One of the main reasons we decided to add Hawai’i Island to this trip is to see the lava flow from Kīlauea. Kīlauea has been continuously active since 1983, and is best seen by boat or by air. We opted to see it from the air, so I started doing some research on helicopter tours. Once I saw Safari Helicopters has a volcano tour, my search was over. We took a tour with them earlier this year to the Nā Pali Coast while we were on Kaua’i and loved it.
In case for some strange reason you don’t know, Kīlauea violently erupted May 3,2018 and opened two dozen lava vents causing massive destruction. It wasn’t until early August that the eruption almost completely ended. Needless to say, the Kīlauea part of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park was closed to the public and it wasn’t until November 2018 that parts of the park have re-opened. Trails are still in the progress of being repaired. That being said, we booked our Hawai’i Island/Maui vacation in June not knowing if or when the lava would stop. Flash forward to November 2018, the flow has stopped but that doesn’t mean our helicopter tour was a bust.
Only has tours on Kaua’i and the Big Island unfortunately. They are based out of Kaua’i and always put safety first. They also happen to be one of the longest-running helicopter tour companies on the island, which means they have a fantastic success rate and they know what they’re doing. Their staff is friendly, their pilots are carefully recruited and very knowledgeable. Their website is easy to navigate making the online booking process incredibly easy. Once you book your tour, you will receive a confirmation email, in that email you will have an online waiver to fill out. It will also provide useful information for your flight such as what to wear, and what you can and cannot bring on the flight.
It’s the day of your tour adventure, how exciting! You should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to take off. When you check in, everyone in your party will need to be weighed. This will determine your seating position so that the helicopter stays balanced. Once everyone on the tour has arrived, you will go through a safety briefing, given a lifejacket to wear for the duration of the flight, and will be loaded onto the helicopter. Once inside, buckle up, put your headphones on and get ready for take off!
Mike was our pilot for this excursion, he was incredibly knowledgeable and gave us a ton of information about where we were, what we were looking at, and where we were headed next. I love flying…in a big airplane. I’m usually a nervous helicopter flier but Mike’s narration and smooth flying put me at ease, making this helicopter tour my favorite by far.
Even though there was no active lava flow we did get to see the sulfur gas coming up from Puuoo Crater and from fissure 8. Even though everything we saw on this tour was amazing to see in person, it was also incredibly sad to see the devastation Mother Nature has caused and the destruction of so much property. We did get to see some people were already starting to rebuild and that just goes to show the spirit of the Hawaiian people.
AFTER THE TOUR
Once you make it back to Hilo you are carefully unloaded from the helicopter and have the opportunity to take a picture in front of the helicopter. It was incredibly windy and my hair was not cooperating so don’t judge the picture and yes, I did crop my parents out, they don’t care to have their pictures all over the internet but don’t worry, I still have the original picture will all of us in it. Once back inside, you hand over the lifejacket and that is the end of your excursion with Safari.
I wish Safari Helicopters offered tours on Maui and O’ahu as well, I’ve enjoyed both tours we’ve done with them. The windows on the helicopter are made for viewing not necessarily photography but I’ve gotten some amazing pictures with little to no glare, unlike tours I’ve done with other companies. If you’re looking to do a helicopter tour on Kaua’i or The Big Island, check Safari first to see if they offer what you’re looking for. Chances are the answer is yes and you won’t be disappointed with the results.
Have you been on a helicopter tour with Safari? If so, which island and tour did you do? Let me know in the comments below.