There’s a reason why Hawaii is synonymous with paradise.
Its otherworldly perfection causes even the most well-traveled person to be overwhelmed with its majesty.
The Island of Hawaii, the largest in the United States archipelago, is known for its multiple forms of natural beauty: five volcanoes, lush rainforests, stunning waterfalls, Kona coffee farms and miles of pristine coastline, including the Papakōlea green sand beach near the island’s southern point.
All of these sites are accessible to visitors: It’s fairly easy to drive and park and hike on or near most of these sites. But from the air, these earthly wonders take on a spiritual perfection.
And if you happen to have $39,500 burning a hole in your wallet, the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai is offering an “Ultimate Pop-up Volcano Adventure.” (No, the volcanoes do not “pop up”; however, Kīlauea is an active volcano, spewing lava into the ocean on the regular.)
This super rich, super private experience in on for a limited time, through the end of 2018, and after that, who knows?
A party or family of four takes off in a private helicopter charter from the resort’s golf course, which means no pesky drive to the airport. Once airborne, expect a series of heart-pounding, soul-lifting, potentially tear-inducing flights – first toward the northern side of the island, overlooking black sand beaches, then landing in the Kohala mountains, the oldest of the island’s volcanic peaks.
Next stop: a remote waterfall for lunch, and then whisking along the Hamakua coast toward Hilo. (Okay, you do have to stop in one airport.)
From there, guests are driven to the coast to hike the base of Kīlauea, an active volcano from which millions of gallons of lava gush into the ocean each day.
Upon the return to Hilo, a volcanologist joins the group on the next leg of the tour to answer questions and share inside knowledge about the Kilauea volcano.
The next landing is the last of the day, but it’s not the end of the road by any means.
An overnight stay in the Four Seasons private residence in the rainforest adjacent to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park includes dinner and breakfast from a private chef. An after-hours jaunt to the active volcano, the Kilauea caldera, is the pinnacle of the experience: glowing lava against the night sky.
After breakfast, guests take off from a private ranch for a final helicopter tour of the island from above. Soar over green peaks, rising and falling near cascading waterfalls, such as Hi’ilawe, which at 1,450 feet is one of the tallest in the Hawaiian Islands.
A secluded beach is the last stop on the tour to spend a few hours, enjoy a private lunch, swim and soak up the sun before returning to the resort.
While this adventure certainly qualifies as once in a lifetime, the price tag is likely out of reach for most visitors. Another option is to check out Paradise Helicopters in Kona and Hilo; they offer a variety of tours that hover above much of the same terrain as the Four Seasons-branded experience, at a fraction of the cost.
And if you can’t get there at all, taste the aloha in the Kona coffee from Big Island Coffee Roasters.