Elite Volcano Hike (From Kohala)
A trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is ‘a must’ for nearly all Big Island visitors. You could certainly try to create a do-it-yourself itinerary for a day trip to the park, but if you want to get the most out of your experience, traveling with a knowledgeable guide is the way to go.
Sure, you could research the park’s attractions, natural history, volcanology, geology, flora and fauna on your own, but who has time for that? Instead, let a National Park Service certified guide take you to all the best spots and provide you with all the essential background information - the stories, in-depth information, and cultural context that will enhance your experience and your appreciation for the natural wonders all around you.
And they’ll even pick you up and drop you off right at your hotel, so you can leave the driving to a pro too!
You’ll travel from Kohala to Hilo via the iconic and picturesque Saddle Road, which stretches between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa volcanoes. Just outside of Hilo, you’ll stop to explore Kaumana Caves. Kaumana is a massive lava tube created by Mauna Loa’s destructive 1881 eruption. After Kaumana, your driver will take you on a short drive along Hilo’s historic waterfront.
After a quick stop in Hilo to pick up the day’s provisions, you’ll head to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to continue the adventure. Your tour will include stops at the park’s must-see-attractions and a short, three mile hike into Kilauea’s Caldera.
Halema’uma’u Trail Hike: At just under three miles, this will be your longest hike of the day. Starting from just behind the historic Volcano House hotel, the Crater Rim Trail has long been used by adventurers to hike into Kilauea’s caldera since it was first established in 1846. The trail slowly descends about 425 feet to the caldera floor, which recently doubled in size during the 2018 eruption.
The trail begins with a walk through ancient tree ferns, which is a great place to spot native birds such as the yellow ‘amakihi and the red ‘apapane. The landscape gradually becomes more barren as you approach the caldera and you’ll encounter boulders which came to rest along the trail during past rock slides and eruptions. You’ll also spot some of the marks left behind by the earliest tourists and historical figures, dating back to the early 1850’s.
Once you reach the caldera floor, you’ll have an opportunity to take in the massive, steaming, 1,000 foot deep pit. You’ll then hike up out of the caldera, skirting around the edge via the Byron Ledge Trail. This is a fairly steep ascent, about 400 feet in under half a mile, but it offers sweeping views and plenty of places where you’ll want to stop for photos and catch your breath. And once you reach the top you’ll enjoy a rewarding view of the caldera below.
Next you’ll hike to Waldron Overlook and enjoy views of Pu’u Pua’i and Iki Crater. Then, you’ll return to the Volcano House via the Old Crater Rim Drive, a closed park road which is slowly being consumed by vegetation and lava flows. You’ll enjoy a short break and great views once back at the Volcano House. Then your guide will take you to some of the other amazing sites and activities that the park has to offer, including:
- Kilauea Visitor Center
- Nahuku Lava Tube
- Look for Pele’s tears and lava trees in the lava flow of Mauna Ulu
- Option to return to the park after dinner for lava viewing (if it is present and conditions permit)
Meals: A picnic lunch in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and a dinner at a restaurant in Volcano Village, just outside of the park, are included in the tour. There are several meal options available for both lunch and dinner. (You’ll be asked to pre order during the checkout process when making your reservation).
Schedule: Tours run every Wednesday and Saturday, year-round. Kohala area hotel pick-ups begin at 8:00 am, and guests can expect to return between 8:00 pm and 9:00 pm.
Know Before You Book
Lava flowing is an act of nature, therefore we do not guarantee sighting of lava. Surface lava flows may be present but may not be visible due to environmental conditions or time constraints.
Guests must cancel tour no less than 48 hours before tour departure for a full refund.
- Ground transportation to and from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, including hotel pick-up and drop-off
- 13-hour, fully narrated tour with a national park certified guide
- Entrance fees to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Picnic lunch
- Dinner at a Volcano Village restaurant
The tour begins in Kohala, travels to Kaumana Caves, then Hilo, then spends most of the day exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. After a short dinner just outside the park boundary, the tour returns to Kohala. The tour may add on a lava viewing stop after dinner if lava is present and conditions permit.
The tour has a twelve (12) person limit.
Lava sightings are not guaranteed. Eruptions are unpredictable and volcanic conditions are always changing. Weather conditions such as fog or rain may also obscure lava sightings even when present. Please check the USGS’s Volcano Updates site for the most current information.
Tours may be canceled due to inclement weather. If a tour cannot be rescheduled, you will be given a full refund.
48 hour notice (before scheduled tour departure) required in order to receive a full refund.
Lava fields are shadeless and can be hot, but it can also be windy and chilly at Kilauea’s summit. Dress comfortably in light, removable layers and bring along a light jacket or rain jacket.
Lava rock is uneven, sharp, and slippery when wet. Sturdy, closed-toe walking shoes and long pants are highly recommended. Sandals, flip-flops, or any other type of slip-on shoes will not be accepted.
Sun and rain protection, a reusable water bottle, and a daypack to carry them in are recommended.
Yes, this tour is open to all ages.