Helicopter tours are a "must" on the Big Island. Where else can you find active lava flows?
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Big Island of Hawaii Helicopter Tours
Big Island of Hawaii Helicopter Tours provide the only Hawaii helicopter flights to places where you can consistently see the active volcano!
Helicopter tours on the Big Island of Hawaii fly over the volcanoes of Kilauea, Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Helicopter tours taken on the Big Island of Hawaii are considered by many to be the single most spectacular tours available in all of Hawaii and these Hawaii helicopter flights should be made a priority if at all possible.
Helicopter tours in Hawaii to see mount Kilauea and the active volcanoes of Hawaii Volcano National Park depart from both Hilo and Waikoloa. Most visitors visiting the Big Island will stay on the Kona or Waikoloa coast and since there are Hawaii helicopter tours leaving from that side of the island, this is often they're first choice of departure points.
For years the magma under Kilauea has been pushing to the earth's surface through "pu'u" or vents and has been making its way through a series of lava tubes to the seacoast. Here the hot lava pours into the sea at such enormous temperatures that vast plumes of steam and mist are formed and can be easily viewed from your Hawaii helicopter flight as the gases ascend hundreds of feet into the air.
Vast areas of the Big Island of Hawaii have been burned and paved over as a result, and the destruction and raw power of the earth's creative force is one of the most spectacular sites to ever be seen. This spectacle of nature is often much too dangerous to be viewed up close without the benefit of helicopter flights and visitors are prohibited to go close to these most spectacular fiery displays. The only way to realistically see the active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii is by a helicopter tour or a small plane tour.
It should be remembered however that the reason the Big Island is called the "Big Island" is that it is very, very big (it is a fact that the total land area of all the other islands combined would fit within the confines of the island of Hawaii) and as a result the helicopter tours that leave from Kona to view the volcano are generally over two hours in length and are respectively fairly expensive.
Many people as a result choose to drive the 2 or 3 hours or so from Kona to Hilo and depart from there as the helicopter tour or small plane tours to see Kilauea are only 45 or 50 minutes in length and considerably less expensive. The longer helicopter tours do have their merit however as they visit the slopes of both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa as well as the spectacular Kohala Coastline. So if money is not an object please enjoy the longer helicopter tours and small plane tours on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Some considerations regarding your Big Island of Hawaii Helicopter flight:
- During the Hawaii helicopter tour wear dark-colored clothing if you're going to be taking your own photographs. White or light- colored clothing will reflect in the windows and show up in the image.
- Morning helicopter flights generally have the least cloud cover. These are also the ones that book up first, especially during busy times so book your Hawaii helicopter tour early in your stay. Better yet, book a morning Hawaii helicopter flight long before you get here.
- The Kilauea volcano helicopter tour in my opinion is one of the best buys for the money in Hawaii. I say this not in the sense that it is in anyway inexpensive, but that it is probably a sight that you will never again see in your lifetime and is certainly worth every penny of the expense.
Types of helicopters flown on the Big Island of Hawaii.
- The A-Star is generally considered the "gold standard" for helicopter flights. No matter where you sit you'll have 180-degree visibility. The rotator shaft does not come between the front and back seats and there are no visual impediments interrupting your view forward. The back seat is raised to give a better view above the seats in front and there is an abundance of windows.
- The Eco-Star or Whisper-Star is actually the enhanced version of the A-Star and is generally considered the "Cadillac" of the touring helicopters. These helicopters are wider allowing for all bucket seats for more comfort. They have about 20% more viewing capacity through the larger windows and they produce less noise as heard from the outside.
- The Hughes 500 is small, fast and maneuverable. It seats only 4 passengers so each person is guaranteed a window seat. It is often also flown with "doors off" for spectacular photos.
- The Bell Jet Ranger seats four passengers. It is a little larger than the Hughes and smaller than the A-Star.
Tom's Tips - Big Island of Hawaii Helicopter Flights
- The Big Island of Hawaii is not the island on which to pass up your helicopter flight! The sights you will see from your Hawaii helicopter flight of a live volcano are something you are likely never to see again.
- On all helicopter flights children are charged the same price as adults if they are over the age of two.
- If you are staying over on the Kona side of the island an decide to make the trek to the Hilo side to catch your Hawaii helicopter flight, make a day of it. Try to catch the first flight you can manage and then after the helicopter flight drive up to the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and see it first hand on the ground now that you know what it looks like from the sky.
