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Big Island Helicopter Tours

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Helicopter Tours Sorted by Specific Tour

Big Island Helicopter Tours

Big Island Helicopter Tours play a larger than life role for the Hawaii visitor. The Big Island, unique among all the other islands that make up the chain of islands of Hawaii, is the only one that is continuously visited by live volcanic activity. The volcano literally never stops pumping up lava from its origin in the depths below the Earth's surface. This volcanic activity, as you can imagine, is very dangerous and the general public is not allowed into the areas where the major lava flows occur. It is for this reason that the helicopter volcano tours play such an important role because it is only from the air that the major lava flows, lava channels, vents and general activity can be observed from the wide spectrum viewpoint.

Yes, Big Island helicopter tours are a bit more expensive than the average tour but if you do have the means, one of these helicopter volcano tours should be high on your list of 'must see' activities. You will likely never be able to duplicate this experience again during your lifetime. Luckily Tom Barefoot's Tours offers a large array of discounted Hawaii helicopter tours.

Where should you depart from on one of the Helicopter Volcano Tours?

The Big Island is the largest of the Hawaiian islands and as such, it is a long way between various locations. The majority of visitors to the island will find themselves on the Kona side of the island but the volcanic activity is found on the Hilo side of the island. There are advantages to take a helicopter from either side. If you are staying in Kona, your departure point will be close. The tour to the volcanoes will be longer however and is generally about 2 hours in length. You will see the volcanic activity but you will also be treated to the areas in between and most of these tours will also take you up north to the Kohala region and Hamakua with its beautiful shorelines as well as to an overview of the Waikoloa white sand beaches.

If your intention is just to see the volcanic activity and to save some money as well, you would be well advised to drive your car from the Kona side to the Hilo side and take the helicopter tour directly from there. These tours will usually be about 50 minutes in length and will cost about one half of the Kona departure tours. You must of course be willing to make the 2 1/2 or 3 hour one-way drive over and back in order to arrive at the heliport. Your choice, both tours are well worth the price of admission.

Various Big Island Helicopter Tours make use of different types of helicopters:

  • The A-Star is generally considered the "gold standard" for helicopter flights. No matter where you sit you'll have 180-degree visibility. The rotor 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 407 is often referred to as the limousine helicopter because of its unique seating arrangement. One client sits up front with the pilot, three clients sit in the rear facing forward and two passengers sit in the rear facing backwards.

Pride of America Cruise Ship:

Big Island of Hawaii Helicopter Tours do not pick up at the Cruise Ship Dock. The majority of these helicopter flights however can be reached by a short taxi ride from the dock to the heliport or if you prefer Tom Barefoot's Tours can arrange a Rent-A-Car for you that will pick you up via shuttle at the dock. These flights will be available to you on Tuesday from the port of Hilo or Wednesday from the port of Kona.

Checkout Tom's Tips and Insights about "The Big Island" of Hawaii Helicopter Tours

Tom Barefoot's Tips
  • Tom's Tips - Big Island Helicopter Tours

    There was absolutely no category of activities on the Big Island in the late spring and summer of 2018 that was busier than the helicopter companies. On May 3rd the world began to rock on the Big Island as the first of many fissures forced their way onto the landscape and within days plumes of gas and monstrous fire streams of continuous lava shot high above the Hilo skyline. The Puna district was engulfed in a sea of fire and the VOG alert went off the charts. Everyone all of a sudden wanted to grab a helicopter flight to see the spectacle. Within days, the flights became very difficult to come by. We were reduced to finding single seats on multiple aircraft simply so a party of two could see this most ominous of events. They did not care that they would have to go up on separate aircraft that were leaving within 4 hours of each other. It was a 'gold rush' for helicopter flights the likes of which the island had never seen before... read more.

