TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE

The 4 Best Hawaiian Helicopter Tours to Book on Your Next Vacation

Ryan, Senior Traveler, US
01 September 2017

There are few places that are better to vacation in than Hawaii, with landscapes, oceans, and islands that have unmatched beauty. Instead of trying to cover all of this on foot, many
people are opting to view the beauty via a Hawaii helicopter tour.

With lots of islands and packages to choose from, there’s no shortage of options if you decide to book a tour.  The key is deciding which tour, and which island you want to see.  In Hawaii, there are 5 islands to choose from that offer helicopter tours.

  1. Big Island
  2. Maui
  3. Oahu
  4. Kauai
  5. Lanai

Each island offers its own unique experience and sightseeing opportunities.  Depending on what you want to see, your budget, and what island you’re staying on, will play a big role in the tour you choose.

Big Island Helicopter Tours – The name speaks for itself.  Big Island is the largest of all the islands in Hawaii.  Depending on which tour you go with, you might see volcanic activity on the most geologically active environment on earth, tour the Kohala coast and its waterfalls (which many people consider to be the most beautiful scenery on the Big Island), or travel through the rainforests of the Hamakua Coast.  At the Big Island there’s lots to see.

If you’ve never been on a helicopter tour, you might be a little lost on all the companies and their packages, but that’s why I’ve taken a look at the top four companies and what you can expect.

A Complete Guide to Hawaii’s Best Helicopter Tours

Before you run out and jump in that helicopter, I’m here to help you get the best deal you possibly can. Not only do you want to think about price, but about the actual helicopter and route you’ll be taking around the Island too. There are three main companies you should look into when it comes to tours of Hawaii: Blue Hawaiian, Mauna Loa, and Paradise Copters. Each one has pros and cons when it comes to pricing and overall experience, but in all, they do share some similarities.

No matter which company you choose, there are a few things that you won’t need to worry about, such as the experience level of the pilots, all of whom are completely certified and capable of carrying you safely. Even safety features are similar, with copters completely meant to keep you and your entire party safe no matter what happens. For the most part, the actual helicopters are quite similar too.

They each make sure you have as much window space as possible to see outside, but when it comes to your preferences, you might choose one copter over the other. You can communicate two way with pilots in all three companies too, and can buy a tape of your time in the air once you’re done as well.

“See what Hawaii is all about from the best seat in the house when you book a helicopter tour in Hawaii!”

All of these features together make these three companies the best out there for touring. So, how in the world do you choose a company? Well, I made a choice based on the pricing, the packages, and the overall experience. Whether you’re looking for a tour on a budget, you want to splurge, you want to land and look around, or you want to leave the doors to the helicopter open while you fly, there is a company that’s got just the right package for you.

Can You Put a Price on Fun?

Sadly, yes, you can. Not to worry however, since with three companies to choose from, you have many options for your helicopter tour.

I’m not ashamed to say I’ve been on a budget for a while, but when you’re visiting Hawaii, who says that you can’t have a great vacation while you’re saving money? For those of you like me, Blue Hawaiian is your best bet. Out of all three companies, they certainly have the most competitive prices for their tours, with the lowest ones around parts of the Big Island being around $227-$271 per person. That being said, if you want to tour more than just the Circle of Fire plus Waterfalls or the Kohala Coast, it will cost around $520 a person for the entire Big Island Spectacular.

If you’re thinking about paying that $520, you also might want to consider Paradise Copter’s Big Island Expedition Package. At $579 per person, this tour is guaranteed to give you the most for every penny you’re spending. While Blue Hawaiian only had you out on tour for one hour and 45 minutes at most, Paradise Copter provides you with an experience that lasts for around 10 hours! You even land to explore the town of Hilo, making Paradise Copters especially unique.

Finally, Mauna Loa has tour options that are more expensive than either of these options at $630-$930 depending on if you want to see waterfalls or the coast, and increasing in price if you have four guests instead of three. If you just want the helicopter experience though, their pricing is much more manageable at only $210, and will still provide you with a wonderful time in the air.

The Packages: Who To Fly On?

I’ve hinted here and there are some packages based on pricing, but it’s time to go more in depth. You want your Big Island air experience to be as amazing as it can get, so let’s go over what each company has prepared.

Blue Hawaiian

Blue Hawaiian works constantly to
make your air experience the best one it can be, which is why they’ve completely re-vamped both the tour and the helicopter. Personally, I was impressed by Blue Hawaiian, since they’ve been the air-tour leader of Big Island since 1990. With that in mind, you know they’ve all but perfected your actual experience in the air.

As for their packages, you already know that they’re quite affordable, but what you might not know is how many packages you have to choose from. I know it can be a little overwhelming, so I’ll give you the rundown!

When it comes to the Big Island, pick from four available tours: Circle of Fire plus Waterfalls, Kohala Coast Adventure, Big Island Spectacular, and Big Island- Maui. If you’re saving money, the first two are the preferred options. To choose between those, consider what you might want to see. The tour of the Circle of Fire and Waterfalls lets you look at the most current areas of volcanic activity, and is actually perfect for families since children under two require no charge! You might prefer the Kohala Coast however, since many people consider this area to have the best scenery on the entire Big Island. Beautiful waterfalls cascade down while tower cliffs watch over the rainforest below. Of course on this tour too, children under two are also free.

