Helicopter flight-seeing excursions can take you over the West Maui Mountains, Hana, Haleakala crater, and even the Big Island lava flow or the island of Molokai. This is a beautiful, thrilling way to see the island, and the only way to see some of its most dramatic areas and waterfalls. Tour prices usually include a DVD of your trip so you can relive the experience at home. Prices run from about $160 for a half-hour rain-forest tour, to more than $400 for a 90-minute experience that includes a midflight landing at an exclusive remote site where you can enjoy refreshments along with the view. Generally the 45- to 50-minute flights are the best value; discounts may be available online or, if you're willing to chance it, by calling at the last minute.
Helicopter-tour operators throughout the state come under sharp scrutiny for passenger safety and equipment maintenance. Don't be shy; ask about a company's safety record, flight paths, age of equipment, and level of operator experience. Generally, though, if they're still in business they're doing something right.
Air Maui Helicopters. Priding itself on a perfect safety record, this company provides 30- to 65-minute flights covering the waterfalls of the West Maui Mountains, Haleakala Crater, Hana, and the spectacular sea cliffs of Molokai. Prices range from $198 to $348, with considerable discounts available online. Charter flights are also available. Kahului Heliport, Hangar 110, Kahului Airport Rd. and Keolani Blvd., Kahului, HI, 96732. PHONE: 877/238-4942 or 808/877-7005. www.airmaui.com.
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. Since 1985 this company has provided aerial adventures in Hawaii and has been integral in some of the filming Hollywood has done on Maui. Its A-Star and Eco-Star helicopters are air-conditioned and have Bose noise-blocking headsets for all passengers. Flights are 30 to 120 minutes and cost $169 to $563, with considerable discounts online. Charter flights are also available. Kahului Heliport, Hangar 105, Kahului Airport Rd. and Keolani Blvd., Kahului, HI, 96732. PHONE: 808/871-8844 or 800/745-2583. www.bluehawaiian.com.
Sunshine Helicopters. Sunshine offers tours of Maui in its FXStar or WhisperStar aircraft. A pilot-narrated DVD of your actual flight is available for purchase. Prices start at $190 for 30 to 65 minutes, with discounts available online. First-class seating is available for an additional fee. Charter flights can be arranged. Kahului Heliport, Hangar 107, Kahului Airport Rd. and Keolani Blvd., Kahului, HI, 96732. PHONE: 808/270-3999 or 866/501-7738. www.sunshinehelicopters.com.