Is a Doors-Off Helicopter Tour of Kauai & the Nā Pali Coast Worth It?

This site uses affiliate links, meaning that if you make a purchase through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

There are just certain activities you must do in Kauai. A doors-off helicopter tour of Kauai is one of them!

This guide details what to expect before your Kauai helicopter tour, how to book the best one, and what to bring with you to ensure you have the most memorable trip!

Are you planning your Kauai helicopter tour last minute?

If you’re traveling to Kauai last minute, you want to ensure you have your helicopter tour booked ahead of time! These are our top picks:

🚁  Best tours and experiences in Kauai:

  1. Doors Off Air Kauai Helicopter Tour (top pick – I recommend below!)
  2. Na Pali Coast sunset boat trip (likely to sell out – book ahead!)
  3. Morning snorkeling tour catamaran trip of Nā Pali Coast

🛌  Best places to stay in Kauai:

  1. The Kauai Inn (budget option near Lihue – I highly recommend it)
  2. Marriottʻs Kauai Beach Club (mid-range w/ pool and beach)
  3. Sheraton Kauai Coconut Beach Resort (luxury on water near Kapaa)

🚗  Curious about how to get around Kauai? Click here to check Kauai rental car rates!

This guide will also detail some of the places you will see (from a bird’s-eye view!) on your doors off helicopter tour of Kauai, including the alluring Nā Pali Coast, which is the reason many people book the flight to begin with!

Doors off helicopter tour of Kauai
Doors off helicopter tour of Kauai – my experience!

Did we fail to answer any of your questions about taking a doors off helicopter Kauai tour? Let us know in the comments. Thanks!

Kauai Doors-Off Helicopter Tour Overview

Seeing Kauai by air is the only way to see it in its entirety, and it is the perfect thing to do even if you have only 3 or 4 days in Kauai.

The landscape is so rugged and raw that most of the island is unable to be visited any other way.

And while there are small planes that take tourists on trips to see Kauai, they don’t have the opportunity to hover over places the way a helicopter does, even if they can be slightly cheaper.

Once the fog lifted - we go to see Nā Pali!
Flying into Nā Pali Coast State Park

Helicopter tours of Kauai sell out quickly, so it is best to book your ride as soon as you have your tickets to the Hawaiian island!

We recommend booking them online with Viator like I did as you will get a voucher sent to you right away and you will be reminded of the tour beforehand.

💥 PRO TIP: Book your helicopter tour at the beginning of your trip in case of bad weather or rescheduling.

My tour was with Air Kauai Helicopters. There are plenty of reputable companies, and I loved the one I went on. This tour offers several time slots and operates Monday–Friday weekly.

One thing to note is that when you book this, it will say either ʻMorning Departureʻ (8 am-12 pm) or Afternoon Departure (12 pm-4 pm).

Depending on what you choose, there will be tours leaving hourly during that time of the day. You will need to get an exact time from the tour company beforehand by simply shooting them an email or calling them.

Book your helicopter ride here!

If your party books all on the same ticket, you will likely be on the same flight, but if you book on different reservations, you will need to request the same flight directly with the operator. I will detail this a bit further down in the post.

🌟 GOOD TO KNOW: Only one person in your group (if the group is ʻ2ʻ) is guaranteed a seat on the outside; prepare accordingly.

Once you get to Air Kauai’s office, you will check in and have a safety briefing before heading to the helicopter. They will then take a photo of each group individually (for purchase later) and sit you in the helicopter (each group is guaranteed one window seat).

I had a ʻwindowʻ seat on the right side
I had a ʻwindowʻ seat on the right side

And up you will go! This post will detail the main highlights and places you will fly over throughout the tour!

💥 PRO TIP: The best seat is on the right behind the pilot. It will grant you the best views of most sites, including the Nā Pali Coast.

The flight was incredible. There are some things to know before going, hence this post. You cannot take cameras (only cell phones!), you may experience motion sickness, and you may end up in a middle seat. Continue reading for additional information!

Views from my doors off helicopter Kauai experience!
Views from my doors off helicopter Kauai experience!

My Doors Off Helicopter Tour of Kauai

Arriving at Lihue Airport (+ Check-in / Safety Briefing)

To get to your Kauai doors-off helicopter tour, you will need to first get to the Lihue Airport. Do double-check the meeting point if you booked a tour different than any suggested here, as some leave from other parts of the island!

