5 hours driving to a tour that we waited around for 2 hours to be told it was cancelled.
On top of the tour being cancelled, the boat captain wasn't worried about ruining our evenings. He only complained about his $20,000 boat that he had to fix. They easily make $20,000 in a week. Do they not have more than 1 boat?
After talking with many of the other irritated guests we found out this was supposed to be the highlight of their trip. The boat captain was unapologetic and left a horrible taste in everyones mouth. Save yourself the pain of a bad trip and do not risk booking a tour with them.

8  Thank Drew S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 25, 2013

I booked the pre dawn sunset tour and actually camped out at the park the night before. (I was coming down from my rented condo in Kona) so I decided to arrive the night before and camp out by the bathrooms in the park. Pahoa, the town itself was kind of sketchy but I felt safe in the parking lot of Isaac Hayes Park.

I had an easy time booking it online (if your computer savvy you wont have any issues booking it, click, confirm, print and they even send you an email confirmation as well) Easy peasy if you have made purchases online before.

So by 3:00am we were out and walking around the park. It was slightly colder then anticipated (I just had a bikini top, shorts and a towel to keep me warm) but it wasn't too bad, even when we got wet in the open ocean. I'd recommend a waterproof jacket or rain poncho though for a little extra warmth (If you're like me and start to shake in the open cooler dairy section of your grocery store you should definitely at least bring a light jacket)

The boat arrive around 4 and we all checked in with Captain Shane. Who was a pleasant, funny, and safety cautious individual.

He gave us ample opportunity to use the bathroom and prepared the ladder for us to board. It's just a regular ladder someone holds for you on the other side. If you have problems with ladders you should not book this tour. I wish I had used the bathroom when given the opportunity, as 20 minutes into a 2+ hour tour I had to pee and the bumps in the ocean left me crossing my legs the whole trip.

I have read a lot of reviews of how horrible the ocean crossing is. My advice to you is for a bumpy ride, sit upfront (I wish I had, but all these reviews made me paranoid) so I sat way at the back and even with the worst bumps I didn't feel too much. Also I get horrible motion sickness so the night before I purchased some motion sickness pills (And amazingly didn't get sick! although the guy three chairs down from me did.. poor guy.)

So anyways Captain Shane impressed my fiance by backing up his boat in a super tight space skillfully. My fiance has driven boats before. (I personally know people who can't back a car up in a space that small) Captain Shane mentioned he had over 30 years of experience doing lava tours so that was reassuring. We crossed the ocean with some awesome tunes in the background. I was singing along to everything from Pink Floyd to CCR. The Captain has some rocking good taste in music. The ride was somewhat bumpy but I sat way at the back so it was a pleasant, short sea crossing.

When we got there we had two lava openings the captain circled around. We got pretty close. I personally wouldn't take a boat that close but I trusted the captain who had over 30 years of experience. Much like a roller coaster sometimes you just have to trust that it's all going to be fine, and enjoy the ride. And I enjoyed this one very much. We felt the warmth and steam of the lava and the captains helper even pulled up some water so we could feel how hot it was.

The day before I had gone to the Jaggar museum at Volcano park so in my mind I was applying everything I had learned to the volcano activity, which was kind of a good mental work out on the ride.

We watched the sun come up and it was amazing the change from night to day over the lava pouring into the ocean.

The ride back was more bumpy then going out but I still wish I had sat upfront. The people upfront looked like they were having a blast and a wild ride.

The moral of this review is I came close to not booking this tour because I bought into a small percentage of negative reviews listed on this site. If you use common sense (Having motion sickness pills on hand, sitting to the back in rough weather and following the safety instructions of your captain) you will have a wonderful ride and a once in a lifetime experience seeing lava hitting the ocean and forming new land mass. Also remember to use the bathroom before you leave. I'm pretty sure I almost knocked over ten people running for the bathroom at the end of the tour. (They do have a bathroom on board but reading several reviews I notice there bathroom is frequently out of order. Although my fiance has said marine bathrooms are different and a lot of people don't know how to use them properly ex. flushing large amounts of toilet paper, paper towel etc. so I cant fault the company for broken bathrooms)

Overall you can either be afraid of a few negative reviews (Check how many positive reviews there are vs negative) or you can book the tour and possibly have a once in a life time experience.

4  Thank ChristinaZurita
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 reviewResponded June 4, 2013

Mahalo for your first hand account. Glad you choose to enjoy this adventure even after reading through our reviews. This trip is definitely not for everyone and we love it when our passengers do their homework and understand that East Hawaii boating is different then most places. Hope you and your finance have a great time here in Hawaii we'll look forward to seeing back out in the future

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 22, 2013 via mobile

This company is an all around unprofessional disaster. I called during business hours looking for information got voicemail. I left a message asking for a call back which I never received. After 2 more unsuccessful attempts to contact Lava Ocean, I went ahead and booked the predawn tour online. I did not receive a confirmation. So I called again - this time an actual person picked up. When I explained why I was calling (still needed info and wanted to confirm our reservation), the woman rudely said that she had sent my confirmation and I should check my spam. I said that I had but did not see her email. She said, "Well I sent it." I said, "OK, great. I didn't receive it, so why don't you send it again?" Lo and behold, the email arrived about 30 seconds later. She made sure to remind me to be on time and told me that if we were late the boat would leave without us. She emphasized the need to be there at 4am sharp.

The next morning, we got up at 2:30am to ensure we would not be late. When we arrived shortly before 4, all of the passengers were already there but no boat and no crew. They rolled up with the boat at about 4:25. We did not leave until after 5. This might not seem like a big deal, but it is when you have paid $175 per person and gotten out of bed in the middle of the night to beat the sunrise it is a huge deal. I also noticed the crew having trouble with at least one of the engines before they even launched the boat. However, I was still optimistic when the boat started moving. I thought to myself that surely they wouldn't take a boat out that was broken. I thought that at least we would get to see the lava and take some cool pictures. Wrong. Maybe 2/3 of the way there one engine failed. We spent 20 or 30 minutes drifting while they tried to repair it. They were unable to fix it and we had to turn back. They did promise a full refund, which is the only semi-good thing I have to say about them.

Now, with a full boat, they are making $4200 on each trip. They run 4-5 tours a day. That's upwards of 20k in ONE DAY on a good day. This should be more than enough to keep the boat in good repair. I would also like to stress that their lateness was unacceptable even without the mechanical failure. We all got up at 2, the people who are taking the money should do the same. This was the only time on any boat trip that I have ever been on (and that's a lot) that the crew wasn't already on site and preparing the boat when I arrived for check in. Even without the engine problems, we would not have arrived at the flow before sunrise. Unacceptable for a tour advertised as 'pre-dawn'.

11  Thank sfgirl81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed May 20, 2013 via mobile

Imagine: you pay $175 per person for a pre dawn sunrise lava watching tour. You get up by 2.30 in the morning (others were on the road for 2 hours by then), you make it on time to the described place at 4am and nobody from the company shows up or is reachable for nearly 2 hours! You stand there waiting, not knowing if the tour is just gonna be delayed or cancelled. It turned out it was a battery problem - this mustn't happen! And even if it does, you have to to do everything to inform your customers asap and be in a standby position during your operating hours (even if they do start so early). At least they promised to refund the ~20 people whose trips were cancelled...

6  Thank royassas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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