If you know me at all, you know that my dream is to live in Hawaii. I’ve traveled and explored all the islands (some twice) and I love each one for different reasons. Our first visit to Oahu was back in 2011, we brought the whole family and it was a wonderful blend of history and traditional island vacation. At that time, I thought this island wasn’t a place I’d necessarily live because I thought it had too much ‘city life’ in Honolulu and in the Waikiki area. We visited Oahu this summer with my son for a travel baseball tournament and fell in love with the island all over again. After more exploration, I’ve changed my mind. The kids have grown up a bit and the creature comforts of mainland life plus an island lifestyle (not to mention a gorgeous University) would be a perfect combination to make a home here, alas I continue to dream until I can make it a reality. One thing that helped change my mind was a wonderful experience my husband and I shared thanks to Cloud 9 Living, a Pali Makani Helicopter Tour with Makani Kai Helicopters.
Makani Kai Helicopters, founded in 1988, is Oahu’s oldest, largest and most experienced helicopter tour company. The firm started with a single Hughes 500 helicopter and quickly became known for its personalized service and scrupulous attention to safety. Makani Kai Helicopters has remained accident and incident free throughout its 20+ year history, and its rigorous flight and safety training continue to be the company’s first priority.
I have only been in a helicopter one other time before, and I loved it. My youngest daughter and I took a tour in Kauai and it was so relaxing and smooth that she actually fell asleep at one point. It may have had something to do with the Dramamine we took though, as a precaution we took a half dose each just in case. This trip, I was a little worried about my husband who tends to get motion sickness. He braved the trip and neither of us took the medicine.
So for this excursion, and included in every tour, is a pick up from the Waikiki area hotels. About 45 minutues-1 hour before our flight time, a shuttle arrived and Val was the friendliest driver! He gave us a pep talk and we watched a safety video on our way to pick up other customers. Makani Kai Helicopters is located on property of the Honolulu International Airport. After a short wait in the office/gift shop, we signed waivers, locked our valuables in a locker and went out to greet our pilot, Margot. We got situated in our helicopter, got our headsets on and ready, but there was a delay. A mechanical issue was found and we had to get off the helicopter and board another, it only took a few short minutes to figure it all out, and we were thankful that attention to even the slightest issue is taken seriously and promptly.
Once we were ready for take off, I was eager to start snapping away with my camera. Items in italics are from the website’s tour description. This tour begins with a beautiful view of placid Keehi Lagoon and continues over historic Honolulu Harbor. The morning (9am flight time) was a little cloudy, but not too bad. As the tour started off smooth and our pilot filled us in with facts and history along the way. With A/C cooling us down and lots of window views, there was no motion sickness to be had. Our headsets kept the noise level down as it conveyed conversation between us and the pilot. Next up is the beautiful contrast of downtown Honolulu’s many buildings and the gorgeous beaches and turquoise waters.
Above the city stands Punchbowl, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. I feel like I was on the wrong side of the helicopter for the best photos of the crater at Diamond Head. I tried my best and hoped we’d fly past on our return trip (you don’t). It’s still on my list of things to do, hike and tour the crater! The tour continues above Ala Moana Beach Park, Magic Island, the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor and Waikiki Beach. Beyond, you’ll see Diamond Head crater from a dramatic perspective, the “Gold Coast” where multi-millionaires make their homes, and spectacular Hanauma Bay. I got a shot of the homes as we flew over the hills.
Rounding the east end of the island, you’ll see rugged coastline, inviting Sandy Beach and Makapuu Point and lighthouse. Your aerial tour continues over Sea Life Park, the estate where TV’s Magnum P.I. was filmed, and miles of white sand beach. It’s a tough call about how much you want to hold the camera and shoot film or photos and how much you want to see with the naked eye. I tried to balance it all but didn’t get everything that the description of the tour offers. I opted for perspective, color, and beauty in my photos, the landmarks are there and you will see them on the tour.
Just days before, hurricane/tropical storm Darby hit Oahu and the pilot pointed out that photos of the golf courses like seen above aren’t normal, but obviously striking from the air! You’ll be treated to a stunning view of Mount Olomana and, later, the Nuuanu Pali where King Kamehameha’s warriors won a decisive battle to unite the islands. We later in our trip visited the Pali Overlook, it’s the windiest spot I’ve ever experienced in my life!Your tour winds up with a great view of Pearl Harbor, the Arizona Memorial and the Battleship Missouri.
Our first trip to the island had us visiting the historic Pearl Harbor and Battleship Missouri and to this day, the kids remember so much about it. From the air, it’s just as spectacular and even sad as you can see the oil slick vividly.
The trip was about 30-40 minutes of smooth riding and no motion sickness for either of us. If you’re looking into trying out a quick and easy flight, this is one to take. Also, this makes a great gift if you have family or friends traveling to the island (honeymoon, birthday) and want to treat them to a Cloud 9 Living experience! It’s easy to book:
You choose one of our 1,700 experiences or an open ended gift certificateYou present your gift to the delighted recipient via our free custom made Gift Pack or Email CertificateThe recipient visits www.cloud9living.com and chooses a date and time that is convenient for them. You don’t have to handle any of the logistics – unless of course you want to!The recipient enjoys their experience and thanks you!