Air Kauai office where youʻll check-in
Air Kauai office, where you check-in

Coming into the area around Lihue Airport, you will need to go left if you are facing the airport. There is an area with shipping containers and trailers as offices. You will also see the helipad area, which should be a good indicator.

Head into the office and check-in. Be sure to arrive early! I recommend arriving at least 30 minutes early, as it gives you time to check in and go to the toilet (porta-potty).

If you are planning to take photos with your phone, you can also ask for a case and lanyard for your phone. It is a rubber case that will stretch over the phone, and the lanyard must be around your neck for the flight.

Air Kauai helipad at the Lihue Airport
Air Kauai helipad at the Lihue Airport

Once your entire group is there (each flight can take up to 6 passengers), you will undergo a safety briefing detailing instructions on what to do to stay safe and enjoy your flight to the fullest.

They will also let you know the conditions for the day and that they will record a video throughout the journey that you can purchase after the flight! This costs around $60–$70.

Waiting for take off...
Waiting for take off…

Flight Route Highlights (What We Saw!)

The reason to take a doors-off helicopter tour of Kauai is to see the island from above (especially the Nā Pali Coast)! But, you will see plenty of other mind-blowing sites along the way!

Below are some of the top highlights from a Kauai helicopter tour:

Mount Waiʻaleʻale

Mount Waiʻaleʻale is the second-tallest point on Kauai and is a shield volcano. But what it is known for is its precipitation and rainfall!

Many sources say that it rains here 365 days a year (while some claim only 360). Nevertheless, this is either the wettest place on Earth or one of them, and its many waterfalls justify this claim!

Mount Waiʻaleʻale
Beautiful Mount Waiʻaleʻale blew my mind!

You will have a chance to see this up close on the helicopter tour as you fly inside the area, and you will immediately smell the water droplets as well as feel the cool air. It was easily one of my favorite parts of the trip!

BOOK HERE: Kauai doors off helicopter tour

This area is really only able to be visited or seen by air. While you can technically find trails that will lead you there, it is so wet that it makes the journey nearly impossible (or extremely difficult).

Nā Pali Coast State Park

Nā Pali Coast State Park is one of the main attractions (if not THE main attraction) on Kauai.

You will find the state park extending from Polihale State Park to Keʻe Beach, and it is not easily accessible unless you are an experienced hiker or take a helicopter tour (or boat tour).

Nā Pali Coast State Park - absolute perfection
Nā Pali Coast State Park – absolute perfection

This 6,175-acre state park is 16 miles long and is renowned for its high cliffs (nā pali actually means ʻhigh cliffsʻ), all of which you will get to see on a Nā Pali helicopter tour!

The rugged and sharp terrain is one-of-a-kind and can’t be found anywhere else in the world, which is the ultimate reason to take this Kauai helicopter tour.

Nā Pali Coast State Park cliffs
Nā Pali Coast State Park cliffs
Nā Pali Coast
Nā Pali Coast
Off of Nā Pali
Off of the Nā Pali Coast

Manawaiopuna Falls (Jurassic Park Falls)

This famous Kauai waterfall is one of the highlights of the tour and one you will get to see from above on the trip. This is the one place you will see best if you are sitting on the left side of the helicopter.

The waterfall is located in the Hanapepe Valley and is 400 feet tall. Why is it usually referred to as Jurassic Park Falls? Well, it was featured in the 1993 Jurassic Park!

Manawaiopuna Falls
Manawaiopuna Falls

Today, you can only see it from above with a helicopter or by booking a specific tour with Island Helicopters, a company that has been given special permission to land there since 2009.

Waimea Canyon State Park

This well-known Kauai state park is often called ʻThe Grand Canyon of the Pacificʻ and is one of the must-visit sites on Kauai!

BOOK HERE: Kauai doors off helicopter tour

You will have a chance to view it from above on the helicopter ride, and the red and orange hues will be a stark contrast from the rest of the journey, where everything is deliciously green!

Waimea Canyon State Park
Waimea Canyon State Park

The park has several waterfalls, and you will have a chance to see Waipo’o Falls on the flight. I hope it has a more powerful stream for you than when I flew over it, however!

