This is Charlene, Michelle’s sister. Today’s post is going to be all about the amazing helicopter ride we took in Hawaii.
I think some of us were a little apprehensive about it to begin with – my Dad and I are afraid of heights! – but as we took off, any anxiousness was quickly replaced with awe at the sights we were seeing.
Our pilot Mark also put us at ease, joking and involving everyone. We chose to take the route that showed both the volcanoes and waterfalls. It was definitely more expensive, but to me, completely worth it! One of the really cool things about the ride was that Mark had picked out a playlist for everyone to listen to through the headphones. The music corresponded with the sights – dramatic, Lord-of –the-Rings-esque music for the craters and volcanoes, Hawaiian music for the farmland areas, and Enya songs for the waterfalls.
Now I am a bit of a geology geek – I love rocks, and I especially love volcanoes – so excuse me while I share excessive detail of what we saw at the volcanic areas! As you may know, Mt. Kilowea errupted last year. The major crater of the volcano used to have a large lava lake in the center.
Our pilot Mark told us that after the erruption, the crater collasped in itself and the lava lake evaporated. What we saw as we flew over was a humongeous crater, oozing great billows of smoke. At the bottom of the crater was no longer a lava lake, but a Nicoloean-green pond of CO-2 gasses! It was quite dramatic, and Mark circled a few times to make sure everyone got a view.
We also viewed several other smaller craters and cinder cones. Mark pointed out the recent lava flows, as well as earlier ones. It was amazing to see the destrcutive power of lava as it left a trail through what was once forrested land.
We made a stop to switch helicopters, and then began the second part of the ride. We flew over beatuiful green farmland, over the azure ocean, and then a little more inland to see spectacular waterfalls. The first valley Mark pulled us into was the Waipoio Valley. It’s one of the more well-known landmarks of the Big Island. I have to say, having been there on foot and by helicopter – it’s much more impressive and dramatic by helicopter! We flew up, up, up to the top the of the valley, and then down, as we followed the flow of the waterfall. When I caught my first ever sight of the valley and waterfall, it quite literally took my breath away. It’s that beautiful!
With the waterfall portion of the ride done, we headed back to the starting point and exchanged ‘shakas’ with our pilot. Taking a helicopter tour of the Big Island was a fantastic start to our trip! It really is the best way to see some of the more beautiful vistas of the island, as many are not visible by land.