Where We Be
Kauai is a perfect fit for a helicopter tour since so much of its beauty is inaccessible otherwise
Kauai -- Doors-Off Helicopter Tour
We both agree: our doors-off helicopter tour of
Kauai is one of the ten best travel experiences
we’ve ever had. Yes, it was that good! It's hard
to put into words something as over-the-top
awesome as this was, because words or even
photos or videos can’t capture the visceral
thrill of riding in an open helicopter over some
of the most stunning scenery in the world.

We took the tour with Mauna Loa Helicopters at
a cost of $518 total – and it was worth every
penny in our opinion for the once-in-a-lifetime
views we got of the Garden Island. Since only
20% of Kauai is accessible by car, the other 80%
is best seen by helicopter, so if you ever want
to do a helicopter tour this is the place to do it.
Going on a private tour meant we both had
guaranteed window seats, and flying with the
doors off meant unobstructed views and
photos with no reflective window-glare.

Our pilot took us on a 60-minute “Grand Circle
Island” tour that started and ended at the Lihue
airport. We visited such highlights as Jurassic
Falls, Waimea Canyon, the Na Pali coast, and the
breathtaking Wai'ale'ale Crater – the wettest
spot on earth and also the sight of Kauai’s last
eruption 400,000 years ago. Entering the crater
and staring up at its sheer green walls while
turning in a slow circle turned out to be the
surprise highlight of our whole trip. The words
awe-inspiring are overused on travel websites
but this really was deserving of the description.

We caught the first flight of the day at 8:30 am
and would recommend you do the same to give
yourself the best chance of good weather and
ideal light conditions. If you go with the doors-
off option dress warmly as winds can be strong.
The seat behind the pilot is the best for taking
photos. Motion blur can be an issue so use a
high shutter speed and press gently. And don't
forget to look with just your eyes now and then!
On the ground, in one piece, and ecstatic after one of the best hours we've ever spent
Beyond the green ridges Waimea Canyon comes into view
We climbed aboard our helicopter and took this picture looking across at another helicopter identical to ours except for color
What a remote and spectacular spot!
Grand Canyon of the Pacific
This dry-looking canyon came into being because of the extreme rainfall emanating from the wettest place on earth, Mount Wai-ale-ale
Pretty Hanalei Bay, the largest bay on Kauai's North Shore
Wai'ale'ale Crater was so spectacular it defies words. To our surprise it was the highlight of our trip!
Heading into Kauai's interior, we pass this emerald green mountain
Heading out of Wai'ale'ale Crater we were treated to this lovely view down the valley
Do you remember the scene in Jurassic Park where they see the dinosaurs for the first time? These are the meadows!
Beautiful Wailua Falls -- which you may recognize from the opening credits of the TV show "Fantasy Island"
Banking sharply for our landing
The early morning sunlight makes these green mountains even more magical
Wow! Twin Falls near Hanalei as seen from our helicopter.
We head into Wai'ale'ale Crater, one of the greenest and wettest spots on earth
The slow circle our helicopter pilot performed inside the crater was superb
It's hard to believe water and erosion were enough to create this miracle in rock
The Na Pali cliffs come into view as we swing around to Kauai's western coast
Looking straight down at the rugged coastline
Pretty beaches here if only you could reach them!
Look at that circular wash tub in the rocks!
Now we're northwest of Kauai looking back at the Na Pali coast
What a great overview of the Garden Island in all its variety!
Green mountainsides fill up most of the front window view
Waimea means "reddish waters" -- the result of all that red soil erosion
These are the falls made famous by the movie Jurassic Park. Their real name is Manawaiopuna Falls but most just call them Jurassic Falls.
Some tours let you descend onto a helipad next to Jurassic Falls!
Kauai's southern coastline comes into view
It's windy if you choose the doors-off option but your views are unobstructed and it feels more adventurous!
Our helicopter pilot, Coleman, looked young but he was highly capable and professional
Coleman did a fantastic job of flying and occasionally narrating during our hour-long tour. We
could communicate through our headphones, pressing a button on our seats if we wanted to speak.
And we're off!
It's fun sitting together in the back seat so you can share the experience
This glorious string of waterfalls is accessible only by helicopter
That is one secluded beach
All smiles!
During our early morning drive to Lihue we couldn't resist stopping to take this photo of the dawn's early light on the mountains