Helicopter trip over the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, one of the most active volcanoes on the planet. Taken during a December 2007 trip to the Big Island.
We took an early morning whale watching tour on our last full day in Hawaii. I was skeptical that we would actually see whales, but in reality there were over 20+ sightings while we were on the boat. It was pretty cool, and I would definitely recommend it if you are ever on the Big Island.
Our guide had a great sense of humor and was brimming with facts (which I can no longer remember) about the whales that were surfacing just yards away. She spoke with an accent, and when someone asked where she was from, she replied Budapest, Hungary (which, by the way, is completely landlocked).
OMG dude! Whales!
One breaching the water off in the distance
I really wanted to take an air tour of the Kīlauea volcano while we were vacationing on the Big Island, so we booked a flight with Sunshine Helicopters and drove across the island to the Hilo airport.
Our method of transportation. I’ve flown in a helicopter only once before, on a big, lumbering Russian Mi-8 that was more widely known for transporting Soviet soldiers throughout Afghanistan than for providing obnoxious American tourists with a background prop for our best Nixon impersonations.
It was raining when we took off, but this is Hawaii, so wait a few minutes and the weather will change.
Lava flows. I was lucky enough to be assigned the seat right next to the pilot (granted, the photos still suck…taking photos while in a helicopter is not as easy as I had imagined).
More lava. We spent a few minutes hovering over the area, which smelled strongly of sulfur.
The lava fields stretch to the coast. Several small towns were destroyed by eruptions in 1990, and some residents rebuilt their homes there against the wishes of the Hawaiian government.
The coastline. 2km of prime real estate added, courtesy of the current eruption.
Waterfall spotted while returning to the airport.
Obligatory family photo in front of helicopter. In case of a crash landing on the volcano, the inflatable life vests we had to wear around our waists would not be of much help.
More photos here.
While on the Big Island of Hawaii, we stayed at the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, which sits directly on Anaeho’omalu Bay. With the temperature a bone chilling 20 degrees here in DC, I thought I’d upload a few photos of last week’s trip to the Big Island to remind me of better times.
View from my room
I’ll take a Mai Tai over eggnog anyday
Stumbled across some sea turtles
Dear haole tourist, please stop taking photos and leave me the eff alone so that I may suntan in peace. Mahalo.
Lava fields on the Big Island. Upon arriving at the airport, I was convinced we had landed on Mars.
My favorite trees
In exactly one week, I’ll be here:
I fly back to California this Saturday, and on Tuesday my family and I will board a flight to Hawaii, where we will spend a few days on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast.
This will be my third trip to Hawaii, but my first to the Big Island. I first visited Hawaii back in November 1997 (gah, was that really 10 years ago?!) on a family trip. My brother and I were under the impression that we were going to Sparta, Illinois to spend Thanksgiving with our relatives, but when we arrived at LAX my parents said “Surprise, we’re going to Hawaii!” (yeah, they are pretty awesome). My little brother, ever the family man, was devastated, and replied “But…I want to go to Illinois.” I very clearly remember yelling “JOHN ARE YOU SERIOUS?!” and pummeling him while we stood in line to check-in. We spent a few days on the North Shore of Oahu and then flew to Maui, where we stayed for the remainder of the week. For Thanksgiving dinner we went to a ridiculously cheesy luau (my idea) that was interrupted by heavy rain showers. In that year’s Thanksgiving family photo we are soaking wet and decked out in multi-colored disposable ponchos. It’s a classic.
My second trip to Hawaii was in June 2000, when my friends and I flew to Oahu a few days after our high school graduation. If I remember correctly, there were eight of us on that particular trip. I’ll make a long story short and just say that while the trip definitely had its fun moments, as a whole it was pretty FUBAR and I think we were all relieved when our return flight landed at LAX so that we could go our separate ways. Some of the personalities on that trip just didn’t…mesh very well. The resulting video footage of a fight over a surfboard and towels (and Ryan can attest to this) is hilarious, however.
Nevertheless, I have a feeling that this upcoming trip will be considerably better.