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Kalapana Cultural Tours
Ranked #1 of 14 Tours in Pahoa
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: LAVA Tours: Boat | Bike | Hike Big Island, Hawaii Native Kalapana Hawaiian Owned & Operated See lava with someone whose house is buried in it! Lava Tour Schedule 2016 Boat: 5:00am, 8:00am, 2:30pm, 5:00pm, 8:00pm Bike / Hike: 5:00am, 8:00am, 3:30pm, 5:00pm Private Tour/Boat Charter: anytime upon request
Useful Information: Activities for young children, Bathroom facilities, Food available for purchase, Activities for older children
Sammamish, Washington
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed March 26, 2013

The grace and beauty of flowing lava by the hand of Pele to create new land is an unforgettable experience. The people at Kalapana Cultural Tours were very prompt returning messages, informative, patient with our evolving plans, friendly and very courteous. They truly cared about our unique opportunity. Our guide, Kyson, shared interesting insights to history and lore with a casual and personal touch while being mindful of our safety and comfort. For those wanting more time to fully appreciate the moment or take more pictures, I highly recommend the private tour. We are already looking forward to our next trip to Hawaii and will definitely go out to view the lava with Kalapana Cultural tours.

Visited March 2013
2 Thank Craig S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kalapana_CT, Owner at Kalapana Cultural Tours, responded to this review, December 23, 2013
Many mahalos, Craig. I'm happy to hear that you had great customer service from my sisters who run the office and were kept safe and learned about the beautiful surroundings area and our Hawaiian culture from my younger brother, your guide, Kyson. A private tour lets you be on your own clock, hike at your own pace and typically explore even more areas here in our home. Mahalo and let us know when you return to the islands!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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362 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Portland, Oregon
Level 4 Contributor
14 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
“Old Man and the Sea/Lava”
Reviewed March 19, 2013

I was the oldest in our group of 5, and even though I'm in good shape for my age (just been invited to join AARP...) my knees were screaming at me on this hike.

This hike was something I really wanted to do, and even though it was physically challenging, I was determined and was rewarded with the experience of a lifetime.

Watching that lava move, feeling the intense heat, HEARING the lava as it cracked thousands of tiny pieces of just-hardened lava: amazing.

Then getting to sit on the edge of a cliff, watching the lava pour into the ocean, hearing the hiss of the water meeting the lava, seeing the reflection of the red light of the lava on the ocean, hearing the Humpback whales singing to each other the distance, watching a huge meteor tail cast a blue bolt of light next to the Milky Way: spectacular.

I am so glad we had Koa, our guide. He didn't talk much, but when he did talk, it was useful information and he seemed genuinely concerned for our safety and well-being.

On the hike back, I would have been lost without Koa. It's hard to describe how DARK it is out there on that lava field. Yes, there is the distant glow of the Pu'u 'O'o crater and a slightly discernable ocean the other direction, but I would hate to be out there at night, trying to find my way back, without someone who KNOWS how to get back.

My only regret: Not bringing a good camera with good video capabilities. I have some ok photographs from my little pocket camera (14 mega pixels), but after that much effort to get out there, better photos and videos would have been better.

Visited March 2013
4 Thank T_Foust
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
22 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
“Very cool to see!”
Reviewed March 14, 2013

