Today Cameron and I crossed another item off our bucket list. Take a helicopter ride over an erupting volcano. That was never actually on any bucket list but we did it and it was incredible so we'll say it was. Cameron's dad booked us a trip with Blue Hawaiian tours so we made a day trip around the island to the town of Hilo. Hilo is about two hours away so we set out early to stop at a few points of interest along the way. Island life is really cool, there are a few major roads that take you everywhere around the island and then the rest is just scenic views while you drive. It's quite fun during the day, quite long and dark at night. Along the road Cameron pulled over at Laupahoehoe point (pronounced Lap-a-hoy-hoy but I had more fun saying it how it's spelled.) Laupahoehoe is a scenic point where violent waves hit the rocks in spectacular fashion. We got out to take some pictures and I immediately regretted having my hair down. The wind was wild blowing it everywhere as the waves crashed into the shore were just as forceful.
He thought this was hilarious...
Finally got one after the 6th try..
Like Cameron has said before...there is something addicting about capturing waves hitting the shore with such strong force. We roamed around the point trying to catch a good shot and not to blow away. After plenty of pictures and some messed up hair we continued into downtown Hilo to the airport.
Once we made it to the airport and checked in that is where the fun began...
Blue Hawaiian had us watch a safety video on the helicopters that we would be flying in. The whole time I sat there anxious and sweating because I fear flying like no other. Cameron was super excited and kept teasing me. We were distributed by weight along with the other people attending the tour so the helicopters would be balanced. After heading out to the runway we waited for our turn up in the air.
Once we were secured and loaded into the helicopters up we went. We had a lovely pilot who informed us of everything we were flying over and he promised we wouldn't fly us too far into the volcano. We made our way over to the active volcano and got to watch the steam and lava from directly overhead. It had a fake look to it, but the strong sulfur smell confirmed any doubt of it being unreal. Our pilot spun us around and dipped down so we all could capture the volcano and lava flows which were insane.
Orange lava flow
more lava flow
The active volcano has been going for the last 30 years. This last year it has been incredibly active. Since it is a shield volcano it means that the lava just flows out from different openings unlike the composite volcanoes we think of that erupt and spew lava everywhere. This volcano just flows in different areas and it is unpredictable as to what and where it will travel to. It can destroy entire villages if it feels like it. We headed over to the cone to see the main part of the volcano. It looked like a huge steam room from far away. All you could see was the white smoke as you approached. We circled the crater and got to see how big it actually was with all the steam and lava cooking inside.
The volcano was definitely unreal to see and with some extra time before needing to land, we got to head over to the waterfalls in Hilo. The waterfalls were really cool to see up above but you can't tell how big they are when you are looking down at them. We snapped some great pictures from above and circled back to the airport for landing. The tour was absolutely phenomenal...if you ever visit Hawaii it is definitely worth the trip to fly over and see everything.
Writer change!!! Apparently we didn't get enough waterfalls from the helicopter so after we landed and tried not to blow away on the runway we went to Akaka falls state park (another fun one to say) to see one of the largest free-falling waterfalls in the world! I'm pretty sure that means the water doesn't touch anything during the 440ft drop from the top but the sign didn't really elaborate much when I asked it.
The "hike" around the falls area was amazing. It was a little rain-forest right off of the road. I think the entire loop was maybe half a mile of all paved trails hence the quotation marks around "hike" but it was beautiful nonetheless. Perhaps one of the best "bang for your buck" hikes because not only did you see a lot of rain-forest but also Akaka falls, Kahuna Falls (100ft) and two little falls all on that short trail!
Normally you have to pay to get into the park since it is state run. It's usually $5 per car and $1 per person if you just walk in. We got there right as they were closing the gates. Well, to be frank, I really had to pee so we parked on the side of the road outside the gates and walked through anyways. I asked the guy at the pay booth if we could go in. He just asked if we were parked outside of the gate so that he could close it and then let us go in for free! Then we had to do the long windy dark drive back home. All in all we had a heli of a good time!
He likes pizza.