Hawaii is a place like no other in the United States. These tropical, volcanic islands provide unique sights, beautiful beaches, and incredible cultural spots that you can find anywhere in the world. Among the most breathtaking islands is Kauai, known as the Garden Isle. One of the most popular ways to explore this area is with Kauai helicopter tours.
Let’s take a closer look at this fantastic experience and some of the top companies that provide it.
Where Is Kauai?
Kauai is one of the Hawaiian Islands, located in the Pacific Ocean roughly 2,600 miles from the west coast of the continental United States. It’s the westernmost of the major Hawaiian islands, with only the smaller Ni’ihau further west.
Kauai is located about 75 miles from the island of Oahu, the most populated Hawaiian island and home to the capital of Honolulu.
Why Should You Take a Kauai Helicopter Tour?
Quite simply, if you want to see most of this beautiful island, you’ll need to take to the air. Kauai’s geology demands it – soaring volcanic mountain ranges, dramatic canyons, and dense jungles in between make travel around the Garden Isle somewhat tricky.
This means roads are somewhat limited, and tours by boat miss significant portions of the island’s interior. Helicopter tours provide views of areas that can’t be seen any other way and a speedy, efficient way to see large portions of the island in a relatively short period.
The Best Kauai Helicopter Tours for Breathtaking Views
With all this in mind, we’ve sized up all the options for Kauai helicopter tours. Here are the five best choices for this once-in-a-lifetime experience.
1. Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours
Address: 3730 Ahukini Rd, Lihue Heliport #8, Lihue, HI 96766
About: Blue Hawaiian Helicopters has been taking visitors through the skies of Kauai for more than 35 years. The company has been recognized for its amazing Kauai tours by Tripadvisor, Frommers, and National Geographic and has extensive safety certification for its pilots.
Offering shared “eco-adventures” and private charters, you can choose your flight experience. You’ll even go home with a video of your tour taken by several cameras mounted on your chopper.
Price: $339 per person for a 50-minute flight, or $3,200 for a half-day private charter flight
Morton Trip Rating: 8/10 – One of the oldest and most respected tour operators, and the video souvenir will help you remember your trip for years to come.
2. Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours
Address: 3501 Rice St, Lihue, HI 96766
About: Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours offers flights showing off some of Kauai’s top sights, including Waimea Canyon, Mt. Waialeale, the Na Pali Coast, and more. You’ll enjoy an intimate, up-close-and-personal feel with these doors-off private flights from this 15-year-old company. Mauna Loa boasts an “impeccable” safety record, and flights are generally conducted with all window seats – meaning better photo opportunities for breathtaking photography! Plus, your pilot will be available for questions and in-flight commentary throughout your tour.
Price: $342 per person for a one-hour flight, or $368 per person for a one-hour pro photography flight.
Morton Trip Rating: 7/10 – An excellent choice for photographers and others looking to create their photo and video memories of their flight.
Pro Tip: Want to sleep in the sand and under the stars? We uncovered Where Can You Go Beach Camping in Hawaii?
3. Ali’i Kauai Air Tours & Charters
Address: 3745 Ahukini Rd Ste #107, Lihue, HI 96766
About: Ali’i Kauai Air Tours & Charters offers intimate helicopter tours of the island from their 3-passenger helicopters, allowing incredible views for all riders. You can request doors off for a thrilling addition to your experience!
These tours take travelers to just about every top sight on Kauai, from the famous Na Pali Coast to the surfing spots of Hanalei Bay and the Kauai Coffee Plantation, the largest of its kind in the United States. Pro photographers can even spring for a special flight that allows them to pick their sights and enjoy a personalized view of the island.
Price: $340 per person for a one-hour flight, or $730 per hour per person for a photo flight.
Morton Trip Rating: 10/10 – An amazing diversity of sights and the advantages of a smaller group for your tour.
4. Safari Helicopters
Address: 3225 Akahi St, Lihue, HI 96766
About: Safari Helicopters has been showing off the sights of Kauai for over three decades. It benefits from some of the most experienced pilots around. Looking forward to seeing the breathtaking geography of Kauai’s canyons? Grab tickets for the canyon flight.
More interested in the water? There’s a waterfall flight too and chartered flights with group discounts. This doors-on experience is perfect for those looking to stay safely and comfortably inside the cabin during their flight.
