The Big Island is full of Big Island volcano tours. That shouldn’t be surprising, considering how large the landmass is, and the fact that it’s comprised of five, old-as-dirt shield volcanoes. Excursions vary with respect to a number of factors, including length and method of transportation. For example, there are some Big Island volcano tours that are one hour, and others that are 12. Some require that you travel by foot or bike, while other more leisurely options proceed by helicopter or motor coach.
One of the coolest ways to experience the volcanoes of the Big Island is with a helicopter tour. A personal favorite is a three-hour air ride that takes you over Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and even lands you in the middle of a rich, verdant valley.
You’ll board the chopper in Kona, a city on the arid western coast of the Big Island, and fly eastward en route to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. With a lot of time to spare, your pilot will take you on a scenic route, which means that you’ll have the opportunity to see Mauna Kea, the tallest peak in the state at over 13,800 ft. above sea level. Then you’ll head south into the park and over Mauna Loa, the most massive of the Big Island volcanoes, prior to your arrival at Mt. Kilauea.
On this tour, as is the case with most Big Island tours, Kilauea is the main attraction. As you hover above it, you should be on the lookout for one of its frequent eruptions; after all, the volcano’s notoriety springs from the fact that it’s been spewing lava since 1983. After some time in the air, your pilot will then transport you down into a gorgeous valley in the middle of the rainforest, where you’ll have an hour to relax and sightsee. Flora and fauna of which you may get a glimpse include giant ferns, ohia lehua trees, nenes, and honeycreepers. After 60 minutes of relaxation, it’s back into the air for your return trip to Kona.
Why not try a hiking of biking tour of the volcanoes?
Not all Big Island volcano tours are so leisurely, however; some actually require you to do some of the work. Such is the case with the five-hour bike tour through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. This trip begins at Kilauea Overlook, where you’ll get an outstanding view of the summit caldera. Then, you’ll make your way down a paved road and see several other incredible sites as you pedal downhill toward the base of the volcano.
One place you’ll go on your bike ride is the Thurston Lava Tube, which was once filled with molten rock; now that it’s drained out, you’ll be able to go for a brief stroll through it, and take pictures of its interior. You’ll check out the Chain of Craters Road, as well, which is full of stunning landmarks, such as the 2,000-ft.-long by 300-ft.-deep Pauahi Crater, and the oval pit crater known as Puhimau. One of the best parts about taking Big Island volcano tours that travel along the ground, rather than across the sky, is the fact that these wonders seem so much larger when you’re right next to them.
To avoid talking too much, we’ll cut ourselves off with those two suggestions for Big Island volcano tours. Of course, we know that there are many more, and we certainly don’t mean to indict the ones we didn’t mention. Nevertheless, most travelers only have so much time. So if you’re looking for a couple of ways to experience Kilauea and her volcanic neighbors, you can’t go wrong with the two Big Island volcano tours described above.