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“Our Day in Hilo with Coconut Joe!”

Kamaaina Custom Tours
Ranked #7 of 37 Outdoor Activities in Hilo
Certificate of Excellence
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Private Full-Service Custom SUV tours of Hawaii Island. Competitively priced All-Inclusive Charter rates. Combination Volcano and Waterfall/Rainforest Tours available. Hike a lava tube and swim with Green Sea Turtles! Snorkel the shallow coral reefs at a Black Sand Beach. Two Chevy Suburbans for larger groups. Special couple's packages available. An array of fresh local fruit, local snacks and full beverage service are provided. 2014 and 2015 Certificate of Excellence winner.
Columbia, South Carolina, United States
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Our Day in Hilo with Coconut Joe!”
Reviewed 27 October 2013

My fiancé and I were traveling on the NCL Hawaiian Island Cruise and had a day to spend in Hilo. After searching the many reviews on TripAdvisor, I decided on Kamaaina Custom Tours. We were dead set on Kalapana Lava Flow Tour since we wanted to get up close to the lava. We received an email two nights before our day in Hilo mentioning that they had talked with the park ranger and that the lava flow had shifted and was no longer a 4 mile hike from the road, but now 10 miles. They had offered to refund our money for our trip, but thankfully, we decided to use our reservation for another one of their tours.

Our day in Hilo arrived and we ended up meeting our tour guide, Coconut Joe, in the waiting area after disembarking from the cruise ship. Coconut Joe is the most relaxed, happy go-lucky individual that we have ever met. He asked us what we were in the mood to do and built a tour around what interest us most, we didn’t stop anywhere that we didn’t want to and we spent extra time at the places that we wanted more time to spend.

Our first stop of the day was Akatsuka Orchid Gardens. This place was incredible, the flowers smelled amazing, we bought some souvenirs and we were able to use the restroom on the way to Volcanoes National Park. After departing we made our way to Volcanoes National Park.

Volcanoes National Park was really one of the highlights of the trip. Coconut Joe was more than happy to take pictures of the two of us since as a couple traveling by ourselves, there are many times were finding someone to take our picture is difficult. After stopping by the Steam Vents, we headed up to the museum where Coconut Joe took more pictures and then he knowledgeably spoke about everything inside the museum. We even had people from other tours listening in on him to learn something that came from a local. After the museum, we stopped at the lava tubes and hiked along a trail to see of the great scenery in the area. After spending a few hours at the park, we made our way to the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm.

The Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm was such a fun place to visit. Coconut Joe knew everyone there so we didn’t feel pressured by sampling every flavor of nut that they had for sampling. We grabbed some food there before heading out to the beach.

On the way to the Beach, we had mentioned that we would really like to snorkel. Coconut Joe said that he had borrowed out his snorkel gear to a friend, but had an additional set at his house. Instead of telling us that we were out of luck, he drove to his house to pick up his gear to accommodate us. While we were there, he grabbed some Lychee and other various fruits, for us to chow down on at the beach.

We then went to Richardson Ocean Park. On the way, we found out that Coconut Joe’s family had owned this plot of oceanfront land while he was growing up and the family had gifted it back to the community. Coconut Joe’s childhood home still resides on the property. This place was the highlight of our trip by far! It was a black sand beach, but seemed relatively undiscovered by tourists. We found out that this is also one of the few beaches where the Green Sea Turtles come and sun themselves on the rocks and beach. We probably got over a hundred pictures of these amazing creatures. While we were snorkeling, we also ran into one of the largest turtles I had ever seen in my life. This was one of the most incredible places that I had ever been to in my life.

Enjoying this amazing experience, we didn’t realize that we were well past the time that our tour was supposed to last. Did we hear a complaint from Coconut Joe? Not a peep, he never rushed us and was more than happy to treat us as one of his family.

My fiancé and I couldn’t have asked for a better tour guide that knew the area, made us part of his family and let us have one of the most memorable adventures on our Hawaiian Adventure. He is truly one of the best people we had ever met and we can’t wait to go back and share another great experience with him. 5 Stars does not do him justice.

Visited July 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

149 reviews from our community

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  • English first
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English first
Belfair, Washington
Level 3 Contributor
20 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Robert was awesome!”
Reviewed 2 October 2013 via mobile

I read reviews of Kamaaina custom tours on Tripadvisor. I took three of my teenage kids on a carnival cruise to hawaii and we only had one day on the big island in hilo and had lots of stuff we wanted to see. I spoke with Robert via email and text. He was very responsive and made all the arrangements for our custom tour. I was able to pay via Paypal, which made me feel better since I was several thousand miles away. When we arrived in Hilo he met us in the cruise terminal with a sign with our last name. He drove us everywhere we wanted to go and had an easy nature about him. He was extremely knowledgable and told us about local attractions and fauna. Robert also had a cooler of cold drinks for us and when my kids requested drinks he didn't have, he stopped and got the soda they like! He also brought snorkel gear for us to use, towels and local fruit to sample like white pineapples and apple bananas...super tasty. We used every moment of our time in Hilo and were able to squeeze in a trip to a coffee farm, the volcano, a beautiful waterfall, a lava tube, a steam vent, a black sand beach and snorkeling with turtles! I can't imagine a better tour or use of our time. I highly recommend Robert!

