The Big Island hides many of its awe-inspiring wonders behind obstacles that are impassable and are impossible to see – except through the air! Think about the hidden waterfalls or fresh lava flows, and what about the lava lakes in the Halema’uma’u and Pu’u O’o craters the Kilauea volcano? These sights are impossible to see from the ground, and to witness these unique sights you have to rise above the ground and get above the island.
The views are so amazing that areal touring has become a very popular activity. If you do decide to embark on a tour, prepare to be amazed from your chair! This luxury comes at a price though, and a helicopter tour is one of the more expensive attractions the Big Island offers. Expect to pay about $200/hour.
The added value of a Helicopter tour
Taking off into the sky with a helicopter will offer you a unique perspective on Hawaii that few people will ever enjoy. A helicopter tour early in your visit can give you a good perspective on the many striking contrasts and vivid colors that make up the Big Island. It can help you decide how to arrange the rest of your stay and help you plan the rest of your stay.
Taking a helicopter tour is also the only way to get an (almost) guaranteed look at the lava. The Kilauea volcano can be unpredictable, and even though during the last decade easily visitable lava flows were common, there is no guarantee that this is the case during your visit. Helicopters can fly over the Kilauea craters, and let you see straight into the fiery action.
If you also want to try your luck at the lava flows, have a look at our red-hot lava viewing guide.
Most popular Helicopter tours
Helicopter tours are big business on Hawaii, and there is strong competition between the tour companies. Most companies offer special prices or discounts at least a couple of months each year, and it is certainly worth your time to compare prices. For your convenience we list the biggest four Helicopter Tour Agencies (in random order):
We have made a useful checklist in case you never booked a helicopter tour before. You can use this checklist when deciding between tours. Do not hesitate to contact each tour before booking, because a little preparation really can make a difference.
Here is our checklist for a stellar helicopter tour:
- How much airtime do I get during your tour?
- Can you guarantee me a window seat?
- How many passengers do you take in your helicopter?
- What areas of the Big Island do you fly over?
- Can you guarantee a window seat? (very important if you want to take photo’s!)
- How close does your helicopter take me to waterfalls, craters, lava?
- Is a tour with “doors off” possible?
- Where do you helicopters leave from? And do you provide transport from [your location]?
- If there are no active lava flows, can we still see lava lakes or otherwise active lava?
- How flexible are you on the timing and route of the tour?
- Do you offer special fares?
Finally: wear a dark or black shirt if you don’t go on a “doors off” helicopter tour and bring a polarizing filter if you have one. Light clothes will reflect back from the windows into your camera and these are some pictures that you don’t want to be in yourself.
Helicopter tour Video
To show you what to expect during a helicopter tour we show you the video that youtube user bship5225 recorded 2011. It shows a “doors off” helicopter tour over the Kilauea volcano and some waterfalls.