Hitch a Ride on a HelicopterMaui
It would be a mistake to rely on words to describe a helicopter tour of Maui. Call it a mythical ride on a magic carpet. Call it a page from a fairytale. It’s like watching a movie, hitching a ride on a butterfly, or drifting along in a dream. It’s a multi-sensory experience that cannot be analyzed, digitized or translated into words much more complicated than “Wow!”
Helicopter tours have become one of Maui’s signature attractions. Here, it is possible to lift off from a heliport, quickly bypass populated areas, and, in minutes, leave civilization behind. Look down and you’ll find yourself flying low over deep, impossibly tangled, uninhabitable canyons where inland waterfalls drop hundreds of feet right outside your window.
Now and then, the helicopter will hover before a unique geographic or legendary site and the pilot, like a guide standing before a masterpiece in an art museum, will fill in the details. Noise-canceling headphones wipe out the roar of the helicopter rotors. Music, like the soundtrack from a movie, sets the mood. And the pilot guides youskillfully through what many describe as a mystical experience.
Most helicopter tours offer views of the lunar-like surface of Haleakala Crater and the waterfall-laced coastline of the North Shore rainforest. Some companies fly to Moloka‘i, where towering waterfalls and 3,000-foot vertical sea cliffs provide a spectacular sight. AlexAir pulls out all the stops with its doors-off flights over waterfalls and volcanoes. Romantic customized tours can be arranged for special occasions like weddings, honeymoons, proposals and anniversaries.
Tours depart from the heliport at Kahului Airport. They vary in destination, length and cost with airtime fluctuating from 30 to 90 minutes. As a rule, morning is the best time to fly, as cloud cover tends to increase throughout the afternoon.
The seating configuration in most tour helicopters on Maui is similar, with two passengers seated up front with the pilot and four more in the seats behind. Because tour helicopters resemble airborne glass bubbles, the view is generally excellent no matter where you sit.