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Helicopter Tour of the Big Island's Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Site of Active Volcanism

Leaving the Heliport First Glimpse of Pu'u O'o

Leaving the heliport on the Big Island, one really does not know what lies ahead.
Will it be spectacular?
Will you really see an active volcano?

Then your helicopter turns makes a turn and there it is! And it is definitely spectacular.
It's Pu'u O'o, Kilauea volcano's active flank eruption site. The eruption of Kilauea Volcano that began in 1983 continues at the cinder-and-spatter cone of Pu'u O'o, seen in this and picture and in the photo that follows.

Pu'u O'o

An even clearer view of Pu'u O'o! Very exciting to fly over an active volcano! This is definitely my favorite photo. When my students see it they think I was so brave to fly so close to a volcano.

Flying down the flank of Pu'u O'o, one sees many fissures and cave-ins in the lava field. Steam and other volcanic gases emit from these openings and sometimes red lava is visible as it flows beneath the field of hardened basalt. (See next photo).

Pu'u O'o

See the red square on the lava field?
That is red hot lava, visible where part of the hardened surface collapsed. It's called a "skylight". Go ahead and view the larger photo. You'll see it better. No wonder the park officials do not want people hiking out there on the active lava fields!

As we left Pu'u O'o, I took this photo of the hot lava steaming as it meets the ocean.
Well, that's the best of the helicopter photos on the Big Island. Oh, there are more but juggling back and forth between a video, still and slide camera wasn't easy, especially while the helicopter is quickly flying past the sights you're trying to shoot!

Hilo Bay

Okay, so this is not a view of active volcanism. But, I just had to include this gorgeous photo of Hilo Bay. We were leaving the lava fields and heading back to the heliport by way of the coastline. What a view!

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Helicopter Tour of Waimea Canyon and the NA Pali Coast
on the Island of Kauai

Na Pali Coastline

Leaving the heliport on an exciting tour of Waimea Canyon and the NA Pali coast, the cliffs that border one side of the canyon are visible from the heliport, and grow ever closer as we begin our journey through the air.

Closer still, it becomes apparent that the helicopter must reach the top of the cliffs so that we can descend into the canyon for a good look.

Waimea Canyon

We proceed over the top of the cliffs and the helicopter actually descends into the canyon. Hovering at various spots for active picture taking and sightseeing. The gullies so prominent in the Waimea Canyon and NA Pali areas are the result of approximately 7 million years of active erosion by running water and wind.

Inside the canyon itself, one sees bare walls of once black basaltic rock, now stained different shades of yellow, orange and red, due to the rusting of the iron in the volcanic rock. Because of the appearance of "layers" and the many colors the cliff walls display, people often say that Waimea resembles the Grand Canyon. However, Waimea is composed of igneous rock that has weathered, whereas the Grand canyon is sedimentary rock, the colors of which may vary due to different mineral compositions.

Waimea Canyon Clouds Waimea Canyon Cliffs

Yes, those are clouds! It truly is an awesome feeling to hover within the canyon walls, higher than the clouds!

Nearing the second half of the tour, we climb over the canyon cliffs bordering the ocean side of Waimea and get our first glimpse of the heavily carved NA Pali coastline. Very rugged and reached by boat or a very difficult hike, these 4,000 foot cliffs remain in a pristine state, altered only by nature's forces of weathering and erosion.

Flying OVer the Pacific Pacific Ocean Views

The helicopter flies out over the Pacific to allow for a long range, unobstructed view of this amazing coastline.

Moving in closer for an even better view of the coastline!

Na Pali Coast Beaches

Where the headlands of the coast jut out into the ocean, calmer bays result where sand accumulates and small beaches are formed. These are favorite spots for small boats and rubber rafts, filled with tourists, to pull in and spend the day.

Small caves are carved into the rock face by wave action and wind erosion. If you enlarge the photo you will see them better Look to the right side of the photo, where the cliff meets the sand.

Leaving Waimea Canyon

All good things come to an end and so did this tour.
We say "good-bye" to the NA Pali coast and, once again, catch a glimpse of the cliffs of Waimea as we head back to the heliport. Amazing scenery! Gorgeous views!
If you are ever in Kauai, please try the helicopter tours. You won't be disappointed.