Hop aboard Big Island's only "Doors-Off" helicopter and fly over Kilauea in Volcanoes National Park to really experience the heat and smoke from below!
Take the ultimate helicopter flight during your visit to the Big Island and experience a birds-eye view of the rugged east-side of the island, home to the active Kilauea Volcano! Hop aboard one of the two expertly piloted helicopters and take to the air, with the doors on or off, and cruise high above the diverse natural scenery that makes up the Hilo area, filled with rainforests and waterfalls, and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
The cool thing about this helicopter flight is that you get to see a lot of volcanoes national park in a relatively little amount of time. Especially since the lava wasn't flowing a lot that day, flying over the greyish lava wasteland made it a lot easier to spot minor lava flows (see picture). Since it was raining that day, there was too much steam for us to fly directly over the caldera, but otherwise the flight was great. If conditions are stable, I definitely recommend a helicopter flight as the best way to see the volcano. There's a lot you can only see from up in the sky.
Mr.AnonymousRead our 81 review(s)
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Price & Options
All guests weighing between 265lbs (120kg) and 315lbs (142kg) will be assessed a Capacity Surcharge (CS). This fee is already reflected in the pricing section. Guests will be guaranteed a window seat.
All guests weighing between 316lbs (143kg) and above will be assessed a Capacity Surcharge of extra seat. This fee is already reflected in the pricing section. Guests will be guaranteed a window seat.
In compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, Paradise Helicopters will weigh each individual when checking in at the airport for safety and weight balance of the aircraft. Please provide accurate body weights for all passengers. Misrepresentation of body weight could result in denial of service without refund.
Wheelchair Accessibility: Guests can participate in the helicopter flight if they are able to board the aircraft on their own or have members of their party available to offer assistance. Additional assistance from the crew may be available. The airport facilities are wheelchair accessible.
This activity is wheelchair accessible.
Guests should not have serious fear of heights (acrophobia).
For safety reasons, only one child between the ages of 8 and 11 will be allowed on the helicopter at a time. Children between the ages of 8 and 11 must be seated away from the doors in the center seat of the helicopter.
Children 8 years old and above can participate in this activity.
Children 2 years old and above can participate in this activity.
A valid government-issued photo ID
Participants will be weighed upon check-in.
The activity schedule is subject to change or cancellation due to weather or traffic conditions.
The activity provider does not assume any responsibility for your valuables and/or personal belongings.
Gratuity is not included in the price.
Frequently Asked Questions
If I don't get a window seat, what will the visibility be like?
The helicopter is built specifically for touring so visibility is great wherever you are seated. Solo travelers will most likely get a window seat unless weight balance makes this impossible. For couples, it is easy to look over your partner from the inner seat.
Do I need to provide our exacts weights even if we don't exceed the weight limits?
Yes, the aircraft must be balanced in order to take flight. Providing incorrect weights can cause complications during check-in.
Is there a safe place to store my belongings while on tour?
Yes, there are lockers available free of charge that are large enough to hold several handbags. The key is kept by the staff at the base while you enjoy your flight.
How far in advance should I book this activity?
We recommend booking at least 1-2 weeks in advance. If you have very specific schedule requirements and are not flexible, please book sooner. Last minute availability is often possible, but limited.
What type of helicopters are used?
Hughes 500: A 4-passenger aircraft flown for the Hilo Fire & Falls and Doors Off Experience flights that depart from Hilo, this offers a more personalized flight and you are always guaranteed a window seat. Known as the "Magnum P.I" helicopter, its quick maneuverability and smooth ride gives visitors an exciting and memorable helicopter ride.
Can I bring my camera?
Yes, you may bring your camera and the neck strap. The bag must be locked at the office.
