Air Tours of Recent Lava Flow Wows Tourists and Pilots

image According to the Honolulu Advertiser, the most recent lava eruption on the Big Island of Hawaii is “offering the best daytime lava viewing opportunities for airborne tourists in years.”  A Hilo pilot told the Advertiser that, “I’ve been doing tours from Hilo for seven years, and this is the best lava flow I’ve ever seen.”  The above ground stream of lava is currently about four miles long and the only way to see it is by air.  As a result, air tour business is booming.  From my own experience, I can highly recommend taking a helicopter tour to see the active eruption.

If you are on another Hawaiian Island for vacation and feel so close yet so far away from seeing an active volcano, consider taking a day trip to the Big Island.  Inter-island flights are relatively inexpensive at about $80 round trip.  You can fly into Hilo and pick up a helicopter tour from there.  To make the most of your day trip consider renting a car at the airport (all the major rental agencies are there) and drive out to explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the ground. 

Can’t get to the Big Island to see the lava flow?  Then take a virtual visit.  You can see the live panoramic view of the lava flow via web camera.  If possible try to catch glimpses during Hawaii’s night time when the red glow from the lava is more visible and dramatic.

Photo credit to USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory


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About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

8 comments

  1. I’m a major chicken but my husband wants to take a heli tour and after reading this, I may just take a xanax and go for it! :)

  2. As a long time volcano photographer and explorer I can tell you that it is indeed a great time for an air tour. And a bit of advice for those who may have thoughts of hiking to the eruption area. Don’t! It’s a lot longer and tougher hike then you could ever imagine. 15-20 miles rt with a 2300′ climb. Plus, you wouldn’t get very close to the activity due to the worst hiking conditions there are. It’s called shelly Pahoehoe lava. Basically you can fall into hollow pockets that are 1 to 4 feet deep and the edges will shred you up bad. Also, at any time the eruption could change. All it would take is for some kind of blockage at the source of the current flow and lava could suddenly start flowing to the south and essentially downhill. This is a very real possibility especially with the recent blockages just down stream from the source at fissure D. The active flow stretches for many miles.
    Take the air tour and enjoy!

  3. I would love for my girls to see this but I’m too chicken to go on a helicopter!

  4. Lissete & kailani – I was a major chicken for my first helicopter tour, too. In fact, I had no intentions of ever taking a helicopter tour. I was on Kauai and wanted to see the Na Pali Coast. We had planned a boat tour of the coast, but the ocean was so rough that the tour was canceled everyday. So, the only way we had to see the Na Pali was by air. It was absolutely incredible! My husband and I were grinning from ear to ear the whole time. I’m glad things worked out the way they did. So, please don’t rule out taking a helicopter tour.

    Bryan – That hike sounds very dangerous! I think I’d take your advice and opt for the bird’s eye view from an air tour!

  5. I live in Puna on the Big Island. We keep our fingers crossed that Madame Pele doesn’t decide to change course and flow through Pahoa town!

  6. We’ll keep our fingers crossed for you, HawaiiVacationGifts! Seems like there’s never a dull moment in you neck of the woods.

  7. hi

    i was fortunate enough to travel to Hawaii from South Africa on three occasions and have seen the lava flowing into the ocean from a boat !!! It was the most awesome experience ever !!!

  8. Hi Leonie – how lucky to get to visit Hawaii 3 times from South Africa! Watching lava flow is really an amazing sight. I got to watch laving flowing in to the ocean in March and I must have said wow dozens of times. Thanks for your comment.

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