American Family Adventures: How To See Hawaii From Above With Blue Hawaiian Helicopters


“When is the only time you should ever ride in a helicopter?”

“I dunno, when?”

“When there are two pilots flying it.”

The joke is that there are never two helicopter pilots in the cockpit at the same time, so you should never ride in a helicopter. Get it? Hardy har har. File this bit of humor under: things a guy who’s already nervous about getting into a helicopter doesn’t want to hear an hour before his inaugural copter flight departs.

We arrived at Lava Lava Beach Club in Waikoloa Village on the Big Island late, meaning we had to, not throw down our lunch exactly, but eat without our toes having the luxury of comfortably sinking into the cool white sand beneath the table, without our eyes peering out relaxingly onto the Pacific ocean lapping against the magnificent Hawaiian coastline carved sweetly into a half moon shape, and without our minds being allowed the time to gaze at that pearly white sailboat bobbing in the gentle waves and wonder, “what if?”

A poorly-timed joke is joined by aggressive overeating to form one massive subpar idea before climbing aboard a helicopter for your first ever a wingless sky ride. This is going to be so…exciting??

Yes, very very exciting. The fears they were misspent. If the experience aboard a Blue Hawaiian copter were any smoother it literally would be a baby’s ass.

When you arrive at Blue Hawaiian Helicopters on Rt 19 just above Waikoloa Village and just south of the Mauna Lani complex which houses the Fairmont Orchid (more on that place later,) ask pretty please for John to be your pilot. He’s mellow, debonair, and informative — the picture of calm — and John helms one hell of a smooth copter. If I wanted you to begin singing 80’s songs karaoke-style, I’d say he’s a smooth operator.

Your kids are gonna love, just as my two did, wearing those over-sized pilot headphones and having access to their own microphones to ask questions, be silly, or sing a few bars of “Let It Go” should the mood strike them 2000 feet above the Hawaiian islands.

The Kohala Coast Adventure departing from Waikoloa might not sound as remarkable as the longer Big Island flights which head toward the lava flow on the other side, near Hilo, but it’s a brilliant, breathtaking journey along the north coast that will drop your jaw as you watch the elevation rise, the greenery take over, and 1800 foot waterfalls cascade down the valley and into the Pacific Ocean. You’ll briefly think that you’re traveling into Jurassic Park, without the nagging fear of angry pteranodons chomping your starboard side. So, a win-win.

I’m not gonna lie to you, the Blue Hawaiian flights are not cheap, from around $210 per person in the comfortable A-Star copter we were in, but are very worth the lavish splurge. File under: ‘once in a lifetime’ and ‘regrets cost more’. My big brother is heading to the Hilton Vacation Club in Waikoloa Village next year and I texted him as soon as we landed, telling him to “put away $3 each day between now and the day your flight leaves Philly for Kona in 2015, and take your family of five on a Blue Hawaiian Helicopter. You have no choice, you have to do this.”

Save some dough for the gift shop too. You can buy a DVD of your trip for $25 which includes video and audio of your family in the copter during the flight as well as the sights you saw from above as directed by the pilot with his gyroscope camera attached to the bottom of the helicopter. A brilliant idea and a WAY better investment as mementos go than those $20 5×7 photos most tourist places try to pawn on you at the end of your visit. Blue Hawaiian has some sweet swag too, with designs as gorgeous as the scenery you’ll see during your journey. For example, see my rad t-shirt below.

Like having your first ever taste of a Nutella and banana crepe on the streets of Paris, or biting into your first BBQ rib at Rendezvous in Memphis, a virgin copter ride with Blue Hawaiian will spoil you forever. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters tour many of the Hawaiian Islands. Find out more about where they fly and how much it’ll set you back on their website.

*All photos taken with either the Samsung NX30 or NX3000, save for the two long range shots of our helicopter flying close to a 1800 foot waterfall. Those were so graciously snapped by Matt Blum of Geekdad with his iPhone.

**My family received a complimentary flight courtesy of Toyota during the #SurfNSienna press event. All opinions expressed above are unbiased and honest, as always. The flight WAS this amazing and awe-inspiring.

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