Next up, you’ve got the Big Island Spectacular, which essentially includes both the Circle of Fire and Kohala Coast tour. This tour is unique however because it allows you to land at the 1200 foot Punalulu Falls on the Kohala Coast for around 20-25 minutes when you’re on the ground. You’ll be able to get up close and personal with the beautiful environment, making this tour both romantic for couples and interactive for families.

Finally there’s the Big Island Maui tour, which takes you over the largest rainforest in the United States, across the Kohala sea cliffs, and the Kohala Mountains. The fact that this tour needs at least six passengers is why groups prefer it especially. There’s such a range of things to see that it’s perfect for any outing.

Mauna Loa

Since 2006, Mauna Loa has been offering private sightseeing tours, but with an expansion of their business, you can tour over Big Island to see it like never before. This includes
four main tours: the Coastline Tour, Waterfall Tour, Helicopter Experience, and Full Island Adventure. The Coastline Tour here is a little different from Blue Hawaiian, since you view the entire coastline from Kona to Captain Cook and then back up to Hualalai and Kiholo Bay. This is perfect for those of you who really want to see the picturesque beaches on your trip.

The Waterfall Tour does let you view waterfalls of course, but the pilot will even fly in close to the falls during this tour, getting you the experience you want. You’ll also see Kohala Mountain on this tour, and at 75 minutes, is longer than the 45 minute Coastline Tour. By contrast, the Helicopter Experience is much smaller in scale, lasting only 15 minutes as they fly you from Kona airport to Kona Town. Really, this tour is if you just want to see what it’s like in a helicopter.

For a big splurge, try out the Full Island Adventure, lasting 120 minutes, and flying over multiple areas like Kilauea, the most active volcano in the world, Hilo, Hawaii’s largest city, the Hamakua Coastline, Kohala Coast, and into the valleys and over the Gold Coast. This tour may be more expensive at $1680 minimum, but you’re certainly getting your money’s worth. This is the type of tour that’s much more suited for single travelers rather than large groups.

 

Paradise Copters

Depart from Kona, Hilo, or Oahu with Paradise Copters to see the natural beauty of Hawaii like you’ve never seen it before. With knowledgeable pilots for this 10 hours tour, you’ll have
an experience you won’t soon forget.

Personally, I was incredibly impressed by the package offered by Paradise Copters. Their tour certainly includes the most extra features, lasting 10 hours and making it the preferred option for people who really want the full experience of Hawaii in their time there. This isn’t just a tour- but more like a day trip! It allows you to get Hawaii’s culture and beauty all in one, and while the other companies do have pilots to tell you some history, Paradise Copters has the most immersive experience.

First, you’ll fly over the Kona coffee district and Hualalai as well as Mauna Loa before you get to Kilauea to see those volcanoes. Then you’ll see the coastline and vegetation before touching down in Hilo. Complimentary ground transportation is provided as you walk around to anywhere that catches your eye, with the Botanical Gardens and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park just within driving distance. That’s only the first part of the tour! Next fly over rainforests and the Kohala valley before seeing the beautiful beaches on your way back.

This single full day tour encompasses all the other tours without breaking the bank. It’s even considered to be an easy activity level, so it’s perfect for adults, children, and seniors as well. People love it because you get so much out of it when you go, and have so much opportunity to experience Hawaii like never before.

 

Considerations before you fly

There are many great packages, but who do you pick? Well, each company has a few things you should be aware of prior to takeoff.

Price of course is important, but also think about who has the experience you want. If you don’t want to see all the extra features Paradise Copters has, there’s no need for the extra long tour. You might even want the pricier tour Mauna Loa offers since they are private tours, meaning that you’re in complete control.

You can ask the pilot to change routes, to maneuver so you can get the best picture possible, or even fly with the doors off for extra excitement. Neither of the other companies offers such competitive features when it comes to the Big Island, which is what makes this the preferred option for singles.

Also consider what will work best for your situation. Families tend to prefer packages that don’t drastically increase the price, so if you have children under two, Blue Hawaiian is best. The group tours of Paradise Copters may also be a good option, although single flyers and couples tend to prefer Mauna Loa due to the private tour experience. The time in the air is important too.

Obviously Paradise Copters offers the longest tour, with eight hours of the tour in Hilo, while Blue Hawaiian and Mauna Loa give you about an hour or two at most. If you want something longer, go for Paradise Copters. If you think you’ll be tired early on, Mauna Loa or Blue Hawaiian are your best bets. In the end, it all really depends on your familial situation, what you want to see, and what you’d feel most comfortable doing.

Conclusion

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to going on vacation, but your touring company shouldn’t be too hard to figure out with so many great options available. From companies that service every area to ones that specialize in only a few, you’re sure to get a safe and
enjoyable ride. Just sit back in any one of these specially equipped copters
and take in the view!

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