Hawaii Helicopter vs Plane Scenic Tours

A reader recently asked for my opinion on whether she should choose a fixed-wing tour or helicopter tour on her Kauai vacation. Though I’m sure both would be thrilling, I recommended going with the helicopter tour and here’s why:

  1. FAA allows helicopters to fly lower than planes. That means that with a helicopter tour, you’ll still get a bird’s eye view, but a bit closer to the scenery.
  2. Helicopters are more agile than planes and can fly into areas that planes can’t. For example, on Kauai, there’s a volcanic crater, Mount Waialeale,  that’s partially open on one side. Several pencil thin waterfalls cascade down the side of the crater wall. It’s a beautiful sight that helicopters can fly into the open side of the crater. Planes can only fly several hundred feet above the crater.
  3. Helicopters can hover over a particularly scenic spot whereas planes must keep moving.
  4. Helicopters don’t tend to be affected by turbulence as much as planes.

To expand a bit about Helicopter agility and seeing Mount Waialeale, here’s a rough video that illustrates that point very well.The volume is a  bit loud, so you may want to turn the volume down or mute it before you watch this video.  (Email subscribers, click here to access the video.)

See this article, 6 Tips for Choosing Hawaii Helicopter Tour, for more air tour advice.

    1. Janet – isn’t it amazing that all that water comes from the sky? That may sound silly at first, but when you realize there’s no surface water or river feeding it, it’s mind blowing.

  1. Such incredible scenery. Coming from England, this place looks like a whole other world. I guess a helicopter is the best way to see it in all it’s glory. Nice video.

    1. Dan – Hawaii is so remote and so diverse that it is a whole other world no matter how you slice it. 🙂

      So much of each island isn’t accessible, but a helicopter tour can take you to see those areas. It’s money well spent.

      Thanks for your first time comment!

  2. Hi Shiela, my parents are going on a cruise to hawaii for the first time. They will be going to Lahaina, maui
    Hilo, hawaii
    Kailua, kona
    Honoulu, hawaii
    Where and which helicopter ride that they can get the best scenic views and will be amazing? I am looking for reasonable rates? Can you please help me to recommend out of all these islands. I did take a look at your website
    Thank you

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