- discover big craters, rainforest & lava landscapes on the summit of Kilauea volcano -
What clients have said:
"... an amazing day on our trip! ..."
Dawn and I can not thank you and Arthur enough for giving us an amazing day on our trip! I just submitted my review below to Tripadvisor and couldn't say enough good things about our experience with VolcanoDiscovery...
Take care, Rick
"Amazing 12 hours with VolcanoDiscovery!"
We spent 12 hours with Arthur on Feb. 10th, 2011 and it will be a day we'll never forget. I first contacted VolcanoDiscovery in December through their web site and promptly was contacted by Philip via email. I was initially considering the 6-hr Lava Proximity Hike but decided to book the 12-hr Active Eruption Combination Tour based on Philip's responses to my many questions. Booking through their web site was fast and easy. Philip gave us the option to advertise our tour on the web site so others could join us to reduce cost. Arthur called me the day before to arrange our pick up and discuss what we were interested in doing/learning so he could tailor our day to us. He was able to schedule a 2-hr tour of the Kazumura Lava Tube to start our day off which was incredible!
It was clear right away that Arthur was very focused on making sure we were getting the best experience possible. He had several local food items and drinks for us and checked often to make sure that we were happy with what we were doing and with our plans for the rest of the day. He took us to the National Park for several stops and a nice hike to Pu'u Huluhulu. After a quick stop for some food, he drove us to check in at Kalapana for the Lava Proximity Hike and we were off to see the lava up close. Once we got to the lava, he made sure to position us in the best place to get some great pics. Arthur acted as our photographer throughout the day and knew how to make both of our cameras get the best pics. I should also mention that Arthur's personality fits perfectly with his job. He was very friendly and personable. He also has a true spirit of Aloha and was well liked by everyone we interacted with during the tour.
Those 12 hours went by way too fast and the experience we had with VolcanoDiscovery was more than worth the cost! I had originally thought that we could tour on our own for a similar experience and boy was I WRONG!"
(Rick L., USA, about a Private Tour on Kilauea volcano, Hawai'i)
Happy New Year!
We did your tour with Phillip last night on the Big Island and had a wonderful tour on the lava fields.
8-hr Volcano & Waterfalls Combination Private Tour w/Philip, June 2010
Akaka Falls. Photo: Jeff B.
Onomea Bay Scenic Drive. Photo: Ann B.
Kilauea Iki Crater. Photo: Jeff B.
Philip explains lava flows. Photo: Jeff B.
"Philip ..... arrived back in Atlanta yesterday morning uneventfully. We had a great trip to Hawaii with our tour with you a highlight. Here's the review I submitted to Trip Advisor. It will probably be published in a day or two. I cannot say enough about how impressive your product is both in its advertisements and when you receive it/actually experience it. I'll continue to pass the word as I can by any venue to promote what you are doing. Best to you and your new family. " - Jeff and Ann B
From TripAdvisor: "Beyond Cool....."
"Whoever thought rocks held secrets and had stories to tell? This was not your average, boilerplate tour so commonly foisted on tourists coming to Hawaii. This was a full day scientific, ornithological, geologic expedition. Never mind that Philip is an advanced degree graduate in geology from my alma mater, the University of Michigan - Go Blue - and a Volcanologist who has worked with the USGS, he's also an expert in the history and folklore of Hawaii and weaves the science of the volcanoes with the ancient stories behind Pele - the Goddess of fire and volcanoes celebrated in the old Hawaiian religion abolished in 1819 but still practiced by an active group of native Hawaiians today.
After extensive email exchanges with his partner Arthur, we chose to do the combined waterfall and VNP highlights tour. It is nearly impossible to fully appreciate the Big Island's stunning features in one day let alone a month. One cuts both the Hamakua Coast rain forest with its waterfalls and VNP short by combining them in an 8 hour tour but Phillip made it work for us. We toured the Hamakua Coast rain forest, Hilo Waterfalls, Kilauea Caldera and Thurston Lava tubes. The itinerary was customized for us- one of VolcanoDiscovery's benefits. In order to see more, we did not stop for lunch although this was available. Instead, Phillip had his Toyota Pathfinder stocked with plenty to eat and drink keeping us energized and hydrated. You'll gain about 90 minutes of sight seeing doing this.
If you want to ride around the Big Island in a Robert's Tour bus, that's fine but you'll miss the depth and richness of Hawaii's youngest island, well 800,000 years old - available to you with your guides from VolcanoDiscovery Hawaii Private Tours. You're going to pay more for this kind of very personalized adventure than on a tour with 60 of your closest friends crammed into a big bus. But it is worth every penny.
