Hawaii Island Vacation ~ Papillon Helicopter Ride with Pictures over Kilauea Volcano

Breakfast at the Mauna Lani prior to our helicopter ride

Feathered breakfast guests awaiting the arrival of food.
Feathered breakfast guests awaiting the arrival of food. | Source

Papillon Helicopter Ride

Many years ago my husband won a trip to Hawaii for the two of us as a company based reward. On this particular day we elected to take our first ever helicopter ride as a special treat.


We began this day with an orientation breakfast at the Ocean Bar & Grill from 7:00 AM - 9 AM.

These buffet breakfasts had every kind of offering imaginable as people from all over the world come to the Hawaiian Islands. From simple fruit and pastries to heartier meats, egg dishes and even many foods with which I was unfamiliar...it was all there to sample, eat and enjoy.

Ice sculptures added to the beauty of the many food stations.

My husband and I enjoyed some delicious orange fleshed pieces of melon each day that we have never seen for sale in our hometown grocery stores.



Breakfast at the Mauna Lani prior to our helicopter ride

Gathering for breakfast at the Ocean Bar & Grill
Gathering for breakfast at the Ocean Bar & Grill | Source
Photo of my husband awaiting our helicopter ride
Photo of my husband awaiting our helicopter ride | Source

Amazing closeup video of lava from Kilauea hitting the Pacific Ocean

Seeing Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano from the Papillon Helicopter

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Barren looking land below Approaching the Kilauea Volcano from the air.Fire in the pit of the volcanoLava everywhere! The top of this lava tube had broken the day previous to our flyover, thus we were able to see the red molten lava on its way to the sea.  am clouds billow as the lava meets the sea.  We were told that the lava is 2000 degrees F. at that point. The ever enlarging coastline where lava keeps adding to the land mass on that side of the island.
Barren looking land below
Barren looking land below | Source
Approaching the Kilauea Volcano from the air.
Approaching the Kilauea Volcano from the air. | Source
Fire in the pit of the volcano
Fire in the pit of the volcano | Source
Lava everywhere!
Lava everywhere! | Source
The top of this lava tube had broken the day previous to our flyover, thus we were able to see the red molten lava on its way to the sea.
The top of this lava tube had broken the day previous to our flyover, thus we were able to see the red molten lava on its way to the sea. | Source
am clouds billow as the lava meets the sea.  We were told that the lava is 2000 degrees F. at that point.
am clouds billow as the lava meets the sea. We were told that the lava is 2000 degrees F. at that point. | Source
The ever enlarging coastline where lava keeps adding to the land mass on that side of the island.
The ever enlarging coastline where lava keeps adding to the land mass on that side of the island. | Source

We had this day (up until evening) to relax and enjoy any number of offerings. Some things from which to choose were the following: relaxing beach or poolside soaking up some sun; playing tennis or golf, or exploring the island by various means.


Some people chose to hop on commuter airplanes and check out other islands for the day.


We decided to take a Papillon helicopter ride and see the Big Island from that perspective. It would be a first for both my husband and myself to ride in a helicopter...so that alone was a thrill.


The Papillon Hawaiian Helicopters were "jet-powered AStar"...supposedly the ultimate at that time in aviation technology.


Here is what the brochure stated:

The Kohala Coast Adventure journeys to the inaccessible Waipi'o Valley with its untouched waterfalls and forests. Fly over ancient Hawaiian ruins and the panoramic Parker Ranch.


Pele's Spectacular visits Kilauea Volcano with its geysers of fire and flowing rivers and glowing lakes of lava.


The Volcano/Kohala Deluxe is a two-hour tour that combines the Kohala Coast Adventure and Pele's Spectacular for a comprehensive overview of the Big Island's wonders.


We chose to take the deluxe tour so that we could see it all. And we were in for a treat!


If memory serves me accurately, I believe the helicopter held 4 to 6 people plus the pilot. She had us take specific seats so as to best distribute the weight evenly in the helicopter. We were each given headsets to block out some of the noise of the helicopter rooters and also be able to hear our pilot's description of things that we would be viewing while flying over specific areas.


The first part of our trip took us over the Kilauea Volcano.


Our pilot told us that lava had been flowing from the Pu'u'o'o vent of the volcano for the last 10 years plus 4 months (at that time). Kilauea covers 540 square miles.


She also told us that walking on what appears to be solid lava can be a bit dicey as looks can be deceiving. I was able to take a photo of some red flowing lava that had broken through its tube going to the sea just the day before we took that flight.


Most of the molten lava flows to the sea unseen except when it hits the water. At that time billows of white steam appear as the 2,000 degree lava starts being cooled by the sea water. Of course land is continually being added to that part of the island from the continuing flow of lava.


All of my photos were taken through the windows of the helicopter as we flew over these areas.


