We researched all the many companies who offer this service and picked Mauna Loa Helicopters. When we saw their office, we just hoped they put all their profits into the helicopters.
We chose this company for two reasons - they use small four-seater helicopters, so nobody gets stuck in the center and they give the option to fly with the doors off!
I was quick to say, "Doors off!". After all if the thing crashes, that flimsy door certainly isn't going to save me.
But when our pilot Guy began explaining how the controls worked, I started to worry that he expected me to fly the thing.
We had chosen our seats ahead of time - me in the front and Diana in the back. I'm ready to go!
And so is Diana. The fourth seat was empty.
We took off and passed over Lihue and the bay where our cruise ship docked last year.
Then we crested the old crater surrounding Lihue . . .
And flew over the southern part of the island.
Soon we headed up one of the many canyons
To the famous Jurassic Falls, technically Manawaiopuna Falls, featured in the movie Jurassic Park.
I think Guy would have taken us down lower, but there was another helicopter in the way. That's okay, I liked this unusual view.
I also was fascinated to see how one waterfall flows into the next. Not something you can see from the ground.
Then we headed up colorful Waimea Canyon. According to Wikipedia, waimea is Hawaiian for red water. Guy was very informative throughout the trip, but I'm afraid I don't remember much of what he said. I was too busy gawking.
(Nasty reflections out the front windshield)
We recognized the waterfall we had seen from the viewpoint when we drove up the canyon rim.
Diana even caught part of a rainbow as we passed.
At the top of the canyon, we hopped over the viewpoint.
And admired the view from the air. (See how much better the pictures are without that nasty window in the way?)
I guess the Na Pali coast is hazy, even on the clearest days.
Guy took us up another valley . . .
And back out again.
We had a lot of similar pictures. At one point, Diana took a picture of me taking the same one.
We caught a view of the northern end of the island, before turning inland again.
I had trouble taking vertical pictures without getting the helicopter frame in the shot, but I thought this interesting waterfall was worth posting.
And I don't know if you can tell, but my head is lifted in this picture. I think I was helping the helicopter to get over that ridge.
Guy took us into the Mt. Waialeale crater which he said is usually inaccessible due to clouds. We certainly picked the right day.
We needed even more than Diana's wide-angle lens to capture the whole side of the caldera.
All too soon, we headed over the eastern side of the island and back to the airport. That's Sleeping Giant in the distance. Personally, I don't get it.
And you can see how the Wailua River and falls cut into the farmland.
We couldn't have been happier with our trip, our pilot Guy, and Mauna Loa Helicopters. It was truly an experience of a lifetime.