The Hawaii island of Kauai, popularly known as the ‘Garden Island’, is a great place for helicopter tours.
It was also the location of the hit movie Jurassic Park.
Whether you’re looking for a private tour or flying with a group, you’ll love the sights from above.
See breathtaking canyons, coastal cliff lines, and Mount Waialeale crater at the center of the island.
One of the main highlights is Manawaiopuna Falls, also referred to as the ‘Jurrasic’.
A Kauai helicopter tour, especially on a thrilling doors-off flight, is the best way to take it all in.
With most tours departing from Lihue Airport, here are the best helicopter tours in Kauai, Hawaii.
1. Ali’i Kauai Air Tours & Charters
Ali’i Kauai offers one-hour tours for a minimum of two or up to three paying passengers.
So it’s not a typical four-seater helicopter.
The guaranteed window seating makes this a highly personable tour.
Their fleet of Robinson R44’s, considered the best general aviation helicopter, come with state-certified tour pilots.
Premium photo tours are charged per flight with a customizable itinerary.
Both tours can include pilot narration, with doors off available on request.
Ali’i Kauai is a family-run enterprise with over 32 years in the business.
- Prices: from $207
- Opening Hours: Daily 7:30am-6:30pm
- Address: 3745 Ahukini Rd Ste #107, Lihue, HI 96766, United States
2. Island Helicopters Kauai
Island Helicopters Kauai take up to six passengers per flight.
Their Airbus A-Star helicopters have floor-to-ceiling windows with doors closed during the flight.
This is the only helicopter tour that is certified to land at a waterfall.
Their Jurassic tour promises 75 to 80 minutes of air time with a landing at the famous Manawaiopuna waterfall.
The Grand Skies tour is 55 to 60 minutes of air time with no waterfall stop.
Both tours include pilot narration so you’ll have plenty of insights into the Kauai landscape.
Private and group tours are available to ensure you have the best experience.
Island Helicopters Kauai is also a family-run business with over 40 year’s experience.
- Prices: from $234
- Opening Hours: Daily 7am-5:30pm
- Address: 3788 Ahukini Rd, Lihue, HI 96766, United States
3. Safari Helicopters
Safari Helicopter tours generally last for 55 minutes to an hour.
Their more selective tours go to the Na Pali coastline, the Waimea canyon with cascading waterfalls, and the Waialeale crater.
If you want to stop by the Kauai Wildlife Refuge overlooking Olokele Canyon, check out their Canyon landing tour.
Private tours and aerial photography charters are also available.
Their tour fleet consists of Astar (AS350) helicopters noted for open cockpit viewing, flight smoothness, and air conditioning.
All flights are doors on.
Safari Tours has been in business since 1987 having also fulfilled contracts with the US Navy.
They are unique in having FAA authority to fly at altitudes as low as 500 feet above specific locations.
- Prices: from $264
- Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 7:30am-6pm
- Address: 3225 Akahi St, Lihue, HI 96766, United States
4. Sunshine Helicopters, Inc.
Sunshine Helicopter Tours last between 50 to 55 minutes.
They fly FX Star and Whisper Star helicopters.
Noted for their quiet interior, flights also include headsets with custom music.
Their helicopters fly up to six people seating two up front and four at the back with two middle seats.
If you buy a first-class seat, you get to sit up front with the pilot.
Other seating, as with all helicopters, is determined by weight distribution.
Sunshine Helicopter was founded in 1985 by an ex-Vietnam veteran pilot who later moved his charter business from Alaska to Hawaii.
A bonus is a Sky Cam video recording and narration of your flight.
This is available for purchase after the tour.
- Prices: from $294
- Opening Hours: Daily 7am-8pm
- Address: 3730 Ahukini Rd #2, Lihue, HI 96766, United States
5. Airborne Aviation
Airborne Aviation specializes in doors off Kauai helicopter tours.
Flights last around 50 minutes and each flight can take up to four passengers.
There are two premium seats at the back and two in the front with a middle seat next to the pilot.
Private charters are also available with the option of doors on.
The helicopters are Hughes 500, considered one of the best for doors off flights.
Airborne Aviation and its pilots have an impressive track record in local fire response and remote coastal or mountain rescues.
- Prices: from $325
- Opening Hours: Daily 7:30am-5pm
- Address: 3651 Ahukini Rd, Lihue, HI 96766, United States
6. Jack Harter Helicopters
Jack Harter Helicopters were the first helicopter tour company on Kauai island.
They have over 50 years of experience.
In 2005, they also pioneered the first doors off helicopter tours.
To date, they operate four Hughes MD 500s and one Airbus A-star employing six pilots.