Paradise Helicopters on the Big Island of Hawaii offers spectacular flights visiting the many points of interest on the island. Departures from Kona International Airport. The Helicopters used by Paradise Helicopters are either the spacious wide-bodied Bell 407 helicopters with executive seating and oversized windows for great viewing or the maneuverable Hughes 500 helicopters which are quite often flown on doors-off flights for great photography. With Paradise Helicopters you will be able to enjoy much of what the Big Island has to offer on a personalized tour aboard one of these four or six passenger helicopters. You'll be able to witness first-hand the awesome power of the Kilauea Volcano as you travel to the latest activity. Your entire flight will be narrated using aviation headsets that allow you to speak directly to your pilot. You can experience the volcanic rebirth of the island as well as the lush tropical rainforests and the majestic water falls of the Wailuku River. The diversity of Hawaii is yours to remember on this incredible journey. The tour options vary greatly and the most popular are probably the forty-five minute tours departing from Hilo International Airport and flying over the volcanoes of Kilauea at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Seeing this volcanic area from the air is really the single best way to observe this unique Hawaiian treasure as you will understand the entire scope and magnitude of the rift zones and volcanic activity. From land you are restricted (and rightly so) from going into some of the more active regions where there is live molten lava running in rivers through lava tubes and unstable lava plateaus and newly created lava shelves and ledges but from the air you can see it all and understand how it is evolving. You will often be able to see directly down into Pu'u O'o vent which has in recent years been the genesis of much of the lava flows and see the molten hot lava sloshing about in a splashing river of magma and you will be able to view the tributaries of lava often flowing down the mountain in lava tubes, many of which have cracked open and allow the view of molten rivers descending toward the oceans. When reaching the sea this lava explodes as it enters the water and creates plumbs of white gas and steam that travels hundreds of feet into the air above.
(From: $190.90 - To: $686.06)
Safari Helicopters offers helicopter flights on the Big Island of Hawaii that operate exclusively from the Hilo side of the Island. These tours offered by Safari Helicopters specialize in seeing the volcanic areas in and surrounding the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Safari Helicopter is a family owned and operated business that had its beginnings on the island of Kauai and eventually spread to the Big Island. They fly the very popular A-star helicopters equipped with large viewing windows, two-way intercoms allowing for pilot and passenger conversations, special four-way video systems which record your individual flight, leather seats and a sound-proof cabin.
(From: $174.90 - To: $241.90)
Sunshine Helicopters is one of the truly great helicopter companies we have on the Big Island of Hawaii. They have been operational in Hawaii for decades and have grown to be one of the most professional and respected helicopter tour operators. Sunshine Helicopters has a large fleet of aircraft which are exclusively FX-Star helicopters and the newest and somewhat more deluxe version of the FX-Star which they refer to as the Whisper-Star. These six-passenger helicopters are really the "gold standard" of helicopters on the Big Island as they have certain great advantages. The rotator shaft is moved behind the cockpit so it is not in the way of great visibility for those sitting in the back. The back seats are raised so people in the back row can see above the heads of people in the front. With regard to the Whisper Star, they have bucket seats and more seat room as well as over twenty percent more window space for better visibility. Aside from the obviously first rate equipment being used I believe that a lot of the success of Sunshine Helicopters over the years has been due to the corporate culture that has grown in the company over the years emulating the attitudes and judgment of the company's founder and president, Ross Scott. Oddly enough, I was reminded of this earlier today in an email that just happened to arrive in my in box a couple of hours ago. I had on my agenda already today the task of putting together this little write-up about Sunshine Helicopters for you to read and the synchronicity of it arriving was, to me, uncanny. The gentleman writing the email sent it to me unsolicited and it spoke volumes as to the character and commitment of Ross Scott. It speaks about Ross's days as a helicopter pilot during the Viet Nam war and although it discusses actions taken there I can easily see the same character and commitment speaking toward what Ross had done with the establishment of and leadership of Sunshine Helicopters in the years that followed. Here was the email:...... I can vouch for Ross Scott, I was one of his door gunners on the gunships he flew in Viet Nam. The Commander was one of the best pilots we had, a true war hero that saved a lot of lives! He was our favorite to fly with, he always got all his team back home- every mission, nobody left behind- whether it was on his ship or others on our teams. He is the best of the best- he can do anything. It was my pleasure to fly with him - and it got real hot sometimes, and he always kept his "cool"! It was always an adventure! God Bless You, Commander and GUNS-UP!
(From: $169.00 - To: $585.00)
Air Tours - Fixed Wing on Hawaii - The Big Island of Hawaii is big indeed, larger in fact than all the other islands put together. Taking an air tour on a fixed wing aircraft is a great way to see the Big Island of Hawaii in a short amount of time, and at a lesser expense than in a helicopter. The air tours over the live volcanoes on Big Island of Hawaii are among the most spectacular and this Hawaii activity is among the most popular.
(From: $99.00 - To: $237.90)
Big Island of Hawaii Helicopter Tours - The Kilauea Volcano on the Big Island has been in continuous eruption for over two decades and as such is one of the most dramatic and spectacular sites to be seen by any helicopter flight anywhere in the world. Helicopters flying over the rift zones generally can see the molten lava down in the core of the vents or flowing in rivers through tubes on their journey to the sea where they can be seen spewing clouds of steam and gas high into the air as the hot lava enters the ocean. Kilauea Volcano is closest to the city of Hilo so departing from there would be your least expensive option and flights are generally between 45 minutes to an hour long. If your staying on the Kona or Waikaloa side of the island you can also fly in a helicopter to see the volcanic activity but it is a much greater distance to traverse. Those tours, which also include a fly over of the beautiful Kohala forest reigon are usually about two hours in length and are priced accordingly higher. If you choose to drive from Kona to Hilo to take a flight you can expect a drive, one way, of approximately two and a half or three hours.