by Bobbie Green
You need only head to paradise to fly over flames. A helicopter tour over the live Kilauea Volcanic System on the island of Hawaii will give Divas an awe-inspiring look at a sight few people get to experience first hand: a bird’s eye view of a live volcano.
At about two hundred dollars a person, flying over a volcano is no cheap thrill. Nevertheless, I have not known anyone who wasn’t glad they did it—or who didn’t find it exhilarating.
After flying over Hawaii’s lush greenery, we entered the volcanic system, which felt like flying over another planet. Occasional patches of green and glimpses of lava-covered roads below served as vivid reminders of Hilo’s recent rampage. Our chopper—provided by Safari Helicopter Tours out of Hilo—was equipped with a personalized headset for us to listen to the pilot describe the sights below, and relax to Hawaiian music during the pauses.
The pilot explained that Hilo is a live volcano, and that lava has flown from it since its last great eruption in 1983—most of it underground, in lava tubes. During our tour we could see the red lava moving below through breaks in the tubes. We also spotted openings where the red-hot lava sloughed to and fro—a completely amazing, surreal spectacle.
Along the coastline, the lava entered the sea above the water line; red lava dropped into the ocean, creating a wall of steam that rose over the grey, desolate coastline—quite an eerie sight! (I joked that this was the only place I knew of where one could catch cooked fish.)
The pilot told us that as the hardened lava has added 560 acres to the island, and that it will take approximately eight hundred years for vegetation to return. Soon, we too were on our way back to the green vegetation and the beautiful waterfalls that cover this expanding island.
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Individual and group tours
Safari Helicopter Tours (Hilo)