Active Kilauea volcano seen on Hilo Volcano tours

5 Best Hilo Volcano Tours in Big Island of Hawaii (2024)

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Looking for the best Hilo volcano tours on your trip to the Big Island of Hawaii?

Exploring Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was a bucket-list experience for me in Hawaii and a top priority attraction on my Big Island trip.

The Volcanoes Park is renowned for its extraordinary geological features and is home to two active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa.

I visited the Volcanoes Park with my family and loved exploring its various features, such as lava tubes, steam vents, and volcanic craters.

Many cruise ship visitors arrive at the Hilo port, and taking a Hawaii Volcanoes tour is the best way to experience the Volcanoes Park. This is the most unique and popular excursion in Hawaii.

Taking a volcano tour from Hilo with an expert guide ensures you do not miss out on any must-see sights! You will also learn much more about the volcanoes by taking a tour than you would if driving yourself.

Do not have time to read the whole article? Here is my top pick for the best volcano tour from Hilo –

Hilo Shore Excursion: Volcanoes National Park, Rainbow Falls and HighlightsBest Road Tour, half-day tour ideal for inter-island and cruise ship visitors.

Volcanoes Helicopter Tour from HiloBest Helicopter Tour with epic aerial views of volcanoes, waterfalls, and rainforests. Great for those short on time.

My Top 3 Picks: Best Hilo Volcano Tours

#1 Top Pick

Waipio Valley views

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Volcanoes Helicopter Tour from Hilo
✔️ Bucket list experience, 1-hour flight from Hilo!
✔️ Aerial views of Volcanoes Park, rainforests, waterfalls

#2 Top Pick

Steam rising from Halemaumau crater Overlook at Volcano House

Hilo Shore Excursion: Volcanoes National Park, Rainbow Falls and Highlights
✔️ Half-day, Volcanoes Park and Hilo highlights
✔️great for cruise ship and inter-island visitors

#3 Top Pick

Active Kilauea volcano seen on Hilo Volcano tours

Volcanoes National Park and Hilo Highlights (Small Group)
✔️ Half-day, Volcanoes Park and Hilo highlights
✔️ great for cruise ship and inter-island visitors

Looking for a volcano tour from Kona instead? Check out the best volcano tours from Kona and Waikoloa regions on Big Island of Hawaii.

Taking a volcano tour is one of the top things to do in Kona!

5 Best Volcano Tours from Hilo, Hawaii

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is closer to Hilo than Kona, and one of the top excursions from Hilo. Hilo is around 29 miles and a 45-minute drive from the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Most volcano tours from Hilo are half-day tours and perfect for Hilo shore excursions for cruise ship passengers. You do not have to worry about rental cars and routes or making it back to Hilo Port in time.

These volcano tours explore all the main sights in Volcanoes Park and other nearby must-see attractions like black sand beach, Hilo waterfalls, and rainforests. Some tours even include a stop at a Kona coffee farm.

If constrained on time, I highly recommend taking a helicopter tour of Voclanoes park from Hilo instead of a road tour.

Below are the best Hawaii Volcanoes National Park tours from Hilo:

1. Volcanoes National Park helicopter tour from Hilo

⭐ Ratings: 5 / 5 | ⏳ Duration: 1 hour | ✅Book Now

One of the most exceptional ways to witness the magnificent aerial scenery of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, as well as the Big Island’s waterfalls and valleys, is by taking this helicopter tour from Hilo to the volcanoes.

This 1-hour helicopter tour from Hilo airport covers amazing aerial views of the active Kilauea crater and other features of the Volcanoes Park. If there is volcanic activity happening at the time of your visit, you might even get to see lava flow.

Fly over the lush rainforests and valleys of Hilo. See amazing waterfalls and learn about the Island’s history from your pilot.

Waipio Valley in Big Island
Lush rainforests and valleys in Big Island

Highlights of this Volcanoes helicopter tour Hilo:

  • Experience the thrill of flying over the active Kilauea volcano in Volcanoes National Park and take in stunning aerial vistas of the Kilauea crater.
  • Observing lava flow is possible if there is volcanic activity occurring in Volcanoes Park!
  • Enjoy breathtaking views of the Big Island, orchid farms, lush rainforests, valleys, and waterfalls.

