Mauna Loa

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Mauna Loa: Our most recommended tours and activities

Hilo: Fly over Volcano National Park and Waterfalls

1. Hilo: Fly over Volcano National Park and Waterfalls

Take a helicopter ride over ever-changing scenery at Volcano National Park with this tour from Hilo. Journey over black sand beaches where lava once flowed into the sea. Take off from Hilo and fly directly to Volcano National Park. See the caldera of the Kilauea volcano. Admire the Pu'uo'o' volcanic cone. Snap pictures of the massive volcanos Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Discover new lava fields that are forming and go over old lava fields. View how waterfalls create a deep blue pools amid jungle greenery.

MaunaKea Stellar Explorer From Kona

2. MaunaKea Stellar Explorer From Kona

For an out-of-this-world experience, check out Maunakea Stellar Explorer. The in-house stellar explorers are the best and most experienced in Hawaii, with one having created the Mauna Kea Visitor’s Center and operated it for a decade. Staff have written noted articles and reviews for well-known astronomy magazines and have worked at world-class observatories. Next, you’ll travel across Saddle Road between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, two of the tallest and most massive volcanoes on Earth. Your National Park Service trained guide will discuss the volcanology, geology, and history of these monstrous wonders, as well as providing in-depth narration on the various lava flows and flora and fauna that you’ll be passing by. While you’re taking in the breathtaking terrestrial views, your guide will prepare some heavenly views just as stunning. Setting up a state of the art solar telescope for your viewing pleasure, your specially trained guide will let you safely watch the sun come alive in true color with vibrant solar flares, sunspots, prominences, and any other current activity, weather permitting. Lastly, your guide will take you to one of the preferred locations on Mauna Kea for nighttime stargazing. You’ll observe deep sky and planetary objects through a large aperture Dobsonian telescope under one of the darkest and most pristine skies on planet Earth. The Dobsonian telescopes are a true purist’s experience to view the night sky. Their fast focal ratio enables you to see sprawling wide field views of objects that simply aren’t possible with the types of telescopes used by other tours. Depending on what is visible in the current sky and weather permitting, you’ll observe galaxies, nebula, star clusters, planets, double star systems, the moon, and much more; all the highlights and showpiece objects like you’ve never seen before. 

Big Island: Hilo Doors-Off Lava and Rainforest Adventure

3. Big Island: Hilo Doors-Off Lava and Rainforest Adventure

On this helicopter doors-off experience, you will see the best of the Big Island, with views only accessible by air. See giant waterfalls flowing down gorgeous cliffs and active glowing lava. For those wanting to see Hawaii from a bird's eye view, this tour will take you there. Jump aboard the Hughes 500 Helicopter doors-off and fly over one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Find out for yourself why this is the ”hottest helicopter ride on Earth.” After over 35 years of activity, Kīlauea Volcano has made its mark on the geological structure of the island. Witness otherworldly landscapes like the incredible 8-mile river of frozen lava from Fissure 8 to the Pacific Ocean, the newest black sand beaches, and enormous craters created by recent events. Along the way, view Mauna Loa’s vistas, the beauty of lush Puna rainforests, and mesmerizing Hilo waterfalls. With no windows to shoot through, there is no better way for you to share crystal clear photographs and videos of your experience. Many of these Hawaii waterfalls are accessible by air only so you will gain exclusive access to some of the largest waterfalls on the island. 

Big Island: Full Day Circle Island Tour From Kona

4. Big Island: Full Day Circle Island Tour From Kona

Travel south into Kona coffee country for the first stop at Bay View Farm, a working 24-acre coffee farm nestled on the slopes of Mauna Loa Volcano just above beautiful Kealakekua Bay and known for the best Kona coffee since 1984. Here you will see coffee growing on the trees and learn about the various steps and processes in making coffee, all of which happen right here on the farm. Sample 100% Kona Coffee at a gorgeous overlook with stunning views of Kealakekua Bay and the monument to Captain Cook standing on the only sliver of British land in the United States. The adventure continues as you head through the South Kona and Ka’u Districts. Stunning views, alternating between stark lava flows and Hawaiian dry forest, are visible through the huge picture windows of your tour vehicle. Stop briefly at picturesque Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. Lined with swaying coconut palm trees, this is one of the best black sand beaches on the island. Look for honu or green Hawaiian sea turtles feeding just offshore or sun-worshipping on the sand. Next travel to the crown jewel of Hawaii, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Visit the Kilauea Visitor’s Center, the Kilauea Iki Crater Overlook, and Steaming Bluffs. Walkthrough the famous Volcano House to view the smoking and steaming Kilauea Caldera. Dropping down into the lush eastern side of Kilauea Volcano, your next stop is Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Farm. In operation for more than 30 years, Mauna Loa has more than a dozen mac nut flavors to choose from, and visitors can watch the factory floor through glass windows. Big Island Candies is the next stop in Hilo-town. Founded in 1977, Big Island Candies is synonymous with quality. Big Island Candies welcomes everyone with samples of their amazing confections, still handmade using only the highest quality ingredients. Peek through the windows into the factory or browse the selection of gorgeous jewel-box gifts. Travel through quaint Hilo town where you drive along the historic waterfront and along the Onomea Scenic Route, a  four-mile section of the original old highway punctuated with historic wooden bridges, waterfalls, and lush tropical foliage. Waipio Valley, known as the Valley of Kings, is a place of impossibly steep cliffs carved by plunging waterfalls cascading more than a thousand feet to the valley floor below. Waipio Valley is still home to taro farmers as it has been for a thousand years. Look closely from the overlook and glimpses of the wild horses that roam the valley floor might be possible.

Other Sightseeing Options in Mauna Loa

Want to discover all there is to do in Mauna Loa? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Mauna Loa

Overall rating

4.5 / 5

based on 41 reviews

Kam is a very professional and knowledgeable pilot. She lets you know when it might be bumpy. She goes around all sites twice to allow passengers to see from both sides of the helicopter. She knows all about the island, the volcanoes genesis, and will answer all your questions. One thing you need to know: you will be seated depending on your weight in order to balance the aircraft. There are 2 seats in the back in the middle where you'll have limited view. We were very lucky to be seated in front, in a very tight seat though. All on all a wonderful experience.

The sightseeing flight was great and was definitely worth it. You get the exact time about 2 days before the booked date. During the flight you will be told some information by the pilot about what you are flying over. A sweater or jacket for the flight (without doors) is definitely important. Long pants would be good as well as it was really cold at times. I was wearing short shorts and was a little chilly.

A great flight and a great pilot. Sam did a tremendous job. In addition, she also told a lot of interesting facts about the landscape and the Big Island. Unfortunately due to the weather we were not able to fly over Kilauea. Nevertheless, it was a great experience and we would definitely do it again.

This was a lot of fun, and our tour guide did everything he could to show us some stars even on a cloudy night. Dinner was good, too. Highly recommend.

girl power! We really enjoyed the flight. Pilot top. We felt very comfortable. Mahalo