"If you are going to do one thing from Hilo, go to Volcanoes National Park (VNP). There is enough here to occupy an entire day. We actually did two things and if you do this, do it with a guide to maximize your time. You could not do this on your own, at least I could not, because there is so much to see and picking the right stuff to see is going to be difficult. I recommend VolcanoDiscovery tours.
We did an 8 hour tour that combined the highlights of VNP and the rainforest and valleys of the Hamakua coast... This was also a private tour …. we were it so, we obviously got lots of personalized attention.
I’d also recommend this for families with children 9 and up. It is incredibly informative and the history of the Islands and the science of the volcanoes – and Kilauea is active as we speak - is right out there for you to touch because of Phlip’s excellent narrative. Amazing! The Thurston lava tubes are inside VNP and part of this tour. You have to see these to believe them. VNP is unique to the islands so, naturally, this is the emphasis but Philip did a great job in the rain forest, with its waterfalls and boiling pots right in Hilo, as well." (Jeff B., USA)
8-hr Custom Private Tour w/Arthur, August 2009:
My family took a tour with Big Island eXcapes (now VolcanoDiscovery Hawai'i) during our vacation at the end of August.
It exceeded my expectations and we all had a fantastic time. Months later we still recall our time with Arthur (our guide) with smiles and laughter.
My family consist of 2 adults, 2 teens and 2 kids, for everyone to be entertained for more than 8 hours is a miracle. Arthur can truly work wonders. He entertained the little kids with stories and jokes. He chatted with the teens and even my mother (who doesn't understand English) enjoyed the tour very much.
I had researched several tour companies before deciding on one, and Arthur did not let me down. The best part about tours with Arthur is that its not a bus tour with 50 other people where you're rushed from one place to another. Arthur's tours are more intimate and friendly, its similar to visiting a friend and having your friend show you the island.
Our tour group was just me and my family. I basically researched certain areas we'd like to visit, emailed them to Arthur and it was incorporated into our itinerary. We had the luxury of making our own itinerary, we lingered in certain areas that we enjoyed more. That would've never happened if we had signed up for a tour with another company.
We were able to go at our own pace which was very important with the kids. After our tour started, we even added a new destination and Arthur worked it into our day perfectly without rushing us and he made sure we made our flight back to Honolulu since we flew to the Big Island specifically for the tour.
Another advantage of a tour with this company is that everything is prepared for you. All you have to do is show up and you're taken care of during the tour. Anything you need (sunblock, snacks, drinks, towels etc... will be provided. It was one less thing to worry about. I didn't have to buy and pack everyone a bag, which I'm sure I had to do with some other tour company.
I can't say enough about Arthur and his company, just know that once you do sign up for a tour with Arthur, you are getting the best. It really is a personalized and unique experience. We made the tour into "our tour" where there is something for everyone to enjoy in our group and we truly had a fantastic time. When we go to Hawaii again, we will definitely be calling on Arthur and Big Island Excapes (now VolcanoDiscovery Hawai'i).
8-hr Volcano & Waterfalls Private Tour w/Arthur, May 2010:
Of course you may quote me !!!
Arthur gave us an AMAZING tour. Although we picked a specific tour (Volcanos and waterfalls) Arthur found out more about our interests and further personalized the tour to suit us.
We got to do things we would have never been able to do ... things we never would have even known about if it werent for Arthur.
He is very passionate and educated about the island and culture. Its surprising to me that he hasnt lived there all his life with the knowledge he has.
He spoiled us. It was the BEST way to spend the day! ...
I just wanted to thank you again for such an AMAZING tour last week! You are
great at what you do and we really had a fantastic day! You showed us the
Hawaii we were hoping to see!!
I will send you the album once I load it if you are interested.
Thanks again ... mahalo
Lori" (Lori, USA)
8-hr Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park Group Tour w/Philip, April 2010:
Thanks for a most enjoyable and informative day - you made the day one of the best guided tours we have had anywhere in the world.
Best wishes, Ric" (R. Cother, Australia)
12-hr Volcano Geology Private Tour w/Philip, April 2010:
Hi Philip, Tom
I just wanted to provide a review of our April 6th tour in Hawaii.
Initially when I booked, the lava from the ongoing eruption at Kilauea was flowing at a site accessible to hiking. Unfortunately by the time we arrived, it was inaccessible. Philip and I had a telephone conversation and he suggested a number of good options open to us. We settled on two hikes; the Mauna Ulu and Kilauea Iki circuits. I was travelling with my two teenage sons and Philip provided exceptional guiding through the day we spent with him. I was impressed by a number of things including his breadth and depth of geological knowledge, local history, mythology, biogeography and his respect of Hawaiian practices and beliefs related to the volcanoes. I found him very amiable and the fact that he kept my boys interested for the whole day I think is a great testament to his abilities. The photo filled binders he used at the various stops brought the volcanoes to life for us. As a geologist myself I see value in use of scale. I particularly like his reference photos with use of well known objects (Niagara falls, Empire state building) to give one a perspective on the magnitude of these eruptive events. Fresh fruit and drinks at the stops was also very much appreciated. I highly recommend Philip as a guide to anyone with an interest in natural history or photography.
