I’ll be the first to tell you that heights really aren’t my thing, so it might shock you that Dane and I took a helicopter tour on our latest trip to the beautiful Hawaiian Island of Maui.
I was terrified. Specifically, us spiraling out of control and reaching a watery death or one of the propellors getting caught on a sea cliff and us hanging there in a mangled mess. I watch too many movies, I know. But that’s what I had in my head. I also had visions of becoming violently ill, coating the tiny cabin in vomit and annoying the heck out of the pilot. Like I said – my mind goes wild. In any case, none of those things happened, we had THE BEST TIME and now I’m wondering when I can go again. Seriously. So, if you are considering booking a helicopter tour here in Hawaii (or really anywhere), I’m breaking it all down today.
One of the things I had initial concerns about was the helicopter itself. Would I become claustrophobic? Would it feel like I was going to fall out? The list went on and on here. The answer is simply – none of the above. After hearing some of Dane’s Army stories about helicopters I was pleasantly surprised. The tour company we chose operates Eco-Star and A-Star helicopters that are climate controlled (hello air conditioning), extra quiet and offer a smooth ride (we had zero bumps). We flew on an Eco-Star and were able to talk to the pilot through microphones in our headsets so we could request to go over more beaches, linger around whales, etc., plus getting updated on what we were seeing helped keep my mind off being so. high. up. It was really nice, but if you’re hesitant like I am – do your research on companies. Most reputable companies have their safety regulations and observances listed clearly on their website. I was really concerned about safety, so believe me – I understand being nervous!
So now onto the tour itself – book early. We knew we would only be on Maui for a short time, so our timing was already limited, and we wanted to make sure we got a chance to go. Helicopter tours here in Hawaii tend to book up pretty quickly so if you know for sure it’s something you want to do – set it and forget it..until it’s time to tour that is 😉
At booking, you’ll need to know the route you want to take in your tour. The folks at Blue Hawaiian Helicopters were super accommodating and offered multiple flights times and routes to choose from. We ended up on the Maui to Molokai Sea Cliffs tour and it was – hands down – one of the best things we’ve ever seen/done here in the islands. More on that later, but a full list of their tours and booking information can be found here.
Next, plan your outfit. The windows in your helicopter are clean, but wearing light colored clothing bounces off the reflection and will show up in photos – BOO! We didn’t know about this until after we had taken our tour (bummer), but I was able to edit our reflections out of the photos we took thankfully. Now I know for next time – a full black jumpsuit.
And speaking of outfits – the cabins of the Blue Hawaiian Helicopters are all air conditioned and dare I say – kind of chilly, particularly if you have been out in the sun! So be sure to pack a dark colored sweatshirt if you get cold easily.
Now some FAQ that I got:
Was it bumpy? No, not at all! In fact, I was really nervous about this, because of the aforementioned dramatic life-ending scenarios I had played out in my head, but it wasn’t at all. While flying toward Molokai’s Cliffs and some waterfalls, I definitely felt the wind from the propellors bouncing off the cliffs and reverberating back against our aircraft, but I never once felt sick.
Was it small inside? Yes. It’s a 5 seat helicopter, but it’s not too small, if that makes sense? Basically, you can’t flail around in there and there’s certainly no getting up and walking around, but the space was adequate for sitting for 50 minutes and snapping photos.
Did you feel like you were going to fall out? No, never. Plus, you are required to watch a safety video at the very beginning that details (multiple times) how to put your seatbelt on, make sure it’s tight and so on. Plus, the workers make sure every person is buckled in securely before allowing the next person to get inside.
Was it even worth it since you didn’t have the doors off? This question came from a photographer friend and I have never been a doors-open helicopter, so I can’t give you an answer here. All I can say is that given some tweaking in Lightroom and Photoshop, and the fact that I’m not a professional photographer, I love my photos.
Seeing whales playing from above? Amazing!
I know that when you’re on vacation and you’re trying to determine what activities are worth it and which ones are just a ploy to take your money – it can be really difficult. I can honestly say that taking a helicopter tour was worth it. Not only could we see sites that are only accessible from the air (Molokai Sea Cliffs, breaching whales, reefs, etc), we got some really amazing photos that we will keep for years to come. I cannot recommend a helicopter tour enough for anyone visiting the Hawaiian Islands!
Have you ever taken a helicopter tour? Where did you go?