Taking a helicopter tour around Hawaii was one of my ultimate travel goals, and thanks to Paradise Helicopters I finally got to check it off my bucket list. I booked the Magnum PI Experience which flies out of the Turtle Bay Resort on the famous North Shore of Oahu. The tour is an hour long and takes you around almost the entire island, hitting all the most scenic spots, in a replica of the helicopter used in the hit 80’s TV show Magnum PI.
There is an option to fly with your door off, and for me it was a no brainer. Doors off is the only way to go!
The tour leaves from the North Shore and takes you along the mecca of surfing… the “7 Mile Miracle”. I had an unforgettable view flying over legendary spots such as Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline, and Sunset Beach. I could never surf the waves there, but I can sleep easy knowing that I’ve flown over them now.
The pilot then took us south towards Pearl Harbor. This is one of the highlights of the tour and it was one of my favorite parts. I’ve been to Pearl Harbor before, but seeing it from above was a completely new experience. Looking down at the massive battleships and USS Arizona Memorial from above was humbling, and luckily the pilot did a few pass overs so that everyone in the helicopter had a great view.
The tour then flew us over Waikiki in what has to be the absolute best way to see it. Waikiki is a big, busy city, that can be overwhelming and take a long time to walk on foot. We flew over at a low altitude with the doors off, and suddenly Waikiki didn’t seem so big anymore. The boats full of tourists were now just tiny specks below, scattered in the ocean like ants. The water was so clear that I could actually see fish swimming around the snorkelers.
Sometimes I’m at a loss for words when travelling, and this was one of them. I had seen helicopters fly over this area pretty often, so it felt great finally being inside the helicopter rather than being on the beach watching it go by. I had an epic view of all the most iconic hotels that made Waikiki famous. In the photos above you can see the Moana Surfrider (built in 1901), and the Royal Hawaiian Hotel aka “The Pink Palace of the Pacific”.
Just a few minutes past Waikiki and we flew over this unique residential neighborhood. I had seen it from afar when hiking up Diamondhead, but having a birds eye view blew me away. As a photographer, I’m always looking for new angles and ways to shoot a subject. Being in a helicopter is perfect as it gives one of a kind aerial shots. As I was looking through my viewfinder I couldn’t help but dream about what it would be like to live here.
An epic landscape with the lighting shining down just right. As we flew closer and closer to the Ko’olau Mountains, we could see hikers walking along the steep cliffs and ridges. It was nice being able to get these shots without having to destroy my legs for a change.
The 2 faces of Oahu. The quiet countryside on one side of the mountain, and the busy city life on the other. A lot of people will hate on Oahu because it’s commercialized and touristy. But to me, it has the best of both worlds and a little bit of something for everyone. There’s places like Waikiki which are always busy and convinient for tourists, but there’s also a lot of spots outside of Waikiki which are quiet and off the radar.
An ancient fishpond in Kaneohe. It’s estimated to be around 600-800 years old and Hawaiians used it for stocking and harvesting fish. Hawaii was once full of these finhponds but today only a few of them still remain.
I had heard about it. Read about it. But I was never able to see it. That’s because Sacred Falls is strictly off limits and illegal to visit. It’s too dangerous due to poor conditions, access, and falling boulders. It used to be a popular state park, but it’s been closed for nearly 20 years after many incidents and deaths. Besides putting your life in danger and illegally hiking there (risking a massive fine), helicopter is the only way to see Sacred Falls these days.
This is post is sponsored by Paradise Helicopters but the review and opinions are all my own. It’s truly a once in a lifetime experience and I highly recommend them. The tour is unforgettable and something that everyone should check off their bucketlist when visiting Hawaii.