Helicopter Tours Sorted by Company

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(5 Reviews, 5 Stars)

Sunshine Helicopter

3 Activity Options

Helicopter Tours, FX-Star and Whisper Star, Helicopter Tours

Sunshine Helicopters has been operating in Hawaii for over 25 years and has a large fleet of FX-Star and Whisper Star helicopters. You'll experience the ultimate in comfort and with more visibility on these state-of- the-art helicopters. The owners, Ross and Anna Scott, are respected helicopter tour operators and offer spectacular flights of Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island of Hawaii.
More Info / Buy Now

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(6 Reviews, 4.8 Stars)

Safari Helicopters

2 Activity Options

Helicopter Tours, ASTAR Helicopters Tours

Operating on Kauai and exclusively out of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, Safari Helicopters specializes in air tours of the entire island of Kauai and specifically the Hawaii Volcanoes area of the Big Island. Safari is a family owned and operated business that began on the island of Kauai and then expanded to the Big Island. They fly the popular A-Star helicopters that offer great visibility and communication systems for pilot-passenger conversations.
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(15 Reviews, 4.7 Stars)

Paradise Helicopters

7 Activity Options

Scenic Helicopter Tours of Oahu, Pearl Harbor Flights, Door's Off Adventure Tours

Paradise Helicopters is one of the premier helicopter touring companies that services both the Big Island and Oahu. One of the biggest differences between this company and many others is the fact that they will offer you the opportunity to take a flight with the doors off. As nerve racking as that may sound, you are completely strapped in an just a secure as you would be in an enclosed helicopter. The big difference is that your view from this perspective will be absolutely amazing.
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Mauna Loa Helicopters

2 Activity Options

Book a flight with Mauna Loa Helicopters

Mauna Loa Helicopters flies the Robinson R44 Helicopters. These machines have a smaller capacity than their competitors which enables them to offer more customized tours.
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Blue Hawaiian Helicopters

6 Activity Options

Astar and luxury Ecostar Helicopters both provide spectacular Group and Private charter tours

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters offers spectacular Group or Private Charter helicopter tours on Kauai, Oahu, Maui and Big Island of Hawaii. Eco-Star and A-Star Helicopters are available for privates from all locations and the Maui and Hilo tours.
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Recent Reviews

Video Transcript

So, this video segment is going to be about helicopters on the big island.

Helicopters on the big island are among the most requested activities that we have in all of Hawaii. Certainly, with regards to helicopters in general, this is an island that many of the people prefer to do as adverse to going on one of the other islands.

So, what is the reason for that? Why do people want to do the helicopter flights on the big island? Obviously, the answer quite simply is the volcanoes and the volcano area that we have on the big island.

The volcanoes have been going off continuously to a lesser or greater extent since the early 80s. It is just a spectacular view that you are in all likelihood probably not going to be able to see again in your lifetime. But, yet this is available to us here in Hawaii on the big island almost every day.

We're seeing lava that is just pumped out of the volcanoes flowing down to the ocean in lava streams. Oftentimes entering into the ocean ... giant plumes of gas and steam when it does enter into the ocean ... this changes from day to day, week to week, month to month ... The flows and how they work.

Also, up at the Puu Oos or the vents, you're seeing activity where lava is coming out, going over the top, looking down into the vents. So, you have this incredibly, red hot, actually, orangy red lava that in contradistinction to all the brown lava or black lava surrounding it really is highlighted.

This is an amazing sight to see and it's what people want. Now, the lava, of course, can be very dangerous. You're not allowed to get into areas where we have a lot of this volcanic activity. So, consequently the very best way to view it, is going to be by air. Hence, the helicopter tours that we have that take you to those regions

Now, let me take you back to that map of the big island so you can get a sense of what is going on. So, here is the big island. The majority of people when they come visit they're going to be staying on Kona Coast, Waikoloa, or down in Kailua-Kona. Very few would be staying over in Hilo, but, some we do. But, yet, the volcanic activity you are going to be seeing is in this area. This is Kilauea. That's the volcano that is going off. It's located on the side of a giant ... of Mauna Loa. If these were in relief you would see there is a giant mountain here and another one here that are about 13,000 feet plus. But, yet, they are not going off currently, but, Kilauea is.

If you are on this side there's a couple ways to do this to see the volcano. Certainly, the most convenient way for you to do this would be to just get into a helicopter in either Kona area or Waikoloa and then fly over. These are generally going to be longer flights. In fact they're probably going to include a full island flight. Maybe 2 hours or so in length. So you are going to be leaving from this coast line, going over what they call the "saddle" between these two volcanoes. Seeing lava flows that all throughout this area ... that 1800s, 1700s ... there are all different ones layered one on top of another. Then you will be cruising over to the volcanic area. Here you will be able to see Kilauea, Halemaumau, the various vents we have in this area and all the rift zones and lava streams that we have that are heading down to the ocean.

