We recently visited Hawaii for the first time to celebrate Sarah’s birthday. When we decided on a trip to the Big Island, we knew we wanted to see it all. Our friends had just been to New Zealand and took a helicopter tour, and recommended it as a way to see as much as possible in a short time.
The Island of Hawaii is the largest Hawaiian island and is also the world’s most active volcano. From Kona, you can drive to the other side of the island in about three hours and see volcanic rock, waterfalls, and rainforests. Rather than spending an entire day sitting in the car, we decided to fly and get a birds eye view.
This was our first helicopter ride, and while we were a tiny bit nervous at first, as soon as our helicopter lifted off the ground, it was exhilarating. The helicopter is incredibly smooth, and our pilot, Eli, was so fun and reassuring. We headed east, passing between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea before arriving at Kilauea and circling the crater to see lava spewing from the edges.
Next, we headed down the volcano to see the active lava flows, which we could see glowing from the air. Depending on the aircraft, route, and weight, some tours stop in Hilo to refuel. We didn’t need to, so we headed straight out over lush rainforest to explore the stunning Kohala coast, which boasts waterfalls and valleys thousands of feet deep.
The highlight of our trip was landing at the base of an incredible waterfall and finding fresh bananas in the surrounding forest. After this short break, we got back in the helicopter and toured a few more stunning valleys before heading back to the airport.
This is one of the best ways to see the island. It would take days to experience everything we did by land. We did quite a bit of research on tour companies and ended up going with Blue Hawaiian because it’s aircraft seemed the newest and it was closest to our hotel. In our research, we found that most tours leave from the eastern side of the island, and many will drive you the six hour round trip, but to us that seemed to defeat the purpose of the helicopter tour. If you want to take photos or video, make sure to wear dark clothing so you wont reflect in the glass.
If you have the opportunity to take a helicopter tour while on the Island of Hawaii, we highly recommend it. This was definitely a memory that lasts a lifetime. Thank you to Alaska Airlines for sponsoring this post