The cool thing about this helicopter flight is that you get to see a lot of volcanoes national park in a relatively little amount ...of time. Especially since the lava wasn't flowing a lot that day, flying over the greyish lava wasteland made it a lot easier to spot minor lava flows (see picture). Since it was raining that day, there was too much steam for us to fly directly over the caldera, but otherwise the flight was great. If conditions are stable, I definitely recommend a helicopter flight as the best way to see the volcano. There's a lot you can only see from up in the sky. more
WE were very fortunate to have our tour just after the eruption. An unforgettable experience that lasted not long enough
It was awesome, exciting and unforgetable.
This tour was a wonderful experience! The open door helicopter was, in my opinion, the ONLY way to see the volcano's and the... associated flows. We were lucky enough to witness 3 surface flows, noticeable flow into the ocean AND 2 craters with visible orange molten lava! Thanks for a great time. Emily, you were AWESOME! more
We had a FANTASTIC experience on the Paradise Helicopter tour! We would do it again, the next time we travel to Hawai'i. ...I've included some of my favorite pictures from the tour. Had a GREAT time! Aloha, more
Great time ! We are still talking about it.
I had the amazing experience of seeing the volcano and lava field from a helicopter with the doors off! This is a once in a lifet...ime experience! The vantage point is unsurpassed and one really gets the feel for the enormity and power of volcanos. The volcano was very active during my flight and I could view red lava droping into the ocean, "sky lights" and brand new back sand beaches being created. During the flight you also see many of the beautiful waterfalls and varied micro-climates that make up the Big Island. My photos came out great and I was using a small, digital camera. A MUST DO!! more
This was THE HIGHLIGHT of our honeymoon trip to Big Island. MAJESTIC is the only word we could describe the active volcano. We c...ould feel the breath of our planet. Will do it again in a heartbeat. Thanks! more
We enjoyed the trip and would recommend it to others.
Would definitely do this again! Pilot was fabulous and sights were beautiful. Wonderful way to spend time in Hilo.
Awesome experience, best pictures I could ever have from the off doors helicopter. The view was spectacular and the staff was awe...some. Thank you!!! Cant wait to be back :) more
This is the most amazing ride of the life time. If you have a chance, do this tour. You won't regret it. It's worth e...very penny. more
There is no word to describe this experience. It's like skydiving. You have to do it to know.
This was the most amazing experience I have ever had. Our pilot, Steve, shared his vast knowledge of the big island with us. Abso...lutely amazing!! I would do this again in a heartbeat! more
Doors Off is the ONLY way to go!!! Mahalo so much for the awesome tour experience over the Kilauea Lava Flow. Dylan was a great p...ilot and was very knowledgeable about the Hawaiian terrain we were flying over. He definitely provided a great commentary and guide to the beautiful sights below us. We have taken helicopter tours before over such things as Niagara Falls, but we will not want to be flying with doors on ever again. We highly recommend the doors off experience, it is second to none more
Robin & Julie O'Neill
An amazing activity definately recommended to be done on Big Island. You get a narrated tour and see the flowing lava fields and t...he lava hitting the sea. A once in a life time experience. You see sights that you wouldn't see from ground level. Worth every penny. Very friendly staff. more
Paradise Helicopters is an excellent company and I would highly recommend the Fire and Falls tour out of Hilo. For three of the f...our of us, this was our first time in a helicopter and it was amazing. Our pilot Dylan was fantastic and gave us a personal guided tour which was great because the whole ride was very interactive. Definitely the best way to see the Volcano and Water Falls! more
The "doors off" was everything I had expected.....spectacular!!! Combine this with Jacks Volcano House Landing and you h...ave a fantastic adventure. Jack Thompson met us and was a very cordial tour guide of the devastation that has occured arround his house. The pilot was an obvious experienced professional. The flight was smooth and not "white knuckle" at all. My wife was even pleasantly surprised, and she hates to fly!!! more
