I had been hesitant of posting this actual..story. But I figured, with as many hits as I got on my last post, the 2nd (actually 4th attempt to see lava ) I figured those that are as equally ...as cheap, as I am....Would appreciate this post.
By the 4th attempt out to the lava, prices for the tours went up from $80 (Kama'aina rate (local) ) to $100, tourists $150. It was really flowing into the ocean this time, SO... after getting advice from a friend we discovered a different access point..
NOW this may/may not work depending on where the lava is actually flowing. BUT, this is how we got to see the lava on our own...
TIP #1 decide when you want to go. Honestly the best time to actually view the lava is around sunset.. seeing it flow at night is amazing. It took us 2 hours to get out, 2 to get back (yes we hiked in the dark, with headlamps).
TIP #2 bring water...that stuff is hot and the area can be dry, you will get thirsty. This is NOT an easy hike
TIP#3 be prepared for weather. Bring a wind/water jacket. It gets cold at night and random rain clouds pop up.
TIP #4 Bring a flashlight if you decided to hike at night
OK...SO we decided to begin at the end of road by Kalapana (AKA Uncle Roberts) There is a cafe (with really good burgers) as well as a smoothie and market place. Park somewhere there. Hike all the way out to the black sand beach.
This took about 2 hours at a pretty decent pace. We knew we were getting closer when we could hear/see helicopters. We eventually could see the waves from the heat. Mind your step, some of the lava is only a day old and is VERY hot. I could feel the heat on my ankles.
NOW.. please be mindful on your way back. We were debating which path to take and I took my eyes off the ground for a second. I ended up falling to a pretty deep crevasse up to my hip (OW) as well as getting too close to the edge of the land and was one step away from falling into the ocean.
It's an amazing opportunity but can be a bit sketchy coming back at night.
Kalapana is on the east coast of the island (Hilo side). If you have a few days to stay in Hilo, I would DEF check it out.. there are SO many waterfall hikes and amazing sights to see! it's amazing (will post detailed hikes later)