Also known as the Garden Island, Kauai is the oldest Hawaiian Island and the ultimate destination for nature lovers. Complete with mountains, valleys, cliffs, waterfalls, rainforests, and long stretches of golden sand, this enchanted paradise has been featured in a long list of movies, from “South Pacific” and “Blue Hawaii” to “King Kong,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”
Because nearly 90% of Kauai’s geography remains inaccessible by road, an aerial vantage point may offer the ideal way to witness the scope of its beauty. Here, we highlight the most established, best-rated Kauai helicopter tour companies on this breathtaking island. Per-person prices for most of these tours range from around $250 to $300.
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
Blue Hawaiian currently has a Discover Kauai tour option, which departs from the Princeville Airport and takes passengers on a 45-minute flight over the Hanapepe Valley, Manawaiopuna Falls (nicknamed Jurassic Falls because of its appearance in several “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World” films), Olokele Canyon, Waimea Canyon (also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific), the 3,000-foot-tall sea cliffs of the Na Pali Coast, the famous Bali Hai cliffs, and stunning Hanalei Bay.
Blue Hawaiian’s Kauai Eco Adventure, which leaves from the Lihue Airport and involves a 50- to 55-minute flight, enables passengers to see all of the above plus Mt. Waialeale, which averages about 450 inches of rain per year, making it one of the wettest spots on Earth. Weather permitting, a flight above it provides a view of its crater, which has 5,000-foot walls and spectacular 3,000-foot waterfalls.
Among Blue Hawaiian’s distinctions:
- This company seems to have the highest passenger reviews.
- They proudly advertise their use of Eco-Star helicopters (for panoramic views from every seat), their noise-cancelling headsets, and the fact that all their pilots are State of Hawaii Certified Tour Guides.
- In some cases, they offer a discounted internet price for clients who book at least five days in advance.
Jack Harter Helicopters
Departing from Lihue Airport, Jack Harter Helicopters’ flights pass over Nawiliwili Harbor, the infamous Menehune Fishpond, gorgeous Kipu Kai beach (featured in the movie “The Descendants”), the renowned Tree Tunnel, Hanapepe Valley and Manawaiopuna Falls, Olokele and Waimea Canyons, the Na Pali cliffs, Hanalei Bay and Hanalei Valley, Mt. Waialeale, and Wailua Falls. They have one tour consisting of 60 to 65 minutes in the air, as well as a 90-minute tour that involves more detailed exploration of the same sights. They also have clearance from the FAA to fly at the lowest altitudes permitted for air tours and provide two-way communication with their pilots, who are able to share information about Kauai’s history and scenery during the flight.
Why this company gets a recommendation:
- In operation since 1962, they earned a “Best of Kauai” award as recently as 2017.
- They have not only six-passenger helicopters that offer a more luxurious experience with great visibility for all, but four-passenger helicopters for those who prefer a doors-off tour.
- They also have the option of better rates for reservations made on the internet.
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Safari Helicopters Hawaii
Safari Helicopters wisely recommends that travelers book an air adventure during the early part of their trip to Kauai, to get a sense of the island as a whole and see what they’d like to explore further. Located at the Lihue Airport, they provide a Deluxe Waterfall Safari of approximately one hour, with a full view of the magnificence of the Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, and Mt. Waialeale. Their Refuge Eco Tour adds on a 40-minute stop in a wildlife refuge with a view of Olokele Canyon.
Notable points about this business:
- They earned a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in 2017.
- They’ve had no safety issues in their 30 years of operation.
- Like Jack Harter Helicopters, they have FAA clearance to fly at low altitudes to maximize views.
Last but not least, Sunshine Helicopters was established on Kauai 25 years ago. Their Ultimate Kauai Adventure Tour explores the grandeur of the Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, Wailua Falls, and Mt. Waialeale, for a total of about 50 to 55 minutes in the air.
What sets them apart:
- They have two types of helicopters, and passengers have the choice of open or first-class seating in either.
- They also give passengers the option of purchasing a video of their exact flight experience.
- They offer discounted prices for tours that depart before 8:30 a.m. or after 2 p.m.
Whichever tour company you choose, a Kauai helicopter flight is sure to be an incredible, memorable adventure!