We did the "Fire & Falls" tour and loved it (although we both got a bit airsick, but that's not the company...9;s fault, that's just because we're prone to it - the other couple with us was fine). I had picked Paradise because it was the cheapest air tour of the volcano (in terms of cost per minute), but I can't imagine why I would pay more for another company because this ride was everything we wanted. We did the "doors off" tour and it was a 4-person helicopter (not incl. the pilot), so everyone had a fantastic view. I would highly recommend the doors-off experience. My husband is a bit afraid of heights, and even he agreed that doors-off was worth it (but a bit frightening for him). Our pilot was Jesse and he was a lot of fun. What I loved is that if a passenger spotted lava, our pilot would circle back (as if we were "lava hunting") and make sure that everyone got a view. The waterfalls portion was brief, and at the end. The main attraction of this tour is the volcano/lava. more
Our group of 4 booked a "doors off" helicopter ride through Paradise Helicopters. None of our group had ever been in a h...elicopter before and this exceeded all of our expectations. The front desk staff was courteous and upbeat. The guy doing the safety briefing was thorough and knowledgeable while infusing some humor into the "speech". Our pilot was Joyce and we could not have asked for a better experience. Because there were 4 of us, we took every seat on the helicopter. We were concerned at first about the view from the front-middle seat, but she could still see everything, though you do miss the experience of sitting right by the window. Joyce did a great job of going over the different areas multiple times so each side of the helicopter could see what was below. Joyce spoke clearly and slowly and we never had a problem hearing what she was saying and she would repeat the "attractions" for both sides of the helicopter. If you have the option of choosing your pilot, you want J more
John and I wanted to send this email thanking everyone at Paradise for a once in a lifetime experience on our vacation. We took o...ne of your newer trips which flew out of Kona, over the valleys, drop off in Hilo for the day (with paid rental car), then over the Volcanoes, and back to Kona. We really enjoyed the entire day. In fact we hadn't originally thought we would get to visit the Hilo area since the drive from Kona is a couple of hours. So not only did we get to see beautiful valleys, waterfalls, and running lava from air but we got to explore the Rain forest national Zoo, The Volcano national Park, Rainbow Falls, and Akaka Falls all by land as well. Also our pilot Steve was so informative and friendly he really helped make our day just that much more special. I'm sure he flies the same routes every day, yet you couldn't tell. His passion for the land, and surroundings was contagious. Thanks again, we included some of our amazing trip photos. more
Aimee and John
We had a great time on the Big Island tour today. The flight was awesome. The pilot, Koji, did a terrific job. He made sure folks... on both sides of the helicopter saw the sights-Pu'u O'o, lava flowing into the ocean, waterfalls, etc. It was our first time in a helicopter and it was a great experience. The reservationists were patient and informative. The folks at the terminal were helpful, supportive and very upbeat-they truly seemed excited for us. We will be sure to spread the good word about your outfit. Thank you for making the experience positive, simple and memorable for us. more
The staff was fantastic - friendly, helpful, and safe. Let alone the views and vistas you get to see - this is the best bang-for-...the-buck of helicopter tours, with a full 2 hours in the air. The pilot, Koji, was very knowledgeable of the area and led an incredibly informative and fun talk over the intercom. Koji also provided a very comfortable ride that was much more mellow and safe than I was expecting (I'm afraid of heights and I LOVED IT, so don't let your fear of heights worry you, you'll be fine with these guys). Excellent work from everyone and I'll be back soon : ) more
Everyone shoud do this tour in the first few days of vacation. Fantastic experience and the best way to see the island!