Price: $309 per person for a 55-minute waterfall flight, $339 per person for a one-hour canyon flight
Morton Trip Rating: 9/10 – Some of the most affordable prices and the ability to pick the kind of sights you’ll see is a significant bonus.
5. Jack Harter Helicopters
Address: 4231 Ahukini Rd, Lihue, HI 96766
About: Jack Harter Helicopters may as well have written the book on Kauai helicopter tours. This well-respected company has been flying for nearly 60 years when founder Jack Harter obtained special permission to fly over the sights that have now become commonplace on island helicopter tours.
The company also pioneered the “doors-off” flight concept, providing extra thrills for riders. Jack Harter Helicopters also offers a longer, 90-minute flight for those who want some extra time in the air.
Price: $339 per person for a one-hour doors-on flight, $359 per person for a one-hour doors-off flight, $506 per person for a 90-minute doors-on flight
Morton Trip Rating: 10/10 – An iconic flight company with decades of experience and the ability to extend your flight.
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How Much Does a Helicopter Ride Cost in Kauai?
Generally speaking, you should expect to pay between $300 and $400 per person for a one-hour helicopter tour of the island. Prices will vary depending on the flight route, type of helicopter, and other aspects.
You can also find it in the $500-700 range, and you can also book private charters of up to a half-day. Prices vary depending on the number of passengers, route, and length.
What to Look for in a Helicopter Tour Company
Not all Kauai helicopter tours are created equally. Here are some things you should carefully consider when booking your Hawaiian air adventure.
The best way to get a sense of what a tour is like is by checking what people who’ve already done it have to say. You may find testimonials on tour operators’ websites, but make sure to check independent sources as well.
While you’ll always have some unhappy customers, keep an eye out for any common complaints or issues that reviewers mention. A lack of reviews can also be a potential red flag. You’ll typically want an experienced tour operator, both for improved sightseeing and crucial safety reasons.
Depending on how many people you’re looking to bring on your Kauai helicopter tour, some companies may be better than others. Certain helicopters may only fit as few as two passengers plus the pilot.
Other tours are conducted in larger, luxury aircraft that can seat up to six passengers, making them perfect for larger families or other groups.
The typical Kauai helicopter tour will run for about an hour. This will give you ample time to see many of the sights of this beautiful but modestly sized island. However, those looking for a more extended flight will find some companies offer 90-minute, two-hour, or even half-day flights for increased prices.
Doors On or Doors Off
Just how much of a daredevil would you like to be on your tour? Some companies offer the thrilling experience of riding through the skies over Kauai without doors on your chopper.
With the wind in your hair and breathing in the jungle and ocean, you’ll get an experience you’ll never forget. But this kind of thrill ride may not be for everyone. Those who’d like a more relaxed experience can usually opt to leave the doors on, providing a more comfortable, quieter flight.
You can certainly enjoy the incredible sights of Kauai without a tour guide. But a good one will enrich your flight by providing fascinating detail on the island’s history, the plants and animals that inhabit it, and the way humans have interacted with the natural world over the generations.
Check to see whether your tour operator provides a guide for narration and questions, and consult reviews to determine what others think of the guides.
Pro Tip: Want to RV Hawaii, but don’t know where to start? We Rented an RV Camper in Hawaii. Here’s What We Learned!
Are Helicopters in Kauai Safe?
Helicopter rides on Kauai are generally very safe. The vast majority of those who take the tours encounter no problems and leave with great memories and amazing photos.
However, it’s crucial to remember that, like any method of transportation, accidents do happen. In 2018 and 2019, there were a total of 10 helicopter crashes, including a handful of deaths and serious injuries. These typically are related to the sometimes-unpredictable weather that surrounds this tropical island.
Still, while you can’t ignore these crashes, it’s important to remember that thousands of flights occur every year, and only a tiny fraction encounter any sort of problem, much less a serious one resulting in a crash.
Is a Helicopter Tour of Kauai Worth It?
It’s unquestionably true that Kauai helicopter tours can be pricey. At several hundred dollars per person, they may simply not be in the budget of many travelers. Others who don’t enjoy flying or aren’t particularly interested in nature may also find the cost not worth the enjoyment the ride provides.
However, for those who want one-of-a-kind views and thrilling experiences while seeing this beautiful, unspoiled island, there’s absolutely no substitute for a helicopter tour.
Would you like to take a helicopter tour of Kauai? Drop a comment below!
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