Jack Harter Doors-Off Helicopter Ride Over Kauai
If ever there is a place to take a helicopter tour, bonus points if the helicopter has no doors, it is Kauai. The oldest island in the Hawaiian islands is also arguably the most beautiful. Millions of years of erosion have turned the island into a jagged, lush paradise but the features that make Kauai so beautiful also make it extremely difficult to access by land. One of the best ways to actually see much of what the island has to offer is by air.
The second I booked my flight to Kauai I knew I wanted to take a helicopter tour there. I researched a few companies and they all looked great, just a standard heli ride, and then I stumbled upon Jack Harter and discovered they offer a doors-off helicopter ride. I couldn't fill out the request form quickly enough. A doors-off helicopter experience, while seemingly so similar to a doors-on helicopter ride, is much different in my opinion. The fact there are no doors holding you in adds a sense of adventure and daring to the ride even if you are completely safe and harnessed to the seat. You also get a completely unobscured view without any of the reflections you would see on a normal heli ride, which is a huge benefit for taking photos.
Our ride was an hour long and extensively covered all the island has to offer: the Na'Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, the valleys and innumerable waterfalls on the island including the waterfall in Jurassic Park's opening scene. I asked the pilot if he could play us the theme song and got a firm "no". He said when he first began touring he played the song but listening to it multiple times a day, every day, for months on end wore him down. So he removed it from his playlist and everyone on our flight was okay with it. With the views we were experiencing there wasn't much that could have brought our spirits down!
The pilot was also incredibly knowledgable, informing us of geological facts and ancient legends about the region. He also made sure that each side of the helicopter was able to see every view and gave us ample time to photograph each spot and he was always on the lookout for things an untrained eye might miss. In one instance he took us close to a valley wall and pointed out a goat that none of the passengers had noticed. It was standing on what looked like a sheer cliff giving us a curious look.
My favorite part of the ride was seeing just how many waterfalls are on the island, it seemed every corner we turned and every ridge we flew over greeted us with yet another waterfall. I guess you don't become known as "The Garden Isle" without a fair amount of rain and waterfalls. Kauai is actually home to one of the rainiest spots on earth. Mount Wai'ale'ale, which means "overflowing water" in Hawaiian, receives an average of 452 inches of rain a year (its record is 683 inches in 1982). After learning that, it was easy to see how all those falls formed!
This experience ended up being the highlight of the Hawaii trip for me. It is something I highly recommend to anybody traveling to Kauai, especially if you don't have much time to explore the island. We only had 2 full days on Kauai and while we did make it to every spot we wanted to, the helicopter ride gave us a thorough look at the entire island, even if it was just by air. I wish I had budgeted more time on Kauai but that just means we'll be making a trip back in the future!
Cost: $289 per person
See more photos from Kauai HERE!