-by Jennifer Miner
Helicopter tours of Maui and Molokai provide an amazing (and, well, easy) way to see parts of Hawaii you’d never see on foot. Yes, Hawaiian vacations should always include at least one hike; after all, Hawaii is unlike any other part of our country in the most dramatic geographical ways, looking much more like a South Pacific island territory. A vacation in Maui spent on hotel or resort grounds, slugging down the Lava Flows and lazing by the pool, doesn’t do much justice to appreciating the island from a travel perspective. So, take the perspective from the air: along with a good old-fashioned, work-up-your-appetite hike in Maui, book a helicopter ride over the island. Some of them are only 45 minutes long, so you’ll be back to sipping poolside tropical cocktails in no time.
I was recently treated to one of those 45-minute helicopter rides by a company called Air Maui. Like the other helicopter tour companies in Maui, Air Maui is based very close to the airport: I basically got off my airplane, picked up my rental car, and drove the 5-minute trip from Kahului Airport to the heliport area nearby. Next thing I knew, I was swooping over jaw-droopingly gorgeous vistas, listening to Pilot Rich describe what it was we were seeing. It was that easy.
People who have never taken a helicopter tour of Maui, or anywhere else for that matter, should not be intimidated about the check-in process. This was my first helicopter tour, but the check-in was so easy that I felt immediately comfortable. Passengers are weighed (discreetly, ladies, don’t worry) and given a sort of small strap-on life jacket while watching a safety video. Sign a form, and off we go!
Our pilot, Rich, has been flying helicopter tours of Maui for years, and clearly knows the island like the back of his hand. We went across the ocean to Maui’s neighbor, Molokai, where he described the former leper colony and the mostly rural, farming and fishing lifestyle of Molokai’s modern-day residents. The flora and fauna there are similar to Maui’s, of course, albeit living in a much wilder, more natural state.
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About Jennifer Miner: Jennifer Miner is an editor, owner and writer at The Vacation Gals, a popular, multiple-award winning women’s travel blog. She lives in Los Angeles but tries to visit Hawaii whenever the opportunity presents itself.