Hilo firm showcases nighttime lava hikes

HILO, Hawaii -- Arnott's Lodge & Hiking Adventures here offers a Night Lava Hike during which guests have a chance to see red-hot lava flows in complete darkness.

The tour is one of five the company offers from its base in Hilo.

"We're in our 10th year now," said Doug Arnott, owner of the company. "We're on the international backpacker budget travel circuit."

For tourists not inclined to pay the average room rate of $180 a night on the Big Island, Arnott's Lodge offers an alternative.

The company pays 15% commission and offers free airport transfers.

At the lodge, there are accommodations for just about every price range and privacy level.

For example, guests can camp with their own tents outside the lodge for $9 each per night. And there are dorm-room beds available for $17 per person, per night. Semi-private (shared bath) and private room rates range from $33 to $110 a night.

"The semi-private and private rooms are for the 'second generation backpackers,' who are the people who have done the youth hostel thing and are now older and want more privacy yet still enjoy the backpacker atmosphere," said Arnott.

The company has a charter division as well, said Arnott, which accommodates groups of schoolchildren and college students.

Tours cost from $43 to $48 per person. Guests not staying at the lodge can take the tours for $96 each.

"The night lava hike leaves at midday for the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, then in late afternoon we head down to the Chain of Craters Road and walk two hours during sunset to where the lava is flowing," said Arnott.

He added that his guides know how thick the lava is and where it is flowing.

"People get a real thrill," said Arnott. "On the way back, we give them flashlights and walking sticks, but on the lava it's almost like walking on the sidewalk."

The return walk is two hours as well and is in the dark.

Another tour is the Mauna Kea Volcano Summit & Stargazing tour with viewing stops at elevations of 6,000, 9,000 and 13,000 feet on the mountain.

There is a South Point & Green Sands Beach tour which includes an hour and a half of hiking to a green-sand beach and snorkeling.

The Puna on the Rift Zone trip includes visits to hot springs, lava flows and a clothing-optional beach.

"This tour really depends on the guests," said Arnott. "If you have more conservative Bostonians and New Yorkers, we usually don't go to the nude beach, but then again we often have people along who want to take all their clothes off."

The North Kohala & Hamakua Coast trip also is a daylong tour that includes activities which depend on the interests of the guests. In general, this tour includes a day of hiking and visiting waterfalls.

Arnott's Lodge & Hiking Adventures
Phone: (808) 969-7097
E-mail: [email protected]
Web: www.arnottslodge.com

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