NCL Ratings and Reviews

Astoria(7)
Boston(2)
Halifax(6)
Hilo(121)
Honolulu(32)
Huatulco(16)
Juneau(84)
Kauai(187)
Ketchikan(22)
Kona(114)
Miami(17)
Newport(4)
San Juan(21)
Skagway(71)
Stockholm(12)
Tampa(1)
Browse destinations at NCL
Hilo or
Choose a destination
Top Rated

Product Reviews

Crater Hike & Akaka Falls

From dramatic black lava flows to lush native rainforests and magnificent waterfalls, you’ll experience the best Hilo has to offer. Take in the beauty of Hawaiian nature as you pass wild orchids, ferns and Kahili ginger plants. Once in Volcanoes National Park, visit a lava tube, discover remarkable volcanic formations and hike down into a volcanic crater. The four mile round-trip hike crosses pahoehoe lava and A’a lava, meanders through forests of lava tree and passes gaping, steaming fissures where lava once fountained over a thousand feet skyward. This part of the tour is for experienced hikers as a good pace must be maintained. It does cross some rugged sections requiring visual and balance acuity. Switchbacks, stairs and uneven surfaces will be encountered, as well as highly variable weather patterns. Your next stop is Jagger Museum, overlooking the current heavy venting of Kilauea Crater. After the park, you’ll head north passing charming, historic Hilo and drive along the scenic Hamakua Coast to one of Hawaii's most impressive waterfalls. You’ll stop at Akaka Falls State Park, where the 442 foot Akaka Falls drops over lushly green coated cliffs into a deep pool below. The jungle creates a magical backdrop on a journey full of beauty and adventure. From the beauty of the rainforests flora and fauna to the beast of the devastation at Volcanoes National Park, this is a part of Hawaii you’ll always remember. Note: Participants must be at least 10 years of age, experienced hikers and in good health. Infants are not permitted, even if carried by adults. Wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes. Due to natural sulfur gases, this tour is not recommended for those with respiratory or heart problems. Light lunch, water and ponchos are included. An alternative waterfall may be visited due to weather conditions.
Average:
4.944 out of 5
4.9
 out of 
5
(18 Reviews) 18
Open Ratings Snapshot
Rating Snapshot (18 reviews)
5 stars
17
4 stars
1
3 stars
0
2 stars
0
1 star
0
18 of 18(100%)customers would recommend this to a friend.
Customer Reviews for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Review 1 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
VandM
Date:October 6, 2014
Beautiful Hike
The crater has to be the most remarkable landscape that I’ve ever walked on. It’s completely desolate. Then you look off in the distance and there is all this greenery. I wish I could have spent the day there. Simply put, it was on the short list for one of my most interesting and enjoyable hikes. You also get time to spend in the visitor’s center, where you can learn more about the park and the crater. Of course, our guide was very well-informed and we had learned much of this in the van on the trip up, or during the hike. Akaka Falls has nothing to do with the Crater. In fact, we drove past the ship on the way to the Falls from the Crater. But the Falls likely is on a lot of bucket-lists for those visiting Hilo, so the tour company quite rightly figures that you’re already in the van, so why not go a bit out of your way and see the Falls.
Review 2 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Lissa88
Location: New Jersey
Party size: 2
Cruise Date Month: September
Cruise Date Year: 2014
Favorite port: Santorini, Greece
I want to go here next: South America
Date:September 28, 2014
Great Day Out
The day started off with a ride from the port up to the national park with the volcano. There is a bathroom break before heading up to the hike start. The guide gave us a hiking stick and a poncho (if we wanted them), as well as a bottle of water and a granola bar. The hike was great and the guide stopped at various sections to take pictures. Be sure to dress appropriately and wear sneakers or other study shoes. The hike ended with a quick stop through the lava tube and then a quick stop for lunch at a picnic table. We then made a quick stop at the museum on the way to the Falls. The Falls are beautiful. Be sure to bring your bug spray and use it before entering the Falls area. Overall, it was a very good day out with a great guide.
Review 3 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
nyc2014
Location: New York
Party size: 1
I traveled with: Family
Cruise Date Month: September
Cruise Date Year: 2014
Favorite activities: Adventure
Date:September 26, 2014
My favorite excursion on this cruise
This was such a fun day and excursion.
You have a tour guide that takes you down into the Crater Kilauea Iki trail. Once down there, you basically walk a mile and a half across the "frozen lava" and up the other side.
The rocks are a bit difficult if you're not great with balance, but they have walking sticks available for you (just let them know before you start the hike down). I saw some kids doing it so it's not insanely streneous. You do get quite the workout though. You get to see steam vents that are so hot when you put your hand near. Then you get taken to the Volcanoes National Park where you can see the Volcano museum and see Kilauea steaming from afar (the most active volcano on earth). Pretty cool. We had a chance to walk through a lava tube. That was a bit boring. If we did the Volcanoes National Park excursion only, I really would have hated Hilo and been so bored. So happy we went with this one. I was nervous about the hike because of the footing (I'm not awesome with balance) but it was not bad at all. (we're in our early 30s and active). We went to the falls afterwards and that was a nice short hike around. Kind of boring after the crater hike but a nice plus to this excursion. We had time since we did the hike quickly to make an additional not scheduled tour stop. We went to the Mauna Loa Macadamia nut factory and got to sample some nuts and they have an outside seating area where you can get Kona coffee and ice cream with macadamia nuts in it. Totally recommend getting the ice cream. It was so so delicious.
Our tour guide was so nice. I think her name was Katia and she was super fun, young. Very smart. She's studying for marine biology and spoke a lot about history and nature of the island. Very cool. She was always willing to take pictures for you and helped you on difficult rocks on the path. Nice to chat with. Lots of energy. She def made the hike more fun. Thank you to her!
They give you these wraps and chips/cookies and water for lunch. You eat at picnic tables by the beginning of the hike to the crater. Food wasn't great but it was perfect enough to give you energy for the rest of the excursion.
All in all, really fun day. I loved it. Totally worth the money.
Review 4 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Fun: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
BK300
Location: North Carolina, USA
Party size: 2
I traveled with: Family
Cruise Date Month: April
Cruise Date Year: 2014
Favorite activities: Adventure
Date:April 22, 2014
Great Hike
This tour has A LOT of hiking and much of it is uphill. It will certainly give you a workout! Be sure to have comfortable shoes.
It was very interesting and I especially liked the lava tube.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Review 5 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Jimacdo
Location: Nova Scotia
Party size: 1
I traveled with: Self
Cruise Date Month: March
Cruise Date Year: 2014
Favorite activities: Adventure
Favorite port: Lahaina, Maui
I want to go here next: Europe
Date:April 9, 2014
Awesome way to visit the crater and falls
Our tour guide Dino was fantastic! Despite the rain, we had a very memorable day touring the crater, falls and a. Couple of other sites. We even made an un scheduled stop at the macadamia nut factory. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and accommodating. He even stopped at a roadside market to buy apple bananas and other local fruit for us to sample.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Review 6 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
SkyC
Location: Michigan, USA
Party size: 2
I traveled with: Family
Cruise Date Month: December
Cruise Date Year: 2013
Favorite activities: Family oriented
Favorite port: Nawiliwili, Kauai
I want to go here next: Alaska
Date:December 19, 2013
Great Excursion
This excursion is really worth doing. The hike down to the crater floor was very scenic and our guide was very knowledgeable. The box lunch at the museum was good and the time spent as each location on the tour was just about right. This is a small group tour so there are only about 12 people in a big van. Everyone was entertained by our guide Lauren. You won't be disappointed in this tour.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful.
Review 7 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Adventurous: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
YoFunB
Location: Temecula, CA, USA
Party size: 2
I traveled with: Family
Cruise Date Month: November
Cruise Date Year: 2013
Favorite activities: Relaxing
Favorite port: Kahului
I want to go here next: Alaska
Date:November 29, 2013
A great hike and beautiful ending!
This is a great way to experience a lava tube, a past (hardened) volcanic lava flow first hand, and a beautiful waterfall in one of our nation's state parks. The tour bus held 25 guests and our guide shared a lot about Hawaii along the 40 min trip to the Volcano State Park. The hike begins with a walk through a lava tube (cave) and a lush forest, then you hike downhill into a crater through a lush forest, walk over lava rocks, stand over the top of active steam vents, experience breathtaking views of how the lave flows changed the terrain, learn a lot of history from your guides, climb back out of the crater (a physical climb, but on paths the whole way. Then, travel to Akaka Falls (stopping at the Moana Loa macadamia nut factory...opportunity to purchase gifts...just okay). The Akaka Falls area was stunning! Lush, green, moist, and easy to walk (concrete path). Great picture opportunity. This is a good occurs ion, but you could rent a car and do it for less $$ on your own, without the historic narration.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Review 8 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Stampmouse
Location: Spokane, Washington
Party size: 2
I traveled with: Family
Cruise Date Month: July
Cruise Date Year: 2013
Favorite activities: Adventure
Favorite port: Hilo, Hawaii
Date:July 8, 2013
A must see but a hike
Great 4 mile hike through the rain forest and into a crater. Very informational guides. Small tour 14 seat bus. Other stops include lava tube (small easy walk) the visitor center to see the top of caldron. Macadamia nut farm. Yum try the ice cream.
It is a bit of a hike so not for everyone but so worth it.
Waterfall is an easy short walk to view
Long day about 8 - 9 hours. This was our favorite excursion
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Review 9 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
LouJ9
Location: Palm Bay, Florida
Party size: 1
I traveled with: Family
Cruise Date Month: June
Cruise Date Year: 2013
Favorite activities: Adventure
I want to go here next: Europe
Date:June 17, 2013
Great Day
This was our favorite excursion of the whole cruise. The crater was other worldly. Our guide was knowledgeable, interesting, and very obviously proud of Hawaii. The day required energy but was not too taxing. Do this one!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Review 10 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
tiffofc
Party size: 3
I traveled with: Family
Cruise Date Month: May
Cruise Date Year: 2013
Favorite activities: Adventure
Favorite port: Honolulu, Hawaii
I want to go here next: Alaska
Date:May 27, 2013
Best shore excursion I have ever taken!
Flat out, one of the best days of my life, and definately the best shore excursion I have ever taken! My husband says the same. We had our guide Deano who made the trip perfect. His love of the island and the culture was infectious. You start out at Thurston Lava Tube, then do the Kiluea Iki Crater Trail.
WOW! WOW! You start by looking down into the
crater, then you realize that will be you shortly. It is amazing landscape on the way into the crater, and the crater itself is unreal. I can't find the words to describe just how much it looks like you are on the moon or in a science-fiction movie. Then we did a quick side trip to the Mauna Loa Factory, and ended the day at the Falls. Akaka Falls are the stuff of postcards! WOWOW!
Please know that the warnings about how physically strenous this tour is are NO JOKE. You are going to hike over horribly uneven terrain in the crater... and then the hike up out of the crater is at a steep grade and comprised of 8 different switchbacks. My husband and I completed a 1/2 marathon the week before we went, and we found ourselves challenged. Deano was fantastic during all parts of the crater hike, and very attuned to those members of our group that were just at the start of struggling. He helped/encouraged them before they got into trouble.
We will do this excursion again, and we will ask for Dean-o. Flat out, this excursion made our vacation, and it is something we will cherish for our entire lives.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful.
Review 11 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
DPayne
Location: Central, Pennsylvania
Party size: 1
I traveled with: Family
Cruise Date Month: March
Cruise Date Year: 2013
Favorite activities: Adventure
Favorite port: Kahului
I want to go here next: Alaska
Date:April 14, 2013
Long hike, well worth it
We did lots of extras on this hike. After the 5 mi hike across the crater and thru the Thurston Lava tube we visited the Volcano museum and an orchid farm. We were served lunch at the museum and then briefly stopped at the local military base. This hike is not intended for people that are not capable of walking on uneven terrain and keeping up with the group. We had to waste time and wait on people that were not in average physical condition. Great day long adventure and well worth it!
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Review 12 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
bobandkarin
Location: Lansing MI
Party size: 2
I traveled with: Family
Cruise Date Month: March
Cruise Date Year: 2013
Favorite activities: Adventure
I want to go here next: Panama Canal
Date:March 25, 2013
wonderful experience
Our guide Jupiter was awsome. Very knowlegeable aboout the island, flowers and all. Was a great hiking experience for 2 sixty year olds, about 4.5 miles of nature and volcanic rock and the falls and lava tube were great too. DO IT!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Review 13 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
2 out of 5
2 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
KeysStar
Location: Florida Keys
Party size: 1
I traveled with: Friends
Cruise Date Month: February
Favorite activities: Adventure
Date:February 18, 2013
Great but Strenuous
I'm glad I went on this adventure and if you enjoy a good hike and learning a lot about volcanos, you'll get both in one trip. The guide, David, was excellent! It was a terrific experience.
