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Although a bit pricey, a helicopter tour is a must for anyone visiting Kauai. Much of the island is inaccessible to ground transportation and the only way to truly see the incomprehensibly beautiful island is by air. I chose Inter-Island due to their excellent safety record and because they fly without the doors on! Their Hughes 500 helicopters hold only four passengers (instead of the typical six), so you're sure to have a great view. Unfortunately, seating assignments are based on weight distribution and as luck would have it, I got stuck on the left side, placing me on the ocean side while flying over the Na Pali Coastline (seats on the right side are best).

As of this writing, Inter-Island offers two packages: a 60-minute tour for $185 (plus tax) and a spectacular 90+ minute waterfall tour for $250 (plus tax). On the extended tour, you actually land near a secluded and inaccessible waterfall. I decided to splurge and take the waterfall tour - a highly recommended treat! We were on the ground for about 30 minutes and were provided with a deli lunch (chicken wrap, potato chips, and juice). Although I brought my swim suit, I passed on taking a dip in the pool due to the cold water temperature and danger of contracting leptospirosis (a bacteria found in some of Hawaii's fresh water). Additional recommendations: Be sure to wear pants and a jacket (it gets mighty windy and cold at 5,000+ feet), take sea sickness medicine if you have a weak stomach, and make sure your camera has fresh batteries and a heavy strap. Reservations can be made by calling 808-335-5009.

Boarding the Hughes Inter-Island helicopter (sans doors!) at the Port Allen Air Strip
All Aboard!
Hanapepe Salt Ponds
Hanapepe Salt Ponds
Waimea River
Waimea River
Waipo'o Falls
Waipo'o Falls
Waimea Canyon
Waimea Canyon
Na Pali Coastline
Na Pali Coastline
Na Pali Coastline
Na Pali Coastline
Na Pali Coastline
Na Pali Coastline
Ha'ena Beach Park
Ha'ena Beach Park
I quickly lost count of the number of waterfalls we saw
Waterfalls
This is the field where the dinosaurs were first seen in Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park Field
The secluded waterfall was a short walk from this clearing
The Landing
Secluded Waterfall
Secluded Waterfall
Secluded Waterfall
Secluded Waterfall
The Photographer (me)
The Photographer (me)
Waterfalls abound in the Mount Wai'ale'ale Crater (the wettest spot on earth)
Mount Wai'ale'ale Crater
Waterfalls abound in the Mount Wai'ale'ale Crater (the wettest spot on earth)
Mount Wai'ale'ale Crater
Gusty winds tossed the helicopter around as we reached the peak of Mount Wai'ale'ale (5,243 feet)
Mount Wai'ale'ale Peak
The waterfall where the helicopter landed in Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park Waterfall
Hanapepe River
Hanapepe River
A coffee plantation near Hanapepe
Coffee Plantation
Safely back on the ground
Grounded
   

 

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All photographs and content are Copyright 2002-2017 Kevin M. McGrath, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Please use only with permission.

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