Kauai was pretty much made to be seen from the air. Only 20% of the island is developed which means that most visitors only see a tiny fraction of its splendors. And boy does it have splendors. I personally think that Kauai is the most beautiful of the Hawaiian Islands. Sadly, many of its most beautiful sites are so remote and difficult to reach that they remain unseen by all but the most intrepid hikers.
On my most recent trip to Kauai, I knew that it was finally time to take a helicopter ride over the island. I decided to fly with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters on the last morning of my trip. I’ll get more into things you should consider when choosing a tour operator later, but Blue Hawaiian has an excellent safety record, they operate a pretty large fleet (on all of the four main Hawaiian Islands) and they seemed like a good choice for a first flight experience.
My flight’s departure was scheduled for 8:30 AM and I checked in at 7:45 AM. The Lihue heliport is right next to the airport and it’s well marked and easy to find. Blue Hawaiian’s headquarters are in a nice building with a check-in desk, gift shop, restrooms, and safety briefing area. When you check in, they take your weight really discretely (I didn’t even know that’s what they were doing!) and this is how they determine seating assignments. About a half hour before our flight, we watched a safety video and got our personal flotation devices (a small pouch you wear strapped around your waist). This is also where we got our pilot’s name and seat assignments (there were three helicopters leaving at our departure time).
Next we went outside and waited on the lanai and watched the helicopters land from the previous tour, unload, and get refueled before we were loaded on. This flight was on an ecostar, which is known for being one of the more “comfortable” aircrafts you can fly on. It had four seats in the back and three in the front (including the pilot). I was seat #1 which is front middle right next to the pilot so I was the first one loaded. The flight crew led us out to the helipad one by one, buckled us in, and handed us our headsets. Once I was loaded, I could talk to the pilot through my headset.