1 Day Volcano flyover

Island hop from OAHU to BIG ISLAND to check out VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK

by Mariam Beard • Last Updated: April 29, 2022

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Quick Details

  • Island: OAHU
  • Duration: Full-Day (early flight, Land tour, return flight same day)

Our Experience

On a recent trip, we had the opportunity to take a one-day flyover tour from Honolulu Airport (HNL) on Oahu to Hilo Airport (ITO) on the Big Island with Polynesian Adventure Tours.

We did some sightseeing and checked out the volcanoes!

Stop 1: National Park Bookstore

Our first stop was the National Park Bookstore. If you’re looking to get some souvenirs, this is the spot to go. It’s also a good restroom spot before heading out into the Volcano National Park area.

Stop 2: Volcanic Crater

Our second stop was a volcanic crater. You can see steam coming up from the crater. Although the trip started out rainy and overcast, the sun finally came out. The Hilo side, which is the side that we’re on now, gets about 200 inches of rainfall every single year.

Tips on what to wear:

  • Bring sunglasses
  • Bring a rain jacket or umbrella!

Stop 3: Steam Vents

Our third stop was to check out the steam vents! You can stand in front of the vents behind the railing and feel how strong the warm steam vents are!

Stop 4: Thurston Lava Tube

Our fourth stop was the Thurston Lava Tube. It’s over 700 years old and it’s pretty amazing. The walk down here is going to be downhill and you’ll be in the rainforest, so if you’ve got the ponchos or the umbrellas make sure you bust them out right now.

Stop 5: Akaka Falls

Our fifth stop was Akaka Falls. This walk was absolutely gorgeous. You can go left for the shorter route or right to take the more scenic suggested route. We went to the RIGHT and it was beautiful. The entire trail is paved, there are handrails along the side and there are steps as well. It is well maintained and super easy to access.

This was probably my favorite part of the entire trip. I loved being in the rainforest and as we got closer and closer we finally could see Akaka Falls and this video does not do it justice.

These falls were huge and it was stunning.

Stop 6: Black Sand Beach

Our sixth stop was the Black Sand Beach. This is the place where we’ll split off into two different groups.

If you’re part of the first group who opted to do the 45 minute helicopter ride with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, your driver will take you over to the heliport at the airport. You’ll do the flight and then you’ll head back to Oahu. If you did not opt for the helicopter flight, you’ll continue with the group on a guided land tour.

Stop 7: Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Heliport

We made it to the Blue Hawaiian Helicopters Heliport and were anxiously waiting for our pilot to make the call if we’re going to fly or not. Unfortunately, it was three o’clock in the afternoon and the pilot had called it due to heavy cloud cover. Our helicopter portion of the tour was canceled. If you do opt for the helicopter portion of the tour and it is cancelled due to weather, it will be refunded. You’ll have to go back to the tour company and they’ll take care of the refund for you.

Stop 8: Liliuokalani Gardens

We joined everybody else back on the land tour and headed to Liliuokalani Gardens. This is the largest Japanese style garden outside of Japan and it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s super calm and zen here and it’s super nice.

Stop 9: King Kamehameha Statue

Our next stop was a quick one to visit the King Kamehameha Statue. We learned a lot more about his life and the history of the island.

Stop 10: Rainbow Falls

Our last stop was Rainbow Falls. It’s the only waterfall here on the Hilo side and it’s absolutely gorgeous. It’s 80 foot high.

Land Tour

Although the helicopter portion of our tour did not work out because of low cloud cover, there’s a lot that we ended up seeing. We saw Liliuokalani Gardens, the King Kamehameha Statue, and Rainbow Falls. What a perfect end to a perfect day!


  • Bring an umbrella or a rain jacket. Hilo does rain a lot and an umbrella or rain jacket can make your trip.
  • Bring a flashlight or have your cell phone ready – especially when going through the Thurston Lava Tube.

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Aloha! I'm Mariam.

I'm an Oahu resident sharing my adventures here in Hawaii to help take the guesswork out of planning your trip to Hawaii.

I've worked full-time as a concierge for a decade and have planned thousands of itineraries for travelers like you!


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