Their doors-off tours in a Hughes MD 500 last between 60 to 65 minutes with up to four passengers.
Their luxury tour uses a six-passenger Eurocopter Astar helicopter.
They have floor-to-ceiling windows, air conditioning, luxury seating, and Bose noise-canceling headsets are included.
Jack Harter Helicopters also do aerial photography charters, private shuttles, emergency rescue, and other island services.
- Prices: from $339
- Opening Hours: Daily 8am-5pm
- Address: 4231 Ahukini Rd, Lihue, HI 96766, United States
7. Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours
Mauna Loa tours last for 60 minutes with a maximum of four passengers.
Private tours are for two to three passengers and group tours up to four.
All tours are doors-on only.
They fly Robinson helicopters, the world’s most popular helicopter with the best safety and performance record.
Each pilot gives their own personalized narration together with music in the background.
Or, you choose your own music on a private tour.
Mauna Loa Helicopters started out as a flight training school and has been training professional helicopter pilots for 22 years.
They have been in the tour business since 2006.
- Prices: from $342
- Opening Hours: Daily 7am-4pm
- Address: 3501 Rice St Suite 1008, Lihue, HI 96766, United States
8. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters
Blue Hawaiian Helicopter tours go for 50 minutes in state-of-the-art Eco-Star helicopters.
There are four seats at the back including two middle seats.
However, the windows are not floor-to-ceiling and all tours are door-on only.
Each tour includes pilot narrations and all pilots are state-certified tour guides.
Their Eco Tour is much the same as all other comparable tours.
You can also book private charters and customized tours.
They have been in business since 1985 and are the only tour company to serve all four main Hawaii islands.
- Prices: from $349
- Opening Hours: Daily 7am-7pm
- Address: Lihue Airport, 3730 Ahukini Rd #8, Lihue, HI 96766, United States
How to Prepare for Kauai Helicopter Tours
For first-time visitors to Kauai, try to book a helicopter tour at the beginning of your trip.
Ideally, the weather should be a clear sunny day so you can see everything from above.
For family excursions, doors on flights usually have a minimum age of 7 years (with some exceptions).
But doors off is always 12+ years.
Safety checks are stringent meaning no loose items, including hats, bags, and extra camera lenses.
All items, especially cameras and including smartphones, must be secured with a strap to the body.
For doors off flights, it’s best to wear long pants and waterproof windbreaker jackets.
Otherwise, wear dark-colored clothes to minimize lens glair and it’s best to use a polarized camera lens.
Most tours will also allow you to bring water.
And of course, go to the bathroom before you board cause there’s definitely no room for a toilet.
For everyone’s safety, always pay attention to the pilot and do as they request.
Places To See On Kauai Helicopter Tours
All standard tours include the same basic itinerary of key places to see.
These include the Waimea or ‘Grand Canyon of the Pacific’, the Wai’ale’ale Crater, and the Napali coastline with its thousands of sea cliffs.
Most pilots will fly by the Manawaiopuna or ‘Jurassic’ Falls as featured in the movie.
Another highlight is the Hanalei Valley with its cascading waterfalls and the Olokele Canyon.
Only Island Helicopters Kauai is permitted to land near Manawaiopuna waterfall.
While Safari Helicopter Tours stop by the Kauai Wildlife Refuge if you’re looking for something different.
Itineraries may sometimes change due to weather or other factors.
If there’s a specific place you really want to see, you can also confirm before booking.
Kauai Helicopter Tours Map
On any helicopter flight, all passengers have to wear multi-point harnesses around the waist and each shoulder.
Especially on a doors-off flight.
Therefore, it is highly unlikely anyone will fall out of their seat.
That said, with the popularity of helicopter flights on the island, there have been rare accidents in the past.
From the small number of incidents, up to a third are weather-related in fast changing conditions.
Therefore, its good to always ask about pilot safety track records.
Helicopters constructed within the last 5 years are a good choice.
Or choose a company that has ’14 CFR Part 135 Air Carrier and Operator Certification’.
Airborne Aviation specializes in door-off flights.
They have an impressive record in search and rescue, fire fighting, utility construction, and nature conservation.
Their Hughes 500 helicopters also provide the best views with two premium back seats and two front seats with a glass floor.
April to June is generally the best time since it’s the dry season so there’s less chance of rain.
December and January have the most rainfall which means visibility may not be as good.
If you want the best aerial photography, aim for tours between noon and 3 pm.
Generally, the cheapest deal is with Ali’i Kauai Air Services.
Including spot deals, seats can go for a little over 200 USD.
But it is always a good idea to shop around as prices may vary during the year.