I hope to go back when Pele sees fit to send forth the lava to the sea.
Thanks Philip, my boys and I had a great time.
Phil, Peter and Ryan Benham
8-hr Volcano and Waterfalls Private Tour w/Arthur, April 2010:
We just returned home from our great trip last night. I want to thank you very much for such a wonderful insightful tour of the lsland and waterfalls! Jim and I just loved it and you made it very interesting and informative. ...
Thanks again for such a memorable trip and taking all the photos for us too! Sincerely, Donna"
An article about our Kilauea Volcano Special Tour w/Philip & Tom, published January 2007:
6-hr Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park Private Tour w/Philip, February 2010:
"...if you want to learn a lot, have unlimited questions, and want to experience time with an expert,this is the best possible choice. ...We found that by having this choice of guides, we were able to go with the one who best met our needs. We liked the small personalized group as opposed to groups of 30 people we saw herded around looking glazed and we liked that we could focus on what WE were interested in as compared to a more general tour that is one size fits all..." (->read the full review on Tripadvisor)
4-day Kilauea Volcano Special Private Tour w/Philip, November 2009:
Lava sea entry (photo: Guillaume)
Lava flowing over the cliff on Hawaii (photo: Guillaume)
We had a fantastic time in Hawaii. Phil did an excellent job (above expectations) and we were delighted by the amazing landscapes of Kilauea. Phil is very talented and knowledgeable not only in volcanology but also in botanic and local culture.
We would love to do another trip around the world with more volcano discoveries but we think we are running out of time and budget...
Thank you to give us this opportunity of in-depth volcano discovery.
Karolina and Guillaume"
"Dear Philip ... Thank you again for the nice way you guided us on this fantastic island. We definitely hope to come back one day. Karolina and Guillaume"
8-hr Volcano Geology Private Tour w/Philip, November 2009:
We had a great one day tour on the Big Island with Phil. His knowledge of Hawaiian culture was an unexpected plus." (Douglas B, about his private tour on Hawai'i)
8-hr Volcano Geology Private Tour w/Philip, June 2009:
"One of my degrees is masters in geosciences, which I got because of my interest in Kilauea. My husband arranged our day with Phil as a 50th birthday present for me, and it couldn't have been better! We know that classroom experiences in geology can never replace field experience, and even though Bob and I have explored Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park on several trips, Phil provided information, insight, and opportunities that we previously had not had. The trek through Kazumura Lava Tube was extraordinary!
Phil's knowledge is extensive and it is obvious that he can easily adjust the level of explanation of volcanic features and processes to the interests and background of participants. We returned the following week and hiked to the top of Mauna Ulu at Phil's suggestion, with the additional knowledge that we had acquired during our day with Phil.
Denise" (Dr. Denise Meeks, Astronomy/Physics Faculty, Science Department Chair, Northwest Campus, Pima Community College)
2-Day Active Eruption Combination Private Tour (20-hr), April 2009:
Hiking on the lava flow field towards the ocean sea entry
Pahoehoe lava close-up
The sea entry at night
Katerina & Guillaume
"Hi Philip, hi Tom,
Ok unfortunately back in Paris...sometimes it's hard the return to the
reality, especially after spending some really good time...
Just wanted to say thanks to both of you for that extraordinary occasion
for us, to approach one of the most impressive volcano, as well as for your professionalism from the beginning to the end and your time and care consecrated to us.
... Nevertheless that's true that anything could not easily replace the moment
of being a witness of such event like an active volcano is....always
fascinating and surprising and for sure we will not forget easily all what,
thanks to you, we were able to see....or at least till some such another
Thank you, Philip, again, for these two days, and mostly for your passion
and enthusiasm and unexhaustible knowledge, that you do know share and that's what we really appreciated as well as your personality and your
attention for our comfort and security and......ok then I think I will stop
there with all these compliments before you get too proud of you :)....and
still could continue to improve yourself.....
Thank you once more and just hope that still more and more people will appreciate more and more this "end of the world" not only for this
particularity of having an active volcano(s) but also for all the other
natural beauties and wealth hidden in the middle of these islands, that is
very often underrated by a lot of people (and certainly overshadowed by the
idea of the famous great hawaii's beaches and beaches and again the beaches - just an idea of many of european people that there is nothing else - ok, already succeeded to change this idea of some of them, but still a lot of work to do...) At least, like this, we can still hope in lasting preservation of the nature there...or at least a bit longer...(ok it's always relative...) Nevertheless hope all your clients do so (take care about the environment) ! :)
Good luck with your future plans!"
