Kilauea Volcano Tour

Guided tour of the world's most active volcano

Kilauea Volcano Tour Halemaumau Crater

Kilauea Summit overlooking the active Halemaumau crater

Kilauea Volcano Tour road buried by a recent lava flow

The road disappears underneath a recent lava flow

Kilauea Volcano Tour steaming

Lava entering the sea creates a billowing steam cloud

Kilauea Volcano Tour hot lava

Sometimes active lava flows are accessible with short hikes

Kilauea Volcano Tour hot lava

Not every day looks like this, but some do!

Kilauea Volcano Tour Kilauea Crater Rim

Lush tree ferns line one side of the Kilauea crater rim

Kilauea Volcano Tour walking through a lava tube

Walk trough a lava tube formed during an eruption centuries ago

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The geologic creation of the Hawaiian island chain, a timeless battle between the elemental forces of fire and water, is one of the world’s greatest natural history stories. There’s not a better place on earth to witness and understand the awesome nature of volcanoes than at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. There is no better way to explore the park than in the company of one of Hawaii Forest and Trail’s Interpretive Naturalists. They will show you the “must see” places within the park while you learn about their geological and historic significance.

You’ll really get an idea of how big the Big Island is during the course of this 11-12 hour full-day tour. And you’ll appreciate that someone else is doing the driving. Starting from Kona, you will travel up the coast over desolate lava flows for about a half hour before proceeding up the rolling pasturelands on the flanks of Mauna Kea. Turning onto the Saddle Road that traverses the island between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea, you’ll see a dramatic and diverse landscape of ranchland, sub alpine dryforest and rainforest, with striking features such as cinder cones, lava flows, lava tubes and kipukas. You’ll stop for a short break and deli lunch. Continuing on, you will drop down to near sea-level on the way through Hilo where you begin the final climb to the summit of Kilauea and the lush entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Once at the park you’ll see splendid native rain forests, visit a lava tube, discover remarkable volcanic formations and a splendid diversity of geography and climate. Through detailed geologic and natural history interpretation, small walks, and driving, you will explore and learn about the world’s most active volcano. Evidence of Kilauea’s activity is everywhere in the park; you’ll see,  feel and smell steam vents where vapor is escaping the ground.

A picnic dinner is served en route during your adventure through the park. Depending on what’s happening with the active flow, you may walk out to view red hot lava! Close encounters with an active flow do not happen every day; viewing conditions change frequently and sometimes the lava pauses, goes underground, or happens in a remote area where it is too far to hike. Kilauea expresses its activity in several places, and there is currently an active vent that has been spewing rock, ash, and fume from the summit caldera which is easily visible from the overlooks. Ocean entries come and go; most days you will see steam clouds from the entry points.

By the end of the day, you’ll have traveled over 300 miles and experienced an elevation change (the tour goes up and down a few times!) of over 30,000 feet.

Twilight Volcano Tour

This Kilauea Volcano tour has a late morning start time and offers volcano viewing at sunset. If lava is visible – it shows up the best just before dark! The drive back from Kilauea will of course be after dark.

Schedule: Daily

Pick up: Between 10am and 10:30am depends on where guests are staying

Duration: Approximately 12 hours

Tour includes: Deli style lunch (turkey, ham, tuna, or veggie) with assorted soft drinks, juices and bottled water. Picnic dinner (chilled grilled chicken or chilled grilled portobello mushroom with quinoa and roasted vegetables), snacks, assorted beverages, bottled water, and hot cocoa

What to Bring & Wear: Comfortable walking shoes, long pants, and a light jacket.

Gear Provided: Day packs, walking sticks, warm clothing and rain gear.

Group Size: 12

Reservations: Due to high demand, this tour sells out weeks in advance.

Restrictions: Minimum age is 8, and guests should be able to hike on uneven or rocky terrain.

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations must be made at least 48 hours before the start of the event.

General Information
Schedule: Daily

Reservations: For those staying in Hilo, we don’t recommend this tour as a large portion of the cost of this tour is for transportation to and from the Kona side of the island.

Check In:  Departure is from the Hawaii Forest and Trail Store (74-5035B Queen Kaahumanu Highway, Kailua Kona, HI 96740 Click to view map) OR the Waikoloa Queen’s Marketplace (69-201 Waikoloa Beach Dr, Waikoloa, HI 96738 Click to view map). Select your departure point when selecting a tour in your reservation form.

Tour includes: Rain gear, walking sticks, snacks and beverages (water, juice, soda all day), deli-style lunch, all entrance fees.

Restrictions: Guests should be in reasonably good physical condition and able to hike on uneven or rocky terrain. This tour sometimes encounters cool, wet, or muddy conditions. Twilight Tour has a minimum age of 8.

What to Bring & Wear: Comfortable, layered clothing and walking shoes. Close toed shoes are required.

Note: Volcanic emissions, including sulfur gas, may affect those with respiratory concerns.


kilauea crater
Billowing plumes from the crater
lava flow
Witnessing lava flow is an unforgettable experience

CJack Harter Doors Offruise Ship Passengers

This Kilauea Volcano tour is oriented toward people who are staying in resorts on the Kona side of the Big Island and does not work for cruise ship passenger either in Hilo or in Kona. We suggest the Volcano Bike Tour as an excellent way to experience the volcano.  Another great option for Hilo cruise ship passengers is the Hilo Cruise Ship Volcano & Waterfall Tour.

Activity Tips

Kevin Ditamore – Owner / Manager

I can’t imagine going to the Big Island and not making the trip down to see the active volcano. Even on days when lava viewing is not possible the evidence of recent volcanic activity is everywhere. You’ll see steam vents and smell sulfur in the air. This park is rich in history too.

The drive to Kilauea from the Kona side of the island takes about three hours each way. Having someone else do the driving for you while you are free to look out the window and take in the view is something that you will very much appreciate. Your guide will not only drive for you … you’ll also LEARN about what you are looking at out the window. You’ll come away with an understanding of how the Hawaiian islands were formed and gain a great appreciation for our unique climates and eco-system.

Occassionally we get clients who are staying in Hilo and ask about this tour. The price of this tour includes round trip transportation from the Kona / Waikoloa area. We don’t recommend this tour for people who are staying in the Hilo area. If you are staying in Hilo you are only 35-40 minutes away from the volcano and you are better off just driving there in your rental car. Admission to the national park is $10 per vehicle and there are visitor’s centers, films, exhibits, and lots of rangers to assist you in answering questions during your visit to the park.

One of the advantages of doing this tour is the benefit of having an experienced guide with you to lead you out to the active lava flow if there is red hot lava accessible. You’ll have the confidence to experience the lava firsthand knowing that the guide knows where it is safe and where it is not safe to go.

Lava viewing conditions change … it is sometimes possible to get close to the active flow, but not always. There is no guarantee that you will see red hot lava on this tour. Sometimes the closest lava is miles from the nearest road and the hike just isn’t possible in the time constraints of this tour. Other times lava can be viewed with a short 10 minute walk.

One final consideration … alcohol is not permitted on these tours. We recently had some clients show up with a cooler of their favorite adult beverage and the tour operator did not permit the cooler to be brought on board. You can’t drink alcohol in the tour vehicle per Hawaii vehicle laws, and the tour operator is also concerned about the increased risk of a slightly tipsy individual falling while walking across lava field. Lava is basically rock made up of tiny glass particles and it HURTS if you fall on it!