Enjoy beautiful views of remote treasures from above. // © 2017 Sunshine Helicopters
Feature image (above): Kauai's Napali Coast // © 2017 Marty Wentzel
I had initially chosen Sunshine Helicopters’ Early Bird tour of Kauai so that I would have time for other activities during the day. I eventually discovered, however, that there were many more reasons for booking this inspiring flight.
For starters, the weather conditions at 7:30 a.m. were ethereal. The angle of the sun enriched the colors of the landscape, making it ideal for taking photos. Waimea Canyon turned into a captivating canvas of soft reds and greens, while the waters of Wailua Falls glittered and glowed. The sky at daybreak was completely clear; later, I would notice clouds hugging the mountains and fog blanketing the highlands.
As often happens shortly after sunrise, there were minimal tradewinds as we lifted off from Lihue Airport, so our chopper hardly shimmied throughout the 50-minute flight. At one point, our pilot smoothly maneuvered the craft into Mount Waialeale’s crater, where we hovered alongside its waterfall-laced walls.
Two of my fellow passengers said they were on a budget, so, for them, the Early Bird tour made economic sense. Clients save up to $50 per person when flying before 8:30 a.m. Sunshine Helicopters also accommodates travelers staying on Kauai’s north shore with an Early Bird option out of Princeville Airport.
First-time Kauai visitors who booked the helicopter tour were rewarded with an introduction to the island’s highlights. Our pilot pointed out landmarks and shared their historical and cultural significance, giving the newcomers among us their geographical bearings and whetting their appetites for upcoming explorations.
As we skimmed along the picture-perfect Napali Coast and soared near its sea cliffs, secret caves and ancient valleys, even this frequent visitor gained a new perspective on Kauai. By the tour’s end, I felt as fortunate as the proverbial early bird itself.