Doors Off Helicopter Tour of Kauai FAQ

Below are some quick FAQs about taking a helicopter flight over Kauai:

Best Time of the Year for a Kauai Helicopter Tour

Winter in Kauai tends to be rainy and windier. So, I would recommend doing this tour outside of the winter. However, I went in the winter! And it was epic. I was expecting the waterfalls to be gushing, but it was a rather dry February, and that was not the case.

But if you are planning your entire trip around doing this helicopter ride, I would pick any month outside of the winter or early spring season to do it.

If you can’t change your trip and you are going in winter, plan the helicopter flight for the beginning of your trip instead of at the end in case of freak weather changes and a sudden cancellation!

Best Time of the Day for a Kauai Helicopter Flight

Oh, this one is a bit tricky! I went at 2 pm on my tour, and the lighting was fantastic on the Nā Pali Coast, but clouds were lingering around the area.

We, fortunately, flew in and out of the fog and clouds and got some really great scenes and images! But if it had been any worse around the Nā Pali Coast, I would not have been as content with that part of the trip.

Mornings are known for fewer clouds, but the lighting may be harsher on the Nā Pali Coast. Therefore, I would probably recommend booking a morning tour as opposed to an afternoon one if you have the choice.

How much is a Kauai helicopter tour?

Tours range from $250 to $400, depending on the company and whether or not you want the doors on or off. I paid about $304 for my doors-off Kauai helicopter tour, and I booked it through Viator here.

Where does a helicopter tour leave from?

There are a few spots with smaller companies, but generally speaking, Kauaiʻs helicopter tours leave from the Lihue Airport.

What safety gear is on board?

Air Kauai will get you completely sorted out so that you feel strapped in and safe for the journey! Some seatbelts go over you, goggles for your eyes, and a safety jacket around your waist.

Safety gear they gave us
Safety vest they gave us

They will also give you a headset to wear that will play some music, and you will be able to hear the pilot/guide talking you through what you see along the way.

I never once felt like I was going to fall out of the helicopter. And I am rather afraid of heights!

What to Wear on a Kauai Helicopter Tour

You need to dress appropriately on this tour! Do remember to not have anything loose on you for the tour, first and foremost.

Here are some thoughts about what to wear and what not to wear for your doors-off-helicopter Kauai tour:

  • Pull your hair back! If you are a female or male with long hair, pull it back as tight as possible.
  • Donʻt wear super loose jewelry.
  • You are not allowed to wear flip-flops or Birkenstocks. Make sure you wear closed-toe shoes or sandals that have straps locking your feet in.
  • Do not wear shorts. It can get quite cold on the journey and you want to ensure that you do not have anything compromising the experience!
  • If you wear glasses, you can wear them underneath the goggles they give you. I did this. The goggles are adjustable (just pull the straps at the back), so your glasses will stay on securely. Otherwise, wear contacts!
  • No hats!

What to Bring

You cannot bring anything on board this flight except a cell phone (which you will need to get a case and lanyard from the company before taking off).

Your purse, credit cards, ID, etc. all need to stay! You can leave it in Air Kauai’s office, or you can leave it in your car or hotel. It will be fully secure in the office, but there are no lockers (but the office is manned at all times).

Who cannot go on a helicopter tour in Kauai?

First and foremost, you must be 10 years of age or older to go on a helicopter ride (doors off). In addition, passengers exceeding 230 lbs (or 400 lbs per group of two) must purchase an additional comfort seat.

BOOK HERE: Kauai doors off helicopter tour

Passengers in wheelchairs can join for the ride. Just please let Air Kauai know beforehand, and they will sort out the details and logistics. 

How long is a helicopter tour in Kauai?

The tour runs for about 50–60 minutes. Do arrive early for the safety briefings, however. The tour itself is just under an hour.

North Shore winter swells on Kauai
North Shore winter swells on Kauai

Do you tip the helicopter pilot?

You can! I had a great pilot and opted to tip $20. I would suggest anywhere from $10-20 minimum if you had a great journey! They will collect tips in the office at the end if you wish to leave one.

Can you purchase photos or videos after?

