Waking up before the sun is never easy, but in my experience, it’s always worth it–and this rule definitely held true on the morning of my West Maui and Molokai helicopter tour with Air Maui.
And this was no ordinary Maui helicopter tour–this was a doors-off tour.
And I awoke that morning to some of the clearest skies I’ve ever seen since moving to Maui.
Yeah, from the moment I rolled out of bed and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes–in spite of the fact that it was 5:45 am–I knew I was in for an amazing day.
I got in my car and made the quick drive down the mountain to the Air Maui hangar, conveniently located near the Kahului Airport and only 10 minutes or so from where I live in Pukalani.
It was a bright and sunny day, but I’d left my shades at home–during a doors-off helicopter tour, you’re not allowed to bring ANY loose items. You’re not allowed to keep ANYTHING in your pockets. And you MUST be wearing closed-toed shoes or sandals with straps on the back.
Even cameras aren’t allowed on this tour, only cell phones–which are strapped into lanyards provided by Air Maui and hung around your neck where they must remain for the whole trip, because as we were informed upon check-in: “Air Maui isn’t responsible if your phone goes swimming.”
I had also been informed that it would be quite windy (which makes sense) and Air Maui would be providing windbreakers and safety goggles to all passengers.
I’ll admit that I hate being cold SO much, that I wore yoga pants instead of shorts just in case it was chilly up in the air.
Since it’s May and already feeling a lot like summer, shorts would have been fine in hindsight, but it’s definitely worth keeping in mind during the winter months if you tend to get cold easily like I do.
So, at the hangar we received our brief safety demo (presented on printed cards and a video, just like you’d see on an airplane) and put on our jackets and life vests (the latter worn strapped around our waists, nothing at all like on an airplane).
I thought it was funny that they had to tell us where the exits were on the helicopter with no doors, but just covering all their bases, I guess.
The ground crew lined us up to get ready to head out to the chopper (side note: do people say ‘chopper’ in real life?).
We were arranged in order of seat preference and weight distribution, so not everyone gets a window seat on this particular tour but I can say having been seated in the middle myself, I still had an incredible experience and was able to take in the views just fine.
Not to mention it makes this tour suitable for larger groups who all want to ride together (there are 6 seats for passengers in total).
They snapped quick photos of us in front of the helicopter (you’re given the option to purchase it as a souvenir as well as a video of the flight) and then we climbed aboard.
Once strapped in, goggles and headsets on, we made our acquaintance with Richard, our pilot with over 40 years of experience flying helicopters. He felt warm from the start, had kind smile and a soothing voice, and made me feel like I was in very good hands.
Then before I knew it, we were in the air! It was like magic.
We zipped off heading northwest, giving us spectacular views of the West Maui Mountains right from the start.
The whole flight through, Richard pointed out places of interest on the island, usually accompanied by some little-known fact or a funny anecdote.
Other times accompanied by his best dad jokes.
The tour was taking us over West Maui before crossing the channel between Maui and neighboring Molokai, where we’d be checking out the WORLD’S TALLEST SEA CLIFFS from a bird’s eye view.
STOKED didn’t even begin to describe how I was feeling.
But of course, we had many gorgeous views of Maui before we left, including this pretty amazing look at Haleakala (my apartment is under that hazy bit somewhere!).
The giggles poured out of me the entire time, I felt so light and free up in the air!
Among the sights we saw from our vantage point were the Nakalele Blowhole, a rock that looks like a turtle from one perspective and an elephant from another, mountain goats frolicking on the impossibly steep cliffs of Molokai, and some of Hawaii’s tallest, most dramatic waterfalls.
I’m telling you, my jaw was on the floor from the start of this tour til the very end.
What made it all the more enjoyable was Richard’s soundtrack, piped into our headsets between his commentary and adding an element of whimsy to the whole experience.
I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say he’s got this whole thing down to a science and I couldn’t have loved it more.
Air Maui helicopter tours allow visitors to see the absolute best Maui has to offer–you can take a tour over Haleakala and Hana, visit Molokai with an oceanfront landing, or even see the whole island in a single tour.
Custom charters and private tours are also among their offerings!
All in all, you can’t go wrong booking a Maui helicopter tour with Air Maui.
Having traveled to Maui tons in the past and even after living here for 8 months, I can say without a doubt THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST THINGS I’VE EVER DONE ON MAUI!
If you’re looking for adventure and want to see the island from a unique perspective, I can’t recommend a tour with Air Maui enough.
This is one experience you will never forget.
Many mahalos to Air Maui for hosting me for this spectacular experience! All opinions are those of The Sweetest Way.