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Review of Pu'u 'O'o Vent

Pu'u 'O'o Vent
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Waterfall Red Lava Glow Viewing Tour from Hilo
Toronto, Canada
Level 6 Contributor
116 reviews
23 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
Reviewed 23 August 2013

We hiked out twice during our trip, leaving from the parking area located East of the flow, close to the houses, sorry, i forget the name.

First hike: met a few park rangers at the flow who were doing studies and getting info to update the website regarding lava flow activity. Flows were about 50 yards from the sea. Spent a few hours learning from these great people...loved it!

Second hike: we heard the lava was anticipated to breach for the first time in a long time, so we left early and spent most of the day. Lava was trickling over the edge when we got there and by the time we left it was pouring over in multiple locations. Got some fantastic pix and vids. The power of mother nature close up and at her best!
Recommend proper foot wear, walking stick, sunscreen, hat, and LOTS OF WATER!!! we brought 6 litres each and food in backpacks, Be prepared!

Visited November 2012
8 Thank longroadtogo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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6 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
West New York, New Jersey
Level 4 Contributor
11 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Best day hike ever”
Reviewed 11 January 2013

First off, I requested that TripAdvisor set up a separate listing for the Pu'u O'o vent and they refused, so we will just have to continue mixing up the Pu'u O'o Trail and the Vent, whatever, to people in the Mainland they all sound the same anyway. This is a review of the VENT.

The trail is much as described in Andrew Doughty's "Big Island Revealed" with some important exceptions. Most importantly, Doughty states, "you will want to be hiking by 7:30 am to make sure you aren't on the trail when it gets dark." Just to be clear, this is a 4 mile hike through the forest plus about a mile from the forest edge to the vent. If you need 11 hours to hike 10 miles, you probably should not be on this trail to begin with as it is pretty strenuous. We made 2 miles per hour on both sections of the trail which is a little slower than my usual pace on any other hiking trail and is a normal hiking pace. We started at 10:30 AM and made it back about half an hour before sundown, which set us up nicely to then drive up to the Jaggar Museum and get some nice shots of Kilauaea at sundown.

The hike is on the windward side of the island and so gets an enormous amount of rain. Further, the soil here is obviously rather recent and quite thin, with lava rocks only a few inches below the soil. So there isn't much room for all the water to go, and the tree roots are growing all over the surface of the soil. To my way of thinking, 8 miles of skipping over tree roots was much the hardest part of the hike. You really have to have hiking boots here and the stiffer the soles, the better. As for Doughty's optimistic statement that "most people will get their feet wet due to occasionally unavoidable puddles," both my companion and I got off the trail with mud up to our knees.

We took half a gallon of water and some oranges (for two people) and that was plenty. The air is not that dry and the hike is not so strenuous that you will consume an abnormal quantity of water, nor do you need to carry so much in.

After you get through the forest you will see some markers on the lava field. Pay close attention! We wandered off course slightly to the right and found ourselves in an a'a field that was much like walking through a gravel pit with steak knives. There are cairns, sticks, small white flags etc all the way up to the crater rim which will take you up the right way. Don't play it by ear. You can of course make your way through the a'a field but you don't want to.

Despite all the signs that tell you you can't use the trail, it's quite well kept. Particularly in the jungle portion you will notice mile markers and a lot of logs put down over muddy spots. My only theory for this is that the geologists keep the trail up so they can monitor and maintain the equipment they have up on the crater rim.

The vent itself is spectacular. First off, there is more helicopter traffic there than at Manhattan's 30th Street Seaport. And they are flying in quite close. I kind of wondered if one of them was going to call us in, but perhaps they thought we were geologists.

Second, you can get quite close to the lava lake. I was within a stone's throw of it. I suppose the volcanic activity is highly variable and if you want to scare yourself you can go back and read stories about how the vent has collapsed in previous years. For obvious reasons we did not venture on to the caldera, but you can still get great views staying on the crater rim.

Visited January 2013
28 Thank johnhhaskell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vancouver, WA
Level 6 Contributor
99 reviews
21 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
“Highlight of our visit”
Reviewed 18 November 2012

Gonna keep this short and sweet 'cause the other reviewers do a good job.

Called a couple of days ahead of time and booked a morning hike with Dave. (We wanted morning because we were worried about the evening's hike return in the dark. A good call, for us, but many people swear by the evening version....)

Anyways, when we arrived, we found out that Dave was already out on a hike and we got his partner, Stacy. She was absolutely fine for the two of us and we would recommend her too. Note that we did not get the running colorful commentary that other reviewers got when they went with Dave, but that was fine for us---we needed her to get us to the lava and get us back safely and she did that. She did a great job in not making us feel rushed or trying to upsell us on anything.

Advice: bring your own cheap whisk (for lava dipping--dorky, yes, but you will be happy to do it when you are there) and ask at your hotel for a "heat glove" so that you can get closer to the hot lava. (Dolphin Bay has one but we didnt ask for it because we thought that Dave would supply one. Our bad,) They do have hiking sticks to borrow and be sure to grab one.

So read the other reviews and decide for yourself: morning or evening hike. Bring a glove, Bring a whisk, Bring water. Bring aspirin for afterwards. :-)

Get ready for a great experience!

Visited November 2012
8 Thank LetsGooooooo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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