Island Volcano Tours
This page describes a van tour oriented toward guests who are staying in the resort areas of Kona, Waikoloa, etc. For guests in Hilo or for those who don't mind the drive to Kilauea from the Kona area, we also offer an active volcano bike tour.
AM TOUR: Adults: $179; Children 12 & under: $159.
TWILIGHT TOUR: Adults: $189; Children 8-12: $159 (no children under 8 on twilight tour)
Departure is from the Hawaii Forest and
Trail store in Kona OR a meeting point in the Waikoloa Beach area.
Select your departure point when selecting the tour using the form
at right. 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/from the Kona side of the island.
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 continental-style
breakfast. 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 and feel and smell steam vents where vapor is escaping the ground.
lunch 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.
Two versions of this tour are offered! The AM TOUR has an early morning pickup and offers scenery on the drive to and from the Kilauea area. The TWILIGHT 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.
On the way back to your resort, you’ll travel along the Hamakua Coast and pass
through Waimea before returning to Kona. By the end of the day, you’ll
have traveled over 300 miles and experienced an elevation change (we
go up and down a few times!) of over 30,000 feet.
This tour includes a mid-morning snack with Kona coffee,
Tazo teas, fresh fruit and pastries, deli lunch with beverages,
daypacks, bottled water, walking sticks, warm wear, and raingear.
The Twilight Tour also includes a picnic style dinner typically served at an outdoor pavilion near the volcano. Tours are limited to a maximum of 12 guests.
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. Children of all ages are welcome on the AM Tour; the Twilight Tour has a minimum age of 8.
HFT / V
This Kilauea 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.
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
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.
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!