We loved our helicopter tour! Our first time in a helicopter and we both had a few hesitations, but the ground crew was very help...ful and supportive and Koji, our pilot, was wonderful. He made an effort to circle around each area so that everyone would have a great view of the area. The tour was awesome, we felt like we saw all the highlights on the island and really got a feeling of how the lava flows and how the island has changed over the years. We would definitely recommend this tour. The highlight of our trip to the Big Island. more
This was an extremely unique experience. Some of the views can only be experienced from a helicopter. Waterfalls, lava flows, fl...ights deep into the valley are just some of the sights on this tour. The pilot/guide is extremely knowledgeable and makes the trip fun as well. Well worth the cost and would highly recommend for any individual or group. I can only imagine that each trip would be different due to environmental conditions such as lava flows and rainfall so it is perfect for first timers and repeat guests. more
I can tell you that we were totally satisfied and happy with the helicopter tour. The weather was great and so the pilot could sho...w us fantastic views. The pilot and the whole crew was friendly and helpful and we felt safe and happy. Five stars for everything. Thank you again more
I did this helicopter ride with my husband and 12 yr old son. It was fantastic! We got lucky and had a sunny day, and the views ...of the island were amazing. We saw some lava flows, we saw waterfalls, and the pilot shared lots of information. We saw a house that had recently been destroyed by lava flow, and all that was left was a bit of roof. We had never done a helicopter ride, and I was a bit nervous about it. We rode with the doors on. It was very smooth, and the views made me forget to be nervous. I felt very safe actually. Our pilot (Aaron) was completely competent and friendly and knowledgeable. I got to sit in the front, next to the pilot. My husband and son sat behind us and they had a great time. Its expensive, but its worth doing at least once. You'll get a view of the island that you can't see any other way. more
It was phenominal. Incredible views and good commentary from the pilot. I would definitely recommend a wind breaker if going wit...h the doors off. more
I took the doors off flight and I was totally amazed. This is the best experience you could even imagine. Ranks equal to or even... better than riding my Harley through the Rocky mountains in Colorado. Of coarse you can tell that I highly recommend this flight and especially with the doors off. The pilot on my flight (Dillon) (hope I spelled your name right) was skilled and competent and ready to answer all questions with knowledge and completness. Just do it!!! A. L. (John) Johnson Englewood CO more
Totally awesome! Mark was full of interesting information and the trip was beautiful and amazing! We would highly recommend this a...dventure to anyone!! more
Tom & Mindy
Marco was our pilot and he was fabulous. My 13 year old was a bit nervous with the doors off and he made her feel right at ease. ...The view you get and the knowledge passed down by Marco was great! You cannot truly appreciate the volcano and what it can do unless you see it from above. The big picture and unique view from above is priceless. We saw lava the day we went and that was a bonus, but even if you cannot see the the lava, it is still a wonderful way to view the landscape and truly see the devastation the lava flow can do. We have done another helicopter tour in the past on Kauai and it is the best way to see the islands. You can go places a car cannot and that is worth it! Thank you Marco and the rest of the staff at Paradise Helicopter...you were wonderful and we had a great trip! more
IT WAS THE BEST HELICOPTER TOUR WE HAVE BEEN ON, (OUR 3RD ONE) THE POILOT NEW WHAT HE WAS LOOKING FOR AND MADE SURE WE SAW WHAT W...E CAME FOR. THE DOORS OFF WAS MORE FUN THAN WE HAD THOUGHT WE LOVED IT! more
JOHN & MELANIE
The pilot was very knowledgeable of the area and specifics around the volcanic activities as of late. All 4 of us fully enjoyed t...he flight! We got some great close-ups of the volcano and the remnants of the village that once was there. We didn't see as many waterfalls as I thought we would but it didn't take away from the trip. I would recomend this to any friend or family member. more
Peter and the crew at the Hilo Airport provided not only a safe but exciting flight.
