Beginner’s Guide to Helicopter Tours in Hawaii

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Beginner’s Guide to Helicopter Tours in Hawaii

Hawaii Helicopter Tours are a breathtaking experience the entire family can enjoy. Each island offers spectacular views of pristine beaches, towering waterfalls, rugged coastline and sea cliffs – sometimes not able to be seen any other way. A helicopter tour of any island would be considered a once in a lifetime experience – worth every penny, as you get to see parts of the islands not visible any other way. As you soar over the peaks of majestic mountains, some of them snow-covered, then on to explore volcanoes, with their rising smoke plumes, and fields of lava that go on for miles.

Do you love waterfalls? There are many spectacular waterfalls that are not visible to humans except from the air, as they are located in unreachable terrain. There is so much to see by Helicopter, and each island is so different, it would be hard to choose which island to tour.

What Islands Offer Helicopter Tours in Hawaii?

Big Island Hawaii
Big Island Hawaii volcano helicopter tours are the most popular with the recent activity of Kilauea ensuring a once in a lifetime experience, often providing views of live lava flows. And with the scenery changing as a result of lava flow activity, what you see on one tour may be very different a few years later.

Many Hawaii Helicopter tour companies will even give you the option to fly with doors off for a better view and even more exciting flight. The Big Island, which is the largest of all the Hawaiian Islands, offers much more than volcanoes as places to be seen by helicopter. Tours also include Waipio Valley, Kohala Coast, lush rainforests, waterfalls and even snow capped mountain peaks.

Sunset tours departing from the west side of the island are also popular, taking a ride during golden hour is preferred for gorgeous photos and since it is a shorter ride it is more affordable as well.


Oahu boasts a wide range of terrain. Gaze upon the glittering city skylines of Waikiki, secluded rushing inland waterfalls, rich green plantations, Diamond Head, Coconut Island, Kahalu’u Fish Pond, Pearl Harbor, Kaaawa Valley, Hanauma Bay and long white sandy beaches.


Maui helicopter tours will often include Mt. Haleakala, remote waterfalls that can only be seen by air, West Maui including Molokai, Hana, Haleakala, Pu’u Kukui watershed. During the winter months you could be treated to a birds eye view of Humpback whales as well.


Kauai’s unique geography and small size makes it a great choice for a Helicopter tour as many different landscapes can be seen in a short amount of time. Tour sights may include - Manawaiopuna Falls (made famous by Jurassic park), Hanapepe Valley, Olokele & Waimea Canyon, Na Pali Coast, Bali Hai & Lumahai Beach, Hanalei Bay, Mt. Waialeale Volcano, Wailua Falls.

What to Expect on a Hawaiian Helicopter Tour

Helicopters in Hawaii are climate controlled, so comfortable shorts and t-shirts are usually fine, unless you opt for a doors-off tour – in which case, long pants and a light jacket may be more suitable. Be sure to wear dark colored clothing so you are not captured in the reflection on the window in your photos. Weather in Hawaii can be unpredictable. Rain will not make or ruin your tour; in fact, it will be welcomed.

Hawaii’s constant rainfall feeds the waterfalls and generates breathtaking rainbows.. If an unusually windy or rainy weather pattern occurs, the pilots will study weather reports to determine whether or not a nice tour can be operated. Often, you can experience areas where there is sunshine, and other areas where the clouds form higher on the mountains, and you can fly below the clouds, then emerge above them for a different view of the mountain tops. Late morning or early afternoon flights will provide for limited shadows, and more brilliant colors. This also gives the sun time to come up and provide lighting for the valleys and canyons on Kauai.

Cameras with a telephoto lens for those far-away shots of a beautiful waterfall are very desirable, as they can get you in close for those shots not available from your average phone camera. The camera on your phone will work for movies, and great panorama shots, so it might be a good idea to take both along, and seize the opportunity to take more varied shots. Just don’t forget to spend some time just looking – you can miss so much while behind the camera lens.

What Time of Year is Best for Helicopter Tours in Hawaii?

The summer is usually the best season for Kauai, Hawaii helicopter tours, as there are less storms which can delay or cancel your tour. Although there are great opportunities at any time of the year if you pick a clear, sunny day. The other islands don’t get as socked in with rain, but it is always best to check the weather before you book your tour to make sure you choose an appropriate day. Temperatures don’t vary greatly between winter and summer in Hawaii, and in most cases, if there appears to be any danger due to weather forecasts, the Hawaiian Helicopter Tour operators will normally reschedule your helicopter tours in Hawaii to a more favorable time on the same day, or a different day if appropriate.

Are Helicopter Tours Safe in Hawaii?

There are strict regulations regarding safety in Hawaii for helicopter tour operators, with all pilots and mechanics being well trained and fully certified in their respective fields. Hawaii is considered one of the safest places to take a tour by helicopter.

No matter which island you choose to visit, you will find the best Hawaii helicopter tour for your adventurous group.