TRAVEL & LIFESTYLE
The Top 4 Kauai Helicopter Tours Reviewed
Ryan, Senior Traveler
18 May 2018
Kauai is one of those places in the world that, no matter where you’ve traveled, no matter what you’ve seen – it never fails to take your breath away. The sheer natural beauty is near indescribable. Imagine a floating garden in the middle of the Pacific, so vast, rugged and unspoiled that it could’ve been tended by ancient giants.
Towering cliffs blanketed with lush jungle, majestic waterfalls and volcanic rainforests – it’s little wonder that the island is referred to by locals and visitors alike as The Garden Isle.
Photograph courtesy of Trip Advisor
Given its primeval terrain, almost 70% of the island is inaccessible by land – Kauai helicopter tours are by far the best if not the only way to experience the unforgettable sights of Kauai. Due to this being commonly accepted knowledge, it also makes helicopter tours the most popular type of excursion on the island.
At any one time there can be as many as ten different companies operating tours with roughly 100 flights being run each day. Knowing which of these flights you want to be on for the best possible experience can be a daunting task for some!
When it comes to the sights, prices, flight-times and the helicopters themselves, we’ve had the pleasure of personally reviewing a number of these popular aviation companies. Some people will prefer extended, narrated flights with soaring views, while others will opt for thrilling open-door descents into volcanic craters.
Whichever way you want to soak in the staggering beauty of The Garden Isle, we thought we’d make it a little easier by rounding up the best options according to our reviews and giving you an inside look at each.
A usefull tip for all helicopter tours on Kauai, book in advance and on a date at the beginning of your tip in case you have to reschedule or the flight get canceled due to bad weather.
The Top Helicopter Tours on the Island of Kauai
Kaui Helicopter Eco Adventure
- 50-55 Minute Flight Tour
- Cheapest Flight
- No Doors Off Option
- Max. 6 People
Private Island Adventure
- 60-65 Minute Flight Tour
- Most Expensive Tour
- Doors Off Option
- Max. 3 People
60-65 Minute Doors Off Helicopter Tour
- 60-65 Minute Flight Tour
- Tour Duration is Actual Air Time
- Doors Off Option
- Max. 4-6 People
90 Minutes Helicopter Tour
- 90-95 Minute Flight Tour
- Slow Flight Speed - Best for Photographers
- Doors Off Option
- Max. 4-6 People
1. Kauai Helicopter Eco Adventure (55-minutes): $215.20 – Regular Price
Starting with the longest, most established helicopter company on the island, the Kauai Helicopter Eco Adventure has been treating customers to amazing Kauai tours for many years. All-in-all it’s a hard option to top. In the 25 years since it began flying helicopter tours, they have received awards, been enlisted by Hollywood to take aerial photography for box-office breaking movies and even developed its own helicopters.
When boarding the new state-of-the-art Airbus Eco-Star Helicopter, you instantly feel part of a first-class experience. With 23% more interior room than other helicopters and flight technology designed to give the quietest possible ride, the Eco-Star is the first helicopter designed specifically for touring. The Eco Adventure is flown in a doors-on helicopter. Although some people may opt for other companies that offer doors-off flights, you’ll still get sweeping views thanks to the floor-to-ceiling panoramic windows.
“Do NOT leave Kauai before taking this trip. You have not seen the island until you have experienced it like this from the air. Do not miss this trip!” – Review of the Eco-Adventure
Flight time clocks in at 55-minutes though it’s often reported that flights run a little shorter, around 51-minutes. Taking off from Lihue Airport, you’re flown to the stunning Hanapepe Valley before being taken to the iconic Mana Waiapuna waterfalls – commonly referred to as “Jurassic Park Falls”.
Then it’s on to Olokele Canyon to warm you up for one of the highlights, Waimean Canyon. Known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, you’ll be treated to spectacular views of some of the most majestic waterfalls in the world. Heading away from the interior, you’re flown over the Na Pali Coast (which you can learn more about on our Na Pali Coast tours page), and then towards the Bali Hai Cliffs and onto Hanalei Bei to soak up the views of sparkling clear waters and pristine beaches. Finally, depending on weather conditions, you’ll be treated to a visit to the famed Mount Waialeale crater. Officially the wettest place on earth, you can expect to be dwarfed by towering walls peppered with cascading waterfalls, a truly unforgettable sight.
For its price, the Eco Tour may be suited to families looking to view Kauai’s wonders in comfort without breaking the bank. The cheapest of our selected flights, you’re guaranteed a comfortable experience narrated by pilots who are certified Tour Guides. Though thrill-seekers may want to choose a different company that offers a doors-off flight, or one that offers a longer duration to savor the experience – Kauai Helicopter Eco Adventure is most definitely a tried and tested excellent option which you can book here.
Beautiful view of Kauai’s waterfalls.
