Tour operator for Volcano National Park

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#1
341 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
I am looking for an independent tour operator to go see Volcano National Park. My cruise line does not offer excursions there. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated, along with websites if you know them.
Thanks!
#2
Nova Scotia, Canada
1,033 Posts
Joined Mar 2008
Google Big Island Aina Tours. Private van, max 6 people.

Volcano National Park and Rainbow Falls plus other stops.
Tour stops:
    • Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory
    • Akatsuka Orchid Gardens
    • Volcano National Park - Thurston Lava Tube, Jagger Museum, Halemau'mau Crater and Kilauea Caldera
    • Rainbow Falls
    • Liliuokalani Garden
    • Drive by historic Hilo bayfront
    • View King Kamehameha Statue
    • Hilo Beach Park
Great reviews on TripAdvisor. We're using this company later this month.
#3
Toronto
1,615 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
In Hilo port, the main attraction is the VNP. It's very easy to drive yourself. There's free shuttle between pier and airport car rental location. It's one road to drive to the VNP. It's one circle drive around the Crater Rim road, to stop and see many places, at your own pace.

Other stops, nut farm, gardens, falls, can all be added on easily if you really want to, but are not necessary. Not missing much if not going to them.
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Holland America Zaandam Mar. 21, 2017 (14d, Buenos Aires, Argentina -> Montevideo, Uruguay; Falkland Is, UK; Punta Arenas, Chile; Ushuaia, Argentina; Puerto Montt then Valparaiso & Santiago, Chile)

Went on:
Carnival Conquest Aug. 24, 2014 (7d, Miami -> Cozumel; Belize; Mahogany Bay, Roatan; Costa Maya)
Carnival Freedom
Aug. 24/13 (8d, FLL -> Grand Turk; La Romana, DR; Curacao; Aruba)
NCL Pride of America Aug. 25/2012 (7d Hawaii; Honolulu -> Kahului, Maui; Hilo; Kona; Kauai)
Carnival Splendor Aug. 22/2010 (Long Beach -> Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Luca)
Costa Fortuna Mar. 14/2010 (7d, FLL->Nassau, Ocho Rios, G Cayman, Cozumel)
Carnival Splendor Aug. 30, 2009, hurrican Jimena forced changes (7d, Long Beach -> Catalina; Ensenada; Cabo; missed PV and Maz)
Carnival Triumph Jun 29, 2009 (5d, New York -> Saint John/NB; Halifax)
Carnival Liberty Aug. 23, 2008 (7d, Miami -> Half Moon Cay; USVI; San Juan; Grand Turk)
Carnival Destiny Aug. 26, 2007 (7d, San Juan -> USVI; Dominica; Barbados; St. Lucia; Antigua)
Carnival Miracle Aug. 27, 2006 (7d, Tampa -> G Cayman; Cozumel; Belize; Costa Maya)
Norwegian Wind Aug. 24, 2005 (10d Honolulu, Oahu -> Hilo; Fanning island; Kauai; Lahaina, Maui; Kona)
#4
Vancouver, BC Canada
1,038 Posts
Joined Feb 2012
Originally posted by coconutmonkey
I am looking for an independent tour operator to go see Volcano National Park. My cruise line does not offer excursions there. Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated, along with websites if you know them.
Thanks!
We rented a car from Dollar and they pick you up at the terminal. It's a simple and easy drive to the park. As a National Park, they have Rangers to explain things in the visitor's center. If you have a National Park Annual pass from the mainland, they will honor it.

http://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/index.htm
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#7
341 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Hi all. Thanks for all the replies. I've learned that my cruise ship is docking in Kona, not Hilo. Does anyone know of a tour operator who does Volcano National Park from Kona?
#8
1,178 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
It's 95 miles from Kailua-Kona to Kilauea. it will take you 2 hours each way.... How long will you be in port?

I would recommend against trying to do a land excursion to VNP. There are helicopter tours that leave from the Kona airport; but they aren't cheap.... But it's your best chance to see glowing lava. (If there is any to see at all while you are there.)

Aloha,

John
#9
Toronto
1,615 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
In Kona you tender. It's a much longer drive from Kona to the VNP. How long are you in Kona for?

