The Best Helicopter Tour in Kauai
This helicopter tour of the Na'Pali Coast in Kauai was by far my favorite activity we did during our entire visit to the Hawaiian islands. I had so many questions before we booked like was it worth the cost, was it safe, what should I wear, and what time of day should we go? I have all of those answers for you in this post.
First off, I am so happy I booked with Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours. They offer a private helicopter tour so you are guaranteed a window seat, which was obviously important to me in order to get all of these pictures.
Did you feel safe?
Our pilot was so amazing and made sure we felt perfectly safe and comfortable. We opted to fly with the doors off, and Dan may disagree since he does not like heights, but I thought this made the experience that much more incredible! It actually made me feel safer because I could feel the wind keeping us up in the air and inside the helicopter.
What should you wear?
Since we flew with the doors off, it was very important to wear warm layers. It is very cold and windy once you are up in the air, so I was super thankful for my jacket and leggings. Closed toe shoes are must, as well.
For my hair, I tied it back in a pony tail and tucked it inside my jacket, however, I still had a few tangles when we landed. I had wondered what to do with my camera bag and other belongings. Conveniently, there was a closed compartment under my seat where I could store my them.
What camera and lens did you use?
Dan brought his GoPro and I used my Sony A7Rii with my standard 35mm prime lens. I'm actually really glad that I didn't bring a wide angle lens, but it's up to you and your style. We kept our iPhones tucked away, but if you do want to use your phone you will need to figure out a way to strap it to your body. We saw these waterproof lanyard cases everywhere in Hawaii, which may be a good option.
When should you book the tour?
Weather in Kauai is extremely variable. It rains pretty much every day somewhere on the island, which is why it is so green and lush with stunning waterfalls around every corner.
For this reason, it is highly recommended that you book your tour as early in your trip as possible. We booked for our first day in Kauai so that if the weather did not cooperate, we had a better chance of rescheduling.
I also searched every website and forum available trying to figure out what time of day would have the best weather and best lighting for photos. Basically there is no right answer...
However, I did learn that the Na'Pali Coast has better lighting in the afternoon, so we booked our tour for 2:30 PM. We got sooo lucky, it was so sunny and beautiful when we got to the coast. Minutes after we passed the best parts though, rain clouds moved in totally altering the scene.
By Land, Air or Sea?
We were lucky to experience the Na'Pali Coast by air and sea, which I'll discuss in my next post. We had planned to hike the Kalalau Trail as well. Unfortunately, the flooding which I wrote about here, severely impacted the trail and I'm not sure when it will be re-opened.
If I had to choose one way though, I would pick by helicopter. Seriously, it was just that amazing. I made a point several times to put my camera down and just be present for the experience. Have you ever been on a helicopter tour? Let me know where in the comments!