Best Volcano Tour - Big Island's Kilauea
You can thank the works of five separate volcanoes for creating one of the planets most visited tourist destinations. Without them, there would be no Kona coffee, no Mauna Loa Macadamia Nuts, and fewer ABC stores (the ones in Vegas don't count). Kohala, Mauna Kea, Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and Kilauea are the big names in the South Pacific Volcano network. Kohala is extinct, Mauna Kea and Hualalia are dormant, Mauna Loa is active but laying low for the time being (decades) which leaves Kilauea as the star of the show on the Big Island and is the most popular lava spiller in the world.
While visitor tastes often dictate what activities they partake in while on the Big Island - be it surfing, golf, coffee plantation tours or hula lessons - pretty much everyone will take a pass at Kilauea in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. In fact, its probably the first thing friends and family will inquire about upon your return. If your camera is not filled with a gallery worthy collection of shots of molten magma pouring into the Pacific you'll be hard pressed to have anyone gander further into your vacation photo montage.
The history, relevance, and sheer entertainment value makes a tour of Kilauea an essential experience when visiting the Big Island and thus we have provided our picks for the best ways to see what we consider to be a serious contender as a wonder of the world.
Best Volcano Tour - Big Island's Kilauea
By Boat - Lava Ocean Adventures
Come face to face with the flow of lava that seeps into the ocean fronting Kilauea on a chartered boat in the evening. Watching the sun set on the South Pacific from a bow or stern is a thing to behold in itself but to add to ones visual sensation with glowing crimson pouring into waters in addition to the auditory plus of the hiss that accompanies the interaction of the elements is enthralling and even entertainingly eerie.
The aptly named Lava Ocean Adventures tour company will take you right to the action as it departs on an enjoyable 30 - 40 minute boat ride from Isaac Hale Beach Park (Pohoiki) to the sloping lava field that drips magma into the churning waters below. Because this journey depends on Kilauea's activity there are times when the tour is on hold and awaiting active lava flow so be sure to contact Lava Ocean Adventures before getting your hopes to high.
Lava Ocean Adventures has daily tours departing in the morning, afternoon and evening.
Lava Ocean Adventures Sunrise Tour
Check in: 4:45am Departure: 5:00am
Lava Ocean Adventures Sunset Tour
Check in: 5:45pm Departure: 6:00pm
Lava Ocean Adventures Moonlight Tour
Check in: 7:45pm Departure: 8:00pm
$165 (plus tax) per person.
Lava Ocean Adventures - Reservations and Information:
Call 1-800-901-0468 or Res@LavaBoat.com
By Air - Paradise Tours
A Bird's Eye View puts things into perspective and there is no better way to witness the all encompassing awesomeness of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park than from the air in open door helicopter. This is about as close as one can get to the experience felt by the poor souls slated for sacrifice into Kilauea's gaping crater in ancient times, the difference today being that people actually pay to be dangled a stone's drop above.
The Big Island is quite expansive (hence the name) and thus volcano helicopter tours departing from Kona can average at around $600 to cover the mileage. Budget conscious individuals will prefer to book their tour closer to Kilauea's home from Hilo instead where the cost can run under $200 depending on the deal of the day.
Paradise Tours is an affordable yet reputable option for providing this thrill of a lifetime experience that accommodates both death defying sightseeing for the adventurous soul and casual observation for the more cautious.
On Foot - KapohoKine Adventures
Both the hardened lava rock landscape and active flows of Kilauea have made for some terrifically unique and interesting hiking trails through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Even more impressive is taking this journey after daylight to witness the magma glowing against the dim evening sky. This is pure post apocalyptic fun at it's best and places you smack in the middle of a terrain one only imagines in the movies.
KapohoKine Adventures offers this unique perspective by taking you to the Puna District on the east side of the island where land viewing of Kilauea is prime. At a starting price of only $89 per adult ($76 for those under 12) which includes a Hawaiian Styled BBQ dinner, you'll be hard pressed to find a better way to spend less than a hundred bucks on the Big Island.