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“Amazing! You have to do it - if not, you will miss out on the best experience ever with the best Tour Company & Guide.”
Review of VolcanoDiscovery Hawai'i - CLOSED

VolcanoDiscovery Hawai'i
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Owner description: VolcanoDiscovery Hawai'i is now proud to support educational excursions through the non-profit Friends of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park! By supporting the Friends, clients are provided with a captive expert guide of the same high quality but at a significantly lower cost than a luxury tour, with proceeds directly funding forest restoration, the Hawksbill Turtle (Honu 'ea) Recovery Project, the Nene Recovery Project, the park's Junior Ranger program, and the Youth Internship Program for underserved, at-risk students to work in the park. To experience the best of Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park with an expert instructor or naturalist guide, contact the Hawai'i Volcanoes Institute-On-Demand. Guides with VolcanoDiscovery training are available by special request through the Friends based on availability. VolcanoDiscovery continues to provide volcano news and global volcano travel despite discontinuing its Hawai'i luxury tour service.
Useful Information: Activities for older children
Reviewed 30 January 2011

To travel from Western Australia to Hawaii is a long way & the thing we wanted the most was to see the live lava flow up close. This wasn't possible with the excursions from the cruiseship "Pride of America" due to the sailing times. After numerous emails with Philip from Volcano Discovery we very luckily managed to secure the date that we were in Hilo, Hawaii for a 8hr private tour. We told him what we most wanted to see & learn about & Philip tailor made our tour.
From the moment he picked us up from the pier we knew that this was going to be a special day. His Chevrolet vehicle had the most comfortable seats and had heaps of room- very important for a long tour. We headed off to what is left of Kalapana Village and then a short distance away THERE was the lava flow. It was only a 10 min hike from where the road was blocked to the flow - not usually so close so we were really lucky that it was not a long hike. To see the lava up so close & walk across the lava field was awesome! It rained for a little while & the sizzling sound when it hit the lava - an extra which mother nature threw in for us! Philip explained everything you would want to know about volcanoes, how they are formed, eruptions, etc the list goes on. He did this in a way that was easy to understand and he had our total attention.
We then went a short distance away to the Black Sand beach - the contrast here against the beautiful blue ocean - what a sight!
Philip then drove us to the Volcanoes National Park - during the journey up there we learnt about Madam Pele the Volcano Goddess & Hawaiian cultures - so interesting. We even learnt more about Captain Cook and how he was eventually killed than we had learnt at home!
Arriving at the VNP we saw Kileau Crater - the lava pit within was smokin! Plumes of dirty white steam spewing out - wish we were able to view it at night with the red glow against the black sky. This crater is massive - Philip had a file with diagrams, photos of previous flows, eruptions etc - this helped to really understand what happened here. Mauna Loa & Mauna Kea in the background too - scenery plus.
Next, was a hike through the rainforest at the edge of the crater - you get a different view of how massive this crater is & a wonderful walk through a most amazing rainforest. It really surprised us at seeing so many different trees, plants etc and how they adapt to this environment - everything was once again explained so thoroughly by Philip. We were really thankful for his knowledge - to see other people just walking through the rainforest without knowing what they were really seeing was such a shame.
We then arrived at the Thurston Lava Tube - impressive - to think we were walking through something that had lava flowing through it! Once again, heaps of tourists walking through, not stopping to look around and not knowing what they were really seeing.
We then made out way back through the rainforest to the car where Philip had a yummy selection of fresh prepared local fruit. Drinks, snacks were available to us any time during the tour from the well stocked vehicle.
After this we were driven back to the pier with plenty of time to board the cruiseship.
This tour would have to be the highlight of our 3 weeks on the Hawaiian Islands and something we will never forget. If we ever make it back again, we will book another tour with Philip to see some different sights.
Philip is a wealth of knowlege for such a young person - not only is he a Geologist & has worked at the US Volcanoes National Park, but he has an extensive knowledge of Botany and the Hawaiian Culture. Our 20 yr old son & 15 yr old daughter just soaked up everything he said. As well as being a total professional, Philip is friendly, easy going and relates well to all age groups. For the price we paid $175pp for an 8 hour tour, you won't get better value anywhere else with the same detail & knowledge. Consider the price of a helicopter ride over the lava flow - no way do you see the same awesome sight that we saw so close.

