Within the past 15 years or so the only place on the planet that you could consistently see an active volcano has been on the Big Island of Hawaii.
A and particularly those that fly over the volcanoes of Kilauea, Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are considered by many to be the single most spectacular trip available in all of Hawaii and should not be missed if at all possible.
For years the magma under Kilauea has been pushing to the earth’s surface through “puu” or vents and has been making its way through a series of lava tubes to the seacoast. Here the hot lava pours into the sea at such enormous temperatures that vast plumes of steam and mist are formed and often ascend hundreds of feet into the air.
Vast areas of the Big Island have been burned and paved over as a result, and the destruction and raw power of the earths creative force is one of the most spectacular sites to ever be seen. This spectacle of nature is often much too dangerous to be viewed up close and visitors are prohibited to go close to the most spectacular fiery displays and hence the only way to realistically see the active volcano is by a Big Island helicopter tour or small plane.
A Big Island helicopter tour to see mount Kilauea and the active volcanoes of Hawaii Volcano National Park depart from both Hilo and Waikoloa. Most visitors visiting the Big Island will stay on the Kona or Waikoloa coast and since there are tours leaving from there this is often they’re first choice of departure points.
It should be remembered however that the reason the Big Island is called the “Big Island” is that it is very, very big (it is a fact that the total land area of all the other islands combined would fit within the confines of the island of Hawaii) and as a result the tours that leave from Kona to view the volcano are generally over two hours in length and are respectively fairly expensive.
Many people as a result choose to drive the 2 or 3 hours or so from Kona to Hilo and depart from there as the flight to see Kilauea is only 45 or 50 minutes in length and considerably less expensive. The longer tours do have their merit however as they visit the slopes of both Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa as well as the spectacular Kohala Coastline.