Sincerely, Katerina S. & Guillaume C
4-Day Kilauea Volcano Special Private Tour w/Tom, July 2007:
"We have arrived at home last night as per schedule...We could enjoy our tour very much and we think that our tour aim was 100% satisfied. We could have wonderful experience that we could never forget. Thank you very much for your guide. Later, by mail, I will send two video files, mpeg2 format and mpeg4 format, that recorded the lava. Sincerely, Seiji" (S. Takeda, Japan, Kilauea Volcano Special tour July 07)
4-Day Kilauea Volcano Special Group Tour, December 2008:
"Hi, ... I just viewed the DVD I bought and thought I could hear the sounds and smell the smells! I really had a great time on our trip and appreciated your knowledge and experience and your company! It was, for me, an experience of a lifetime! Mahalo, once more, and all the best! Fondly -- Regina" "Tom Pfeiffer proved to be a knowledgeable and trustworthy guide throughout our trip. He communicated not only a wealth of information and his passion for the subject of volcanology, but also his delight in the drama and beauty of the world of volcanoes. Respectful of individual needs and interests, he made the experience both educational and most enjoyable. Regina Bringolf, Hancock, New Hampshire, U.S.A."
8-hr Lava Proximity Hike (Private Tour) w/Philip, January 2007:
"We hiked the volcanic lava with Philip on Jan. 30 and what a thrill it was for us! Philip was able to point out various configurations and structures that we saw along the way and explain their existence because of his background as a geologist and volcanologist, and that just made the whole trip for us. He also took us close to a skylight where we could see the glow from the lava flowing through the tube and be the first people to walk on the new lava around it, and that was definitely a thrilling experience! We have shown just about everyone we've met the pictures of the skylight and have told them about your company, so hope you get some business out of it. There was certainly a lot of interest.
Anyway, I just wanted to thank you for enabling us to have such a wonderful experience, and to thank Philip again for taking us on such a fascinating hike. It was the highlight of our cruise around the Hawaiian islands. We're glad that we got to ride in Philip's old hunker of a jeep as it made it a bit funky for us, but hope he enjoys his new vehicle." (Sheila, US)
13-Day Heartbeat of the Earth Private Tour w/Philip, November 2006:
"Aloha Tom Just wanted to give you some feedback from the above trip. It was FANTASTIC!!!!!. As you know I was the only participant which worked well for me as we had a suggested itinerary, but was able to modify to suit my requirements, including the incredible boat trip to view lava. I have travelled extensively, and this boat trip is definitely up there at the top with other unbeatable life experiences. Philip Ong is one of the kind. His knowledge and passion for the Big Island is unsurpassable. His friendly disposition enjoyable. I loved every minute I spent with him, will treasure the discussions about anything and everything we undertook. The joking and laughs we shared - he really made the experience work. Also I would like to thank you for all the emailing and sorting of dates etc that you did to make my trip possible. Phil has some fantastic ideas and plans to include in future tours, which will make it even better - if that is possible. An amazing experience that I will never forget and a new friend made. Mahalo!! Denise Ellson"
VolcanoDiscovery featured in Endless Vacation magazine:
4-Day Kilauea Volcano Special reviews, 2005:
"The Tom Pfeiffer & Phil Ong tour is the ultimate volcano live performance ..." -> Read the FULL REPORT ! (Britt and Finn Pedersen, Denmark; 1 March 2005)
"Thank you both for an amazing trip. Pele pulled out all the stops, which I will forever appreciate (I'm pretty sure I'm hooked on lava), but so did you guys. It would have been fun hanging out with you anywhere, but it was best to do it on a volcano. Unforgettable. <...>Thanks again. I had a blast. Next, Santorini (and you have to come too, Phil!). Be careful, don't do anything too crazy, and have a Thai meal and a beer for me. Love, Pam." (Pam Petro, Massachussets; 26 Feb. 2005)
2-Day Active Eruption Private Tour w/Philip, November 2008:
Dear Philip, dear Tom,
in November after an really exciting day, we´ve promised Philip to send some pictures. Well, it was not forgotten, we just had to cover with Christmas, new year and, of course we had to sort through our pictures first. We did, and you can find the photos here. As you can see, Tom, you have the right fireproof man out there on Hawaii. Thank you again for taking us on that trip, showing us what kind of stuff lava really is! We wish both of you a happy new year, full of adventures and new experiences. Stay healthy!
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