If your cruise does not offer a tour, it's probably because there is not enough time.
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To go:
Holland America Zaandam Mar. 21, 2017 (14d, Buenos Aires, Argentina -> Montevideo, Uruguay; Falkland Is, UK; Punta Arenas, Chile; Ushuaia, Argentina; Puerto Montt then Valparaiso & Santiago, Chile)

Went on:
Carnival Conquest Aug. 24, 2014 (7d, Miami -> Cozumel; Belize; Mahogany Bay, Roatan; Costa Maya)
Carnival Freedom
Aug. 24/13 (8d, FLL -> Grand Turk; La Romana, DR; Curacao; Aruba)
NCL Pride of America Aug. 25/2012 (7d Hawaii; Honolulu -> Kahului, Maui; Hilo; Kona; Kauai)
Carnival Splendor Aug. 22/2010 (Long Beach -> Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Luca)
Costa Fortuna Mar. 14/2010 (7d, FLL->Nassau, Ocho Rios, G Cayman, Cozumel)
Carnival Splendor Aug. 30, 2009, hurrican Jimena forced changes (7d, Long Beach -> Catalina; Ensenada; Cabo; missed PV and Maz)
Carnival Triumph Jun 29, 2009 (5d, New York -> Saint John/NB; Halifax)
Carnival Liberty Aug. 23, 2008 (7d, Miami -> Half Moon Cay; USVI; San Juan; Grand Turk)
Carnival Destiny Aug. 26, 2007 (7d, San Juan -> USVI; Dominica; Barbados; St. Lucia; Antigua)
Carnival Miracle Aug. 27, 2006 (7d, Tampa -> G Cayman; Cozumel; Belize; Costa Maya)
Norwegian Wind Aug. 24, 2005 (10d Honolulu, Oahu -> Hilo; Fanning island; Kauai; Lahaina, Maui; Kona)
#10
341 Posts
Joined Mar 2007
Thanks John and Middleager for the posts. I've come to the conclusion that its too far to go in one day (i.e. 4 - 5 hours of driving round trip). I'll have to see Volcano National Park on another visit when I'm in Hilo. Meanwhile, I hear Kona is a nice town to visit.
#11
5,623 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
No tour operator needed if at least one member of your party has a driver's license. A rental car is definitely the way to go here. It is a very easy drive. You go at your own pace, stopping when and where you want for as long as your want.

In addition to the Crater Rim Road, don't miss the Chain of Craters Road. Be sure to drive down through the lava flows all the way to the ocean. It is so smooth and easy to do now that the road has been paved all the way.

Get out at the bottom and take the short walk out through the lava field to look down the edge of the rugged cliffs to the ocean below.

Having your own car totally eliminates the "meet back at the bus in 30 minutes" nonsense.
If you want to do some additional sightseeing outside the park, look through a few of the tour brochures or websites. You can pick out all the places the tours go that appeal to you and do them on your own.
Or just pick up a good guide book.
#12
5,623 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
Sorry Coconutmonkey, I was replying to your original post and did not realize that you would be arriving in Kona instead of Hilo.

My previous message pertains to Hilo, so it would not be applicable in your situation.

Hope you enjoy Kona and are able to get to Hilo another time because Volcanoes National Park is really spectacular and unique, well worth a visit.

Better yet would be if you could spend several days on the island with sufficient time to experience the full circuit.
#13
4 Posts
Joined Dec 2011
Hi,Noted your recent reply to a question about VNP and you comments about car rental.I am looking at hiring a car in Hilo and the other islands we will be stopping at on our upcoming cruise.It seems from your comments that i will be able to take a shuttle from the Hilo port to the airport to pick up a rental car.Do you have experience of car rental on any of the other islands(Maui,Kauai,Honolulu) ? I am trying to find out how easy it is to get to the car rental location from the ports.Thanks.
#14
Toronto
1,615 Posts
Joined Jun 2005
Originally posted by overthepond
Hi,Noted your recent reply to a question about VNP and you comments about car rental.I am looking at hiring a car in Hilo and the other islands we will be stopping at on our upcoming cruise.It seems from your comments that i will be able to take a shuttle from the Hilo port to the airport to pick up a rental car.Do you have experience of car rental on any of the other islands(Maui,Kauai,Honolulu) ? I am trying to find out how easy it is to get to the car rental location from the ports.Thanks.
Originally posted by Middleager
In Hilo port, the main attraction is the VNP. It's very easy to drive yourself. There's free shuttle between pier and airport car rental location. It's one road to drive to the VNP. It's one circle drive around the Crater Rim road, to stop and see many places, at your own pace..
Same with every other port. Easy car rental, free shuttles with all at Kauai and Maui and in Oahu with Thrifty.
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To go:
Holland America Zaandam Mar. 21, 2017 (14d, Buenos Aires, Argentina -> Montevideo, Uruguay; Falkland Is, UK; Punta Arenas, Chile; Ushuaia, Argentina; Puerto Montt then Valparaiso & Santiago, Chile)