What this helicopter tour includes:

  • Helicopter flight of around 55 minutes from Hilo airport
  • Maximum of 6 people
  • Includes all fees and taxes

Who is this helicopter tour for?

  • This tour is ideal for those with limited time in Hilo and Big Island.
  • For anyone who wants to experience a helicopter tour and enjoy aerial views of the volcanoes, waterfalls, and valleys, this tour is a perfect choice.
  • This tour is great for people who want awesome aerial photos of the volcanoes!

First time on a helicopter and had a very good experience. Debated for weeks on the cost vs experience. Totally worth it! Our pilot had a nice easy vibe and was the kind of person who you would like to hang out with. Looking down from above into the volcano, it’s vents and sink holes was amazing.

– MArtin (See more reviews)

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Volcanoes National Park helicopter tour from Hilo

Halemaumau crater Overlook at Volcano House
Steam rising from Halemaumau crater – Seen from the Overlook at Volcano House

2. Hilo Shore Excursion: Volcanoes National Park, Rainbow Falls and Highlights

Ratings: 4.5 / 5 | ⏳ Duration: 6 hours | ✅Book Now

This half-day Hilo shore excursion tour with pickup and dropoff from Hilo port is best suited for cruise ship passengers coming into the Hilo port for a day.

The tour also picks up from most Hilo hotels and is great for anyone wanting a tour of the Volcanoes park and Hilo highlights, including inter-island visitors.

This 6-hour tour from Hilo packs a lot, including Volcanes Park, waterfalls, a black sand beach, Hilo downtown, and a local store to purchase home-grown goodies like chocolates, nuts, and coffee.

On this tour, explore the main sights of the Volcanoes park, including the active Kilauea volcano, Thurston lava tube, steam vents, sulfur banks, and scenic viewpoints.

Explore the main highlights of Hilo, like the famous Rainbow Falls and Liliuokalani Gardens, an ornamental Japanese garden.

Pass by Banyan Drive and see some massive banyan trees planted by celebrities, also called the ‘Hilo Walk of Fame.’ Drive by Hilo downtown and see the King Kamehameha Statue.

Visit a black sand beach and spot some Hawaiian green sea turtles! The black sand is made of tiny lava rock particles and is the coolest thing I have ever seen! Visiting a black sand beach is a must-do thing in Hawaii!!

This tour will also take you to a local goodies store where you can purchase home-grown items like chocolates, macadamia nuts, and local coffee. Makes great gifts and souvenirs!

Rainbow falls in Big Island
Rainbow Falls on Big IslandWe actually saw a rainbow!

Highlights of this Hilo Shore excursion volcanoes tour:

  • Half-day tour from Hilo to Volcanoes Park, Hilo waterfalls, gardens, and black sand beach
  • Visit top sights in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, like Kilauea volcano, Thurston lava tube, steam vents, sulfur banks, scenic viewpoints, and much more.
  • Visit a local black sand beach and spot Hawaiian sea turtles!
  • See the popular Rainbow Falls and Japanese Liliuokalani Gardens
  • Drive by downtown Hilo and Banyan Drive and see massive banyan trees planted by celebrities
  • Visit a local goodies store to purchase home-grown chocolates and macadamia nuts and sample home-grown Kona Coffee.

What this tour includes:

  • Hilo Harbor Port pickup and dropoff
  • Pickup and Dropoff from most Hilo hotels, a meeting point for other passengers
  • Volcanoes National Park entrance fees
  • Professional guide
  • Bottled water
  • Group size of a maximum of 24 people

Who is this tour for?

  • This half-day Volcanoes tour is ideal for cruise ship passengers coming to Hilo Port or anyone wanting a Volcanoes and Hilo highlights tour.
  • Visitors looking for value and do not mind a slightly larger group of a maximum of 24 people, best value price-wise.

Our guide was very good, and he allowed just the right amount of time to view everything. Highlight was seeing actual volcanic eruptions, though everything we saw on this excursion was interesting. He got us back to the ship in plenty of time for it’s departure.

