Hawaii truly is a tropical paradise; a place of lush, verdant mountains, turquoise blue waters, dramatic sea cliffs, and beaches of every shade of sand. There are so many different ways to explore these islands, with no one way being truly better than the other. That said, different types of exploration do provide for different types of viewing and experiences, and one experience that every person who steps onto Hawaii should try at least is once is a helicopter tour, such as those tours offered by Safari Helicopters.
With headquarters in Lihue on the island of Kauai, Safari Helicopters has a lot that sets them apart from other helicopter outfitters. First off, there are the helicopters. Safari Helicopters was the first to fly the incredibly powerful and technically advanced A-STAR 350-B2-7 helicopters. Their fleet of helicopters features “mega windows” that offer passengers an almost panoramic view as they soar over the island. These machines also boast unique skylight windows installed in the ceilings. Especially helpful for the rear passengers, these ceiling windows enable visitors to look straight up at the rock formations when flying inside the Mt. Waialeale Crater.
But helicopter upgrades are only one part of the charm of Safari Helicopters. Booking a tour with this outfit is also about getting access to some of the best helicopter pilots and guides on the island. This group primarily employs trained military veterans who more than know their way around these big machines with a long list of flight experience. When on a tour, your friendly, engaging pilot will interact with you via Bose noise-canceling headphones, informing you about the upcoming sights and answering any questions you might have.
Finally, there are the sights — the primary reason to go on any Hawaiian helicopter tour. Safari Helicopters does have an outfit on the Big Island, but this review is primarily for those tours offered in Kauai. Kauai, known as the “Garden Isle,” offers sky-borne visitors some truly stunning vistas to soak in. Your Safari Helicopters pilot won’t just take you around the island as any other helicopter outfit would, but, when you take the canyon tour, this company will also actually land you in a remote, private location for a truly comprehensive experience of helicoptering in and throughout the wilds of Kauai.
So, more about the specifics of the tours. Safari Helicopters offers two core tours for their guests to choose from:
Deluxe Waterfall Tour
This 60-minute tour takes passengers on a tour of over 100 miles of stunning Kauai landscapes. You’ll get up close to some of the island’s most beloved waterfalls, dive through the Waimea Canyon, and recognize classic site locations for some of Hollywood’s biggest films, such as Jurassic Park.
Canyon Landing Safari
This is a unique helicopter tour that combines flight with hikes. The Canyon Landing Safari Tour takes passengers on a tour around the island of Kauai but then lands at a private location on a cliff overlooking Olokele Canyon.
-Avoid booking your helicopter tour on the last (or even second-to-last) day of your trip to Kauai. This is due to the high chance of unpredictable rain most months that can cause your tour to get canceled and rescheduled. Booking this tour early in the week makes it easier for that to get arranged.
-While the group does have some smaller Bose noise cancellation headsets, it is best to either bring more form-fitted ear protection for children (especially for those two and younger) or call to double-confirm they have the right-sized headset for your child.
-Note that in almost every case, you will not be able to choose your seat arrangement in the helicopter. The seating layout is dictated according to FAA mandated Weight and Balance guidelines. This also means to expect being asked the weight of your party when booking a tour. This helps to ensure the correct amount and weight of passengers are allocated in seats. If you’re not sure about how this will play out, call and ask for more information or consider upgrading to a private flight for just your family or party.