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“If you only do one thing on the Big Island, make it this”

Kalapana Cultural Tours
Ranked #1 of 14 Tours in Pahoa
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: LAVA Tours: Boat | Bike | Hike Big Island, Hawaii Native Kalapana Hawaiian Owned & Operated See lava with someone whose house is buried in it! Lava Tour Schedule 2016 Boat: 5:00am, 8:00am, 2:30pm, 5:00pm, 8:00pm Bike / Hike: 5:00am, 8:00am, 3:30pm, 5:00pm Private Tour/Boat Charter: anytime upon request
Useful Information: Bathroom facilities, Activities for older children, Food available for purchase, Activities for young children
Reviewed 6 September 2013

Where do you even begin? We watched molten lava cracking, popping and hissing its way out of the ground before forming rivers and seeping its way, slowly, towards us.

It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that words can't really describe. You can feel your eyelashes and the hairs on your arm tingling from the heat.

The hike itself is uneven, as billed. You're on dried lava flow, what do you expect? Wear sensible shoes, hiking boots if possible, and take lots of water. It's hot! Little bits of rock will stick to your shoes and there's a good chance you will roll your ankle at least once if you do t have proper shoes on.

On the return journey, the sky was perfectly clear and there were stars stretching from horizon to horizon, with no artificial street lights. It was almost as incredible as the lave. Almost.

In my opinion, this isn't really for kids. They'll take children over the age of ten but it's a five-hour round-trip over tough terrain. Most people will want to get it over with, especially on the way back, so, unless your kids are tough and non-whiny, bring them back when they're up to it.

Our guide, Selma, was terrific. Knowledgable and tough. You want a balance between telling everyone what things are, and simply getting on with the walk. She was spot-on for that.

If you're reasonably fit, then this is truly one of the greatest things you'll ever do.

Thank K W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kalapana_CT, Guide at Kalapana Cultural Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 20 December 2013

We agree -- our hometown is unlike anywhere in the world! Mahalo so much for joining us (Khod..). At the time you visited, the hike was longer than average so great to hear that you enjoyed the journey. I really enjoyed your conversation along the way and open ears to learn about this magical place and culture. Aloha and a hui hou.
Your Guide,
Selma

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263 - 267 of 411 reviews

Reviewed 3 September 2013

On my bucket list was to see lava flow into the ocean. This outfit made that happen for me and it was an adventure!
It's a little challenging to find them in the jungle on the beach but follow their directions to the site and you will be OK. GPS doesn't work well on Hawaii so follow what they tell you! They are on the Hilo side of the island about 1 hour outside of Hilo. You will go through beautiful dense jungle so give yourself time to enjoy the site of that!
You will arrive at a little kiosk next to a banquet space and a bar right on the beach. I was not there on a Wednesday, but wish I had, as they have a jam session on that night and it would have been a hell of a topper on the adventure!
When we were there (August 2013) it was $100 per person and they had tours leaving at 4,430 and 5 they sell out so make a res on the phone! Each tour stays out past dark so you will see the lava at night no matter which you take.
We took the 5pm, they divided us into 2 groups that got in to 2 vans to go to the start point. The roundtrip hike was 4.6 miles. This isn't an adventure for someone who cannot hike that distance! Do yourself and the others a favor and take a boat if you cannot hike that. The lava is uneven and you will be maneuvering around cracks and up and down the flows. The guide shows you the newest flows and the homes it took out. Really amazing people rebuild on the site!
You will arrive on the cliff above the lava with a good view of it flowing into the ocean, so spectacular I was speechless. It's mesmerizing and I can only compare it to staring into a campfire at the red embers only this is FLOWING!!! We went up on the cliff above and the lava there was so hot under our feet you could feel the heat from the rocks. You will spend about an hour there and then everyone will hike back in the dark.
This is quite cool. They provide you flashlights if you need one but I had brought my own along with a headlamp and another lamp. The lava swallows up the light from all of the flashlights and allows you just enough light to see a little bit. You feel quite small out there on this huge field of lava.
I wore jeans because I'm kind of a klutz and feared tripping on the sharp lava. That didn't happen as it is so rough it really holds your footing but if you are concerned wear long pants. It's quite a hike and I wished I had wore a tank top instead of a tshirt as I got a little warm. Bring at least 1.5 liters of water and if it's in a backpack that is the best. Of course do not forget your camera and a good sense of adventure!
The outfit is ran by native hawaiians who have ties to that area, they are nice and knowledgeable about the area and it's history. The facilities are rustic with portapotties for bathrooms.
I recommend them and the bar serves up cold beers when you get back! Enjoy!