John A. Calleja
We selected the Doors OFF Helicopter Tour and it was the BEST decision we ever made!!! The Views were Breathtaking and when we arr...ived at the Lava Flow, the Lava Flow/Lake was Spectacular and the HEAT was Awesome!!! The Doors Off was the Best!!! Then we travelled to the Waterfalls North of Hilo and the Views were equally Breathtaking!!! Our Pilot and Co-Pilot were Awesome and Funny!!! They Made the experience even better!!! This tour was TOTALLY WORTH IT!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!! more
Scott & Tammy
Absolutely worth every cent. The front desk was friendly and accommodating. The ride was smooth and informative. The views were o...therwise inaccessible. Take the trip. See what makes this island a living thing. Blessings! more
Pilipo and Megan
My husband wasn't too excited about coming to Hawaii but his one request was to fly in a helicopter to see the volcanos. His... choice was the open door option. Neither having been in a helicopter before I at least had some trepidations. It was a blast! Our pilot, Rhys, a Kiwi, was very knowledgeable and a good pilot. Thank you! And yes, you can feel the heat from the lava. Good times! more
This helicopter trip was fabulous! Our pilot, Reese, was very informative, friendly and helpful. Gave us a great view of lava f...ields, the active Kilauea volcano and waterfalls. He was very attentive to BOTH sides of the helicopter, making sure everyone got a great experience. Well worth the money. more
I had been somewhat apprehensive as had never been on a helicopter before but I loved it!! What a way to see the volcano and surr...ounding area!! I was accompanied by my sisters and their husbands and it was enjoyed by all!! more
Thank you to Jork our pilot for an amazing flight. After breakfast, me and my friends hit up the Volcanoes Winery for some wine ta...sting and then whipped through the Volcanoes National Park to get an idea of what we'd see from the sky before heading to the airport for our helicopter flight. The check-in was easy (I gained a few pounds from all the Hawaiian food I ate, but it was okay) and the ground crew was super friendly. Make sure you get a phone strap if you want to take pics with doors off, or you can't take your phone with you. I really didn't expect a lot but as soon as we were hovering over small lava ponds I cried a little bit. It was so epic - it looked like we were on another planet. The black lava landscape stretched to the horizon. It was cold up there but whenever we got over the bright orange lava spots you could actually feel the waves of warmth, so soothing! We finished with a fly over bubbling pots waterfalls and some of the towns. All the buildings and cars were so tiny and perfect like a miniature model city. Thanks again to Paradise Helicopters and HawaiiActivities.com. Definitely an unforgettable moment on the Big Island. Ah man! more
The flight was amazing, but we did not fly from Hilo. When our scheduled time (from Hilo) arrived, the weather was below minimum ...at the volcano. This was very disappointing since Hilo weather was nice. But, Hawaii weather is very volatile. We rescheduled for the next day as a "reserve flight" (needed more people to "confirm" the flight). Before the scheduled time, Paradise Helicopters called to say the flight was still only "reserved", but they had an opening in a different, circle the whole island, flight from Kona. They would upgrade me for no additional cost to take that one. We jumped at it. The flight was amazing. We got to see the whole island, in addition to the volcano and real, live, flowing lava. Our pilot was Koji and he was awesome. The weather over the volcano was mixed, but he was able to navigate through the clouds enough to maintain the FAA rules for height and get us over the actual volcano caldera. Then, we headed for the current eruption points on the southern slopes and saw even more lava in the second vent. Moving further to the new lava fields, he located some live, flow lava. "WOW!!!" is all I can say. The rest of the flight was great, too. Flying low up the valley on the north shore was wild. Seeing all the waterfalls was also terrific. more
First helo ride ever and we had the doors off. It was fantastic! Our pilot Rob was great! Would definitely recommend this if you w...ant a close up view of a volcano! more
Weather cancelled booked flight. They upgraded me to a whole island tour for second flight next day. Bucket list item checked of...f - I saw real, flowing lava! Amazing flight. I wanna do it again. more
An unforgettable experience! Viewing flowing lava burning trees, the spots where the lava begins to flow, the breathtaking coast...line of the Big Island with its many waterfalls, humpback whales from overhead, and the wonders of the island with the unbelievable views of every hue in the ocean's water= memories that will last a lifetime! Add a fabulous staff and the best pilot ever, and that's what you can expect. more
G from GA
The doors off tour was incredible and well worth the price! I highly recommend this tour to anyone that wants to get a real helico...pter volcano tour! more
We took this trip on monday with our pilot Pete and it was totally awesome! We saw bubbling lava and were indeed able to 'fee...l the heat'! Pete tailored our tour to us and made us feel very welcome. Many thanks! Highly recommended! more
I ended up with some great pictures. Wasn't sure if I was getting any because it was so windy. Not complaining as I knew that... it was going to be windy. I did think that we were going to fly near the volcanoes, but perhaps I read the description wrong. It was a great tour and I am glad I did the doors off tour. Collin was great! Thanks so much for the great tour! more
Very professional pilot. Incredibly smooth ride without stunts or surprises. However, the doors off was wonderful with nothing b...etween us and the lava. We were high enough to not be at risk but the views of the lava flows, vents, as well as the area waterfalls and scenery were superb. Securely strapped in. Noise dampening headphones with mics allows two way communication, and the pilot was a knowledgeable and helpful tour guide. Worth the time and money. more
Going back to Hawaii
Was a wonderful tour and would advise others to do this!
