Helicopter Tours on Maui

You know that feeling when you look at a menu and you want to try one of everything? That’s a little what it’s like when choosing a helicopter tour on Maui.

On one hand you have the combo tours of Haleakalā Crater and Hāna, and on the other you have West Maui’s waterfalls and valleys combined with the Molokaʻi sea cliffs. You can choose a tour that touches down at a private, oceanfront viewpoint or even opt to ditch the doors and cruise with the wind in your face.

If you choose to fly over West Maui and then cross the channel to Molokaʻi, you’ll not only get to fly through valleys that are inaccessible by land but zip beneath 3,500 ft. sea cliffs that are some of the tallest in the world. During the winter from December-March, there’s even the chance you’ll spot Humpback whales in the waters beneath your feet.

If you choose to fly east, on the other hand, over Haleakalā Crater, you’ll cruise above a lunar landscape that’s packed with multihued cinder and explore areas like Ko‘olau Gap where thick green rainforest spills from the crater all the way down to the sea. There aren’t any roads, or even trails, that explore this section of mountain, and the only way you can see what’s out there is by literally taking to the skies.

Aside from choosing what part of the island to explore on a Maui helicopter tour, you also need to be strategic about choosing the time of day. The rule of thumb has always been that earlier morning is best, but sunset flights are a scenic option that doesn’t get enough attention. It’s true that mornings offer the clearest conditions (and the best visibility for waterfalls), but the clouds also tend to clear around sunset so you’ll get to experience the light show from thousands of feet above ground.

Finally, a logistical aspect that’s often overlooked is that you can’t schedule a Maui helicopter tour for 24 hours after scuba diving. This means if you’re going to Molokini Crater or scuba diving off of Lānaʻi, then you can’t schedule a helicopter tour for sunset, or even early the next morning.

Even if you are planning to scuba dive in Maui, you should still take time to include a Maui helicopter tour in your schedule, since minute-for-minute it’s the very best money you’ll spend on the Valley Isle.

Photo courtesy of tedmurphy

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