The nationwide helicopter tour company, Heli USA, offers a bird's eye view of Kauai. Although they depart from Lihue, they offer an amazing tour of the Na Pali Coast which provides a unique view of the cliffs, secluded beaches, and lush valleys. They offer several different routes, hotel pickup, and they fly A-Star helicopters. You'll tour over the coast and see waterfalls such as Hanakapi`ai and the beach of the same name, Kalalau Valley which takes miles to hike into, and other worldly places like the Alaka`i Swamp, all from above. You can save yourself miles and miles of hiking and enjoy these views from the comfort of the helicopter.
Local Expert tip: Bring a camera!
Fly to Hawaii's Forbidden Island of Ni`ihau, owned by the Robison family, the same owners of the helicopter company. Hop on the chopper mid-morning and then across the west side channel to the desolate island. It's been dubbed forbidden because only Ni`ihau residents of Native Hawaiian ancestry are allowed to visit - and you if you visit with this company. Here you'll explore beaches, walking for hours and picking up whatever you find. They treat you to a sandwich lunch, and you get a roughly half hour air tour of the island. After about four hours on Ni`ihau you head back.
Local Expert tip: Bring a bag with a snorkel and mask and a small bag to put shells in.
Island helicopters is located across from the Lihu`e Airport helipads and flies over the highly desired Manawaiopuna Falls, otherwise known as Jurassic Falls. The Jurassic Falls Tour last about 75 to 85 minutes and covers views of Waimea Canyon, the Na Pali Coast, and the north shore. What makes this tour so special is that it lands at the coveted Jurassic Falls which cannot be visited otherwise. You'll exit the helicopter, walk around the falls (but not swim) and see rare plants and have a picnic lunch near the falls. The falls are one of several places on the island used in the film.
Local Expert tip: Don't forget a camera or video camera.
Owned by the owners of the "Forbidden Island" of Ni`ihau, Safari Helicopters offers two tours. The Deluxe Waterfall Safari offers just that - a 60 minute trip to Wai`ale`ale Crater, Waimea Canyon, and the Na Pali Coast. Regular price is $245 for each person with special web fares to check for. The waterfall safari takes you over many of the island's high number of falls, many of which will be flowing extra hard after a rain. Wai`ale`ale is high in the center of the island, and is known as the wettest place on earth - it gets more rain than anywhere else.
Local Expert tip: An especially convenient tour if you're staying on the south or west side of the island.
Island helicopters is located across from the Lihu`e Airport helipads and flies over the highly desired Manawaiopuna Falls, otherwise known as Jurassic Falls, a huge waterfall used as a filming location in the film. The Kaua`i Grand Circle Tour provides views of Waimea Canyon and its waterfalls, rivers, and deep crevices. It also flies over the Na Pali Coast where you'll gaze into its valleys, swamps and beaches. It continues over the north shore and it's long white sand beaches, huge winter waves, and lush cliffs and jungles. Lasting 50 to 60 minutes, the tour doesn't include landing at the falls.
Local Expert tip: Bring a video camera.
Sunshine Helicopters offers the "Ultimate Kaua`i Adventure," which leaves out of Lihue before 8:30 a.m. The tour flies over Waimea Canyon on the west side, allowing views into the deep valleys, its waterfalls, rivers and trails. It also flies over Mount Wai`ale`ale (the wettest place on earth) which is high up in the island's interior. Continuing around the coast, it passes over the other worldly Alaka`i Swamp as well as double Wailua Falls. Views of the Na Pali Coast and its hidden beauty are also a treat. The tour lasts about 45 to 55 minutes and runs $244 with special online prices.
Local Expert tip: They also offer Maui tours.
Owned by the owners of the "Forbidden Island" Ni`ihau, and the offer two tours. The Kaua`i Refuge Eco Tour is representative of the owner, Keith Robinson, and his love for preserving and protecting Hawaii. The tour offers a 90-minute trip over the Wai`ale`ale Crater, Waimea Canyon, the Na Pali Coast, as well as a bonus stopover at the Kaua`i Botanical Refuge overlooking Olokele Canyon. In fitting with the owners hobbies and passion, you'll get to see nearly extinct plants that he himself has helped cultivate more of, and get a botanical overview of the island. The price is $279 per person with special web fares.
Local Expert tip: This is a rare peek into Olokele Canyon.
Located near the Lihue airport, Jack Harter Helicopters offers a 60 to 65 minute tour that hits all of Kaua`i's major scenic areas in their AStar and Hughes 500 Helicopters. The major scenic areas includes the beaches, valleys and waterfalls of the lush Na Pali Coast and it's inland swamps and native forests. During the tour you will also fly over Waimea Canyon, high in the interior of the west side. Koke`e State Park, which is right by the Na Pali Coast, will also be explored and you will get the best of it's views and vistas. Price is $259 and includes a fuel surcharge.
Local Expert tip: Bring a camera and a snack.
Near the airport is the tried and true Jack Harter Helicopters. Of their two rides one is longer than the other and is a lengthier tour of 90-95 minutes and flies at a slower speed than most, enabling it to explore Kaua`i deeper into its valleys and canyons. During this tour the helicopter takes more turns than the shorter tour, and provides more photo opportunities. This is the only air tour on the island of this length and takes places on the AStars. You'll fly over the Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, and Wai`ale`ale, the wettest place on earth. Regular price is $384 including surcharge.
Local Expert tip: Bring sunglasses, it can get pretty bright up there.
Blue Hawaii Helicopters offers a tour called the Kaua`i ECO Adventure. The company's new American Eurocopter ECO-Star offers more interior room to take you over the Hanapepe Valley on the west side, then on to Manawaiopuna Falls, otherwise known as Jurassic Park Falls. After that it's off to the Olokele and Waimea Canyons, then over the Na Pali Coast, Bali Hai Cliffs, and Hanalei Bay. If weather permits, you get to explore the crater of Mount Wai`ale`ale - the wettest place on earth- by air for the great finale. You'll have seen the whole island. Prices are $240 with special online prices that vary.
Local Expert tip: Bring a camera!