My husband and I loved the doors off heli ride over the Kilauea volcano lava flow! Would highly recommend it!
We were a group of three with 2 of us never before in a heli. Thanks to a gr8 pilot we experienced an adventure we will never for...get. Spectacular views and the heat of streaming lava. If you can afford it do it, we will come back that's for sure. Max more
We would like to thank the staff of veltra for their outstanding services with helping making our dream vacation a reality, we rea...lly enjoyed the Helicopter Tour - the staff were perfect, sights were great! It was a little foggy so we couldn't complete whole tour but were offered a refund which was very nice. Thanks Again, more
Really excellent trip, would recommend it to anyone.
We had an amazing experience and will go again for sure!
The ride was amazing. Very smooth and some excellent views of lava. Joyce, my pilot was very informative. I highly recommend this!... Door off was really worth it! more
Great tour of volcanoes and waterfalls, definitely would recommend. Pilot Paul was a great guide and wonderful with the kids.
Very clean and comfortable helicopter. Pilot had a great soundtrack and was very good at making sure we all got a good view of eve...rything. Staff was efficient and knowledgeable. more
We enjoyed the flight a lot. The flight without doors is realy special. The pilot flight direct over the crater with magna and we ...can made beautiful pictures and feel the cold wind and the hot magna! more
Rene and Pattatiya
Had a wonderful time flying over the volcano's. Ticked something off my bucket list. Would recommend to everyone
It was an amazing experience to see the beautiful view of big island from above and observing the bubbling lava inside the crater ...of an active volcano together with a great crew before during and after the flight. more
The trip was amazing, we had the doors on flight to the volcano and the waterfalls. The pilot Joyce was very nice and informative.... The flight was smooth, and we got awesome pictures! more
MY 12 YEAR OLD GRANDSON AND I WENT ON A DOORS OFF VOCANO TOUR WITH ROBERT AS OUR PILOT. AN ABSOLUTELY AMAZING EXPERIENCE, TOTALLY... UNIQUE AND WORTH EVERY SINGLE CENT OF THE COS, FROM CHECK IN TO DEPARTURE. SOMETHING THAT BOTH OD US WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER. THANKS FOR A DELIGHTFUL EXPERIENCE!!! more
Best thing we did in Islands. Great staff. Doors off small helicopter was of course windy, but also awesome.
