Creativity Magazine

Maui: Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Ride

Posted on the 25 June 2013 by Msadams @HilaryFerrell

IMG 3060 650x433 Maui: Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Ride

Before we left for Hawaii, my husband slyly tried to mention a few times that he really wanted to go on a helicopter ride.  Knowing how expensive the rides were, I gently reminded him that it was pretty cost prohibitive and it seemed a little touristy.  The idea of dropping close to $600 for a 50 minute ride was nauseating to me.

After spending a few days on Maui, I started to think more and more about the helicopter ride.  Maui has a few places that tourists simply can’t see.  While there’s a highway leading up to the eastern mountain (Haleakala), there is absolutely no way to explore the west mountains—unless you were on a helicopter that is.  So after trying to talk my husband out of the helicopter ride, I ended up trying to talk everyone back into doing it.  Luckily, it wasn’t that hard.

After doing some research, we opted for the Blue Hawaiian Helicopter company. While there were cheaper companies, Blue Hawaiian had the best helicopters for sightseeing (the Eco Star has the largest windows possible) and they were the only company that offered 2 way radio (so we could ask the pilot a question if we wanted to).  They have a variety of helicopter tours but we opted for the West Maui and Molokai adventure (like the guidebooks suggest) because they were two places we weren’t able to see on our own.

By the time we schedule our tour, we could only get an afternoon flight.  We were a little apprehensive because we had read that morning conditions were better for helicopter rides but we didn’t have a choice at that point.  As we were driving to the airport to catch the helicopter, the rain that had been dripping all week just wouldn’t stop. I was convinced that our helicopter ride was going to be ruined.

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While we finished up our safety briefing and got our assigned seats, the rain kept going.  Even while we boarded the plane, the rain kept coming down, down and down.  Almost as soon as we made it to the west mountains, the clouds parted and we were blessed with the most beautiful views of waterfalls.  Our pilot mentioned that he had never seen the water flowing this much.  It turns out that the rain really did work in our favor.

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Our pilot took us all around the west Maui landscape teaching us about Maui’s history and explaining the landmarks as we went.

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The west mountains are particularly fascinating because they plunge right through the storm clouds at the top.  And then if you look towards the bottom, you can see the towering waterfalls cascading down the cliffside into the rainforest below.  The storm clouds, rain, and waterfalls are so prevalent here that the mountains were called Mauna Kahalawai (or the House of Water) by the native Hawaiians.

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The west side of Maui was formed by a series of three volcanic eruptions.  But there’s nothing to fear anymore, these mountains haven’t stirred in over 500,000 years.

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While it may be hard to tell, the west mountains are even older than the east mountain, Haleakala. Since these mountains have been around longer, they’ve had the chance to grow more vegetation and become more lush than their eastern counterparts.  Nearly every surface is covered in green vegetation.

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Unfortunately, while the pictures depict a thriving landscape, nearly 60% of Hawaii’s native flora and fauna are in danger of becoming extinct.  This threat is particularly real in the west mountains. In order to maintain the landscape, in 1998, the West Maui Mountains Watershed Partnership was created to protect nearly 50,000 acres of the mountain’s forests.

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After circling the westside, we headed over the Pailolo channel to the nearby island of Molokai. Molokai is one of the most undeveloped Hawaiian islands.  There are no traffic lights, no shopping malls, and no buildings taller than a coconut tree.  It remains just as quiet and peaceful as it was fifty years ago.  Nearly 60% of the residents on Molokai are native Hawaiians.

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My Mom was especially excited to see this part of the journey because Molokai has the world’s tallest sea cliffs, with waterfalls that cascade into the ocean below.

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These sea cliffs were created when half mile sized chunks of the east side of the island broke off and fell into the sea. This landslide created 3,600 to 3,900 feet tall sea cliffs. IMG 3028 400x600 Maui: Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Ride

In the 1800s, this island was used as an exile for Hawaiians with leprosy.  In 1873, a Belgian missionary Saint Damien came to the island to help treat the sick.  His work was so highly regarded by the Roman Catholic Church that he was canonized as a saint in 2009.

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As we headed back to Maui, our pilot pointed out the reefs in the ocean below.  In order to take advantage of the abundant fish in the area, locals used stones to create pools that captured fish, making them easier to fish.  When the tide rose, fish would float into the pool and then when the tide went back out the fish were stuck in the pool.  Even though the pools are no longer in use, you can still see their outlines hundreds of feet up in the air.

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Even though I didn’t want to go on the helicopter ride at first, I ended up becoming its biggest fan.  While it was a costly journey, I don’t know any other place where I could jump in a helicopter and see such amazing sights.  We literally spent the rest of the day talking about how amazing the trip was.  I must have used the terms amazing, awesome, and cool no less than a hundred times.  So if you are thinking about a helicopter ride, definitely do it.  You won’t regret it.  We would highly recommend Blue Hawaiian and ask for Tim if you can.  He was a great pilot and he had incredible knowledge about the island and a true passion for the stories he was telling.

Best of all, Blue Hawaiian lets you buy a dvd of your flight for $30 so you can relive the experience over and over.  I think Mr. A has watched it ten times already.

Anyone else been on a helicopter ride?

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