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“Best View Of Big Island Lava”

Poke A Stick Lava Tours
Ranked #2 of 7 things to do in Kalapana
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Attraction details
Owner description: Poke-A-Stick Guided Lava Tour is located on the Big Island of Hawaii in Kalapana. We offer the experience of a lifetime hike to the actual hot lava surface flows. Our guides have an extreme knowledge and understanding of the active lava conditions,which enables them to provide a safe, fun and memorable lava adventure. Feel the heat under your feet as we hike to the new ocean entry. Call Now to book your next hike.
Penticton, Canada
Level Contributor
41 reviews
19 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 49 helpful votes
“Best View Of Big Island Lava”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 August 2013

Although you can hike out unguided to the surface lava flows on Hawaii's Big Island, my wife and I were very happy we booked the tour with Poke A Stick - without the experience of their guides we would NOT have felt safe enough to get so close to the flowing molten rock.

Chelsea and her father Jerry were our guides for the evening. They knew exactly were to go. Upon arriving at the surface flow, they kept our group at a safe distance while they did a recon around the flow to determine the very best - and safest - approach angle.

We were able to do exactly what the tour offers - poke a stick into the hot lava. With a little care, we were able to extract a small small sample which cooled quickly (about 20 minutes) for a wonderful souvenir.

Standing on the very hot basalt, seeing the red-hot glow through multiple cracks and fissures was a thrill. Yes, we could smell the soles of our hiking boots melting and after the tour upon inspection we could see the evidence of the heat. Don't wear the wrong shoes out for this adventure! (Don't wear Keen or other 'hiking' sandals - you'll spend too much time emptying rocks from your shoes!)

There were families with younger children - parents must be able to judge the stamina of their children and decide if the hike is appropriate. The distance to the flow changes nightly. For us, it was about 1.5 hours each way over rugged terrain.

They provided us with flashlights for the return hike. About half-way back my battery died, Chelsea had a spare in her pocket, a quick switch and we didn't miss a step.

Yes, you can make this journey by yourself - but why take the risks? When you pay the $100 tour fee, you're not only getting the fun guide showing you the way but more importantly, you're paying for the experience that knows where to walk - and where NOT to walk. :)

On our return hike, we were blessed with a full, rising moon. This coincidence of astronomy was perfect magic to cap our evening.

For an extreme adventure, for a memory of a lifetime, for a check mark on the ol' bucket list, call Cheryl and book a spot for the Poke A Stick lava tour. Very, very, well worth the time and money.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank Timothy1098
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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76 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Clear Spring, MD
Level Contributor
52 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“Great Tour Guide Company”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 August 2013

This was a great tour. There are not many reviews here, so I will write a longer one than usual. This company and the event are both five stars.

The company:

Our guide was Sarah, and she did a great job leading our group. The owners and their guides are very skilled, own the land at the entrance/flow, and you will have no worries. I heard Sarah telling another group member how she learned, trained, and did the walk in the dark before ever taking a group and could tell where she was just by the type of lava flow. They keep you safe and are prepared to provide, replacement flashlights when yours dies (and it will, don't be a hero and try to walk in the dark, just yell up the line and you will get a new one ASAP), first aid when injuries occur, and it is likely that someone will fall on the way back (we had two in our group, fatigue and lack of light make it likely) and the lava is sharp. They guides also provide information, and overall safety when around surface flows. Even as the ground creaked around us, I felt safe the entire time.

Note on time. Our tour was almost an hour late/over getting back. This isn't a complaint, and our group moved quickly with very little breaks and we got to the surface flow near sunset, which was perfect timing for photos. You can't control nature, and the lava was much further out than a few weeks earlier, as we walked over the previous flows, only weeks old, to get to it. This is nature, don't plan on an exact schedule. Also, this will likely be your only chance to see lava, I would highly recommend if there is a group vote, you vote to see it all and do anything extra the guides suggest. It will be worth it. When we knew we would be late, Sarah gave me her phone to call my wife/ride, which was a good idea, and the guides are thinking about everyone in the group.

The hike:

It is not easy. The owner, Scott, told us we would probably end up walking 5.25 miles that evening if we wanted to see the surface flow and ocean entry. I have no idea how far we walked, but it was a lot. I am an athletic, but out of shape 38 year old. If I were older, fatter, or more out of shape, this hike would have been very hard (although I was not sore the next day). If you are in shape, no worries, just bring plenty of water as you will drink what they recommend. The walk will not make you winded, but the uneven terrain is tough on the body and shoes (wear good shoes). I took my 10 year old son, he had no problems, and very few complaints, only at the end. He is fit and energetic. Judge for yourself, but I wouldn't recommend kids any younger, and only those who really like to hike (like my son). If not, it could be the most miserable time of your life since there is no ATV, or ride back.

The Lava:

Well, it is awesome. We poked sticks, roasted marsh mellows, and saw a surface flow with multiple streams, it was great. The ocean entry was great as well and we viewed it from the cliff, and very close, no binoculars needed. Up close is personal and way better then the helicopter ride, but it is much more effort and work.