The helicopter ride with the doors off was very cool! You can feel the heat from the lava! This tour gives you a great view of the... different features of the island. It's a bit on the expensive side, but I'd recommend it if you've never done it before. more
We took the open door with landing at Jack's lava house. It was a very neat experience getting to walk on the lava rock. Be p...repared for being wind-blown on the open doors, and take a jacket as it can be chilly in the air. Overall a very nice experience, but don't expect big "red lava flows" as that is not realistic. You can't exactly "feel the heat" and the waterfalls are not close up views they are more from a distance and thrown in at the end, But still pretty spectacular scenery! more
I wavered back and forth with doing a helicopter ride since it is so expensive. My boyfriend and I went on the Falls and Fire tou...r, which was interesting. I am glad we did it, since much of the volcano viewing area was closed due to the fumes, but I wish we could have gone at night to see the lava flows better. It was a bit inconvenient for us due to the weather (we had to reschedule), luckily we could be a bit flexible. I would recommend a helicopter ride in Hawaii to anyone, since it is a unique experience and the views are phenomenal. more
Had a fantastic time! Our guide, Jesse, grew up on the island and was a wealth of information about not just what we saw on the t...our, but also about other activities on the island. Word of caution: if you book through a third party like we did, after you receive confirmation, call Paradise to verify your group size. We showed up as scheduled to discover that someone (don't know if it was Paradise or Hawaii Activities) incorrectly entered the size of our group as two instead of three. We couldn't take the tour on our scheduled day because the group was overbooked. Luckily we were able to go the next day and Paradise had availability. They took great care of us once the error was discovered, but if you're on a tight schedule, don't risk missing out. Call ahead! Inconvenience aside, this is something you should do and was well worth the cost!! more
Well worth doing the helicopter ride and the Doors Off Experience is the way to do it. The ride itself is worth it but to then fl...y over the lava flowing into the ocean and seeing collapsed lava tubes is something else. more
Peter in Sydney
Professional pilots and a well-coordinated organization combined to show us where the lava action was happening. We were safely st...rapped in and plugged into communications so we could get the most out of what we were seeing and trying to photograph. With an experienced pilot, everyone in the chopper got a good chance for the best views. The photography itself can be tricky; the higher quality pictures you try to take, the more you should have a good camera setup and practice from a vibrating platform. Overall: a rousing success. more
The pilot was amazing and told a lot about the area. The overview over the volcano was incredible, I had just hoped to see a bit m...ore lava. more
This is exactly as described, a 40 minute helicopter tour of the volcanoes on the eastern side of the island of Hawaii and the are...a around Hilo. The staff are very friendly and the entire operation is well run and safety oriented. Our pilot Joyce was informative and did a great job of piloting so that everyone on both sides of the helicopter got good views of everything. Considering that there are no active lava flows at the current time. This is the only way to see molten lava. While it is through "sky lights" looking down into lava tubes, it is still quite exciting to see the bright pink/orange glow of lava. The helicopter company offers the option to fly with the doors off the helicopter. I would recommend this for optimum viewing and picture taking. However, be aware that it is pretty chilly with the doors off and make sure to wear a warm jacket. As a final note, when booking a helicopter tour, be aware that there are two airports on the island (Hilo and Kona). Make certain that you are booking a tour from the airport that is on your side of the island. I made a mistake and booked a tour out of the wrong airport. It was completely my fault and I did not realize my mistake until the day before the tour. The folks at Veltra and at the helicopter company went out of their way to get us booked on this tour at the last minute. They also worked hard to find someone else to take our seats on the tour that I had originally booked. They were only able to fill one of the two seats that I had booked, but at least they were kind enough to refund that portion of the fee. more
I would definitely recommend the doors off experience to the doors on. You are able to get much better pictures and video, in my o...pinion. There were only a few active spots for us to view, but our tour guide answered most of the questions we had and explained a lot about the landscape. The waterfalls were beautiful- I would recommend hiking to them if you are staying in Hilo for more than a day. more
The helicopter ride and seeing the volcano steam pots was amazing! Wish we could have seen the waterfalls closer though.
Tim and Jan
It was a very fun way to see the volcano. The pilot made sure everyone could see everything available.
