Take a helicopter tour! Although it is a splurge, seeing Kauai by helicopter is a fun and exciting way to see the Hawaiian island’s vastly diverse natural beauty.
There are a plethora of helicopter tour companies. In doing research on the internet as well as consulting with the Hawaii/Kauai tourism board, one outfitter stood out for us: Jack Harter Helicopters.
Jack Harter started offering tours of Kauai in 1962. The company has evolved over the years and now provides incredible 60 and 90 minute long trips on two different types of helicopters. One is a “traditional” helicopter that has the floor to ceiling windows for six passengers to enjoy. The other allows four passengers to see the landscape WITH DOORS OFF! Naturally, Tom and I went for the latter!
Upon check-in for the 60-minute tour, we were weighed in (to balance the helicopter with the pilot and all four passengers). Next, we had a safety brief on our way to the aircraft. Since we were touring in the doors off the helicopter, all items needed to be secured. Cameras are required to have either a wrist or neck strap. This will prevent passengers from losing expensive equipment. More importantly, it protects the helicopter. In addition to the helicopter’s top blade, there is a rear one. If an item were to fly out of the cabin accidentally, it could damage the blade, and that would not be good. No one wants this!
Once all four of us passengers were securely fastened into our seats, we set off for a fantastic 60-minute tour of Kauai. Upon takeoff, Tom and I knew we were in for an experience of a lifetime. The visibility with doors off the cabin was naturally amazing. Also, there was a touch of fear factor with the doors off. Even though we were securely strapped in, we felt that not only were we on a fantastic sightseeing tour, we were also having an adventurous experience. With the wind whipping through the cabin and the helicopter turning to give passengers on both sides incredible views, our hearts were pounding! If you have longer hair, be sure to tie it back securely. Also, it can get chilly with the wind and elevation. Be sure to wear a thick sweater or jacket.
Jason was our pilot and guide. With our two-way noise reduction headsets, we were able to communicate throughout the flight. We saw and learned so much about Kauai. Our tour began up the west coast of the island. The west portion of the island is mostly inaccessible over land, making a helicopter tour a great way to see Kauai. We saw the stunning Waimea Canyon, Kauai’s own “Grand Canyon.” We flew over the famous “Jurassic Park” waterfall. A portion of the tour was over water as we approached the Napali Coast. Jason pointed out countless whales. It was incredible that we could see the animals so clearly from a helicopter.
Kauai truly deserves its’ nickname of “The Garden Isle.” Tom and I witnessed a huge array of plant life, trees, canyons, and waterfalls. Flying over the North Shore and Hanalei Valley, we saw spectacular rice and taro fields. On the southwest side of the island between Kalaheo and Hanapepe, we enjoyed seeing Kauai Coffee Plantation, the largest coffee plantation in the United States. Jason circled us around Mr. Waialeale, Kauai’s second highest point, which is considered one of the wettest spots on Earth. The east side of the island hosts many ranches. And upon our return to the airport, we saw the famous Wailua Falls (otherwise known to us “older people” as Fantasy Island waterfalls).
Tom and I have been on amazing adventures and seen incredible sights. Our tour of Kauai with Jack Harter Helicopters is one of the most exciting things we have done. Not only did we have a fantastic sightseeing tour, but we also got a bit of an adrenaline rush! We cannot speak more highly of our experience and wholeheartedly recommend a Jack Harter helicopter tour to all! You will not be disappointed!
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