If you’re a regular reader of this site, you may be familiar with my love/hate relationship with heights. Of course I appreciate the views that come with being high up in the air (like of Florence, New York City, or Bruges), but I also have some concerns when I think I could fall and hurt myself (like off of elephants, boats, or trapeze platforms).
I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect when Katie and I signed up for a helicopter ride around the island of Kauai, Hawaii. I wondered if it would be rough, if it would feel like a roller coaster ride, if we’d be struggling against the wind, or if I’d be decapitated from the helicopter’s propellers. What I did expect was an amazing once-in-a-lifetime experience.
For an experience like this, we wanted only the best. Everything we read said that Blue Hawaiian Helicopters was the way to go. Not only have they been in business for 28 years, but they also offer a unique experience in an American Eurocopter Eco-Star. The Eco-Star offers a quieter ride, more viewing windows, fuel-efficiency, and individual bucket seats.
After being weighed, we sat through our safety demonstration, were assigned seats, and given belted life jackets. I was seat 1 in our helicopter and Katie was seat 2. This meant we were in first class, up front with the pilot. There were four other New Jersey natives who would be sitting behind us in raised “theater-style” seating. For some reason, knowing they were also from New Jersey made me feel a little better, but I was semi-panicking until the second I sat down in the helicopter. It felt right and I decided to forget about the fear and enjoy the experience.
And enjoy the experience I did. The ride was incredibly smooth, I wasn’t unreasonably scared of dropping at all, and I only remembered we were even in a helicopter once, when we started to dive to get closer to a crater. Barrett, our pilot, was an amazing tour guide and made the ride even more fun with his cheesy jokes which I appreciated. His first joke was when he asked if anyone was scared and when no one responded, said that *he* was.
The island of Kauai is also known as “The Garden Isle” and it’s easy to see why. It is the most undeveloped of the four major Hawaiian islands. One of the most famous features of Kauai is the Na Pali Coast, a 15-mile stretch of cliffs, most higher than the Empire State Building. The day before our helicopter ride, we had taken a boat tour along the coast. From the ocean, we had seen helicopters, zooming in and out of the landscape like tiny wasps. On the day of our helicopter tour, our insignificance against the cliffs was not lost on us. In addition to the Na Pali Coast, we also got views of beautiful beaches, waterfalls, Waimea Canyon (“The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”), and Mt. Waiale’ale, a crater which is designated as the wettest spot on Earth.
Pictures were slightly difficult because of the glare (that’s why they tell you to wear dark colors), but below are some of my favorite views from our flight:
I’m so thankful that we made the decision to see Hawaii from the air. This helicopter ride was a unique travel experience for me and a must-do if you find yourself in the Aloha State. Go ahead. Get Kauai’ed away.
Mahalo to Blue Hawaiian Helicopters for the special rate. Flights are available on Kauai, Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island. At the time of this post, a 55-minute flight on Kauai costs $240/person or $211/person if booked online 5 days in advance. A video of your flight is available for an additional $25. Opinions are always my own.