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Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Airbus EC130 landed near waterfall

Best helicopter tours on the Big Island

Allow me to make life easy for you by reducing the thirty-nine or so Big Island helicopter tours to just the eight options, of which I believe are the best tours.

Eight helicopter tour options await you that depart across the island. The best helicopter tours on the Big Island all have one thing in common, Volcanoes. So expect the active volcanoes with lava fields to be a priority. Upgrade to a doors off experience but a half-day landing tour should be considered.

Helicopter tours on the Big Island are those that bring guests within the islands major attractions, as seen in the air but often inaccessible on the ground.

So that is what makes Big Island helicopter tours a must as major landmarks will be missed if not seen 1,500 feet or so in the air.

Only the eight tours are included which are operated by four helicopter tour companies on the Island of Hawaii.

Of whom its mostly catered towards large groups or instead are family friendly; so will accommodate a generous weight limit with no minimum age.

Costs involved with the tours I have personally selected have no say on the best tour options, but the Big Island helicopter tour prices are cheap to more on the high-cost range.

In that you'll get a flight duration to match, so low costs involve reduced flight times while extended flights tend to cost more.

More so half-day adventure tours can include a landing so that is included on the stated duration - so its not all in the air time.

I absolutely love Hawaii open door helicopter tours so I've made them a priority; but in doing so I've been fair to make sure there are options for the whole family.

Best tour per operator price list

Operator: Tour Name: Depart: Dur.: Price:
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Big Island Spectacular with Landing Waikoloa 2hr30min $799
Mauna Loa Helicopters Magical Waterfalls Tour Kona 2hr $310
Paradise Helicopters Doors-off Lava & Rainforests Adventure Hilo 40min $324
Safari Helicopters Volcanoes National Park & Waterfalls Hilo 55min $199
Sunshine Helicopters Volcano Deluxe Helicopter Tour Kamuela 1hr45min $559
Listed in Operator column is name of company who operate the tour; second column is Tour Name; third column is Depart location; Dur. is duration of flight; plus price to pay.

I don't want you missing out on the best helicopter tours on the Big Island that are NOT listed on my options below.

So with that in mind, I have gone through the process of listing one tour per operator, with six Big Island helicopter tour companies in total.

I may have only selected one tour per operator, but know that its often too close to call, so there are more tours I would pick if I could, but have excluded them to keep the list short as I can.

Instead, its just the six tours from six tour operators servicing the Island of Hawaii; of whom are listed as my all time best Big Island helicopter tours.

Flight duration to pricing varies hugely, so remember that you need a mid range price with an extended flight time to make it worth your money.

My 8 Best tours on The Big Island

Eight of the thirty-nine or so helicopter tours on the Big Island are listed as my favorite; that is not to say unlisted tours are not up there as the best.

This is my personal best only so should not be looked at in an official capacity.

You'll notice the Hawaii doors off helicopter tour experience is among my favorites, closely followed by tours that include a landing.

Shut doors are not my favorite but when they are, the tour must be a landing one; as is via Blue Hawaiian Helicopters.

Where else it matters is clear visibility through the windows; so it relies on Paradise Helicopters Bell 407 or the ceiling to floor window configuration of Safari Helicopters.

In order, are my eight best helicopter tours on the Big Island, Hawaii.

1. Paradise Helicopters: Kohala Waterfalls & Remote Hike

Check Availability | Duration: 1 Hour, 45 Minutes | Price: $425 | Departure: Kona | Helicopter: Bell 407 | Doors: ON

Premise of this very best Big Island helicopter tour is a brief journey to the Kohala Valley, with a focus on the north of the island.

Departing Kona Airport on the west, guests will spend time viewing the natural landscape including lava fields from the 1801 Hualalai eruption.

In the meantime, beaches, waterfalls and rainforests will be seen between Kona and your destination at the Kohala Valley will be observed in the air.

The pilot will then land at a remote spot on the Kohala Mountains to explore up to half a mile of forest, guided by the pilot himself on foot.

Guests will board a 6-seater Bell 407 helicopter with the doors firmly shut.

2. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters: Big Island Spectacular with Landing

Check Availability | Duration: 2 Hours, 30 Minutes | Price: $799 | Departure: Waikoloa | Helicopter: Airbus EC130 | Doors: ON

Its Big Island helicopter tour conducted in Japanese but don't let this discourage you as it can be enjoyed if you don't speak the language.