– Alan (See more reviews)

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3. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Hilo Highlights Small Group Tour

Ratings: 5 / 5 | ⏳ Duration: 5 and half hours | ✅ Book Now

This half-day tour of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Hilo is perfect for anyone wanting to experience the Volcanoes Park’s top attractions and get in-depth knowledge about the geology and history of the volcanoes.

This half-day Volcanoes tour is perfect for cruise ship passengers coming to the Hilo port as well as visitors coming for a day trip to Hilo from other Hawaiian islands like Oahu and Maui.

A half-day tour ensures that you will not miss your departure flight or cruise departure time.

In Volcanoes Park, you will see the active Kilauea volcano from the Halema’uma’u Crater Overlook and visit the Thurston lava tube, which is really cool and a must-see!

You will also visit other sights like the steam vents and drive on the Chain of Craters Road.

Downtown Hilo
Downtown Hilo

Along with the Volcanoes park, also visit top sights in Hilo like Rainbow Falls and Liliuokalani Gardens.

Rainbow Falls have an impressive 80-foot drop surrounded by lush greenery, and you can sometimes witness a rainbow near the waterfalls!

Liliuokalani Gardens is a beautiful Japanese-style garden with fishponds and native plants.

This tour also stops at a local chocolates and nuts store where you can purchase island-grown chocolates and macadamia nuts and sample delicious Kona coffee!

Yes, Big Island has farms that grow cacao, coffee beans, and macadamia nuts! We had so much fun at a cacao farm, seeing how chocolate is made and sampling some, too!

A small group tour with a maximum of 12 passengers allows for more attention from the guide to answer your questions and a more personalized experience.

Highlights of this Small-group Volcano tour from Hilo:

  • Half-day small group tour from Hilo to Volcanoes Park and covers Hilo highlights.
  • Visit top sights in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park like Kilauea volcano, Halema’uma’u Crater overlook, Thurston lava tube, steam vents, Chain of Craters road, and much more.
  • See the popular Rainbow Falls and Liliuokalani Gardens in Hilo.
  • Visit a local store to purchase island-grown chocolates and macadamia nuts and sample home-grown Kona Coffee.
  • A professional guide with expert insights about the Big Island Volcanoes’ history and geology will ensure all your questions are answered.

What this tour includes:

  • Hilo harbor port pickup and dropoff – perfect for cruise ship visitors
  • Hilo airport pickup and dropoff – perfect for visitors from Oahu and Maui
  • Pickup from select Hilo hotels
  • National park entrance fees
  • Professional guide
  • Bottled water
  • Small group – maximum 12 passengers

Who is this tour for?

  • This half-day Volcanoes tour is ideal for anyone looking to cover the top attractions in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Hilo‘s waterfalls, gardens, and other sights.
  • This tour is the best fit for cruise ship passengers coming to Hilo Port and visitors coming for a day trip from other islands like Oahu and Maui.

Having grown up in the area, our guide’s personal experiences brought wonderful insights into what it’s like to live around and experience volcanic events. She also knew the best areas to experience Volcanoes National Park. It was super easy to meet her at the cruise dock and we got back in plenty of time for our departure.

– millie (See more reviews)

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Hilo Highlights Small Group Tour

Kilauea Iki Trail
Kilauea Iki Crater inside Volcanoes Park

4. Evening Volcano Explorer Tour from Hilo

Ratings: 4.5 / 5 | ⏳ Duration: 6-7 hours | ✅ Book Now

This Evening volcano explorer tour from Hilo starts around 12:30 PM and is 6 to 7 hours long.

This evening tour is ideal if you are planning to spend the night in Hilo as you can visit the Volcanoes Park in the evening and catch a glimpse of sunset and lava glow, depending on volcanic activity in the park.

Kilauea Volcano glow Big Island
During our visit, we were fortunate to see this Kilauea Volcano Glow in Hawaii Volcanoes Park

The tour starts with a drive around downtown Hilo and then travels along the scenic coast to the village of Kalapana which was destroyed by the advancing lava in the 1990s.

