A Guide to Air Tours in Hawaii

By Andy Beth Miller

Superman had the right idea, when he realized that seeing the world by air is truly the way to go. And what better corner of the globe is there to glide through the skies than Hawaiʻi Nei? Whether it be aboard a helicopter, fixed-wing airplane, seaplane, glider plane or even via powered hang gliding, viewing this island paradise by air is beyond amazing.

Aerial view of hidden waterfalls on the Hamakua coast of Hawaii's Big Island.  Photo courtesy of Adam Isserlis via Flickr.com.

Aerial view of hidden waterfalls on the Hamakua coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. Photo courtesy of Adam Isserlis via Flickr.com.

Oahu Air Tour Options

Air tour options abound on the island of Oʻahu, with the North Shore dominating the market on magical sky flights, including powered hang gliding excursions. Departing from Dillingham Air Field, and with flights mostly lasting for 30-minutes, guests can expect to take in scenic views of the North Shore’s stunning coastline, including panoramas of Kaʻena Point, Mokuleʻia, and more. To add to the excitement, these smooth and safe flights feature a hands-on option, where you even get the (optional) chance to take the controls of the aircraft for a time!

Also departing from Dillingham are the ever-popular glider plane flights, often described by past flyers as being “smooth as silk,” and “like a car ride in the sky!” Imagine gently soaring through the skies, while visions of the lush Waiʻanae Mountain range and Oʻahu’s North Shore surround. Length-of-ride in these cozy, no-engine aircrafts range from 20-30 minutes for beginners, and increase up to an hour, depending on weather and other factors. Keep in mind that on these flights, a maximum combined weight for 2-passengers is 350-pounds.

Sea planes soar through Oʻahu’s skies (and skim along its waters) as well, with Honolulu Harbor serving as the departure point for these thrilling, 30-minute flights that offer aerial views of Aloha Tower, Pearl Harbor, Waikīkī Beach, Diamond Head, and more.

Kauai Air Tour Options

Fixed-wing airplane tours (the average of which last roughly an hour) are the favorite option on Kauaʻi, with a most popular option being unforgettable Cessna sightseeing excursions, filled with breathtaking views of spots like Waimea Canyon, Nā Pali Coast, Hanalei Bay, Mt. Waiʻaleʻale, and more.

Big Island Air Tour Options

The Big Island boasts more fixed-wing flight options, with both sunset and entire island flight seeing tours (each roughly two-hours in duration) offered to guests. Each departing from Kona International Airport, the air tours offer exceptional views of the island’s breathtaking scenery, including its steaming calderas, volcanic lava flows, rainforests, waterfalls, and stark, rugged coastline.

Maui Air Tour Options

Ready to island hop by air? Maui makes it possible, with its full-day, inter-island air tours, including sightseeing flights offered to both Big Island and Molokaʻi. These one-of-a-kind adventures depart from both Kapalua-Kāʻanapali and Kahului Airports, and both feature the highlights of Hana, Haleakalā, Maui waterfalls, as well as (for the Big Island option) the Kohala Coast sea cliffs, Waipiʻo Valley, and waterfalls, and (for the Molokaʻi option) historic Kalaupapa, and more.

Whatever island you are on, you’re sure to find a flight that is beyond your every expectation! And in many instances, tour guides will even meet and pick you up at your hotel, making the memory even more accessible to achieve. Check with individual companies for details, and enjoy!

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