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Charleston, West Virginia
January 28, 2006
From journal Island Hopping in Hawaii
Kansas City, Missouri
October 17, 2002
Blue Hawaiian is the helicopter company across the street from the Waikaloa Village area where our hotel was. We booked our tour through the Bay Club. $210 for a two hour ride on an A-Star helicopter.
The A-Star is a big helicopter that seats six passengers and one pilot. Blue Hawaiian is especially proud of their helicopters for being the largest, nicest, and safest on the island (I've never ridden in another helicopter, so I don't really know...). It was pretty nice, and everybody had Bose noise-cancelling headsets.
We took off from Waikaloa and headed up following the Saddle Road between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. We turned south and headed for our first major sight: the Pu'u O'o vent where the current active eruption is taking place. We got good views up close to the vent and surrounding lava flows.
Next, we followed the lava flows down to the coast and observed the lava entry point to the ocean. This is at the Chain of Craters Road in Volcano National Park where people can drive to view live lava flows.
After spending plenty of time viewing volcanic activity, we flew east to the mostly uninhabited corner of Hawaii to view older lava flows and see where villages had existed as recent as 10 years ago (before being completely eliminated by lava). Then we headed back north to Hilo Airport, where we landed to refuel.
After a 20-minute break on the ground, we reboarded and continued north for the Rainforest portion of the trip. We flew along the coast and observed some of the old Sugar Mill villages. Then we continued north to the Waipei Valley and saw a lot of waterfalls falling off of high cliffs into the ocean. As a bonus, we also saw a large school of spinner dolphins below us in the ocean. Finally, we turned and headed inland through a deep valley (a la Jurassic Park). We saw spectacular high waterfalls in the valleys and the cliffs surrounding them. Finally, we continued across the island to the Waikaloa side and landed back at our origination point about two hours later.
You can buy a videotape of your actual flight (complete with the music and pilot's commentary) for $20. We bought the tape and watched it once - I'd recommend buying it to remember your trip.
I have lots of digital photos of this, but I can't find a way to upload them here. I will try to compress a couple of them down as small as possible and load them at some point.
From journal Hawaii - Big Island