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via Island Helicopters
Top: JCPenney Tiered Ruffle Tank – wearing XSPetite (similar – so pretty!)
Bottom: Express Raw Cut White Shorts – wearing 0 (heard great things about this one)
Shoes: Nike ‘Free’ (similar)
Earrings: BaubleBar ‘Pinata’ Tassels
I’m so excited to be sharing another one of my Kauai adventures with you all today! This one was by far my favorite and there’s really no other word to describe it other than EPIC. This was my first time visiting Kauai and in every guide book that I had read, they all highly recommended the helicopter ride. We booked our Kauai helicopter rides for our second day on the island and it was the perfect way to get an overview of the island and orient ourselves for the next few days of our trip. I could barely sleep the night before as I was so looking forward to it!
First a bit of background in case you missed it before. Kauai is the oldest and northernmost Hawaiian island; it’s also known as the “Garden Isle” and for good reason as so much of the island is lush and green! There is so much to Kauai to see including incredible waterfalls, plunging cliffs, and expansive canyons that simply aren’t accessible any other way except by helicopter. We booked our Kauai helicopter rides with Island Helicopter and they are the only company that actually lands at Manawaiopuna Falls. These falls were made famous in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster movie Jurassic Park and are commonly called Jurassic Falls for that reason. To set foot at the base of the falls is truly an experience of a lifetime. Be sure to keep on reading for all the details of our ride below!
This was my first time every in a helicopter and I was glad that Island Helicopters placed so much importance on safety. The company has been providing Kauai helicopter rides from Kauai’s Lihue Airport longer than any other company — over 37 years!! The passenger Airbus helicopters seat 6 passengers (2 in front, 4 in back) and there are custom floor-to-ceiling windows to allow for panoramic views. Weather can be a bit unpredictable on Kauai (it was actually raining when we had our ride) so I was glad that they had “doors-on” helicopter rides. Before boarding the helicopter, we actually had to get weighed to ensure an FAA approved weight balance which is imperative for the safety of the flight. I was a little surprised at first when I had to step on the scale (I was thinking I probably shouldn’t have eaten all of my Kalbi short ribs at breakfast earlier, lol!) but safety first!
Meanwhile, once we were all strapped in and performed a soundcheck with our headphones, we were off! Can I just say that as a first-timer to helicopters, it was kinda surreal to just lift off vertically and suddenly be airborne — I felt like I was floating!
The incredible aerial views began immediately and our pilot, Gary, put on some very well-timed music for us to listen to on our headphones — it really helped build the atmosphere and excitement for the whole ride! We started off with views of Kalapaki Beach, Nawiliwili Harbor, and the Menehune Fish Pond, before proceeding south over the Hoary Head Mountain where we saw Kipu Ranch, Kilohana Crater, and the Tree Tunnel. It wasn’t long before we were flying through Hanapepe Valley and witnessing first-hand the amazing tropical forests and cascading waterfalls.
Then, the theme song to Jurassic Park came on and before we knew it, the valley opened up and we had a stunning view of the incredible Jurassic Falls. That very moment seemed straight out of a movie, and I’ll never forget the rush of emotions that came over me as I took in the beauty of everything at that moment. I’m not usually one who gets really emotional (I rarely cry when watching movies) so it was definitely a surprise just how surreal it felt!
Manawaiopuna Falls, aka “Jurassic Falls”
Island Helicopters is the only company that is allowed to actually land on-site at the falls. And trust me, it is worth it!! The falls are actually on private land and only in the last few years did they open up access to the area! But still, access is very limited and you’ll notice that we were required to wear shoe covers to ensure that we didn’t track in any seeds or other environmental factors into the area. The helicopter lands on a small grass clearing near the base of the falls and after a brief 5-minute hike in, we were met with the grandiose beauty of Jurassic Falls.
photo credit: Susie of Susie Drinks Dallas
Standing close to the Jurassic Falls, feeling the mist of water against my skin and hearing the roar of rushing water as it plunged down the rocky cliff was absolutely incredible. Again, there are no words to describe the feeling of awe and inspiration that I felt!
After making it back to the helicopter, we were back off and touring the rest of the island! Next up was the Waimea Canyon, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” (it’s 10 mi long and 3000 ft deep). Waimea is Hawaiian for “reddish water” and you can see that the soil here does have a rich red hue resulting from water erosion over the years.
Next up came the spectacular Na Pali coast! Na Pali means “the cliffs” and literally the coastline is marked by sheer cliffs that rise up dramatically from the water. This side of the island is largely inaccessible due to the terrain and the land is very much untouched as it was centuries ago. It’s no wonder that this coast has been in movies such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, King Kong, and South Pacific.
The rain stopped and we caught the most beautiful rainbows!
If you do one thing in Kauai, make it this!! It can be a bit pricey, but completely worth it! It was hands-down the best experience I had on the trip (and honestly probably in all of my travels). There is simply no better way to experience the beauty and majesty that is Kauai without going on a helicopter. Being able to see up close the varied terrain of the island is incredible. Our 2-hour ride was super smooth and I loved the music as well as personal narration from our great pilot, Gary. The experience was once-in-a-lifetime and one that I will never forget! This is truly a bucket-list experience if it’s not on yours yet!
What To Wear:
- dark-colored clothing (light colors can reflect in the helicopter windows and can show up in pictures)
- light rain jacket (optional but nice to have)
- closed-toe shoes
What To Bring:
- Dramamine (optional but in case you get motion sickness)
- cash for gratuity
* Recommend booking flights for early morning as weather is generally calmer.
I’d love to know if you’ve ever been in a helicopter before! How was your trip?
And thinking about visiting Kauai? Be sure to check out my other posts!
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Thank you so much to to the Kauai Visitors Bureau for sponsoring this unforgettable press trip. #kauaidiscovery