The sweet icing on our Hawaiian honeymoon adventure was flying above the waterfalls, canyons and jagged cliffs of Kauai. Putting aside my slightly claustrophobic tendencies to strap into a wee little flying craft and soar over this luscious, ‘Garden Isle’ was proof that some of the best things in life come from taking your fear by the short and curlies.
Despite said apprehension, I had originally wanted to take a helicopter trip with the doors off (for best photos of o’course!), but as is often my fly-by-seat (soz about that) way, they were all booked out when. So we reserved first class tickets (means you sit up front with the pilot) at Sunshine Helicopters instead. Leaving it a little late had its benefits though, as Kauai is the green isle for a reason – it rains here a lot and flights were cancelled on our first couple of days on the island. Despite a mild bit of spitting on the windscreen at one point, we had clear skies and low wind, allowing us to reach even the highest point of Kauai, where we skimmed over the wild mountain peaks with views out to the coast.
This is Jurassic Park country (like, they actually filmed it here), and one of the first tree-topped plains that we hovered over was where the main T-Rex chase scene was shot. But the real exhilaration came for me as we began to glide closer and closer to the mountains, drifting up and over the crests of these grand beauties. We began to turn past waterfalls that spilled into blue pools below. Waterfalls, lush vegetation, a goddamn rainbow – are you kidding me?! I was elated.
Before long our young pilot Matt, who spoke with a Hawaiian surfer accent (like if someone was doing sign language along to him, it would probs be one shaka after another) was navigating us through the valleys of Waimea Canyon with its sloping ochre rock dusted in contrasting greenery. We had stood before the canyon at the tourist lookout the day before, but from the air you got a better sense of the vastness of this 10 mile (16 kms) long, 3,000 feel high gorge.
I can pretty accurately pin my desire to go to Hawaii on the images I have seen of the Nepali Coast on Kauai. My heart attaches to mountains. They are a vivid, towering reminder that the world is immense and beautiful and so much bigger than the little world of my day-to-day concerns. I feel giddy and overwhelmed by them in the best possible way. So the coast-side green-clad jagged peaks of Kauai felt like a bit of a pilgrimage I’ve been wanting to take for some time. Next time I plan to walk them, but to fly into the their very valleys was an unspeakable excitement for this nature geek.
Taking a turn out to the ocean, excitement gathered in the helicopter as two whales playfully started slapping and twisting and waving at us! The pilot said they weren’t usually around that early, “but, we’ll take it!” So, here we were, gliding past the Napali Coast – one of the world’s most incredible mountain vistas to one side, straight ocean off to the other – in which whales were dancing about below us. When people say that taking a helicopter here is a ‘must-do thing’, or whatever, LISTEN!
The final feature to the tour was ascending to the pinnacle of Kauai. As we flew higher and higher we came to a lofty mountain face. The nose of the helicopter pointed towards it and we rose up steadily. Up here it was sprinkling. But Matt was confident and he rose up to the tip of the pike and we flew over, into an elevated wonderland that felt like a secret oasis. It was breathtaking. As we made towards home base, we couldn’t stop grinning. Bashful, kid-in-a-candy-store grins.
The deets: Our one hour tour with Sunshine Helicopters cost us around US$200 each. We also splurged and spent $60 on a video of the trip, because once our feet were on land, we knew that may well have been one of the most amazing experiences of our lives. Sunshine were great – the whole experience was easy and the staff were friendly Kauai locals who knew the island intimately. Nah, this is not an affiliate post, just my two cents.
Have you been on a helicopter or small plane trip somewhere in the world? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below, as I really want to do more!
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