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 fi nd yourself fl ying 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 fi ll in the details. Noise-canceling headphones wipe out the roar of the helicopter rotors; instead, music, like the soundtrack from a movie, sets the mood.
Most helicopter tours off er views of the lunar-like surface of HALEAKALĀ CRATER and the waterfall- laced coastline of the NORTH SHORE RAINFOREST. Some companies fl y to MOLOKA‘I , where towering waterfalls and 3,000-FOOT VERTICAL SEA CLIFFS provide a spectacular sight.
Air tour providers include AIR MAUI (airmaui.com), SUNSHINE HELICOPTERS (sunshinehelicopters. com) and MAVERICK HELICOPTERS (maverickhelicopter.com).
In general, tours depart from the heliport at KAHULUI AIRPORT and vary in destination, length and cost, with airtime fl uctuating from 30 to 90 minutes. As a rule, morning is the best time to fl y, as cloud cover tends to increase throughout the afternoon. BLUE HAWAIIAN HELICOPTERS 808-871-8844