A markerKilauea Volcano in Hawaii -
Kilauea, Kau, HI 96778, USA
[get directions]

Helicopter ride over Kilauea

Hilo - Kahala Coast and Parker Ranch as viewed from the helicopter

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Stopped to refuel the helicopter in Hilo Macadamia nut tree farming belowHilo side of the Big Island Farmland below Approaching the rainforestKahala coast Kahala coastline Kahala coast - (purchased this photo)Kahala coast & multiple waterfalls - (purchased this photo)Kahala coast Kahala coast The helicopter flew to the very bottom and hovered at the base of this waterfall - What a thrill! (purchased this photo)Arial view of the Parker Ranch with cattle below
Stopped to refuel the helicopter in Hilo
Stopped to refuel the helicopter in Hilo | Source
Macadamia nut tree farming below
Macadamia nut tree farming below | Source
Hilo side of the Big Island
Hilo side of the Big Island | Source
Farmland below
Farmland below | Source
Approaching the rainforest
Approaching the rainforest | Source
Kahala coast
Kahala coast | Source
Kahala coastline
Kahala coastline | Source
Kahala coast - (purchased this photo)
Kahala coast - (purchased this photo) | Source
Kahala coast & multiple waterfalls - (purchased this photo)
Kahala coast & multiple waterfalls - (purchased this photo) | Source
Kahala coast
Kahala coast | Source
Kahala coast
Kahala coast | Source
The helicopter flew to the very bottom and hovered at the base of this waterfall - What a thrill! (purchased this photo)
The helicopter flew to the very bottom and hovered at the base of this waterfall - What a thrill! (purchased this photo) | Source
Arial view of the Parker Ranch with cattle below
Arial view of the Parker Ranch with cattle below | Source

Stopping in Hilo to refuel the helicopter was necessary before continuing on with our journey. This side of the island is lush and green and there is much farming.


Much macadamia nut tree farming is done around Hilo. We found out from our pilot that sugar cane farming has pretty much come to an end as it cannot be produced competitively in the world market any longer.


We were to fly over the rain forest and once we got to the northern Kahala coastline we were amazed at the stark contrast to the southern parts of the island impacted by the volcano and lava. This side is more mountainous and has an abundance of cascading waterfalls.


One of the biggest thrills for both of us was when our helicopter pilot flew to the end of a valley and she guided the helicopter down to the base of a several hundreds of feet high waterfall and hovered there just above the fern treetops. It was so beautiful and an experience we would not soon forget.


We also flew over the Parker Ranch which is the largest privately owned ranch in the United States with about 135,000 acres. We saw grazing and resting cattle that seemed endless in number. We found out that more beef is exported from Hawaii than almost anything else. That was a revelation.


My husband and I were happy that we had elected this activity for this day's activity. The helicopter ride was a little scary but exhilarating at the same time. And seeing the island from above gave us such a unique perspective.


A markerHilo, Hawaii -
Hilo, HI, USA
[get directions]

Have you ever had a ride in a helicopter?

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Photos taken at the Hale Kai Ranch

My husbands straw "cowboy" hat was a bit small!  :))  (Complimentary photo given to us)
My husbands straw "cowboy" hat was a bit small! :)) (Complimentary photo given to us) | Source
A "hootin' hollerin' time!"
A "hootin' hollerin' time!" | Source

That evening we were driven to the Hale Kai Ranch (Parker ranch area) to be treated to a Hawaiian cowboy barbecue dinner. We all met in the lobby at 6:15 PM and after being transported to the ranch, we were each given a bandanna and straw cowboy hat to wear.


My poor husband got a hat a tad bit on the small side, but he was a good sport and wore it anyway. Ha!


Games such as playing horseshoes and trying to learn how to swirl a rope to ensnare an object such as the real cowboys would do in roping a cow were offered amidst drinks and appetizers.


Guitar playing folks strummed tunes while we ate dinner that night seated at red checkered tablecloths.


After being returned to our lodging at the Ritz-Carlton Mauna Lani resort, we relaxed and discussed what we would choose to do the next couple of days. This day had certainly turned out to be a memorable one!



If you enjoyed Day 2 of our vacation in Hawaii on the Big Island and liked the pictures taken from the Papillon helicopter ride, you can check out the other days of our vacation in Hawaii to gain a greater overview of this beautiful island from a feet on the ground perspective.


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5 out of 5 stars from 2 ratings of Papillon Helicopter Ride over Hawaii

© 2009 Peggy Woods

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Comments 20 comments

Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Sheila,

That must have been some helicopter ride you endured! Ha! The one we took in Hawaii was thrilling to say the least and quite a great way to see the volcano and lava hitting the ocean sending up the steam that looked like clouds. Also loved seeing the waterfall that way. Thanks for your comment and votes.


sgbrown profile image

sgbrown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

What a wonderful trip you must have had. Your descriptions are wonderful and your photos are awesome! This is such a beautiful place! I did take a helicopter ride years ago. It was just three of us, and they thought it would be really funny to scare me. Well it was funny until I almost "upchucked" in the pilots lap! I'm sure I would enjoy a "professional" ride! Great hub, voted up and awesome! :)


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hello tobusiness,

That helicopter ride over the active volcano in Hawaii was spectacular to say the least. Seeing the effects of the lava hitting the ocean was also amazing. One truly gets a bird's eye perspective when flying over a place and being able to hover...like at the base of a waterfall...as compared to seeing the sites in other ways. So glad to hear that you enjoyed this hub.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 4 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

Thank you for sharing your wonderful holiday, the images are incredible beautiful.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas Author

Hi Happyboomernurse,

Getting to fly over the active volcano was one thing but seeing new land being created by the lava hitting the ocean was a real thrill. Also the waterfalls! Flying from the top to the bottom of one and hovering was a fantastic experience. Glad that you liked this. Thanks for coming back and viewing more of our Hawaiian vacation. There's more! :))


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