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“Wonderful experience!”

Lava Ocean Tours Inc
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Ultimate Hawaii Waterfalls combo Dolphin Boat Tour
Ranked #2 of 13 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: Bathroom facilities, Activities for young children, Lockers / storage, Activities for older children, Stroller parking
Reviewed June 7, 2014

We were not sure about what to expect while reading some of the comments on trip advisor. We went on May the 28th, and our guide was Aaron from Epic Lava tours (ocean lava is outsourcing to them). This experience was unforgettable, and everything was well planned: all the gear was provided, including water, brand new boots and bagpacks, and some snacks.
The hike itself was 3.5 hours to reach the lava field, where we saw plenty of lava push, and we could stay as long as we wanted. The return trip was 3.5 hours as well. Aaron was very knowledgeable about Hawaii history and nature, and was taking care of slower persons, as well as keeping them motivated by discussing with everybody within the group, and even showing where to put the steps in the swampy areas!
As regards the hike, it is hard, but ok, and the people complaining about its difficulty have probably never hiked before! It is muddy, with a lot of roots and progression is slow because of the terrain, but it is explicitely written that the walk is strenuous when doing the booking, and the guides are very careful and experienced!
We also crossed an other group on the way back, without boots ( hiking shoes only), and we were really happy to have chosen epic lava tour at this time!
Thanks again, it was definitely a lifetime experience!

4  Thank 934b
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 July 9, 2014

Yes the trail is tough even for experienced hikers but worth the reward glad you were able to experience the journey to see lava.

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Reviewed June 6, 2014

Upon arriving, we weren't sure if we were in the right place. We were greeted and given the needed high water boots for the hike, a backpack with need water, food, gloves, and a poncho. Before we started, we were instructed to take a walking stick. The trail was very muddy. We hiked through mud, over trees, and up small muddy hills all in the rain. The hike seemed very long but you can't move very fast in these conditions. We took as many breaks as needed. The guide gave us good instructions on how to manage different parts of the trail. Once we arrived at the lava field then we had to hike to find a flow. We found awesome spot where the lave a great push in about three different spots. We played in the lava with our walking sticks and took lots of pictures. This made the muddy trail worth it. Now for the trip back. We were able to walk at our own pace back to the start. We ended up passing another group on the trail. Their tour group didn't give them much. Some didn't have walking sticks (which is a must for the trail) and they were in their own shoes in that deep gross mud. I can't even imagine that long hike in those conditions. We were soooo happy that we chose these guys for our tour guides. They had us all set up for an awesome experience. We made the hike out in three hours and then back in two hours. Everyone that wants to play in lava should go with group. They are awesome. When calling, they are hard to get ahold of but they do call back, so leave a message if possible.

2  Thank Alaskans2014
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 July 9, 2014

Mahalo for joining us it was a pleasure having you out.

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Reviewed May 23, 2014

We booked our tour through lava ocean adventures when my husband spoke to Shane he was told it was about a 2 1/2 mile hike and would take about 4 hours total. When we got to the location we found out that lava ocean outsourced to epic lava tours which was fine. I asked the guide how bad was the hike john says you'll get muddy, that was an understatement it was all mudd John was no tour guide he pretty much left us on the way back Aaron was nice but again not a guide. The hike ended up being 10 hours and 8 1/2 miles round trip through mudd over and under tree branches rocks I have 10 bruises on one leg. We were with veteran hikers one was a marine that lived on the island and said the hike was one of her top two hardest. This is. NOT for beginners like the people selling the tour make it sound. Also the tour guides said Shane has not been out on this hike so who is he to give info on it. Save yourself and take the helicopter tour!

9  Thank Marino081
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 19, 2014

Did the 7am hike on 18 May 2014.

Tough hike all the way - only for those who really do want to see lava! Also remember flowing lava is a natural phenomenon and it can change from day to day.

Booking process:
We booked the hike about 2 days in advance. Being not particularly organised with our Hawaii trip, we were planning activities on the go. I believe we went during the less busy season though, so this may not always be possible. About 4 days out we emailed Lava Ocean Tours to make an inquiry but after a day had gotten no response, so we called a couple of times and when we got through were told to just book it online (which was easy and straight forward). Despite the website saying "daily tours" we found out they do not run on Tuesdays and Thursdays (perhaps daily tours are run in the busy season). This was fine by us, however is something to note. Also, while tours are run 7am, 9am and 12noon, the later two trips are overflow tours. As we were staying in Kona, this did mean we had to book a night's accommodation closer to the departure spot which was about a 20min drive from Volcano Village. We were glad we did the 7am tour though as the day got hot pretty quick.

Lava hike:
The boyfriend and I were lucky enough to be the only ones on the tour that day, so had our guide John all to ourselves (note: the hike is run by EPIC LAVA TOURS who are outsourced by Lava Ocean Tours). John was out to greet us as we arrived at the departure location. He provided us with backpacks filled with plenty of snacks and water (bring your own sandwich if you need something more filling), as well as gloves and a torch. He also recommended we wear the boots and take the bamboo walking sticks he was offering us - definitely take up all recommendations from your guide as we were very thankful for both of these items!

The trek through the jungle took us approx 2.5 hours which was apparently on the quicker side. It was muddy and over uneven terrain (which is where the boots and walking sticks became our best friends). This is grueling and while some parts are easier than others, is basically continuous for the whole trek. I think this is stated pretty clearly on the website so you need to be mentally prepared for it. A certain level of fitness is definitely required. While the boyfriend is quite fit, I am the sort that gets sore muscles after a session of Wii Sports. However I was determined to see lava and was mentally prepared for the trek to be tough.

Once we were out of the jungle and into "Pele's backyard" was where it really got tough. Not only are you trekking over hardened lava that is still radiating heat, there is absolutely no shade (remember sunscreen!) and very few spots to sit or rest. We could feel the heat through our boots and this was before we saw any flowing lava! The landscape was absolutely unbelievable though and like a scene from Lord of the Rings. Unluckily for us, there happened to be no lava flowing in any of the areas close to the edge of the jungle (which had been flowing the day before), however John pointed out smoke rising in the distance which he was certain was from fires caused by flowing lava. At this point it was our call whether to go or not (the trek there was perhaps a mile or more). We wanted to see lava more than we cared about being tired and hot so off we went. John was unbelievably energetic and would run on ahead of us while we waited to check certain areas before coming back and getting us, to save us from walking more than needed.

It was worth it, as the spot John had identified had flowing lava. Following the heat trail back we saw several more lava breakouts, each more impressive than the last. John was incredibly accommodating and willing to spend as much or as little time as we wanted at each site. Even though the heat from the lava was intense, there was no point at which we felt unsafe. The hike back through the jungle was definitely the toughest part for me, as I was tired and my legs and feet were starting to ache from standing up all day.

Overall we spent about 8.5 hours there and back, however did trek a lot further than your typical tour. It was an unforgettable day and I highly recommend to those wanting to get up close to real flowing lava!

6  Thank XiXi C
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 May 25, 2014

This is our Epic Lava Tour product due to the extreme nature of the tour. The lava changes daily and we have to go with the flow. glad to hear you were up for the challenge on this particular day the lava was further then most hikes but heard you folks were troopers and see you were rewarded accordingly. Mahalo for making our lava hike.

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Reviewed May 9, 2014

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.

10  Thank D B
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 May 12, 2014

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.

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