Visit the Star of the Sea Painted Church, a national historic place. This church was moved twice to protect it from the lava! Visit the black sand beach in Kalapana.

Explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with your certified guide and see the active Kilauea volcano, Kilauea Iki crater overlook, steaming bluffs, and other viewpoints.

Learn about the geology and history of the volcanoes from your National Park Service-certified guide as well as about the flora and fauna in the area. Enjoy a deli picnic-style dinner as part of the tour.

Highlights of this Evening Volcano Explorer Tour:

  • 6-7 hour evening tour from Hilo to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Starts around 12:30 PM.
  • Explore the Volcanoes Park with a certified guide, covering all the top sights – Kilauea crater, Thurston lava tube, steaming bluffs, and much more.
  • Visit the village of Kalapana, destroyed by advancing lava in the 1990s, and the nearby black sand beach.
  • The tour includes a couple of short hikes to explore park features
  • Visit the Star of the Sea Painted Church, a national historic site.
  • This tour includes a deli-style picnic dinner.

What this tour includes:

  • Hotel pick-up and drop-off from most Hilo hotels
  • National Park Service certified guide
  • Dinner and beverages
  • Maximum group size of 26 passengers
  • National Park entrance fee included

Who is this tour for?

  • This tour is ideal for anyone who wants an evening tour of the Volcanoes Park from Hilo and a chance to see the lava glow at sunset (depending on the volcanic activity at the time of your visit).

Awesome tour with a great guide. Not only did he explain everything you need to know about volcanoes, but made it interesting and easy to understand with a sense of humor and folklore stories thrown in.

Dorothy (See more reviews)

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Thurston Lava Tube
Thurston Lava Tube in Volcanoes Park

5. Private Tour from Hilo to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Ratings: 5 / 5 | ⏳ Duration: 6 hours | ✅ Book Now

This private half-day tour of the Volcanoes National Park and other sights in Hilo is ideal for you if you want to be with just your group and have a more customized experience visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

With a private tour, you have the freedom to tailor your itinerary to your preferences, including stopping at cafes and restaurants whenever you choose.

Although the tour provides a recommended itinerary, you can adjust it to suit the requirements of your group and allocate more time to the attractions that interest you!

If you’re traveling with a party of 5-6 people or more, the expense of a private tour would be comparable or lower than that of a group tour! Additionally, your group will receive the guide’s undivided focus and care.

Highlights of this private volcano tour from Hilo:

  • A private half-day tour from Hilo just for your group gives a more personalized experience
  • Explore Volcanoes Park sights such as the active Kilauea volcano, the epic Halemaumau crater, Thurston lava tube, steam vents, pit craters, and much more.
  • You can choose to spend more or all of your time exploring the Volcanoes park or save time for Hilo waterfalls and black sand beach. Customize your itinerary to fit your group’s interests.

What this private volcano tour includes:

  • Private half-day tour from Hilo for your group of up to 10 people in an air-conditioned Mercedes Van
  • The private tour can pick up and drop off from Hilo Harbor Port, Hilo Airport, and Hilo Hotels.
  • Professional guide
  • Snacks, Water, and ponchos in case it rains

Who is this private Volcanoes tour for?

  • This private tour is ideal for anyone who wants a private customizable tour of Volcanoes National Park and Hilo.
  • This private tour is also great for larger groups of 5-6 people or more, as the cost would be comparable to a group tour or even less for larger groups.

Our guide was very knowledgeable, accommodating and extremely welcoming. This was the best tour we have ever taken.

– Rhonda (See more reviews)

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Private Tour from Hilo to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Punaluu black sand beach Big Island
Punaluu black sand beach in Big Island

FAQs about Volcano Tours from Hilo

Below are some frequently asked questions about visiting Volcanoes Park from Hilo and Volcano tours on the Big Island of Hawaii.

How can I see the volcano in Hilo?

To see the active Kilauea volcano, you would need to either drive yourself to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park or take a tour from Hilo. Going around 30 miles south on Highway 11 from Hilo will bring you to the National Park entrance.