My only caution is that the current description really doesn't provide an accurate picture that this is a challenging, strenuous experience. You just don't hike out to see a crater. You hike down into it with a descent, and then an ascent, of 400 feet. I wouldn't have missed it, but I wish I'd had a clearer picture beforehand.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Review 14 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
KL03
Date:February 17, 2013
Excellent Tour
Images for this Review
(click to see full-size image)
User submitted photo
User submitted photo
I have no regrets choosing this tour. I think it is the best option while in Hilo. We started with the drive to the top of the crater. We enjoyed an easy walk down into the crater with a few stops along the way for pictures and information on local plants. When you first enter the crater, the terrain is a little rough and you have to be careful with your feet. After a few minutes it flattens out. It's fascinating to walk through this crater that was a pool of lava only a few decades ago. Hiking back out of the crater is the most difficult part of the tour, but it only takes about 15 minutes if you're in shape. At the top is a short walk to the Thurston lava tube, which is interesting to walk through. Our next stop was the Jaggar Museum. From here you can view smoke from an active volcano. The museum has a lot of information on volcanoes in Hawaii. Because we had extra time, we stopped at the Mauna Loa factory. They have windows where you can see how they prepare and package their macadamia nut products. This isn't on the itinerary, so I wouldn't count on going here. The final stop is Akaka falls, which is very impressive. I would like to point out that you will not see flowing lava on this tour. The only way to see flowing lava is on a helicopter tour. With that said, unless you absolutely must see flowing lava, I think this is the best tour while in Hilo.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Review 15 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Alien
Location: Atlanta, GA
Party size: 2
I traveled with: Family
Cruise Date Month: December
Favorite activities: Adventure
I want to go here next: Alaska
Date:December 15, 2012
Best of the Best
Images for this Review
(click to see full-size image)
User submitted photo
User submitted photo
This excursion was our favorite of the entire trip … a definite don’t miss, if you are up to the hiking portions. Our guide Maka took us to a number of great places within Volcanoes National Park, including the Thurston Lava tube, an amazing 4-mile hike down into the Kilauea Iki Crater, and views of the active Halemau’ma’u Crater from the Jagger Museum. It also included stops at the Mauna Loa Visitor’s Center, where we got to watch chocolate covered macadamia nuts in production and purchase some nuts to take home, and a short hike through Akaka State Park to see the 422’ Akaka Falls.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Review 16 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
3 out of 5
3 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Ali80
Location: Queensland, Australia
Party size: 2
I traveled with: Family
Cruise Date Month: December
Favorite activities: Adventure
Date:December 12, 2012
A must do
Throughly enjoyed this tour. Our guide Maka was fantastic - he was very knowledgable & very interesting to talk/listen to.
The lava tube was interesting - and we were the only group there at the time as we got there early - before the crowds which was fantastic.
The hike down into the crater was amazing. I personally would not say that it was an overly tough hike (& I am only of average fitness) but yes, you do need to have some walking ability, but more importantly need to be stable on your feet & comfortable walking down slightly uneven surfaces. It does get hot in the crater - take lots of water!
We were fortunate to have an extra stop at a Macadamia nut farm (on the way to Akaka Falls) which was a nice surprise.
Akaka Falls was impressive.
A great value tour!
2 of 2 people found this review helpful.
