The main thing that we wanted to do during our time in Hawaii was to see the lava viewing on The Big Island. It’s the main reason we decided to visit The Big Island. Seeing an active volcano was definitely a bucket list item. When we started researching how to view the lava we found a few main options: helicopter, boat, walking tours or walking out yourself. While a helicopter would have been amazing it was totally out of the budget, with the Canadian exchange it would have been over $1000 for the two of us. A boat tour would have been cool as well but I felt like I wanted to see the lava ocean entry as well as the vent and park. We settled on a walking tour, we wanted a guided tour experience rather then attempting it ourselves.
Lava Viewing On The Big Island With Kapohokine Adventures
After some research we decided on Kapohokine Adventures, they offered various tours to see the lava and have adventures on The Big Island from both Hilo and Kona. We love hiking so we decided on the Lava Expedition Tour out of Hilo. This was a full day tour that included lunch and dinner, a hike out to the ocean entry, a tasting at volcano winery and night viewing of the vent at Volcano National Park. We also ended up stopping at various other places along the way. They have a private parking spot as close to the volcano as you can get.
Our day started by boarding our tour bus in Hilo and hitting the road! Our tour guide told us all about the volcano which is named Kilauea and answered all of our volcano-related questions. The first stop on the tour was the town of Pahoa, which was almost destroyed by lava flow in 2015. The lava got as far as the town dump, then as luck would have it, stalled. Our tour guide told us this was the most famous dump in all of America!
Ocean Entry & Hike
After we left Pahoa, we headed to the ocean entry. Kapohokine gets as close as you legally can to the ocean entry. From the tour bus the ocean entry viewing was a 4 mile round trip hike. The hike itself is flat but it is hot as hell. Of course, when you are that close to anactive volcano it’s going to be hot! Our tour guide came prepared with lots of water, snacks, sunscreen, and extra backpacks if you didn’t bring one. There was a washroom (porta potty) at the beginning of the hike as well.
When we arrived at the ocean entry viewing point we setup and had lunch watching the live volcano erupting! It was super steamy that day so unfortunately we didn’t see any glowing red lava coming out but it was still something else to see! Bruce’s sister and her husband came out to the ocean entry that night and did see some glowing red lava in the dark. If we were staying an extra day we likely would have walked out again at night to see it. We walked the 2 miles back out and it was so so hot! It felt like we were walking in the desert. Getting back on the air-conditioned bus was the best thing ever.
Volcano Winery Tasting & Dinner
We had about an hour drive ahead of us at this point and most people fell asleep. I think we were all exhausted from the heat. Our next stop was the Volcano Winery for a wine tasting and dinner. The winery itself was gorgeous. The wine tasting wasn’t a true tasting that you normally experience but I had read all the trip advisor reviews so I knew what to expect. There were several tour groups that met here so we were given a brief explanation of the wines and a small sample of all 8. The dessert wines were too sweet for me but I liked the drier ones. At the end of the tasting you choose your favourite and they pour you a full size glass, I went with the Rose.
Dinner was a buffet style BBQ – chicken, ribs, and salads, it was good! During dinner you could also sample the winery’s tea that they also grow on site. They also offer a tour of the winery which we did. The sun was setting at this point and it was golden hour. I shot one of my favourite photos of the entire trip on the tour, the light was perfection. Once we were done the tour it was time to pack up, it was at this point I changed into my leggings and a sweater before we headed to Volcanoes National Park for the night viewing. The elevation at the park is 5,000 feet. Bruce didn’t find it cold but I was glad I had my leggings because it was cooler at higher elevation.
Night Viewing Of Kiluea
Our first stop in Volcanoes National Park was to view the steam vents as well as the main vent of Kiluea from the other side. You can stand over the steam vents and feel the heat, so cool! Just seeing the landscape and views of the park was amazing. The park is open 24 hours a day so you can visit anytime. When we head back to The Big Island one day I definitely hope to explore it again, it is a massive park.
Just before sunset we headed to the Jagger Museum to view the vent at night. This was our final stop and we stayed here for almost an hour. The museum had tons of info about Kiluea and volcanos in general which was great to check out while we waited for the sun to go down. As it got closer to dark we headed out to get a spot to setup the camera. I won’t lie, it was crowed but we headed over to the side and managed to get a spot to get lots of pictures. As the sun went down I couldn’t believe how amazing it was to see the lava at night. It was one of those surreal moments where you can’t believe you are seeing an active volcano.
Thoughts On The Tour
And then it was over! We all boarded the bust for the 30ish minute ride back to Hilo. Both Bruce and I were exhausted but it was an amazing day. Overall, we had a great experience with Kapohokine Adventures, the tour was very well organized and I thought good value for our money. We got to see a lot, the cost of the tour is $129 USD and is 8 hours so you are getting a lot of bang for your buck! You could experience most of these places on your own but as an unfamiliar tourist sometimes it’s nice to leave the planning to the professionals. We got to experience a lot that we wouldn’t have seen or learned about without the tour so I highly recommend considering Kapohokine if you are headed to The Big Island.
Disclaimer: Kapohokine Adventures partnered with me in exchange for an unbiased review of my experience, as always all opinions are my own.