Went on:
Carnival Conquest Aug. 24, 2014 (7d, Miami -> Cozumel; Belize; Mahogany Bay, Roatan; Costa Maya)
Carnival Freedom
Aug. 24/13 (8d, FLL -> Grand Turk; La Romana, DR; Curacao; Aruba)
NCL Pride of America Aug. 25/2012 (7d Hawaii; Honolulu -> Kahului, Maui; Hilo; Kona; Kauai)
Carnival Splendor Aug. 22/2010 (Long Beach -> Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, Cabo San Luca)
Costa Fortuna Mar. 14/2010 (7d, FLL->Nassau, Ocho Rios, G Cayman, Cozumel)
Carnival Splendor Aug. 30, 2009, hurrican Jimena forced changes (7d, Long Beach -> Catalina; Ensenada; Cabo; missed PV and Maz)
Carnival Triumph Jun 29, 2009 (5d, New York -> Saint John/NB; Halifax)
Carnival Liberty Aug. 23, 2008 (7d, Miami -> Half Moon Cay; USVI; San Juan; Grand Turk)
Carnival Destiny Aug. 26, 2007 (7d, San Juan -> USVI; Dominica; Barbados; St. Lucia; Antigua)
Carnival Miracle Aug. 27, 2006 (7d, Tampa -> G Cayman; Cozumel; Belize; Costa Maya)
Norwegian Wind Aug. 24, 2005 (10d Honolulu, Oahu -> Hilo; Fanning island; Kauai; Lahaina, Maui; Kona)
#17
Chico, California
8,125 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
Originally posted by lamchops
We rented a car from Dollar and they pick you up at the terminal. It's a simple and easy drive to the park. As a National Park, they have Rangers to explain things in the visitor's center. If you have a National Park Annual pass from the mainland, they will honor it.

http://www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/index.htm

THANK YOU for that link! I just printed the info and sent the link to my wife as well.
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Thrak

Not Elite but having fun working on it...



#18
Austin,TX
222 Posts
Joined Nov 2005
We used Scott Wiggers at ApauHawaiiTour.com last month. Had a great trip to Volcano National Park, as well as Rainbow Falls (not to good due to a lack of recent rain) and finished up at the beach park. Where else can you see an active volcano up close?
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#19
Conway, AR USA
1,779 Posts
Joined Jan 2001
I realize that this response was done in April and this is October - but we definitely had a very negative experience with this company (initially) and even though I have posted about it responding to other queries, but what happened to us was - we were picked up at the port in a lovely tour van and after everyone had paid their final payment, driven 1/2 block and told that since we were 12 passengers and the van was for 15, we needed to leave that van and board a smaller one. It was terrible. We had to almost crawl over 3 seats to get to the back, it was old and in bad shape and when the guide explained what we were supposed to be seeing out of the small windows, we could not hear him because of the rattling doors. At the first stop, we called the office and said this wasn't acceptable and they sent another van to pick us up. We thought the van would be for the entire group, but they only accommodated my husband and myself. We had Karen who was delightful and full of information. Book this company ONLY if you can request her or either an up to date van. I would even recommend that the group not pay their final payment until they saw what they would be traveling around in all day.
Hope this helps.
B. Cole






Originally posted by meggs11
Hi,
I looked around a lot and did some research, this is what we have booked in May for our cruise.

http://hawaiicruiseexcursions.com/Bi...IslandTour.htm

Had pretty good reviews from all the reading I did

Ricky's Tours also has a good reputation

Enjoy!
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B. Cole
#20
Sun City AZ
461 Posts
Joined Aug 2004
Here is a review of a tour for Volcanos Park, sorry its kind of long...