This is the major area on the island and this is what you will be seeing. So, you see that until you got that completely saturated and you really have an understanding of it and can see it well.

Then they're going to go back over to Hilo and then up the Hamakua coast ... which is a spectacular coast line ... up to Hawi, back around Waikoloa. If you are staying in Kona they are going to go down this coast line which you can see all the major hotels we have on the beaches, the beautiful beaches and bays that we have on that side. Then you're going to cruise back to Kona.

So that is a way to do it. That is the most complete way to see the entire island, for sure. But, it is also the most expensive way, because you're in the air a couple hours.

Since the primary thing that most people want to see on the big island regarding helicopter flights is Kilauea. You can make this less expensive for yourself by driving over to Hilo and leaving from Hilo in a helicopter and just heading up to the volcanic activity. This is going to be maybe a 45, maybe a 50 minute, maybe an hour flight. It may include a little of the coastline here that you can see as well. But, this would be the most affordable way to do it.

Yes, you do have to make the drive. There is nothing wrong with that. It just takes a little while. It could take two-and-a-half or three hours to get over there, so you might want to consider organizing a tour helicopter flight that would leave perhaps mid morning or so. Because you have to drive that entire distance and you don't want to make it early, early those are great flights. If you don't mind getting up really early and taking your rental car across the island you can certainly do that. But, a more reasonable time for most people would be like 10 or 11:00 and kind of organize that. Which means that you need to organize those early, because those flights can disappear. It's not just something you can wake up on the day of, or the day before and go, "yeah let's do the 10:00 flight" and get over there. These are things that are best organized in advance.

What that enables you to do is to leave right form Hilo. As soon as you get up in the air you're not even that long ... maybe 10 or less than 10 minutes ... and you're out over the area that you're wanting to be seeing. You're not going to see any of the rest of the island, but, then again you are not going to have the expense either.

These are the basic helicopter tours that you're going to be wanting to book while you're on the island of Hawaii.

There are a number of different aircraft we have that do this. One of the popular, most popular, I guess, would be the A-Star helicopters. These are aircraft that are designed specifically for the purpose of sightseeing. They've got beautiful view windows. They can carry 6 people. You've got 4 people on a bench seat in the back and 2 in the front, plus the pilot. You've got very, very good views.

If you want to enhance your view on a similar aircraft you could also do, what we call the Whisper Star which is made by the same company. It's wider, it has bucket seats instead of the bench seats, a little bit more comfortable. There's more viewing window space so you're going to be able to see a little bit more.

In both the AStar and the Whisper Star, they have taken the rotator shaft out of the fuselage area ... they've taken it out of the cabin ... they put it behind you. You don't have that in your way and also the back seats are higher than the front seats so you got a bit of the theater seating, where you've got good views in all the seats that you could be sitting in.

There is also the ... they call them the Bell 407s, that we have there. There is the Bell Jet Rangers and there's the Bell 407. The Bell 407 is the one that is more primarily used on the big island. This is kind of ... it has executive seating. Actually, you sit in the front or you sit in kind of a cabin behind with seats facing each other. So, you're either looking forward or looking back. Just because of the nature of the flights, you've got beautiful views wherever you sit on these. So, that's the other type.

Then for those of you that really want to be a bit more adventuresome ... and those of you that are photographers are really concerned about making sure that you get the best pictures ... the Hughes 500 can operate with doors off. This is bout as good as it gets because you have nothing between you and the volcanic activity down below. A little scary for some people. You're completely strapped in, but you've got nothing off to your side. You get a little bit cooler, because you've got the air rushing through. So, it's not a flight for everybody, but, for the people that really want that type of excitement and those good photographs, you really can't beat it.

So, those are the types of helicopters that we have.

Those are the main points I wanted to bring up about the helicopter flights on the big island. Definitely well worth it. You're not going to be seeing the volcanic activity on any of the other islands of Hawaii and probably hardly any other places in the world that you'll actually be able to take a regularly scheduled flight to go see that.

If you have an interest, this is the place to do it. Helicopters on the big island.

If you have any questions about tours or activities in Hawaii, just give us a call, or check out TomBarefoot.com
We're here to help.

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