This is a great activity except if you're prone to motion-sickness then it is not for you. Two hours was way too long for us.... I was doing well in the first hour when we were shown the volcanoes and mountains but in the second hour I could not keep my eyes open due to my motion sickness. And that sucked because in the second hour is when he shows you the beautiful valleys and waterfalls! Thank God my husband was able to record it for me but it still wasn't the same. I would recommend a 45-minute-1 hour tour but not the 2 hour tour. more
There was no lava erupting nor flowing. We had Door closed Ride. What Open Door Tour will experience ? Prior to our arrival at ...Hilo, I was told , " YES " you can see Lava , etc. Your office should give real truthful information. Some tourists come from too far away, like we came to Hawaii from Michigan, ( Main Land ) ... ... 1 ! !. more
I can't give a feedback regarding Doors-on because we changed it at the last minute. Of course we paid the difference, but it... worth it. Actually, after flying without doors, I could said that I wouldn't take the Doors-on option: the whole perspective is incredible and with doors that view wouldn't have been possible...ok, maybe warmer than withoug doors, but that's it. However, it would habe been nice to be informed that the middle seat it's only for people who are not so tall: my girlfriend really REALLY wanted to be at the window seat, and I gladly would have given it to her, but it was not possible due to my height. We were told about this the moment before boarding. She was really dissapointed. more
This would be a great trip IF you don't get stuck in the backwards seats. These seats are a total rip off since you don'...t get to see where you are headed and when there is something cool to see well too bad it's already past. Pilot does a good job of trying to circle around so everyone see's but there's no way for the backward seat folks to see anything really well. If you decide to go I STRONGLY recommend that you get guarantee's that you get a front seat or front looking seats only. My wife and Mom had great seats and enjoyed the views I'm happy about that but I wish I had saved the money and sent them up without me since it was two hours of flying backwards and barely seeing anything. You have been warned. :O **** Also you should also be aware that the photo's of all the cool lava flows are really old. We saw very little lava and after the flight we found out they use old photo's for advertising. Pretty views are to be had but not much lava. more
Now being honest the weather was not good at Hilo, very wet and cloudy. But in spite of the weather the flight did go ahead. I do ...have to say doors off is definitely the way to go! We flew over several areas of coastline and lava flows and then headed up to the Puʻu ʻŌʻō, again the weather wasn't great but you could see the ground pretty well. Heading up the mountain we saw a small area of fresh lava but it was over in a flash and then we were heading back to Hilo. Now I fully understand that when weather and visibility are not good you might not see everything but at no point did the pilot state what we would or would not see. Obviously the vent or flowing lava is the main part of the "show" and you keep waiting for that to appear. But it wasn't until a guest asked that we were told that we went as far as we could. Feel the heat? No we certainly did not. A word of warning for passengers with longer hair wear a beany or make sure your hair is tied back tight, due to the wind it ended up with my wife's hair being badly knotted around the headset. Two stars - to be honest only for the fun aspect of the doors off. It would have been so much better if we were kept informed of the visibility and weather (now on Hawai'i this might not be a normal issue) and what we would be able to see as opposed to not being told anything and not experiencing what the flight was all about and coming away with the slightly cheated feeling. Would I go again - yes - but I would certainly be asking a lot of questions about the weather conditions, visibility and expected viewing. It is a lot of money to pay, and especially if you are not local to not "Feel the Heat" because why else would you fly "doors off" In additional I have to say the staff at Paradise were very understanding when we raised our points. more
This was not my first doors off helicopter experience in the Hawaiian islands but definitely the worst. First, you should know th...at even though you pay full money for doors off you may get stuck in a cramped little seat between another passenger and the pilot in the front. You have no choice where you sit as you are assigned your seat. Good luck trying to get any pictures from that spot. The pilot takes you out the same way as he returns....over flat nothing. There is a tiny spec of lava (maybe) but it sure no spouting red flowing lava as advertised. You do not fly over the ocean at all so you dont see any ocean lava flow. There is definitely NO NO heat. There are fly zone restrictions so you cant get near the pahoa town they talk about to respect the privacy of the residents. You see a couple waterfalls from so far away... It is riduculous. Save your money... Go to Kauai..... Those doors off tours are true.... Everyone gets a doors off spot. Everyone can see. You fly right into the waterfall areas. You see things you will never forget. This was a wasted day of our vacation not to mention the huge cost..... To see nothing. At least they could have flown back another way over the coastline or something. I would not recommend this to anyone. Very disappointed and wasted money. more
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