Our guide book said that going to Kaua'i and NOT taking a helicopter tour is like going to the Sistine Chapel and not looking up at the ceiling. They were right! and this tour was one GREAT way to see the island. Doors-off is the way to go - windows would get full of glare and rain drops - you are safe and strapped in - the view is so personal and 'live' without windows.
Our family of 4 had the ride to ourselves - it was like a private charter. We opted for the longer 'deluxe' ride, and do not regret it at all.
The ride begins in Hanapape, so you don't waste fly time traveling over any part of the island that is not scenic. Basically, you begin with the plantation land and go right to the canyon. From there, you sweep out to the Na Pali coast for the most unforgettable view of your life. Then down the coast, into canyons in the rock formations, over to Hanalei River valley, then up and around to the crater and weeping wall. We wrapped up with a close view of the amazing waterfalls filmed in the movie "Jurassic Park"
Our driver was a great narrator, offering history, geology and other bits of info as we went through the tour. It was a little rainy and cloudy for part of the trip, but that goes with the territory in Kaua'i and added to the incredible light and rainbows of the island.There were some bumps and some wind, but he made sure we knew what was coming up. The two-way radio communication made a big difference - but it was harder to hear from the VERY windy back seats.
Our pilot took us into several canyons and right up close to dozens of waterfalls pumping off the mountains. If we expressed an interest in something, he would make a swoop around so we got a better look - he even pointed out whales breaching with their young. (What a way to go whale watching...)
A note on safety: As a mom, I was worried about my kids (15 and 17, but impulsive) sitting on the edge, so I asked about the safety record. This firm used to be the island's 'search and rescue' firm to pull wayward hikers out of canyons and valleys until about a year ago when the search and rescue was taken over by local government. I share this because it means the pilots know the island very well and they know what is safe. It was owned and operated by military pilots who put a premium on safety. Our tour was to have been $50 more per person, but the operators scaled back to a different (but thrilling and beautiful) tour because of high winds on the morning of our trip. I appreciate that decision - they could have taken our money, and a risk. Because of the change in the itinerary, they offered to reschedule or give us back our deposit. Glad we went ahead with it.
Another note - some of the guide books indicate that this firm lands at waterfalls that are otherwise inaccessible. They no longer do this. While we were disappointed, I appreciate the decision not to - they said it is no longer safe.
And last - the cost. YES - ALL of the helicopter tours we looked into cost a heap of bills, especially for a family - but really - when else will you do this? Skip a few dinners out - This is a once in a lifetime experience and Kaua'i is the right place to do it!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC