We took a helicopter tour as part of one of the cruise ship excursions over the lava flows. It was really cool when we took off. The helicopter just went up and swooped. We got to see hot glowing lava and steam coming out of the volcano cone (photo 3)
Also on the tour the guide showed us this guys house (photo 2) that he opened as a bed and brekfast AFTER the roads surrounding his house were closed due to lava flows. The only way to get to his house is by foot or helicopter.
Apparently there used to be helicopter tours from inside the park itself, but the NPS shut them down because of safety concerns.
The ship called this the Circle of Fire plus Waterfalls Excursion. A cost from the ship for an adult was $259.00 and that included transportation from the ship. Booking on the internet it would only cost $ 182.95 including all Taxes and Fees
Tour the most geologically active environment on earth-the famous Kilauea volcano, which has been continuously erupting since 1983. Tour emphasis is on the most current areas of volcanic activity. View lava flows and black sand beaches. See tropical rain forests and cascading waterfalls while learning about the history and culture of Hawaii.
I understand that there used to be helicopter tours right from the park, but they are no longer available as there were safety concerns. The tour I booked from the cruise ship left from the Hilo airport.
Since we didn't do the Tora Tora Tora tour where black clothing was suggested for lack of reflection, I wore black for this one. I was right to wear dark clothing, but we still had reflections fom the PFD packs and some parts of the helicopter. Also it was raining off and on and the windows got raindrops on them.
After breakfast, we went out on the pier to meet with our group. While we waited there was electric ukulele music (very loud) and hula dancing. A black dude came into the terminal and weighed us on a scale. The rules said that if you were over 250 lbs that you would be charged extra. My grandson weighed 85 lbs - less than I had guessed (I guessed 100 lbs) and I was more than I had put down (but of course I'm usually weighing in the morning before breakfast when nude), but not over 250 lbs.
Then we got into a van and they drove us to the airport. We walked to the Blue Sky Helicopter place and they gave us a safety briefing and handed out the little life preserver/fanny pack. I couldn't get mine on because it had been put away wrong.
We were lined up in groups - my grandson and I were in the first group - he was #3 and I was #4. Two of the others were two women from Australia, and there was also a young couple. They walked us out to our helicopter - they took me on a golf cart. It was raining and we got wet. Our pilot was Julie. The young couple sat in the back on the right side, and we sat on the left side with my grandson next to the window. Julie took off and flew toward the volcano. There were raindrops on the windows and there was a rainbow out the right side.
We could see where the lava had flowed and left islands of trees and steam from where the hot lava hit the edge of the ocean (photo 5). Because it was cloudy, we could see the red glow from the lava around the edges of the flow (photo 3). We flew over the house of the man who wouldn't evacuate, and also around the edge of the crater with steam coming out. We saw the smooth shiny new lava (which has more silica content) and the orange sulfur and iron deposits.
My grandson got some really good photos (he was next to the window).
Then Julie flew over some waterfalls on the river (photo 2) - some of them you can't get to by land. At the end, Julie took a photo of us with my camera, and they also had cameras in the helicopter which showed where we went and had Julie's narrative.
We got back to the airport - the sun was out but I was still a little damp around the edges from the rain earlier. I got a ride on the golf cart back to the gate. I ordered the DVD of our ride (one for him and one for me).
About a one hour tour from Hilo. In this photo you see fresh lava being cooled by the water.
This is how the Big Island getting bigger as new land is being born.
There are several helicopter companies operating - the pilots are highly skilled and professional, many with prior military experience.
Afterward, we also received a souvenier video of a heli tour over volcano.
About a one hour tour from Hilo. The photo below is the closest we came. You could smell something sulphurous! Our guide and pilot informed us that the cooling lava makes a sound such as shattering glass, though we can't hear it due to the loudness of the heli, and the fact that we communicate via speakers on headphones.