Once inside the park, you can drive to the Kilauea overlook on Crater Rim Drive to see the active Kilauea volcano within the caldera of the Halemaumau crater.

Can you tour a volcano on the Big Island?

To truly experience the wonders of the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on Big Island, a volcano tour by road or helicopter is highly recommended. By choosing a knowledgeable guide, you’ll be able to explore the top sights within the park while learning about the geology and history of the volcanoes.

Big Island’s Kilauea and Mauna Loa are the most active volcanoes in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

How much does a volcano tour cost in Hawaii?

A group road tour to the Volcanoes park from Hilo will cost somewhere between $150 and $200, depending on the tour group size.

A volcano helicopter tour from Hilo costs between $300 and $350 per person.

A private volcano tour from Hilo costs between $1200 to $1700 per group of up to 10 guests.

What is the best volcano to visit on the Big Island?

Big Island’s Kilauea volcano is the most active and readily accessible volcano in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This active volcano erupts from the Halemaumau crater, and there are several viewpoints from which you can safely observe the Kilauea activity. One popular option is the overlook at Volcano House.

Is Hilo or Kona closer to the volcano?

The Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is just a 45-minute car ride away from Hilo, while it takes around 2 to 2.5 hours by car to get there from Kona.

If you’re looking to visit Volcanoes Park, Hilo is a more convenient location than Kona since it’s closer to the park. However, most of the top family resorts in Hawaii are located in Kona, where most people choose to stay.

If you are visiting another Hawaiian Island and are planning to do a Big Island day trip, then flying into Hilo will be a better option as it is closer to the Volcanoes Park.

Is lava visible on the Big Island?

The possibility of witnessing lava in Big Island and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park largely depends on whether there is any ongoing volcanic activity during your visit. Kilauea, the island’s most active volcano, usually erupts within the Halemaumau crater. To check for recent eruptions, it is recommended to visit the NPS website.

There are several overlooks around the Halemaumau crater that offer a glimpse of the volcanic activity. One such spot is the Keanakāko’i Overlook, which can be accessed by taking a short hike from the Devastation trail parking lot. We were able to witness the glowing lava at night from this viewpoint.

Can you walk on a volcano in Hawaii?

Yes, you can walk on the floor of the former lava lake of the Kilauea crater by doing the Kilauea Iki hike in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. I believe this trail is one of the top hikes in both the park and the entire Big Island.

Akaka falls in Big Island
Akaka Falls in Hilo – I was mesmerized by the lush greenery around it!

More things to do in Big Island

Add some of these excursions and activities to your Big Island itinerary:

Final takeaways: Best Volcano Tours in Hilo, Hawaii

Visiting the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the most popular shore excursion on your visit to Hilo, Hawaii.

It is also one of the bucket-list experiences in any itinerary for Big Island of Hawaii.

Opting for a Big Island Volcanoes tour from Hilo is the most convenient way to discover the park’s volcanoes, geological wonders, and historical landmarks.

Taking a Hawaii volcano tour also ensures that you do not miss any must-see sights and are back in time for your cruise ship departure or inter-island flight.

Below is a quick summary of the best Hilo Volcano tours perfect for Hilo shore excursion:

  1. Volcanoes National Park helicopter tour from Hilo – Best helicopter tour from Hilo
  2. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Hilo Highlights Small Group Tour – Half-day small group tour (12 passengers), ideal for cruise passengers and for visitors from other Hawaiian Islands like Oahu, Maui
  3. Hilo Shore Excursion: Volcanoes National Park, Rainbow Falls and Highlights – Half-day tour with a maximum of 24 passengers, covers Volcanoes, waterfall, black sand beach, and store stop to purchase island-grown goodies.
  4. Evening Volcano Explorer Tour from Hilo – An evening tour of the volcanoes park with a start time around 12:30 PM, includes a visit to Kalapana village and black sand beach. Includes picnic dinner.
  5. Private Tour from Hilo to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – Private tour just for your group, with a customizable itinerary. Spend more time in Volcanoes Park or add other stops like the black sand beach and Hilo Waterfalls.

Related Posts

Planning a trip to Big Island, Hawaii? Check out my other posts from the Big Island series: