Well I have done it! I have officially found THE most amazing travel experience. Have you been to Kauai? Can you guess it?
The entire island is amazing, stunningly beautiful, with diverse landscapes and fluted mountains as the backdrop to one fabulous beach after another. But you simply cannot see it all by car. There is basically only one road that goes around the island and even more than that it stops short of going completely around. The entire Na Pali coast line is without roads and that is perhaps the most beautiful part.
You can see a lot of the island by boat, particularly the Na Pali coast but there is so much more to the island. There are waterfalls that you cannot access, a huge portion of Waimea Canyon that is difficult to traverse, Mt Waiale'ale, known as one of the wettest places on earth and home to more waterfalls than a person could possibly count and so much more. So how on Earth do you enjoy ALL of Kauai?? Like this....
Had you guessed it already? I heard that a helicopter ride was a must do and honestly that is why I pushed past my silly worries about the ride and decided to do it. We picked Blue Hawaiian helicopters as I chatted with several people that had gone with them before, they operate on all the islands and I have personally seen them flying around especially during our lava flow in Pahoa last year, and because quite honestly the helicopters looked new, clean and safe!
I have been known to be a bit of a worrier when it comes to adventure type activities. (see our scuba diving posts for more on that) I knew I wanted to do the helicopter tour but as we got closer to the departure I became increasingly nervous. All the most ridiculous scenarios went through my mind of terrible things that could happen.
The day we flew I was still feeling nervous but decided I am doing it no matter what so it will just have to be what it is. When we lifted off I definitely had some butterflies in my stomach but it was so smooth, slow and stunning right away that all my nerves faded away.
The pilot was really great, introduced himself and chatted with us the whole time, narrating where we were and what he was doing as well as just chatting to know a bit more about us. He was knowledgeable and fun! The communication was definitely one of the nicest parts of the tour.
As soon as you get in the chopper they help buckle you in to a 5 point harness and then get you set up with comfortable Bose noise canceling headphones and a handheld two way communication device.
We lifted off and even though there was some rain and some wind at times it always felt really safe. The craft itself is an Eco star helicopter that seats 6 including the pilot so it's a nice intimate group. There are loads of viewing surfaces and more personal space than I would have thought. It is also climate controlled although I did find it a bit warm inside at times.
It is hard to put into words just how incredible Kauai is by air but I can say without a doubt that this helicopter flight is the one thing you absolutely must do while visiting this stunning island. During this flight you will see the Jurassic park waterfall, Hanapepe Valley, Waimea canyon, the Na Pali coast, Kalalau Valley, Bali Hai mountain, Hanalei Bay, Tunnels beach, and Mt. Waiale'ale (otherwise known as the wettest place on Earth). There are also countless waterfalls and so much more.
All of the components of the flight were amazing but my personal favorite was Mt. Waiale'ale. We flew in and then hovered inside the extinct crater for at least 10 minutes awe struck at the beauty all around us. The walls tower above and below you as they are over 5,000 feet high. It is known as the wettest place on Earth, raining on average 450 to 500 inches of rainfall each year. Basically it never ever stops raining! It was amazing!
The tour ends with a photo op in front of the chopper using your camera, no extra charge. Another opportunity is to purchase the video and recording from the multiple cameras outside the chopper, 1 inside the chopper, as well as the recording of the conversations in the helicopter during your flight. This is an extra charge and you are able to preview it to be sure it is something you are interested in.
It is a pretty hefty expense to do a helicopter tour of Kauai but it is absolutely worth every penny so don't skip it just to save money if at all possible!
Here are a few tips to maximize your enjoyment:
- Wear DARK clothes, and by that I mean all black if possible. Any light color in clothing will reflect off the glass ruining your photos or those of the other passengers. I cannot stress this point enough. I had multiple shots wrecked due to the reflections of other people's clothing.
- Take some anti nausea medicine if you are even remotely prone to motion sickness. The helicopter will sway and dip a bit and especially if you are taking photos the motion sickness comes on quickly
- Wear lightweight clothing. The cabin is climate controlled but I found it a bit warm still.
- Don't stress ahead of time, it really is far less scary than what you may build up in your mind.
Have you flown in a helicopter? Where was it? Did you enjoy it? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!