1  Thank MelissaCassidy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kalapana_CT, Owner at Kalapana Cultural Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 20 December 2013

Mahalo, Melissa, for joining us Hawaiians out here in Kalapana! We are happy to hear that you felt safe while standing around the heated rocks and watching the active lava flow into the ocean. Also glad to hear you enjoyed the bar's hospitality at our grandfather's house after your tour! Aloha and a hui hou! Aloha, Ikaika

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Reviewed 2 September 2013

After several previous attempts, we finally got to see live lava flowing! We did our research to find the best possible venue for viewing (i.e. boat, helicopter, hike) while we were visiting the Big Island. It turned out that the hike was going to be our best bet this time. We consulted with the concierge at our hotel and she connected us to Kalapana Cultural Tours. You really have to want to do this: 5 hour round-trip drive from the Kohala coast to Pahoa, 5+/- hour round-trip hike (half of which is in the dark with flashlights!). We did it and we loved it!! The hike is only difficult in that you have to be very aware of where you are stepping. You are crossing a massive lava field that is extremely uneven terrain. Our guides were brothers who are part of a multi-generational family that has lived in this area for many years. They know and respect the culture and myths of the lava and impart that knowledge to those they are entrusted with guiding. We were able to spend about a half hour or so communing with the lava - it was awesome!! I would highly recommend adding Kalapana Cultural Tours to your Big Island itinerary.

Thank Lisa K
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Kalapana_CT, Owner at Kalapana Cultural Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 20 December 2013

We are glad our lava tour made your drive WORTH IT, Lisa! All of our tour guides are our family who have been displaced by the volcanic eruption - so we are happy to hear that you enjoyed the brothers leading you through memory lane over their buried hometown of Kalapana. Thank you for joining us to experience our culture, the history of our village and - of course - flowing lava! Aloha! --Ikaika

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Reviewed 1 September 2013

We hiked with two kids age's 12 and 15 years old and had no trouble at all. Yes it is long, hot and you return in the dark, but if you have water and watch where you step, it's pretty basic. Our guide didn't have a lot to say and tended to repeat himself, but he was well prepared when it came to flashlights, poncho's etc. and was a pretty nice guy. The lava itself was amazing, lots of surface flow and cool formations. The group that came with sticks shared with the kids, so they could "poke" it too, which was great. Overall, well worth the money, it's their land so if you want to get up close, pay the fee and have an amazing time! Unbelievable photos!!!!

Thank KMJ24
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kalapana_CT, Owner at Kalapana Cultural Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 20 December 2013

Kids and teens love our volcanic home (sometimes the uniqueness feels like another planet) and we think we are able to really make it fun --and safe-- for them since we all grew up here and remember running around here as kids like it was yesterday! Great to hear that your guide was well prepared with lights, ponchos and the safety essentials. We are constantly working hard on the improving as a whole including the quality information our guides provide to guests. Our family business now has weekly "workshops" with our Hawaiian elders simply to discuss the volcano, our town that the lava buried and how our elders believe we should relay this history to visitors. This helps us maintain our Hawaiian roots, have endless Hawaiian myths/legends/facts to share with guests, and ultimately, perpetuate our Hawaiian culture in a way our elders find respectable which is our business mission. Please contact us if you would like more information on the area where you hiked. Our goal is always to EXCEED your expectations. Mahalo for joining us and bringing the family! A hui hou. Sincerely, Ikaika

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Reviewed 28 August 2013

5 mile round trip over hardened lava fields. We saw stunning views of surface lava flows within a distance of only a few feet. We would recommend this tour to anyone! Be sure to check their website to check current lava flow conditions before booking. We took the 5 pm tour which made seeing the lava at night even better!

Thank Wicked2039
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Kalapana_CT, Owner at Kalapana Cultural Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 20 December 2013

The evening tours are my favorite also to see the sunset over the glowing lava field! Right you are that our blog (on www.kalapanaculturaltours.com) has the most current lava conditions - we work with USGS and visit the lava site wherever the lava flows daily as research to update this daily blog. It is fun to look back and see how much the lava has changed since you last took the tour also! Mahalo for joining us and aloha!

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