If your budget allows for only one splurge, then make it a helicopter tour of Kauai. You’ll soar over verdant valleys and deep gorges, hover next to the Na Pali Cliffs’ waterfalls and enjoy panoramic views of the Coast. Jack Harter Helicopters is the only company that flies with doors off, so you can take expert photos and get a good breeze (dress warmly). The 60-minute ride takes you all over Kauai from Nawiliwili Harbor and the Menehune Fishpond to Kipu Kai and the Tunnel of Trees to Manawaiopuna Falls in Hanapepe Valley. The latter is actually nicknamed “Jurassic Falls” for its cameo in the hit film “Jurassic Park.” You’ll pass over canyons and North Shore beaches and end up near Mount Waialeale, Kauai’s ancient volcano.
Pilots engage with passengers through a two-way intercom system with a live commentary. It made a difference knowing what we were flying over at every point in time and it was nice to be able to ask questions through a small mic attached to the headphones. We were able to take photos on the tour, but everything had to be attached to a wristband or strap – we don’t recommend taking much with you on the flight.
Each ride costs $269 per person. Children must be at least 10 years old for the experience without doors; there is no age requirement for the enclosed AStar helicopter.