This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Illinois City, Illinois
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“This tour is a MUST TAKE event”
Reviewed 24 September 2013

I was recently in Hilo, Hawaii and had the pleasure of touring with Robert Sullivan. There were three adults in my party and Robert took EXCELLENT care of us. His business card says "Hawaii Island...at your pace" and that's exactly what you will get!! His display of patience, knowledge, and personable character, made us feel very special and thankful we toured with him. If you are ever in Hilo, Hawaii, either by cruise or just in the vicinity, and need an AWESOME touring service, PLEASE, PLEASE go with Robert!!!

He even kept drinks and fruit in coolers for us to partake!! He is absolutely the best the prices are VERY reasonable!!! We had our very own PERSONAL tour guide for about 3 hours!!! He got an extra tip from us!!! Thank you, Robert and God Bless YOU!!!

Visited September 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Culver City, California
Level 4 Contributor
16 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 82 helpful votes
“A perfect day trip to the big island!”
Reviewed 31 August 2013

Our first trip to the islands. We were in Maui for 4 days, and my husband wanted to see a volcano (don't they all?) so I had to figure out how to make that happen. First I had to decide if we wanted to take a helicopter from Maui to cruise over to the big island (2.15 hours) but I read that if the weather was bad, tough luck, you still had to pay $425. per person. Another option was a tour package that included a flight to Hilo and a day trip on a bus - but when I looked at the schedules, they would stop in places for 5-10 minutes or just drive by. That didn't sound like much fun. So I looked over the day tours in Hilo on TripAdvisor and Kamaaina stood out because they customize your tour to your preferences. So I called Robert and booked a private tour, found a flight from Maui to Hilo on Hawaiian Airlines from OGG - we arrived in Hilo at 2pm and flew back out at 8:20pm. (I'm adding these travel details because I know they will be helpful to others who have not yet been to the islands).

Robert picked us up at the airport and I was greeted with a gorgeous flower lei (my first ever!) He's a big teddy bear of a guy, very sweet, kind and knowledgeable. He knew exactly where to take us in his comfortable SUV loaded with delicious snacks and island fruit so we didn't have to worry about a thing except to eat, drink and see stuff! In our six or so hours on the big island, he managed to take us to this beautiful park (Carlsmith Beach Park) to see turtles, a nearby black sand beach, then to pick up a gigantic plate lunch to eat in the car on our way to Rainbow Falls, then to the all women owned and run Hilo Coffee Farm and gardens where we purchased lilikoi tea, toasted coconut and pineapple flavored coffee, then on to the Thurston lava tubes, the steam vents, the view of the crater from a distance, then the museum at Volcanoes National Park, where we were able to see the volcano as close as we could as day turned into night. Then he whisked us back to the airport just in time for us to catch our flight back to Maui (which is by way of Honolulu that late in the day). Whoo hoo!

I highly recommend this company if you want a beautiful day that you will never forget. I recommend to spend the extra money and book a private tour - this way you get to see what you want for as long as you want. Mahalo Robert!

Visited August 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Adelaide, Australia
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Big Island Tour - July 2013”
Reviewed 11 August 2013

This was our first visit to the big Island and we wanted to see as much as we could in the one day we all had free as my husband was starting a conference. We were located on the other side of the Island to Hilo in Kohala so I was having trouble finding someone that was free on this day. From the time I made contact with Rob he was very helpful and quick to reply to my emails.
Our day was amazing our guide for the day was "Coconut Joe" and as he had spent his life on The Big Island he was full of information and knew many of the locals on our stops along the way. We were out for about 11 hours and covered pretty much most of the island and saw all that there was to see. This included waterfalls, black sands beach, volcano, lava tube etc. basically we did the combo tour. As we are from Australia my husband and I were both reluctant to drive on the other side of the road so this was perfect for us and we all got to sit back and enjoy. Joe stopped wherever we wanted to stop and even stopped in at Kona for us to do some food shopping on our way back to our hotel which we really appreciated.There were 5 of us on the tour my husband and I and our 3 children 21, 17 and 15. We all had a great day so thanks again Coconut Joe for a day we will always remember !! We still talk about you and your stories.

The Cooper Family

Visited July 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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