Tours By Local Hilo Hawaii
Tour Date: October 15 2012
Tour Guide: Scott W.
Let me start off by saying we like to be independent type tourist when we travel
by ship so we are always looking for local tours or tour guides.
We booked this tour for our sailing from the Golden Princess cruise ship on a two
week cruise to Hawaii. When researching independent tours for Hilo Hawaii we
did a standard google search for independent tours on the island and Tours by
Locals came up in our search (www.toursbylocals.com). We went to the website
and started to research what was available for our trip. The site was very user
friendly and informative not only to what tours were available for our trip but also
in providing overviews of the tour types and the tour guides (in Hilo there were to
guides available with several tour locations and lengths) and pricing of the tours.
The site also give the maximum number of people who they could take on the
tour (our tour was 3 which was perfect as we are a 3 person party).
Once we booked our tour, the 5 hour Volcano National Park tour with Scott W. we
waited for conformation and to be contacted by Scott for our tour times. Just so
you know your credit card will not be charged until the tour is accepted by the
guide.
Once we were accepted by Scott we were contacted by Tours by Locals to let us
know he had accepted by us for the tour and give us Scott's last name. Shortly
after we were contacted by Tours by Locals Scott contacted us by email
introducing himself telling us we we confirmed and giving us his contact
information as well as instructions on where to meet him for the tour. The nice
thing about the contact with Scott was that although we booked the tour for 10
am he informed us he would be waiting for us at around 9:30 am for our pick up
(I think this is great as we did not have to lose any time on our 5 hour tour waiting
for the pick up).
So after the ship was cleared for disembarkation (around 9am) we got off the
ship around 9:15 and got to the meeting location for pick up. We called Scott who
was actually just entering the port area so our wait was minimal. Scott drives a
Jeep Wrangler 4 door type (just a word of warning it is 4 wheel drive and it does
sit up off the ground a little so entering and exiting can be a issue if you have
mobility issues) very clean and well maintained with door signs letting us know it
was him. Again I can't stress enough how well the communications between us
and Scott were pre tour and up until the pick up.
So after being picked up by Scott we talked about what sites we wanted to see
besides the Volcano National Park. Now having been to Hilo the year before we
had seen Rainbow Falls and the botanical gardens we opted not to re visit those
sites (basically we wanted to see the park, lava tubes chain of craters road and
black sand beach).
As we started out for our tour it started raining a little so Scott suggested we visit
the orchid farm first to allow the heavy rain to pass so we did.
Now if you are not a flower or orchid lover it is still worth the visit to the orchid
farm just to see the varieties of orchids they grow and see some of the history of
them.
After the rain slowed we headed to the park to see the volcanos. Since we had
been to the park before we skipped the initial park information center (this is a
great place to stop if you have not been before it has an overview of the park)
because we had and idea of what we wanted to see. On the drive through the
park towards our first stop Scott pointed out many interesting location and asked
if we wanted to stop at them (note here there are a lot of places in the park that
you can walk through and around so if you want to walk bring comfortable
walking shoes, I would also recommend a light rain jacket and or wind breaker as
it can be windy or rainy or both at times) we chose to skip those site and
continued to the Kilauea crater overlook. After stopping at the crater
We toured the upper crater part and the Jaggar Museum before Scott drove us to
another lookout location were we could see the crater from a different angle and
see some of the active steam vents. We concluded our tour of the upper crater
area with a stop at one of the steam vent locations that did not require a lot of
walking.
After we left the steam vents area we went to another lookout point to see the
crater and then to the Thurston Lava Tube.
The lava tube was amazing just the fact that you can walk on a tunnel that was
made by moving lava.
After the Thurston tube we went to Devastation trail another worthwhile walk,
Scott again was great he offered to walk with us but we opted to be dropped off
and have him meet us at the other end of the trail.
Our final visit in the park was the Chain of Craters Road and the Holei Sea Arch
another great feature.
We closed our tour by going to a couple of the black sand beaches in the area
where our ship was docked.
In general I would say this was one of out most enjoyable tours since we have
been cruising. Scott was very knowledgable and prepared for what ever we
happened to encounter and I would wholly recommend his services to anyone
who wants to do an independent tour on Hilo. We will be using him again in the
future.
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Larry G



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