We’ve been traveling so much, it’s been hard to keep up on all the blog posts! Kevin and I recently got back from our packed long weekend on the Big Island of Hawaii. If there is one thing I’m good at, it’s maximizing an itinerary. But one activity that stood out the most was our early morning hike in Hilo, Hawaii, to see an active volcano with Epic Lava Tours.
We did the sunrise tour listed on the tour website as the “most popular” option. But this is not for the weak! The meet-up time for this tour was a painful 4 AM. Clearly, we were not going to get much sleep on this vacation.
They offer an afternoon tour, but mornings are the best time to visit since its cooler and dark enough to see the lava. We left the Airbnb cottage at 3:30 AM and drove to a gas station to meet up with our guides, Jon, and Jeff Judd, a local Hawaiian celebrity of sorts after falling into the lava years ago and surviving. Wait, that can really happen? Apparently so. And he was more than willing to share what it was like. In short: painful!
We arrived at Volcano National Park in pitch darkness and our guide Jon was bouncing with excitement after seeing the red glow in the distance. The tour includes a backpack with water, snacks, poncho and a flashlight along with gloves. Why the gloves? The dried lava rock is sharp as broken glass. So these are to protect your hands if you trip (which I almost did a good 15 times in the darkness!).
You’ll need to be in pretty good shape to make this hike. It can vary from 5-10 miles (though our trip was about 5 miles total). We kept a very fast pace as we finally reached the lava within inches!
It was a painful wake up, but 100% worth it. We spent time crawling up the volcano slopes, walking within inches of it and even scooping up molten rock. I mean, we were holding lava! How cool is that? Though, it was unbelievably hot. It took a few tries to build up the nerve as I scooped it from the active flow.
But the best part of all? Check out my hot lava scoop!
Last bit of advice? Wear lightweight pants and shoes with treading that you don’t mind throwing out by the end. My old New Balance sneakers were shot. Oh well, they lived a good life.
– Epic Lava Tours is a fun excursion, and by far the best thing we did on the trip.
– Cost: $165 per person
– The morning tour is about 6 hours, staring at 4 AM and wraps by 10 AM
– They provide all the gear, but remember to wear lightweight hiking pants and shoes with good treading (that you don’t mind throwing out by the end)