Boat tours thrill clients with views of molten lava dripping into the sea. // © 2016 Seelava.com
Feature image (above): Tour operators lead hearty hikers to Kilauea Volcano's most recent lava flow. // © 2016 Hawaii Forest & Trail
The news from Kilauea Volcano is downright sizzling. Although the active volcano has been erupting nonstop for more than three decades, its flowing lava recently reached the coastline, making it more accessible to visitors.
In response, Hawaii Island activity companies have sprung into action with land and sea tours that bring clients close to the molten lava as it snakes its way into the water. While travelers can view the current flow on their own, officials recommend booking a tour for safety’s sake.
“We have a range of tours led by trained professionals who provide guests with safe and respectful viewing opportunities, as well as cultural context for a memorable experience,” said Ross Birch, executive director of the Big Island Visitors Bureau.
In the past few weeks, the following tour operators have added itineraries specifically crafted for catching the latest lava action. Since Kilauea’s future output can’t be predicted, these excursions may be fine-tuned or canceled in the coming months. However, each firm will continue to present its standard Hawaii Volcanoes National Park tours, so travelers can explore its natural wonders any time of year.
Clients saddle up for a guided two-wheel adventure from the summit to the sea. Four different Bike to Lava tours are offered, each of which brings guests as close to the active flows as is safely possible. Some of the itineraries include lunch, and all come with snacks, beverages and roundtrip transportation from Hilo.
Hawaii Forest & Trail
This eco-tour company has revived its Kilauea Lava Hike. Geared toward hearty trekkers, the 3.5-hour challenge crosses 6-plus miles of uneven terrain. The effort pays off as clients stand near red-hot lava while learning about the area’s history and legends. Afterward, guests swap stories over a casual dinner in Hilo.
Hawaii Outdoor Guides
Designed only for physically fit clients, the Active Lava Flow Hike Tour is a guided five- to seven-hour trek across miles of rugged landscape — but the payoff is huge. Participants are outfitted with hiking sticks, backpacks, water and snacks. The full-day tour includes pickups and drop-offs in Kona, Waikoloa and Hilo.
During the Lava Expedition tour, clients set off on foot to find the most recent surface outbreaks and ocean entries. The 6- to 8-mile roundtrip hike leads to magnificent views of lava tubes, escaping gasses and radiant flows. The tour includes a picnic-style deli dinner surrounded by breathtaking volcanic vistas.
Lava Ocean Tours, Inc.
Non-hikers can sign up for one of this company’s Lava Boat Tours offered throughout the day. Guests get wet during the rough ride, which covers open-ocean waters along the island’s southeast coast. But creature comforts don’t matter compared to the spectacular views of brilliant orange lava oozing into the ocean.