2. Private Island Adventure Helicopter Tour (60-minutes): $325
A younger company that takes the utmost pride in their quality of pilots is the Private Island Adventure Tour. What began as a flight training school has turned into a highly reputable helicopter tour company that offers the Private Island Adventure Tour in the incredibly reliable and energy efficient Robinson helicopters.
What sets this tour apart from the Eco-Star Tour is that passengers are given a private tour and the option to fly with the doors off. This feature undoubtedly gives you a completely different experience; expect to feel like an adrenaline-junkie swooping over mountainous jungle with the wind in your hair and a grin on your face.
The tour lasts for around 60-minutes and the helicopters are slightly smaller, seating 2-3 passengers. The smaller helicopter does give for a more adventurous feel and not to worry, the smaller size is no reflection on the tour itself – the same awe-inspiring sights are still covered in full. Expect to be taken on a similar route to the Eco-Tour, swept through the Waimea Canyon, along the Na Pali Coast and over the Mana Waiapuna Falls.
You won’t be disappointed with the finale either as you’ll also be taken to the breathtaking Mount Waialeale crater. Flying through this natural marvel with the doors off in a smaller helicopter is without a doubt the thrill-seekers option. It is however worth noting that the Private Island Adventure Tour comes in at $325, making it the most expensive option for the stated flight time of 60-minutes.
The good news is they place an emphasis on their reputation as flight professionals. It’s comfortingly apparent, as the pilots not only offer deeply insightful information about the gorgeous vistas and Kauai’s history – but also about the helicopters themselves. Your pilot will be happy to answer any question about the vehicle you’re flying in, which can be an attractive feature for aviation fans. So much is their dedication to their history of professional flyers that they even offer flying lessons to anyone interested in learning. True professionals from beginning to end, you can be sure you’ll be in safe hands. To book this amazing tour, you can go here.
3. 60 – 65 Minute Helicopter Tour of Kauai: $247.35 Regular Price
The next two tours are offered by the same company, with one crucial difference – the flight time! The shorter tour is taken in the widely renowned Airbus A-Star helicopters. The most commonly used helicopter for aerial tours, you’re guaranteed comfort and visibility in these 5-seaters.
We came away from the Jack’s tour (the owner) with a feeling that each flight had been tailored to our specific group, which in all honesty can be a rare thing when taking these kinds of tours. The fact that we were provided with passenger microphones and a two-way communication system with the pilot meant that they could get an idea of what our group’s interests were and use their extensive knowledge of the island to customize our experience! The live narration is truly insightful, with many pilots interacting on a regular basis with kupuna and kamaaina (island elders and native born people).
Boasting an impressive list of sites, Jack’s helicopters will fly you along similar routes as the other tours, including Waimea Canyon, the Na Pali Coast and Mount Waialeale. However their in-depth knowledge of Kauai even extends to the sites you’re taken to. Much to our delight, we were taken to stunning locations that aren’t found on the roster for the other companies, including Kipu Kai and the Tunnel of Trees, Nawiliwili Harbor and the Menehune Fishpond.
If you’re after dedicated knowledge of this beautiful island, you can be certain Jack will provide it. What’s more, with the shorter tour offering both doors-on and doors-off flights at the same price of $247.35, you’ve got the freedom to choose your experience with no difference in cost! You can book the 60 minute tour here.
4. 90 – 95 Minute Helicopter Tour of Kauai – doors on: $385.82 Internet special
We couldn’t complete our list of recommendations without including what we thought was an unforgettable experience. Time flies when you’re having fun (pun possibly intended) and you can leave the 60 minute tours yearning for more time in the air soaring over Kauai’s majestic emerald terrain. Luckily, if you count yourself in that category, Jack also offers an extended 90-95 minute tour for those of us who are in no hurry to get back to ground.
Flying only in the door-on Airbus A-Star, this longer tour is a photographer’s dream. Penetrating deeper into the numerous canyons and valleys, you’ll be taken along similar routes but with much more time in each. The pilots were careful to give unobstructed 360 degree views that set up some incredible photo opportunities. Even without a camera, the extended flight time and visits to more sites makes this tour worth every penny. Whether you’re a photography aficionado or not, you won’t be sold short with the extended tour – nor will you find this offer with any other helicopter company in Kauai! So, if you’re ready for the tour of a lifetime, reserve your seat here.
A Helicopter Flight You Won’t Soon Forget
So, there you have it – after flying with some truly inspired aviation companies, we managed to get a beautiful insight into this vast Hawaiian wonderland on each and every Kauai helicopter tour. No two flights were exactly the same and that made the experience all the more enjoyable! We hope you’ve got an idea of which helicopter tour is right for you – the Garden Isle is so rich in jaw-droppingly beautiful sights that you can literally fly again and again and be amazed every time. Trust us, we’ve tried!
Want Hawaiian news delivered straight to your inbox? Subscribe to our Awesome Newsletter.