Review 17 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
happytravelbug
Location: Colorado
Party size: 2
I traveled with: Family
Cruise Date Month: November
Favorite activities: Adventure
Favorite port: Nawiliwili, Kauai
Date:December 3, 2012
would not miss
You're only in Hilo one day, and many people opted for the helicopter tour in Hilo. I say take the helicopter tour in Kauai and do this hike -- you will not regret it and it will be one of the most memorable things you do on this trip. It's like hiking on the moon, if I could imagine such! However, just like the other reviewer mentioned, you have to be honest with yourself and only sign up if you have the stamina and energy to complete a 4-mile hike, which includes going down into the crater and also climbing back up. The terrain is uneven, and we were offered walking sticks to use, which I highly recommend using. My husband and I are 48 and semi-active. Not extreme adventurists but even I was concerned about his ability to hike the crater since he had knee surgery several years ago. It is manageable, even by young sedentary folks, but it will still require effort unless you are extremely fit (or young!). If you are elderly and relatively active, you will probably be able to do it as well. However, there was an elderly couple in our group, and it was clear early on that this was too much for them. We had decended down into the crater on about a 2-mile trail, with steep uneven steps, when they started faltering. Someone in the group had to hold the wife's hand most of the way. From up top, the crater looks like a flat surface, like smooth black sand. That is very misleading, and there are crevices you have to step over, uneven rocks and terrain, and some climbing involved. But you will see amazing things like steam coming out of some of the cracks. I usually find climbing easier than descending, but in this case it was the other way around. Perhaps because you are now starting to get tired from the hike across the crater. The elderly woman in the group that was having trouble decided she was too exhausted to make it up, so the guides tried calling the ranger station to come assist. After about 45 minutes, the rangers still had not been able to leave their stations to get there, so members of the group decided to help this woman up the trail. In the meantime, the guides were concerned about all the other passengers who paid for the excursion, and they needed to move the tour along to get everyone back to the ship on time and see everything else as well. Again, this excursion is totally worth it but please evaluate your capabilities before signing up.
They serve you a light sandwich lunch with chips and then you visit the Moana Loa macadamia farm and factory, now owned by Hershey. A nice break after the hike where you can get ice cream, chili dogs, at the snack bar, and also see how the chocoloate & flavored nuts are manufactured and boxed.
You are then taken to Akaka Falls. Other folks on the ship told us they went to Rainbow Falls and were disappointed. Not Akaka Falls --- it is higher than Niagara Falls, but not as wide, but the water is flowing. Great photos, and a lovely trail around the property, like a jungle botanical garden. Takes about 30 minutes to take it all in and a great way to end the day.
I totally forget to mention that it rained a majority of the day. They give you rain ponchos that are sufficient. I forget to mention the rain because overall, it was insignificant. During the hike it felt like light mist (probably because we were sweating already!), and refreshing.
18 of 18 people found this review helpful.
Review 18 for Crater Hike & Akaka Falls
Overall: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Fun: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Adventurous: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Family Oriented: 
4 out of 5
4 out of 5
Cultural/Educational: 
5 out of 5
5 out of 5
Breezie
Location: Canada
Party size: 2
I traveled with: Family
Cruise Date Month: November
Favorite activities: Family oriented
Date:November 21, 2012
don't miss this!
this adventurous tour is not for everyone because of the activity level, but if you are able to do it, don't miss it! This tour includes the best experience of Volcanoes National Park. It starts with the Thurston Lava Tube, which is interesting but only takes 5 minutes to see. Then you hike the Kilauea Iki trail (a google search will give you a map of this). It's about 4 miles total; the first section is walking around the rim of the crater, which involves rough uneven ground, tree roots, and some up and down sections. Then a steep descent with uneven stairs and rocks, right down into the crater. Then a walk across the bottom of the crater. Much of the lava is very uneven and has sharp surfaces. Lastly the climb back up the other side of the crater to the rim, about 400 feet up, but there are several switchbacks so the climb is not vertical.
You do need to be in decent shape to do this but i'm no athlete and i had no trouble. It was well worth it. No flowing lava, but we did feel steam in the crater. The views are awesome.
I saw some people wearing inappropriate clothing; sturdy shoes and long pants are important for protection from the sharp edges of rocks and lava in case of even a minor fall.
It was cool in the forest along the crater rim, but down in the crater bed, the sun beat down and there was a hot dry wind. I took a light jacket in my backpack and wore a sunhat.
Our guide said the hike takes 2-3 hours depending on the speed of the group. After we were done, we went to the Jagger Museum, which overlooks the active volcano (in a section of the park that is closed to the public due to the active lava flow). the museum also has an interpretive center and gift shop.
After leaving there, on the way to Akaka Falls we stopped at the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut factory. This is not officially part of the tour; our guide said he only takes the tour there if there is time after completing the Volcano section (again, depends on how long the group takes to complete the hike). If you get to see this factory, it's a lot of fun - you can view the workers through the windows sorting and packing the nuts and candy (sort of like the old I Love Lucy episode!), and then buy some treats and have a macadamia nut ice cream cone.
Lastly we drove north of Hilo to see Akaka Falls - an awesome sight but we were pretty tired by then.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful.