We so enjoyed our 2 hour helicopter ride with Blue Hawaiian on our recent vacation. They began by picking us up from the Fairmont Orchid nearby and took us over to the heliport, although if you have a car, you can also drive and park there. There were three of us, including one person who is slightly handcapped and needed some assistance getting in and out of the helicopter. They were very patient and helpful assisting with her boarding and de-boarding the aircraft.
The trip includes 2 parts- a ride over the active volcanic vent and area, and a trip around the rainforest and coastal areas. I won't spoil the experience for you by telling you too much, but we all found it to be an experience of a lifetime. Toshi, our pilot, made us all comfortable right from the start and shared a lot of interesting geologic and climatological information about the areas we went to.
A couple things to know- you need to wear darker clothing, cannot bring any sort of bags, purses, etc. on the aircraft. They have lockers to store things for you while you are in flight, and you can bring a camera out of it's case. You can take good photos from wherever you sit, especially if you have a good telephoto on your camera. You will stop for a refueling in Hilo if you leave from the Kona side, half way through the trip. Round trip in the heli was 2 hours plus the additional time to and from the resort. We tipped the pilot as we had such a good time, but don't think it is expected. They have a gift shop to buy the DVD of your heli video as well as some other logo wear if you are interested.
I would highly recommend this for anyone staying on the big island!
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