Paradise Helicopters provided media rates for our tour. As always, our thoughts and opinions are our own.
Known as the Big Island of Hawaii for good reason, Hawaii Island is larger than all the other Hawaiian Islands combined and is the biggest island in the United States (reference Wikipedia). For this fact alone, a helicopter tour is the best way to see as much of the island as possible, not to mention experience 11 of the world’s 13 climate zones in an afternoon. More importantly, if you’re visiting Hawaii with kids and want a chance to see lava spewing from Kilauea without spending hours in the car and missing coveted beach time, a helicopter tour does the trick.
Paradise Helicopters offers tours that leave from both Kona and Hilo. Kona is less than 30 minutes from the Kohala Coast, home to many of the island’s best resorts including our faves the Four Seasons Hualalai and the Fairmont Orchid.
Paradise provides free roundtrip car transfers to the Kona Airport for some tours when available, so you don’t need to think about directions or parking.
Helicopter tours are pricey, there’s no question about it. Paradise Tours start at $209 for a 45-minute tour but the average tour is $400 and up.
A family trip is expensive. Is it worth it?
If you have a flexible budget and value unique experiences … YES!
You can see magnificent island views and access outrageous waterfall-filled valleys you can’t see any other way.
We were lucky and were able to clearly see lava flowing into the ocean. Amazing! There are no guarantees, of course, but Kilauea has been active for quite some time. These trips go out all day long so the pilots know when and how to find the flows.
The helicopter seats only six passengers so even if you are with strangers, it feels like a private tour.
To be honest, I was terrified before our flight. I’m a nervous flier and don’t like heights. Once we were airborne, I relaxed a bit.
One thing that eased my fear is that our pilot was an ex-marine and clearly very experienced. He told us stories that made it obvious that flying tourist flights around Hawaii is a walk in the park compared to his experiences.
The flight has bumpy moments, particularly when you go into valleys with updrafts. If you get motion sickness, come prepared with drugs.
I wouldn’t do this with a very young child. You are confined in a very small space for two hours with people who have paid dearly for the experience. It would be stressful to feel responsible for a screaming child.
School age kids and up kids are perfect companions. Our tour was 2 hours and I felt like that was the perfect amount of time, but you can combine flying with ground excursions including waterfall hikes and a zip-line tour.
Photos by Amie O’Shaughnessy
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