By Lesley Carter
We flew in to Hawaii in the dark. The view from the airplane window was black; I couldn’t even tell when we were about to touch down. We drove to our resort in the dark, again with zero visibility of The Big Island. I couldn’t tell if we were surrounded by a luscious tropical forest or an endless mound of dirt. So when we sat in the helicopter for our Paradise Helicopters tour the next day it was like we had been blindfolded for the unbelievable unveiling making our experience that much more drastic.
We were about to embark on the Volcano and Valley Landing tour and experience The Big Island from the next level: up in the air. Five major volcanoes, breathtaking mountain ranges, stunning white and black sand beaches, lush waterfalls, 2,000-foot-high valley walls, dramatic coastlines, 11 different climate zones, and a touch down lunch—this is Hawaii Paradise Helicopters style!
The unique scenery we encountered during our air adventure is attributed to the fact that The Big Island is the largest and youngest island in the Hawaiian islands chain. It’s larger than all the other Hawaiian Islands combined, and it’s impossible to view it all from the ground.
Related: Outdoor Adventures on Hawaii Island
We started with an exploration of the activity at Kilauea crater, which was my husband’s favorite part of the adventure. Searching for volcanic action, we weaved over hot spots and turned left and right for the best views. There is something about the massive destruction and chaos of volcanoes that draws men. The four men in the helicopter outnumbered the three women, and they each yelled with excitement every time we saw red “skylights.” The scorched, black land was a drastic contrast to the lush rainforest of East Hawaii that we saw next.
From East Hawaii to the Kohala valleys and waterfalls, my mouth was agape nonstop. This was the Hawaii I had envisioned and the endless beauty I had hoped to witness firsthand. Hundreds of waterfalls and rivers make the landscape lush and green. Beautiful coastal communities and mountain roads give this area a warm and inviting feel. It was in this beauty that our group landed at an exclusive location atop a mountain accessible only through Paradise Helicopters. We took the opportunity to get out and experience the amazing wonder first hand. It was a full-senses experience. I breathed in the fresh scents, listened to the birds and the leaves rustling, stepped onto the fresh mountain grass, looked out over the valley, and shared a delicious lunch with my husband. We were on top of the world.
As a grand finale, we flew over the white-sand beach resorts of Waikoloa, and we were able to see our resort, Hilton Waikoloa Village, from above. The Kohala and North Kona resort area is home to many of the island’s most exclusive hotels and resorts. Flying along the coast, we saw some of the most amazing beaches and bays the island has to offer. Crystal clear blue and emerald waters, coral reefs, and white-sand beaches were normal views on this coast of The Big Island.
I had no idea that The Big Island was a land of such stark contrasts. The helicopter flight opened our eyes to the possibilities on Hawaii. As first-time visitors to Hawaii, there was no better way to explore the entire island than from a bird’s-eye view. Paradise Helicopters unveiled the world.
Originally published in Bucket List Publications. Check out all Lesley’s travel adventures at bucketlistpublications.org.
All pictures by Lesley Carter