I’m nowhere near exaggerating. If you haven’t seen Hawaii by helicopter, you truly haven’t seen Hawaii.
It took me four trips to Hawaii to decide to do a helicopter ride. Why? I have no idea. I love adventure and I wish I had booked a flight on my first trip!
I can’t even call it a flight. It was an experience. Seriously, I have put off writing this blog because I do not think I have the writing capability to truly express how incredible our flight was. Let alone chose pics. I have soooo many. How do I chose which ones to share when they’re all so awe-inspiring?! Apologies in advance for the huge amount of photos below..
We were welcomed by Daniel at Paradise Helicopters at Turtle Bay Resort in Oahu who went over the all-important safety briefing and got us checked in. We upgraded from our original Magnum PI replica helicopter flight with doors off (absolute must) and a scenic landing (more on that later).
We jumped in our awesome Magnum PI helicopter and met Josh, our rad pilot. This dude has been flying for years and in his own words said that while it will never make him rich, he loves coming to work everyday. Side note – I might just leave my job and become a Helicopter Pilot in Hawaii! Okay, that’s a little overboard, I can’t fly and I don’t have a visa, but it would be an incredible thing to do every day!
My adrenaline was pumping when we took off and turned back towards Oahu. I was beyond excited. I’ve been in a helicopter before but never with the doors off, it’s something else entirely. The wind rushes everywhere, you have a completely clear view out across the landscape and there’s the excitement of knowing that you’re bloody high up in the air and there’s nothing between you and outside!!
Add to that Josh’s soundtrack, perfectly crafted over the years to match every move that you take. From the Magnum PI soundtrack when you take off to Gilligan’s Island soundtrack when you fly over where it was filmed to a Hawaiian local tune about flying over the ocean, he’s got it down pat.
Oh I forgot to mention. Daniel will offer you a hoody for during the flight. Even if it is hot, take the damn hoody. It is fairly cool with the wind tickling you up in the air. You’ll thank me (and Daniel) later.
So we flew from Turtle Bay across the island towards Honolulu airport. If you think that scenery is amazing (think solar / wind farms, pineapple plantations, valleys, coastline and a pineapple maze) then you’ve got another thing coming! We landed at Honolulu Airport to be cleared for take-off (did I mention we flew right over Pearl Harbour and live Navy and Army Bases? Wow.) and fly low and far across the runway before zipping up into the air and turning so that the helicopter is nearly on its side, SO COOL!! The whole time Josh is jumping in with snippets of info and stories and as I’ve learnt, this is uber important to understanding the local culture and history.
We flew in low across the Waikiki shoreline. Spectacular, head up over Diamond Head and across Hanauma Bay and other Oahu sights. Then the special part. The scenic landing. As Kua Loa Ranch came into view my heart immediately sped up. This is one of my favourite places in the whole world. At the risk of sounding silly, the land has a really special feeling to it. It’s utterly breathtaking and magnificent and as the Hawaiian’s say, it has Tapu. Meaning it is sacred and special land. This is where Jurassic Park was filmed along with King Kong, Lost, 50 First Dates and scores of other titles you would recognise. The mountains are rugged, lush green and peaked sharply. This, is our secret scenic landing. I can barely describe how I felt flying in. It was almost overwhelming. Here we were in a freaking Helicopter, hovering among the clouds, coming in to land on a tiny flat spot of land on a mountain peak in the valley. One of the most spectacular landscapes in the world, with a deep history and recent fame in Hollywood movies and we were landing in a spot where few had been before us. We had two minutes to sit and let this sink in as the helicopter motor cooled down.
We hopped out onto the small plain and stared in awe. I took time out to just sit and look out and admire the view and be grateful for having the opportunity to have such an experience. Then we took photos. LOADS of photos. And then loads more. Josh took a hilarious panorama which has us in it three times – too good. We sat up there a fair amount of time. Josh told us about some of the proposals he had seen and people we might recognise who has also shared this trip. All too soon (although it was prob 30-40 mins) it was time to go. I would have happily been left up there for hours. Or even days with a tent and some supplies! Ha!
At takeoff, Josh asked if we wanted the quiet or the exciting take-off. Exciting was the resounding answer – duhh! I actually screamed with excitement – I know this because there’s a video. It was one of the most exciting things I have done! Adrenaline was pumping again and we were soaring among the peaks, straight over to a glorious, gigantic, waterfall! This waterfall was insane, cascading down from the top of the peak right down into the gully and guess where we went? Yup, right down in there.
It was at this point that my phone died. I wasn’t upset about it, in fact, I highly recommend it. I spent the rest of the flight listening to Josh intently and being (possibly overly) excited about what we were looking at. There were reefs and sandbars, islands and mountains, cliffs and plantations.
I can’t say I wasn’t slightly disappointed when we landed, I didn’t want the tour to end. It is one of the best travel activities I have ever done, and I have traveled a lot!
*While this tour was discounted, this review is completely authentic and true. I am lost for words to describe what an incredible experience this was. Thanks Paradise Helicopters, you rock!