Legal Lava Tours: How do you know a tour is legal?
Legal lava tours are the way to go to see the best active lava and stay safe!
Kilauea’s stunningly beautiful active lava flows draw visitors from around the world, but along with the beauty and excitement, are many significant hazards. On the active flow fields conditions can change rapidly, leaving the inexperienced or unaware in potentially life threatening danger. For this reason it’s especially important to be sure you’re trusting your safety to an experienced, professional, legitimate tour company.
Lava tourism is a largely unregulated industry here in Hawai’i, and it can be difficult for visitors to know whether a tour they’re considering is operating legally or not. New lava flows spring up literally overnight, and with them numerous guides and tour companies, some legitimate, and others not. Because safety is always paramount in the volcanic landscape, it’s very important to know that the tour you’re going with is a legal one.
Here are a few ways to tell whether a lava tour company is operating legally.
Lava flows move across the landscape with no regard for boundaries or private property, but legal lava tours do not. Legal tour companies will not trespass on private property or enter closed areas without permission.
In order to conduct tours inside the boundaries of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, companies must have a currently active Commercial Use Authorization (or CUA permit) issued by the national park. In addition, the guides must be certified to work in the park and attend annual CUA training sessions.
Presently, lava from the current flow is active almost exclusively within the national park, and the ocean entry is entirely inside the park boundaries. So to legally take you there, a tour company must have a valid CUA permit.
To work within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, tour companies are required to be insured and to comply with park rules, most of which are made to protect resources and to keep visitors safe.
Sticking or throwing anything into active lava can be dangerous, because at nearly 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, molten lava can cause serious injury, including 3rd degree burns. Also, because active lava is considered to be a kino lau (or body form) of the goddess Pele, sticking anything into flowing lava is considered to be extremely rude. Inside the national park, it’s actually against the law to poke sticks into active lava because it’s defacing a park resource. Legal tour guides will comply with these rules to protect the land and keep everyone safe.
The Kamokuna Ocean Entry is building a growing lava delta at the cliff base which is now more than 8 acres in size. These deltas regularly collapse sending scalding waves and flying debris out over both land and sea. If you happened to be standing too close to the cliff’s edge or were near the collapsing delta in a boat, you could be seriously injured or killed. Legal tour companies find good vantage points to see the ocean entry without sacrificing safely.
Lavaland Hawai’i offers tours to active lava only when the flows are safe and legally accessible. Our company has proper permits and safety inspections for all of our passenger transport vehicles. We hold a valid CUA permit and our guides are certified to work within Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park. Finally, we take safety very seriously, and will lead our guests to the best vantage points to safely view the lava flow.
Don’t miss one of the planets’ most spectacular shows! Come with us to see the active lava flow on one of our Lava Bike and Hike Tours. These popular tours book up fast so book soon to get the date you want.
Reserve yours here: Book my Lava Bike and Hike