1  Thank Williams2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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255 - 259 of 297 reviews

Reviewed 16 January 2011

Our family did an all day (literally from 8 a.m - 2 a.m)private tour with Vocano Discovery - our guide was Arthur and what can I say - It was FANTASTIC!
We were staying on the Kona side so Arthur picked us up at our hotel and we toured the island from Kona to Volcano with great sightseeing stops, lots of great stories and memories we will cheish forever. Our trip culminated with a "lava proximity hike" at night. This was the most amazing thing we had ever seen. Even our 14 year old daughter and 16 year old son were impressed! We literally walked on 1 hour old freshly crusted lava! We took tons of pictures (see some of them as I have posted them here). My wife and I have been to the Islands three times previously and have done a lot of stuff - but this was the best ever.
Everything was as advertised from the payment to quick correspondence to great attention to detail.
We all know that Hawaii is very expensive but this tour was the best value for money of any excursion we have ever done.
If you do nothing else during your trip - DO THIS!!

1  Thank Crazy_Canucks_4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 January 2011

Last time I visited the Big Island was in the 80s just before Pele awoke and lava started flowing. So, I've wanted to return ever since and finally did. I'm very interested in natural science and Volcano Discovery seemed like a good match. My email inquiry got a return phone call from Philip right away. He was very knowledgeable and said if a couple confirmed our group of 3 was a "go". Several days later I was excited when he called to confirm. They emailed several documents and checklists which really helped me plan the right clothing and footwear.

Philip took us around Kilauea and down the Chain of Craters with many stops. He was informative and I didn't feel it was a "canned" tour. The other two also knew a lot about volcanos, so Philip got very in-depth and technical, which was what everyone wanted. Our time with Philip was from 10am to 6pm including a lunch break at a local cafe.After dropping everyone off at their lodging, the other business partner Arthur picked us up at 8pm.

Andrew drove us down to Kaimu along the coast. It was about an hour's drive. Kaimu is where the famous Black Sand Beach *used* to be...it was buried by a lava flow years ago. Lava had stopped flowing into the ocean in late November but was flowing higher up. That involved crossing private property but Volcano Discovery has arrangements with the locals. The general public could not legally get to the flowing lava (as of January it has again reached the ocean). We got into a Rhino and were driven about 5 miles into the remains of a subdivision. We hiked about 2 miles up a gradual slope and reached the lava. It was absolutely incredible...when we crossed an area about to be covered Arthur pointed out we were the last people who would ever set foot there...and when we crossed several day old lava we were the first. The heat was absolutely intense like being in front of a huge pizza oven. Adding to the magic, the Geminid meteor shower was blazing away overhead.

After a few hours around the lava we reluctantly hiked back to the Rhino that came to meet us..and got to the B&B around 2am exhausted but very satisfied. I highly recommend this tour, especially if you're interested in science, geology, physics, etc. Even if you aren't they will provide a great experience.

Two tips- At the end of the road in Kalapana there are a variety of "tour guides". Locals told me most are privateers who trespass or take groups into unsafe situations. Both our guides were very aware of hazards I wouldn't have expected and carried gas masks, spare flashlights, etc. The other tip- digital cameras and camcorders are very infra-red (heat) sensitive. The massive amount of heat totally confuses most cameras and the lava will look white, pink, and purple. What worked best was turning on the flash. The flash does nothing but it adjusts the exposure so the lava comes out the correct color.

4  Thank kenish
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 January 2011

Myself, husband and two children 10 and 13 had a tour with Arthur, he was amazing, he made the tour an unforgetable lifetime experience.
He was very genuine and passionate about what he was doing, and made us feel very special, we felt a great connection with Arthur and it was very sad to say good by at the end of the tour.
The tour was extremly professional and informative, and fantastic food.
We had excellent communication with Phillip leading up to the tour, and they accommodated our needs perfectly.
Thank you Arthur, we learnt so much, a real highlight of our Hawaii trip.

2  Thank Sharon8875
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 January 2011

We toured with Arthur to see the lava a few night ago and it was wonderful. Given the situation, we not only wanted someone with knowledge to educate us on what's going on but also someone who had safety in mind. Arthur did both. We had a phenomenal experience. This is so worth doing but also something that needs to be done with knowledge and respect. I recommend Volcano Discovery.

1  Thank MichiganTraveler6
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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