Na Pali from the air – a story of two flights
How did it happen that I landed on board of a helicopter to watch the wonderful Na Pali cliffs, actually on board of two helicopters?
The larger part of the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i is not available from land due to inaccessible mountains. That’s why a helicopter trip is the best option to see the whole island.
When you look at photos from Hawaii, you can get the impression that there’s always a great sunny weather. However, the location of the archipelago in the middle of the ocean and the mountainous terrain make a specific climate that is characterised by high rainfall and moderate temperatures. A large amount of precipitation results in lush Hawaiian vegetation, but it certainly interferes with the helicopter flights, what I was about to find out.
Kaua’i island was the last stop during our Hawaiian trip. When I was preparing a travel plan, I read hundreds of stories about Hawaii, not to mention the amount of photos seen. Of all the islands in Hawaii, Kaua’i made the biggest impression on me. The main reason was picture perfect Na Pali cliffs, Waimea Canyon, huge waterfalls and lush tropical vegetation.
For this reason, I left visiting Kaua’i specially as the last stop, as the cheery on the cake in this lifetime journey. What’s more, I went one step further! I figured out that since I was nearly bankrupt after a month’s stay on the Hawaiian islands, and actually I had only a return ticket and a credit card, it wouldn’t make any difference to increase the debt buying a helicopter flight.
The weather on the day of the flight could be described shortly: it was raining cats and dogs. Before going the airport in Lihue, I had had mixed feelings, so I had asked our Hawaiian host what she had thought about the idea of taking a flight in such weather . The answer was short: “when it rains, you will see beautiful waterfalls, but if it doesn’t there’ll be better visibility” and unfortunately, in no way did it resolve my doubts.
I took comfort in thinking the weather in Hawaii is variable and that rain would be passing. On the spot, I was completely reassured by the organizer that the atmospheric conditions would not interfere with the flight, I sat next to the pilot, happy to have the best place to observe the beautiful cliffs.
The pilot, presented himself as a Vietnam War veteran. His age didn’t make any impression on me, as opposed to the deteriorating weather conditions. At some point, instead of wonderful views, I saw a wall of rain.
Helicopter wipers weren’t prepared for this conditions and neither was I! I looked at the pilot, and I felt a fast surge of adrenaline, similar to how one could feel when duck diving into a pool without water. The idea of duck diving into one big pool of water – Pacific Ocean, didn’t make the situation any better. I didn’t even try to underestimate the pilot’s flying skills, but I was wondering if his sight and reflex were sufficient in those difficult conditions. Suddenly, through the wall of the rain, I saw the first blurry view. Right in front of us were high Na Pali cliffs. You probably know that feeling when you feel the tingling wave coming from the top of your head to the feet? That’s exactly how I felt when rocks suddenly ′′ raised′′ right in front of us.
The possibility of landing on the emergency landing helipad, which I had seen two days earlier on the Kalalau Trail didn’t make me optimistic because it looked like that…
Sitting on the edge of my seat, I was waiting for the turn of events, nervously pressing the shutter 😀 I thought to myself: ′′ An interesting viewing flight, it’s a pity that without prospects for the future”. In the corner of my eye I looked at the virtuoso of sky acrobatics, it was clear that he felt like a fish in the water. What could I do in this situation, I closed my eyes and decided to contemplate the last moments in the sounds of thumping rain. After a while I gently opened one eyelid, I saw nothing at all just the rain wall. On the other hand, it thought that the situation was stable at least.
A helicopter trip over the Na Pali cliffs had been my dream for a long time, and when at the time of the landing, I realised that this dream would no longer be able to come true I burst out crying.
My journey companion decided to take matters into his own hands and went to the company with complain, arguing that the service was not realised because when flying through the wall of the rain is hard to talk about sightseeing flight. To my surprise, it turned out that the company agreed to this and returned the money! The next day, I was so excited having another helicopter flight!
This time the weather didn’t let me down. Just after taking off from the airport in Lihue we flew over Manawaiopuna Falls – cascading waterfalls forming one big wall of water- famous view from the ” Jurassic Park” film.
Another attraction was the spectacular Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. I had an opportunity to admire this place during the previous hiking trip, but from the bird’s eye view it looked amazing.
The main attraction of the flight are Na Pali cliffs, which from the helicopter look like painted. The intensive colors contrasting with as white as flour sand and turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean make an amazing impression. Then the helicopter went to the center of the Waialeale Crater – which is supposed to be the most humid place on earth, after an earlier flight I can confirm it.
The flight is an amazing experience, the helicopter flies very close to the rocks which allows almost to touch the sharp peaks of the Na Pali coast.
The last amazing view is Makua (Tunnels) Beach, with numerous underwater tunnels – the perfect place to dive and snorkeling. It looks really amazing from the air.
Na Pali Coast State Park is considered as the one of the most beautiful places on the earth. I haven’t seen the whole earth yet, but I confirm that this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited.
Helicopter flight will remain an unforgettable experience for me, the amazing wealth of nature and the incredible scale of the cliffs I remember to this day. I can’t even put this experience into words, I’m not even trying. I will leave these emotions to myself, while I will tell you that in the end I cried my eyes out with happiness… Just to clarify it was a strange feeling because I don’t like getting emotional 😉
It’s best to book helicopter flight in the morning when the air is transparent. Online booking can save a few bucks. There are many companies to choose from:
– Island Helicopters,
– Maunaloa Helicopters,
– Jack Harter Helicopters,
– Blue Hawaiian Helicopters,
– Safari Helicopters,
If you’re going to choose this option of sightseeing, wear dark clothes to minimize the reflections in the window.
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