What is your cancellation policy?
Full price charged unless we receive prior notice as follows: One to five guests: 24 hours notice. Six or more guests: 48 hours. Private or custom charter tours: 72 hours.
What happens if it rains?
Rain or shine, the tour still goes on. Everyday somewhere, it is raining on the Big Island. If this should happen, we will provide rain ponchos or light rain jackets. On some of the tours, we might even have an umbrella or two. Typically, we try not to carry umbrellas as they tend to break often with our strong trade winds.
How many people fit on a tour van?
Essential Hawai‘i specializes in small group tours. Our 2015 Ford Transit Van was built as a 15-passenger capacity. However, we have modified the seating capacity for comfort and strive to keep the passenger limit to 10 for a better experience. Our van has a high-roof ceiling so you can walk right in without ducking down… unless you are 6’6″ or taller.
Where are your pick-up locations on the Big Island?
All tours begin on the west side of the island with morning pickups at most major hotels from Kona, Waikoloa and Kohala. We do pickup in Hilo on our Volcano Lava Hike tour. Please review our Pick up Locations list.
How much hiking is involved in a tour?
On our Night Volcano Tours, there will be a few short hikes with the longest hike being no longer than 20-minutes long during this adventure. You should be able to walk on uneven paths or on rocky terrain. Light to moderate hiking should be expected.
On our Volcano Lava Hike tour, you will be walking at least 6 to 10 miles round trip (about 1.5 hours each way). This is a moderate to difficult tour rating with most of the walking on a gravel road plus hikes across the rough and uneven black lava. The return hike will be in the dark. We do provide a hiking backpack geared-up with a head lamp, flashlight, water and rain poncho.
Are there age restrictions?
Each tour is completely different. Time spent in our touring van can be challenging for infants and toddlers. Light hikes are involved on each tour and we require children to be at least 5 years of age on both our Night Volcano tours. There is a minimum age requirement of 13 years-old on our Volcano Lava Hike tour. Pricing for children is from age 5 to 12 on all tours. Please make sure you select the right age when booking your tour. We would hate to ask you to pay the difference while on tour, and we will unless you made prior arrangements to get a better pricing.
What should I wear or bring with me?
We suggest that you wear clothes in layers. You will have plenty of opportunities to change as the weather changes frequently. Most guests wear a light jacket or bring long pants for after sunset. Wear comfortable closed-toe walking shoes as we might walk on uneven paths and lava rock. Closed-toe shoes are required on each tour. Temperatures at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park can range from 50 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Saddle Road temperatures can get even chillier with the wind, to perhaps 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Bring a hat, suntan lotion and don’t forget to bring a camera!
Will we see molten lava?
Currently, there is a lava flow on Kilauea Volcano (August 2016) that is view able. If you want to see molten lava, your best chance to join our Volcano Lava Hike tour. However, mother nature can change in a moment. We will always do our best to get you to the closest viewing area providing it is safe and legal on our Night Volcano tours. ***Please note: Lava sighting is not guaranteed, we cannot promise you’ll see active flows on your tour. Stops at the Kalapana Viewing Area are not guaranteed and we may shortened our tour in length due to poor visibility.***
Are meals, snacks and drinks included on your tours?
Snacks, juices and water are standard on all our tours. We made it our goal to pair our tours with delicious meals including lunch as you stop along our routes and savor the authentic flavors of our regional Hawai‘i. On our Night Volcano Deluxe tour, dinner will be provided at a The Rim restaurant at the Volcano House. On the Explore The Night Volcano Tour, dinner will be at the historical Volcano House “The Rim” restaurant in the park. The Volcano Lava Hike tour includes lunch at the Sky Garden restaurant inside the Imiloa Astronomy Center in Hilo. Dining locations subject to change without prior notice due to unforeseen circumstances.
What if I have a special food diet?
Most special dietary needs, restrictions and requests can be accommodated with advance notice.
If I get tired, can I just stay in the van and skip one of your stops?
We suggest you participate on each stop while on tour. If for some reason you cannot participate on one of the stops, our guides will be happy to let you rest at Volcano House, the Visitor’s Center, or Jaggar Museum. It is our policy to not allow guests to remain in the vehicle unattended for safety and security measures.