One of the biggest helicopter tour flight routes is why this is my second best tour, even though I am not a big doors-on fan.

Focus of the tour will depart Waikoloa Heliport for an all-in-one, complete tour of the Island of Hawaii, with the far west/south missed out only.

Air tour will see black sand beaches, volcanic badlands to the lush rainforests of the Hamakua Coast and the meandering valleys of the Kohala Mountains.

Upon your landing, guests will embark on an exclusive landing at Laupahoehoe Nui on the Kohala Coast, featuring a 1,200 feet waterfall.

Passengers will be boarding a luxury 6-seater Airbus EC130 with air conditioning.

3. Mauna Loa Helicopters: Magical Waterfalls Tour

Check Availability | Duration: 2 Hours | Price: $310 | Departure: Kona | Helicopter: Robinson R44 | Doors: ON/OFF

Well the Big Island is home to amazing waterfalls in Hawaii; focus will be visiting as many as possible in a two hour flight time - but no landing tour this time.

Departing Kona Airport, guests will be whisked away to view the seven windward valleys of Kohala.

Route will take in Kohala Mountains, coastline of Waipio Valley then to Waimanu Valley.

Over to Honopue, Honokea, Honokane Iki, Honokane Nui or Big Valley, and Pololu Valley - then climb over the summit of Kohala.

Mauna Loa operate a three-seater passenger capacity Robinson R44 with doors on/off options - though its a private tour where all seats must be paid for.

4. Paradise Helicopters: Doors-off Lava & Rainforests Adventure

Check Availability | Duration: 40 Minutes | Price: $324 | Departure: Hilo | Helicopter: MD500 | Doors: OFF

Must be one the most epic air adventures on the Big Island yet as guests are treated to a doors off helicopter tour.

Flight route will focus on the active Kīlauea Volcano with 8-mile river of solid lava leading to the Pacific Ocean.

In this time guest will also see Mauna Loa’s vistas, the lush Puna rainforests and cascading Hilo waterfalls.

Its a doors off helicopter tour in Paradise Helicopters Hughes 500; it sits up to three passengers, all of whom will get an open side seat.

Depart Hilo Airport for a 40 minute air tour only that is sure to please thrill seekers.

5. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters: Big Island Spectacular

Check Availability | Duration: 1 Hour, 45 Minutes | Price: $599 | Departure: Waikoloa | Helicopter: Airbus EC130 | Doors: ON

You might be familiar with this Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Big Island Spectacular tour, only this one is without the landing adventure.

Otherwise, the 'air tour only' is worth it alone as you get to experience a flight that tours most of the islands iconic landmarks.

So here is the Big Island Spectacular tour - with no landing - that will take you to an active volcano, lava fields, beaches, rainforests, sea cliffs, waterfalls, valleys and mountains.

Its not conducted in Japanese this time so you can communicate with others.

Exclusive doors on helicopter tour in an Airbus EC130 that is suitable for the whole family - along with no minimum age or weight limit.

6. Paradise Helicopters: Doors-Off Kohala Valleys & Waterfalls

Check Availability | Duration: 30 Minutes | Price: $324 | Departure: Waimea | Helicopter: MD500 | Doors: OFF

In departing Kohala Airport in Waimea, guests will experience the best helicopter tour on the Big Island as you go doors-off deep into the Kohala Valley.

Not to forget the Big Island landscape en-route or when you return, but the majority of the 30 minutes will be spent soaring at a low attitude deep in the valleys.

In that time passengers will see - with no limitations with doors off - cascading waterfalls that drop from up to 1,500 feet up, plus the running streams below them.

Hover near to the waterfalls for amazing photography opportunities all while viewing the vast rainforest surrounding these landmarks.

Paradise Helicopters will take you up in a 4-seater passenger capacity Hughes 500 with two guests in the back row, plus two co-pilot seats occupied by upgraded guests.

7. Mauna Loa Helicopters: Kona Coast Helicopter Tour

Check Availability | Duration: 30 Minutes | Price: $190 | Departure: Kona | Helicopter: Robinson R44 | Doors: ON/OFF

Experience Kona Coast via Mauna Loa Helicopters in their 3-seater Robinson R44, guests will be taken on a 30 minute tour at one of the cheapest prices.

After lift off passengers will head south to come within Honokohau Bay, Kona Town and Keauhou - to the famous Captain Cook.

If heading northbound then you'll be sure to visit the famous Kua Bay, Kiholo Bay, Hapuna Beach and Kawaihae.

If time allows it during the whale season, guests will get a chance to see a pod of them.

All guests will get a side seat with an option for a doors on or doors off experience.

8. Safari Helicopters: Volcanoes National Park & Waterfalls Safari

Check Availability | Duration: 55 Minutes | Price: $199 | Departure: Hilo | Helicopter: Airbus H125

Safari Helicopters only appear once on my best helicopter tours on the Big Island, but their Volcanoes National Park plus Waterfall tour is not to be missed.

And that is it, most of the tour will involve a tour of the Big Island Volcano National Park; visiting Kīlauea and Mauna Loa active volcanoes.

Different to Big Island helicopter tours thus far is this one partakes in an Airbus H125, a 6-seater capacity passenger helicopter.

On top of that is has a ceiling to floor window configuration to make sure all sights are seen through large windows.

In between volcano visits passengers are sure to see more of the islands landmarks.

Big Island helicopter tour companies

Blue Hawaiian Airbus EC130 soar above Big Island coast
Big Island Kilauea volcano smoldering as Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Airbus EC130 passes nearby

My list of the best Big Island helicopter tours is limited to only the four helicopter services; of whom, one is missing from the list.

Nothing against Sunshine Helicopters own tours but I needed to create a list of even numbers; for my own sake and to keep the list low to make it easier on you.

However, the remaining helicopter tour operators who will take care of you are still well established companies on the island.

Blue Hawaiian Helicopters would be the operator to book with if its a family or a party of six people you're bringing along.

So too will Paradise Helicopters offerings a series of Big Island tours in a family size chopper, or a Magnum P.I. type helicopter.

Similarly, Safari Helicopters can accommodate large groups or families in their fleet but offer unique floor to ceiling windows.

Mauna Loa are different to the others as they've operate a doors off/on experience.

Departures over the Big Island

Making sure the departure locations are accessible to you on the Big Island is vital as you need to make sure you can get there in time.

Thankfully the Island of Hawaii is not far to commute between helicopter tour departures so all locations will be within reach.

What with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters being listed twice if booking with this operator you'll need to make your way to their isolated heliport near Waikoloa Village.

Location is on the north/west of the island, several miles off the coast. Not far along from this location is Paradise Helicopters at Waimea-Kohala Airport.

Departing Kailua-Kona Airport is home to Mauna Loa Helicopters in their doors off/on Robinson R44 experience.

Depending on which Paradise Helicopters tour you book; if its at their Hilo International Airport site - know that Safari Helicopters are located here too.

Doors OFF is best

I am a huge fan of the Hawaii helicopter doors off tours so will endorse this experience every chance I get.

In order to be fair I have excluded several doors off helicopter tours on the Big Island but the ones I have listed I believe are the best of the best.

Look to Paradise Helicopters as they operate a Magnum P.I. helicopter known as a Hughes 500, but officially called a MD500.

Options to guests can include a doors off experience at cost. Its 4-seater, passenger capacity chopper that is a tough, reliable machine.

After Paradise go to Mauna Loa in their own little 3-seater passenger Robinson R44 where all passengers are guaranteed a side seat.

Doors off tours are not for the whole family as weight and age limits apply; so turn to Blue Hawaiian or Safari Helicopters for the whole family.


To be fair its been hard narrowing down a list of some thirty-nine Big Island helicopter tours, but here they are.

Bare in mind this is my favorites when taking into consideration if its a doors off tour or one that includes a landing adventure.

I have not taken costs into consideration as prices do not have an effect on if one tour is better than the next.

Only the eight helicopter tours on the Big Island I have selected but its not a random number, I have made sure to create a small list to make it easy on you.

Premise, or theme of the tours matter too with the Big Island volcanoes a major place to see from the air.

Other than that, guests can expect to fly a route that will fly pass, hover or sometimes circle: valleys, rainforests, sea cliffs, beaches and cascading waterfalls.

Up to four helicopter tour companies can be book on my best of list; but each one is a long established, highly respectable company who will offer a unique experience.

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