Air Kauai takes a photo of you beside the helicopter before the flight and also takes a video during the flight (of the landscapes). You can purchase both after! The picture is about $20, and the video is $60–$70.

This is a great souvenir to take home to remember your trip, especially if you are doing this on your honeymoon!

Are you scared of heights?

If you are scared of heights, this may not be the tour for you. However, I am scared of heights and had no issue with it. I tend to be scared of heights when I am on the edge of cliffs or driving, more so than planes, amusement park rides, helicopters, etc.

I, surprisingly, didnʻt get scared!
I, surprisingly, didnʻt get scared!

I felt extremely secure inside the helicopter and never once questioned being high above the island or the Pacific Ocean. Please carefully consider beforehand if this is the right tour for you.

If you think you can manage the heights part of it, perhaps reach out and ask for a middle seat if that will help!

Do you get motion sickness?

It has been quite some time since I was in a helicopter before this tour and one thing I never considered was motion sickness. I never used to get motion sickness as a kid, even in my 20s. Once I hit my 30s, things changed.

I never thought to take Dramamine or anything before this ride, but when I heard from my friend (who went on the ride an hour before mine) that she got motion sick on the ride, I was super scared I would have the same issue.

And two people on my flight said they are prone to motion sickness as well.

Beautiful views from my Kauai helicopter ride!
Beautiful views from my Kauai helicopter ride!

Thankfully, I never had an issue whatsoever. I think it was the cool air coming in and the excitement of the scenery. The people next to me actually later told me they took Dramamine, and that helped them.

So, if you are prone to motion sickness, take something before!

Are Hawaii helicopter tours safe?

The tours in Hawaii are just as safe as anywhere, and Kauai is no exception! I felt very secure and confident in my pilot as well as Air Kauai. They give a detailed safety briefing before and make sure they get you fastened in tightly.

Cancellation Policy with Air Kauai

To receive a full refund, you must cancel at least 24 hours before the flight (local time). 

If the weather is bad and it is too dangerous to fly, they will cancel it and refund you in full or reschedule your flight. Hence, it is good to schedule your Kauai helicopter ride for the beginning of your trip and not the end!

Doors Off vs. Doors On? Which is best for you?

To be honest, both would be great. There are a few reasons I opted for doors off, and I recommend you do the same.

The first reason is for photos. If you are just looking to enjoy the view from above, by all means, a doors on tour will suit you just fine! I was planning to document my experience here and I wanted to have some decent-quality photos to go with it.

BOOK HERE: Kauai doors off helicopter tour

I knew it would be a challenge, and it was! but I am happy with how they turned out in the end, despite being taken with an iPhone 12!

There is one company I know of that allows cameras (with proper straps), but no way on this planet would I have been able to shoot easily with one!

The second reason I wanted to experience a doors-off helicopter tour of Kauai is that I wanted to feel the elements a bit. While this sounds a bit strange, I wanted to smell the air over the Nā Pali Coast as well as around Mount Waiʻaleʻale.

Nā Pali helicopter tour was worth every penny!
A Nā Pali helicopter tour was worth every penny!

You could smell the eucalyptus from above, too. It heightened my experience, and the memories I have from this trip are far greater than just pictures and images in my head!

Is a doors-off helicopter ride of the Nā Pali Coast worth it?

Yes, 100%. This was one of the best activities I have done in recent years.

While I think a doors-on ride would be great too, I recommend the doors-off helicopter Kauai flight if you have the opportunity to take one!

How to Book Your Kauai Helicopter Tour

We recommend booking your tour with Viator, the company I booked my trip with. They issued the ticket voucher quickly after booking and kept me updated that my tour was still taking place and that everything was confirmed.

Book your Kauai helicopter ride here!

More Related + Kauai Travel Guides

Pin this Helicopter Flight in Kauai Guide

Are you looking for the best doors off helicopter tour of Kauai? This guide details how to book your trip, pre-flight planning, what to wear, and so much more! | Helicopter tour in Kauai | Kauai helicopter tours | Things to do in Kauai | Helicopter flight in Kauai | Helicopter ride Kauai | Doors off helicopter Kauai tour | What to do in Kauai | Nā Pali Coast helicopter ride | How to see the Nā Pali Coast | Waimea Canyon helicopter tour | Na Pali Coast helicopter tour


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *