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Lava FAQ:

Got Questions About Lava Tours?

Here are some answers to common questions folks have asked us about lava, lava hikes and the current eruption. All information in the Lava FAQ is updated regularly and accurately reflects current conditions.

Q: Are you taking reservations for active lava tours right now?

A: Yes, we are currently taking reservations for future lava tours.

We currently offer two ways to see active lava: our Lava Bike and Hike Tours, and for those who prefer walking, our original Lava Hikes.

You can also book Private Lava Tours with the option to bike or hike only. For Private Lava Tour pricing and details contact us here: Private Lava Tour Information

See details for each tour here: Lava Hike Tours and Lava Bike and Hike Tours

Q: Do you guarantee I will see active lava?

A: While we cannot guarantee what nature has in mind when you’ll be visiting, if there is no accessible lava on the day of your tour you may choose to reschedule for another day, if possible, or if you prefer, we’ll refund you in full – your choice. 

Q: Is there always active lava to see?

A: Volcanic activity is ever changing and can start, stop or change without any notice. At times Kilauea’s eruptions do pause, and sometimes flows are not active on the coastal plain. Conditions can change in a matter of hours or even minutes and there is no way to predict what will happen from day to day. We’ll do our best keep our guests posted as to changing conditions and tour status as the situation develops.

Q: Can you tell me what I’ll be able to see in advance?

A: Due to the ever changing activity and location of surface lava breakouts we cannot tell you what conditions will be like in advance. Lava flows start and stop without warning and are impossible to predict. Your guide will be able to let you know what to expect when you meet for the tour. 

Q: What’s the best way to plan a trip to the Big Island that will include a lava tour?

A: Taking a lava tour is certainly a once in a lifetime experience and active lava is one of the Big Island’s great attractions. But because lava flows are natural phenomena and are constantly changing there’s no way to be certain what the activity will be on any given day. Changes often happen quite suddenly so we’re unable to give our guests any advance notice. For this reason it’s best to plan your visit to the Big Island with a “Plan B” in mind in case there is no active lava during that time. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of amazing and beautiful places here on our island to explore, including Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park’s summit area. We offer several tours of the park and you’ll always have the option to change your reservation to one of our park tours in the event there is no lava.  

Q: What kind of shoes do I need to do a lava tour?

A: For these tours you MUST have good running shoes or hiking boots for your safety.You’ll need lace-up shoes with deep tread and sturdy uppers which cover your entire foot. Your shoes should be in good condition without any holes and must have adequate tread to grip the loose rock. You’ll also appreciate a good layer of padding in the soles of your shoes on the rough rock. If you didn’t bring good shoes you can buy an inexpensive pair of running shoes in Hilo or Kailua-Kona and, if possible, wear them a day or two before your tour with a good pair of socks. You’ll want to have thick socks that go up a few inches above your shoe tops to keep tiny shards of rock out. You can see some examples here: Footwear for Lava

Please note: we cannot take anyone who arrives without adequate footwear. If you’re not sure your shoes will work for this tour just contact us and we’ll be happy to advise.

Q: How close will I be able to get to the active lava?

A: When surface lava (lava flowing on the ground) is available you can stand right next to it and feel the heat, but it’s important to understand that surface activity changes frequently and is impossible to predict. Surface flows can start and stop in a matter of hours or less without any notice. Our guides are very skilled at finding surface lava and will take you to it whenever it’s available within reasonable distance, and conditions are safe but we cannot guarantee what you will see ahead of time.

Q: How far will I have to hike and how long will it take?

A: Because conditions are ever-changing we can’t say for sure exactly how far you’ll be hiking or the exact duration of your tour in advance. Instead we give a range of distances and times to give you an idea of what to expect. Although the distance and duration are frequently shorter than the high end of the range we list, everyone in your party should be able to hike that distance and be prepared to spend that much time. Your guide will discuss the latest conditions when we meet for the tour.

Q: Do you allow children on your Lava Hikes and Lava Bike and Hike Tours?

A: We do allow children who are at least 14 years old on our Lava Hikes and Lava Bike and Hike Tours. On Private Lava Tours we’ll allow children 12 and up. The reason for the age limit on this tour is the degree of difficulty.

We’re happy to include children 7 and up on our Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Tours, and we can accommodate families with younger children on Private Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Tours, however you will not see active lava on either of these tours.

Q: What is the bike ride like on your Lava Bike and Hike Tours and what kind of bikes do you use?

A: The biking portion of our Lava Bike and Hike Tours takes place on the gravel emergency access road and can be up to 3 miles round trip. Because activity can change, this distance may sometimes be shorter if it’s easier to access the lava by hiking more and biking less. We take a leisurely pace with the ride and the purpose of using bikes is to get to the lava in a more convenient and efficient way (it’s not a race or marathon). The road has a few low hills and some patches of loose gravel. You do not need to be an expert biker, you just need to be able to ride a bike on gravel. We like to use cruiser style bikes because most people think they’re more comfortable than mountain bikes on the gravel road. We have various sizes available so if anyone in your group is taller or shorter than average be sure to let us know. 

Q: Do you offer early morning and daytime lava tours?

A: All of our lava tours meet in the late afternoon and return after dark.

Q: The weather forecast says it may rain. Do you cancel if it rains?

A: Our tours run rain or shine and we only cancel due to weather if conditions are unsafe. Our weather patterns are extremely local here so the daily forecasts are often not very accurate. Kilauea’s coastal lava fields typically receive less rain than other windward areas but if it does rain we’ll have zip up rain jackets for you.

Q: If you have to cancel when will you let me know?

A: On occasion we have to cancel our lava tours due to hazardous conditions, changes in activity, and/or area closures. Whenever this happens we’ll try to give everyone as much notice as possible, but these decisions often have to be made shortly before the tour meeting time.

In the event we have to cancel we’ll contact you asap via the phone number and/or email you provide us, so be sure to keep an eye on your messages. If we do have to cancel for any reason you can reschedule for another day, if possible, or we’ll refund you 100%.

Q: Can you tell me if I’ll be able to see lava when I come to visit in the future?

A: Volcanic eruptions are notoriously unpredictable, and no one can say what the volcano will do in the future. We’ll do our best to keep you informed of the latest major changes in activity here on our Hawai’i Lava News page.

Q: How far in advance should I book my lava tour?

A: Our lava tours are very popular and they tend to book up quickly. We recommend booking your tour as soon as your travel plans are set. In the event there is no active lava at the time of your visit you can choose to join another one of our tours and we’ll credit your payment, or if you prefer, we’ll refund you in full. It’s always best to book early so you can get the tour you want.

Q: How many people will be on the tour?

A: For safety reasons and for a better all around experience we keep our groups small. Unlike most other companies, we’ll only take up to 14 guests maximum on our regular tours. You can also book a Private Lava Tour with us. For more information about these tours click here: Private Lava Tour Information

Q: Is lava entering the ocean right now?

A: In November 2017 lava stopped flowing into the Pacific at the Kamokuna Ocean Entry and now there is no lava flowing into the sea. The current activity is now miles from the ocean.

Q: Can I poke the lava with a stick or throw something into it?

A: In Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, where the current lava flow is active, it’s actually against the law to poke sticks or put things into active lava because it’s considered defacing a park resource. Also, here in Hawai’i active lava is considered to be a kino lau (or body form) of the goddess Pele, so sticking or throwing anything into flowing lava is considered to be extremely rude. And finally it’s quite dangerous, because at nearly 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, molten lava can cause serious injury, including 3rd degree burns. 

Q: Can I see active, red lava on a Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park Tour, Cruise Ship HVNP-Hilo Tour, Kilauea Lava Glow Tour or Island Hop Lava Glow Tour?

A: You most likely will not see active lava on our tours of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. The only tours to see the active lava flow are our Lava Hike Tours , Lava Bike and Hike Tours and Private Lava Tours.

Q: Do you offer boat or helicopter tours to see lava? 

A: No, we do not. All of our tours are exclusively land based. (Our Cruise Ship HVNP-Hilo Tour is a shore excursion for guests who will be arriving on cruise ships and does not include active lava viewing).

Q: Is the meeting point for  Lava Hikes and Lava Bike and Hike Tours near Hilo or Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park? Do these tours include transportation?

A: Our tours to active lava do not include transportation and you will need a rental car to get to our Kalapana meeting point. It’s about an hour’s drive from Hilo and over an hour from Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park and Volcano Village. You will receive detailed directions with your confirmation and can see a rough map HERE

Q: What should I do about lunch or dinner if I’m on a lava tour?

A: We’ll provide light snacks for the tour but we do recommend you enjoy a late lunch a little while beforehand. You can find a wide range of restaurants in Hilo. There are also a few in Volcano Village and Pahoa. The last grocery store and gas stations you’ll pass are located in Pahoa. If you would like a hot meal after the tour Ken’s House of Pancakes in Hilo is open 24 hours and has an extensive menu. 

Q: Are any other volcanoes currently erupting anywhere else in the Hawaiian Islands?

A: At the moment, only Kilauea, here on the Big Island, is erupting.

Q: I heard there’s an active lava lake in the park. Can I see lava there?

A: What is now the planet’s largest active lava lake lies deep within Halema’uma’u Crater at Kilauea’s summit within the national park. You can see the fuming crater from a viewing terrace across the summit caldera. The actual red lava is usually too far down inside crater to see, but at dusk, our guests are able see the glow from the lava lake light up the crater wall and steam plume. Occasionally red lava is visible as the lake rises to higher levels and spatters. On just a few occasions, the lake surface has risen just into view, but there is no way to predict when this will happen. In any case, the beautiful glow is a really gorgeous sight and makes for some great nighttime photo opportunities. You can see the glow and much more on our popular Lava Glow Tours.

Q: When do I need to pay?

A: We ask for payment at the time of confirmation to hold your reservation. We are unable to hold reservations without payment in full.

Q: What if I need to cancel my reservation?

A: You can see our full cancellation and late policy here: Cancellation/Late Policy

Q: Who should NOT take these tours to active lava?

A: Our tours to active lava are not for everyone. You must be fit, in good physical condition and able to hike miles across rough, uneven, trackless terrain. Walking across a lava field’s uneven terrain takes considerably more energy and concentration than hiking on a trail. It requires a good sense of balance, good vision and good stamina. You do not need to be an athlete but you must be fit enough to hike on the lava field safely.   

We are unable to take anyone with preexisting health conditions, including but not limited to: hip, knee, ankle or foot issues, recent surgeries, vision problems, poor depth perception, night blindness, poor balance, osteoporosis, heart conditions, asthma, hemophilia, allergies to sulfur, lack of stamina, any serious health problems, anyone who is significantly overweight or women who may be pregnant.

We always put safety first, so if your guide believes you are not able to safely proceed at any point, or you are unable to keep up with the group, you will not be allowed to continue with the tour and must turn back for your own, and the group’s, safety. Please note we are unable to issue refunds for guests we have to turn back so be sure that you and everyone in your party can meet the physical requirements. 

Fortunately it doesn’t happen very often that we have to turn people back since most of our guests understand the requirements before booking. The majority of those we’ve had to turn back have had one or more of the conditions listed above but tried to conceal it. Others who have had trouble were significantly overweight, and/or not regularly active (especially those over 50). If you are concerned about your or anyone else in your party’s ability we are happy to answer your questions to help you decide whether these tours are for you.