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“must do for complete volcano experience”

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters - Hilo
Ranked #15 of 45 Outdoor Activities in Hilo
Certificate of Excellence
Attraction details
Reviewed January 12, 2014

A helicopter view over the volcano is a must do activity when visiting the big island. As well as going to the volcano on the ground, the air view was fantastic. While we didn't fly over the main crater of Kilauea, it was still exciting to be able to look down the lava tubes and photograph red hot lava that you cannot access on foot. Our pilot was very informative and friendly and interactive for the whole flight. She ensured that all sides of the helicopter and therefore each passenger had a fair time viewing and photographing each site. In addition to the crater we were able to see where the vegetation is continually burning as the burn line of sparks and some flames, proceeds through the forests. Unfortunately for us there were no lava flows for our visit but we were taken to see the devastation and face of the lava of previous recent flows. We were a party of 5 and each of us would do the flight again when returning to the island. The top quality earphones were excellent at blocking out noise and making a comfortable flight for the whole hour. This was our second experience with Blue Hawaiian which we selected for the volcano flight, after having had a great flight over Kauai.

Date of experience: December 2013
1  Thank Roslyn R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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"eco star"
in 75 reviews
"helicopter tour"
in 157 reviews
"lava flow"
in 131 reviews
"the big island"
in 188 reviews
"ring of fire"
in 33 reviews
"active volcano"
in 79 reviews
"wear dark"
in 14 reviews
"great pilot"
in 46 reviews
"ground crew"
in 35 reviews
"volcanic activity"
in 45 reviews
"great flight"
in 34 reviews
"smooth ride"
in 27 reviews
"ask questions"
in 25 reviews
"both sides"
in 50 reviews
"safety briefing"
in 36 reviews
"great ride"
in 20 reviews
"once in a lifetime"
in 61 reviews

1,101 - 1,105 of 1,442 reviews

Reviewed January 11, 2014

My wife and I had big expectations when booked with this company the Circle of Fire-EcoStar tour in the Big Island. We regret it. First, contrary to what is publicized in the website and in the brochures, the pilot did not take us to the National Volcanoes Park. It only took us to one crater, outside the limits of the Park, hardly active and without much to see. The pictures in the website of a helicopter amid lava flowing are totally misleading. Second, the Waterfalls, the other highlight of this trip, could only be seen from a 400 meters distance. Again, the images of a helicopter almost bordering the waterfalls were completely fictional. When we shared our disappointment to the manager after the trip, she explained to us that the trips only go to the places were volcanic activity is reported during the day (she said no volcanic activity had been reported in the Park that day) and that flying over the Waterfalls only could be done from certain distance in order not to disturb the residents nearby. None of this is explicitly explained in the website. Neither did they tell us about it when we booked the flight by phones on the same day of the trip. In the end, we were given a meager refund that covered a tiny fraction of the total cost of the trip. For those thinking about taking helicopter tours over active volcanoes, I strongly recommend to double check with the company about volcanic activity on the day of the trip and to confirm if the fight will actually go over the National Volcanoes Park, which is worth seeing even if there is no activity whatsoever. As for this company, in spite of many positive reviews in the website and in some travel guides, we definitely do not recommend it.

Date of experience: January 2014
5  Thank Camilo B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2014

After having tried a helicopter in the Great Barrier Reef and being in love with it, we chose in Big Island the tour Circle of Fire plus Waterfalls (ECO-Star), expecting something as spectacular as promised. But no. First of all, too many people at the helicopter. Second, you cannot open any window, so picture quality is decreased (I suppose they behave differently when you hire them just for that). Third, the route itself was dissapointing. Most of the time you are over trees, almost no cliffs, just one waterfall and the volcanoes area was not as expected (of course they do not control the volcano activity, but it was way too far from any simple lava bubbling. Being called "Circle of Fire" I expected much more time over the volcanoes even though they are not active, but it was pretty little. We did not see any of the south coast and barely entered in the Volcanoes National Park (we could see it continued long way in front of us when we turned back). There were way too many people to handle properly the groups, and it was really slow and not well organized. I know people love this attraction but, honestly, it was not worth so much money and time waiting.

Date of experience: October 2013
2  Thank Jac-and-Jek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 7, 2014

I've had plenty of great experiences booking on-line, but this was definitely not one of them. I contacted Blue by email 4 months in advance of our desired flight day; I was told to not worry about booking so far away, and that there would be no problem getting our family on a flight. I took Blue at their word and contacted them again mid-October for our December booking; again, by email we were told to go ahead and book what we liked. So, we did the on-line registration (which is fairly involved), including a credit card number (of course) to hold the reservation. We were directly contacted via email saying that our choices of day, time and helicopter were fully booked, and that they were sorry that they could not accomodate us. Could we choose another day/time or helicopter? No, we could not choose another day, but we tried different times - none worked for the company. We did not wish to downgrade the helicopter (for that price) so we decided that Blue would not work for us. They agreed and were sad that we could not find a suitable time. I was quite upset in that I had been assured in advance that this booking was not going to be a problem. Funny thing, though....the charge on our credit card was posted TWO DAYS after we had agreed that the flight would not work! I immediately contacted Blue via email to ask that they reverse the charge (and why did they charge so late, anyway?). I was told it was an error, and yes, they would reverse immediately, which they did. Unfortunately, there was a $50 difference - I was told too bad, that was the difference in the exchange rate from US to CAD dollars in the time they originally charged to when they refunded - and so sorry, but there is nothing they can do about that. I still feel cheated out of my $50, especially since they charged the amount to our credit card in error after the booking was a no go - on their end!! I'm sorry, but due to the screw-ups regarding booking/charging our credit card, I cannot nor will I recommend flying with this company.

Date of experience: December 2013
9  Thank loves2camp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
BlueCEO, Manager at Blue Hawaiian Helicopters - Hilo, responded to this reviewResponded January 31, 2014

We guarantee you the best price by booking online. We do recommend that you book as early as possible because there could be a group or cruise ship that books out an entire day or two at a particular island. I'd like to know who told you "too bad" on the exchange rate as that is not our policy. Please contact us again if we have not already rectified the exchange rate difference with you. We do guarantee a full and complete refund if you cannot find an acceptable time and cancel prior to 24 hours of departure.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed January 7, 2014

This was my second trip with them. Fly the Eco and not the Astro copter. It will cost you more but you will see a lot more from the sky and you will find it easier to take pictures. Try to get Tim as your pilot if he is working that day. I find every aspect of their operation to be professional. The first time I went we saw active lava flows including into the ocean and lots of steam. The lava is not as active now but is slow moving so you will not see much from the air except the lava slowly burning a forest. They end the trip by flying over some water falls which I did not find that interesting. The total trip is 50 minutes. They do offer you a video of your trip which I declined to buy each time. Look for discounts on their website and ask at your hotel if they know of any. Even discounted it is expensive, without discounts it is every expensive. But it is worth it to do it at least once.

Date of experience: December 2013
Thank Lance2002
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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