Going to Hawaii? I hope you will visit Kauai, known as “The Garden Island.”
It’s perhaps the most beautiful place on earth.
Great, you’re visiting Kauai? You have to go on a helicopter tour. Seeing the entire island by helicopter is a must, even if it means saving for another month or two before making your trip.
Now… you’ve found out there are a dozen helicopter tour operators. Which one to choose? Take my advice, because as a skydiver, I have a lot of small aircraft experience. I’m very safety-oriented, and you should be, too. So don’t go for the cheapest tour (that often means cutting corners to cut costs!).
After my experience this week, I can recommend 100% that you fly with Island Helicopters. Their prices are very reasonable, considering you are flying with one of the safest operators on the island. You will fly in a well-maintained aircraft piloted by the best, and it’s all organized very professionally.
Thanks to the whole staff, especially my pilot Isaac! Even with a bit of turbulence, I felt completely safe with him at the controls.
Now, what will you see? Everything. The tour circles the entire island! Many of the areas are inaccessible by car, and would take days of tough hiking to reach by foot (if possible to reach at all). I did manage to duplicate one of the helicopter views while hiking – it was 11 miles on foot and nearly a whole day. There were dozens of views like this in under an hour on the heli tour!
Here are a few key vistas that really struck me, although you might have a different favorite spot.
The archway that James Bond flew through in “The Man with the Golden Gun,” on the nearly-inaccessible Na Pali coast:
Manawaiopuna Falls, a private waterfall used in the beginning of “Jurassic Park”:
You can also take a helicopter tour that lands at Jurassic Falls, and have your picture taken there. This tour is only available through Island Helicopters, as they have an exclusive deal with the private landowner!
The tour with the landing costs (as of this writing) $299 on Spring Special, as opposed to $178 for the standard 50-60min “Deluxe Tour.” But if you’re a movie buff, waterfall fan, or just want to do something special – this waterfall landing tour is for you!
Here’s another unreal coastline view:
And in case you need more convincing, here’s Wailua Falls. I had driven there the day before. The view from the lookout (where you see the road in this photo) was really disappointing, so I was thrilled to have this amazing view from the helicopter!
Why do I recommend a helicopter tour? Because it’s the most amazing thing I’ve done on the islands so far!
Why fly with Island Helicopters? Their excellent safety record. A fantastic helicopter with the biggest windows. Custom left-side pilot seat so you get a better view (flying clockwise around the island). Their focus on safety throughout the trip. Friendly and professional staff. BOSE noise cancelling headsets with pilot narration. Exclusive Jurassic Falls landing. Did I mention great safety record?
There must be a reason that this company has been hired to fly camera for movies such as Jurassic Park, Tropic Thunder, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Six Days/Seven Nights, and many more. Good enough for feature films = an awesome tour for your digital SLR! Note, all the pictures in this article were taken by me on the tour with my Nikon D90 / 18-200mm VR. So with a bit of care, you can really get some great shots.
If you do go to Kauai and try a helicopter tour, please let me know how you liked it! I hope you’ll have the same amazing experience that I did with Island Helicopters.
Disclaimer: this article is a promotion for Island Helicopters. However, all my opinions of the flight and the operation are unbiased judgments based on my experience.