We attended the lava tour with Kalapana Cultural Tours in early March 2013. There were several tours in the afternoon between 3 and 530pm, so we decided to go for the 530pm tour. We figured it would be better to see lava in the dark anyway, and this way it gave us the full day to spend in the Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island. We rented a car and drove down in a group of 5 from our hostel, Hilo Backpackers in Hilo. We got a discount from $125 down to $100 for saying we were staying at the hostel which was very nice. Also, we had a group of 5 so we had an alternate 10% off for having 5 people, so we spent $90 each. We met at the tour stall, and they drove us to the start of the lava field in two vans. There was a group of about 15 people on this particular night. The trek through the lava field was about an hour in the light and 30 min in the dark until we reached the ocean entry of lava. They provided torches and ponchos in case of rain. After that we went to look for surface flow, which we were extremely lucky to find, and it was amazing! It was right there, not even 2-3 meters away from where we stood, oozing out onto the already hardened lava field. We brought marshmallows and graham crackers and actually made smores on the lava, as best as we could, as it was HOT HOT HOT. The walk back was long, dark, and wet from the rain that started, but all in all the tour was great. The only criticism would be that our tour guide wasn’t into talking to us and explaining things to us about where we were, about the volcano, or any interesting facts about what we were doing. We kind of just followed him in the dark. But if you went without a tour, you wouldn’t be able to go late at night and then probably not see the lava as well as we did. The other thing they offered was a dinner when we got back to the tour stall area, that they would have ready for us when we arrived back, as we were all quite hungry. It was 10 dollars for a chicken teriyaki and a drink, and it was so not worth it. There was hardly any chicken, and the side was a spoonful of corn and spoonful of rice. Save your money and get something along the way home to Hilo instead. But seeing real lava flow was priceless, so for the experience $90 was worth it!

One warning was that we not leave anything valuable in the car in this parking lot, as apparently the tourists get robbed here quite often. Luckily our rental car was just fine when we got back, but there were some shifty characters loitering before be left the car for the tour. Leave all your valuables at the hotel or hostel you stay at, locked up.

Visited March 2013
2 Thank Alexandra N
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level 6 Contributor
175 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“Truly awesome experience!”
Reviewed March 2, 2013

This is the most valuable experience I have had on big island. If you have never seen flowing lava, and if you are not cripple, you should do it! The tour is not that harsh as it is advertised, but you do need a pair of good shoes as you will be walking on sharp lava. It is basically flat walking but on uneven rock, which I found is much better than climbing up or down (like going into Waipio valley...). I think the total hiking is probably 3-3.5 hours at maximum. Our guide Andrew is very friendly, and he led us to see surface flow and ocean entry. The ocean entry was magnificent!!! I think it is probably best viewed in the dark, although you do have at least one hour walk back on lava in the dark as well. But in general, this is 120% recommended!

Visited February 2013
2 Thank bobster30
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
England, United Kingdom
Level 6 Contributor
154 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 156 helpful votes
“Lava walk - fantastic experience”
Reviewed February 22, 2013

We booked a 3.30pm tour in February with these guys to hike out to see the lava. You check in 30 minutes before the tour commencement time in the small village of Kalapana, where you sign a waiver and then you are driven to a hiking start point in the company's mini buses. Our tour was around 13 people and 2 tour guides.

At the start of the tour the guides give you a safety briefing and they carry emergency water, first aid kit, torches for everyone (should you walk back in the dark) and ponchos (just in case it rains). You walk in single file so that you all follow the same track, the pace is set by the group rather than the tour guide - they will lead at a pace that's suitable for you. There are plenty of drink stops on the way and you can stop to take photos en route should you wish to. The guides also educate you about Hawaiian culture and we heard a lovely chant by Mikey (one of the guides) - they also explain about the local flora, it's all very interesting.

It took around 90 minutes to reach the active lava flow and when we got there it was amazing - what a wonderful event to witness. The guides let you know where it is safe to go and not to go. We got to see fresh lava oozing out from the rocks (surface flow) and the ocean entry - it was simply incredible. We had toyed with the ideas of taking the boat tour (sea is quite rough though) and the helicopter (which is expensive), we are so glad that we did the hike as you can get really close (as close as is safe) and seriously appreciate everything that's happening right under your feet.

The walk itself isn't too strenuous - it is over rocky terrain (it's a lava field) and the rock can be sharp (it's lava!). We made sure we wore good hiking shoes and long trousers (as recommended by the tour company) the walk back in the dark wasn't as bad as I was expecting (based on some other reviews), the company provide good torches and take it at a steady pace - it is amazing how they find their way back so easily in the complete darkness.

Overall we thought Kalapana multicultural tours were very professional, friendly, the guides had a really good sense of humour and we felt completely safe in their hands at all times. We would definitely recommend their lava walk and would go with them again when we return to the big island (obviously if the lava is still flowing!).

Visited February 2013
3 Thank y0dagreen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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