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank MattWelker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Woodbridge, Virginia
Level Contributor
8 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“A must do for your bucket list”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 16 August 2013

So I wanted to see lava up close, not some puff of steam in the far off distance. After looking at all the reviews on helicopters, boats and hikes this was the one. I picked this tour because:
1. The boat rides can be rough from this side if the island and I do not like small boats.
2. Helicopter is $$, short ride and you may only see some steam unless it is really pouring.
3. Hike gives you more time watching the lava
4. All the words were spelled right in the review and it seemed like a professional place, albeit a small business.
So what we got is what I expected:
It is a long hike, 5 miles round trip over rough terrain (like hiking on shale in the Western US). Felt more like 8 miles with the up and down, left and right. So when they say not for wimps they mean it. It was great exercise and none of us who are in decent but not great shape were fine.
The outfit, well it is really just one guide for 9 of us, and I have no idea how she found her way, but she was great. It was mostly a hike, but she would stop and talk about the flows, why certain things were there, and point out dangerous areas.
I had some folks tell me that we did not need a guide, but factoring in safety I thought walking in the dark for 2.5 miles with a guide into an open lava hole was too much of a risk. What we found out is that the flows over the past 5 years have taken over where those folks used to walk a short walk to see lava….so not so easy now. Best $$ I ever spent on a tour guide. We saw some idiots walking up the volcano with flashlights, or rather flashlights in the distance……
We did not see surface lava, but we were able to roast a marshmallow. What we did get to see was lava, bright red lava gushing off the side of the island. And our guide let us stay for a good 45 min, take all the pictures and video we wanted. While we were there were some other larger tours too.

Overall great tour. We chose to stay at funky place close by, and I am so glad we did. Others decided to drive the 2-3 hours back to Kona, and in the dark on those roads after hiking that is not something I would have cared for.

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank CruiseNView
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Nashville, Tennessee
Level Contributor
36 reviews
13 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 29 helpful votes
“Simply incredible!!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 15 August 2013

I really wanted to see lava on our trip to the Big Island. The beaches, snorkeling, waterfalls, and valleys are great, but there aren't too many places in the world where you can safely observe lava flowing. There are three ways to see the lava: land, sea, or air. I think the helicopter tours provide a unique perspective on the lava, but the lava looks really amazing after dark when the helicopters don't fly. You can take a boat to the cliffs to watch the lava flow into the ocean, but the seas can be pretty rough on that part of the island. It's also harder to take good pictures when you're bobbing up and down. That left the land option. I was worried about how difficult that hike over the lava field would be for both me (okay shape but no fitness nut) and my family (wife in similar shape; a 'tween; and a teen). However, Poke a Stick's website and Cheryl's patient answers to my many questions convinced me to sign up. I'm glad we did!! There were about a dozen guests, along with Cheryl, her husband Scott, and some teenage friends/relatives of theirs. The hike to the lava was about 1.5 hours over pahoehoe lava (not the sharper a'a lava). Wear sturdy hiking shoes, watch every step, and you'll be fine. There's not much elevation change to challenge you, but the walk is over uneven terrain so you really need to concentrate on following the person in front of you. We stopped a few times along the way to rest, and Cheryl/Scott explained about the lava flows and the impact those flows had on the community that used to be there. Cheryl will readily admit that her job is to bring you safely to where the lava is likely flowing, but it's Pele who controls where and how much lava you'll see. We were fortunate in seeing lava ooze out of a hillside and the glowing red lava in the cracks between the black flows. We got to poke a stick in it! Scott and Cheryl were always monitoring our group to make sure we were on safe ground (albeit very hot ground!) and safe from fumes/gasses. After getting close to the hillside lava, we backtracked a bit to settle on a ledge to watch the lava drip into the ocean. With the sun down, the lava show really becomes amazing! I could watch that lava flow down the hill and drip into the ocean for hours. Truly spectacular. The whole hillside where we had gotten close to the lava seemed to glow in the night. I was worried that the hike back in the dark would be even more challenging, but it wasn't bad. Each of us was provided with a great flashlight, and you simply followed the person in front of you. We stopped once to observe the stars - another amazing sight. You're on a black lava field, miles from any lights, and have a clear sky. I've never seen so many stars, not even in the Idaho or Montana wilderness. The Milky Way was huge. My family and I were pretty tired when we got back to Cheryl's house (she lives next to the lava field). It was strange walking on a road after walking on the lava field for so long - sort of like that feeling you get when you walk after skating for an hour or two. Definitely the highlight of our trip to the Big Island. We explored more of Volcano National Park the next day, but I felt that we had seen and heard so much about the lava fields, volcano, and stars on our walk that the park visit was almost anti-climactic. Get your sturdy shoes, grab a couple of water bottles, and spend the $100 to go on this hike. Simply incredible!

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
Thank TN_Traveller_12
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Québec
Level Contributor
18 reviews
5 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Awesome”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 August 2013 via mobile

They know their lava field, they know how it works and how lava reacts, long story short, they are awesome! I saw a beautiful lava flow going straight in the ocean and we even grill some marshmallows with the heat!!

Visited August 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank fuzzi1236
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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