Just about everybody who has visited several of the Hawaiian islands has a favorite. Oahu is the most cosmopolitan and has the most attractions. The Big Island has its expanse, the volcanoes and the sunny Kona Coast. Maui has Haleakala and a variety of splendid resorts. Most will agree that Kauai offers the most spectacular natural wonders.

There are good reasons on all the islands to consider hiring a helicopter and seeing things from the air, but that option is particularly appropriate on the Garden Isle of Kauai. The island’s west side offers Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast, which are both must-sees.

Waimea Canyon is more than 3,000 feet deep and gives you stunning panoramic views of crested buttes, rugged crags, and deep valley gorges. The vistas go on for miles. The canyon measures 10 miles long and a mile wide. It was carved thousands of years ago by rivers and floods that flowed from Mount Waialeale’s summit. The lines in the canyon walls depict different volcanic eruptions and lava flows that have occurred over the centuries. Even though it’s smaller than the Grand Canyon of Arizona, Waimea Canyon’s beauty is comparable. If you’re exploring by car, the main road, Waimea Canyon Drive, will lead you to several lookout points that provide awesome views of Kauai’s dramatic interior. The road continues into the mountains and ends at Kokee State Park. There are numerous trails to traverse for beginners and seasoned hikers. You can pick up trail maps at the Ranger’s Station, which is located at the Kokee Museum.

The Na Pali Coast, on the other hand, is inaccessible to automobiles and can be best seen by hiking, boating (especially in kayaks) or from a helicopter. The Na Pali Coast State Park encompasses 6,175 acres of land and is located in the center of the rugged sixteen miles along the northwest side of the island. The pali, or “cliffs,“ rise to 4,000 feet above the ocean. Since it’s inaccessible to automobiles, this coast can be enjoyed only by hiking, boating (often in kayaks) or from a helicopter. The Kalalau Trail provides the only land access, traversing eleven miles and crossing five major valleys (and countless smaller ones) before reaching Kalalau Beach at the base of Kalalau Valley.

A helicopter ride of about an hour will offer you wonderful views of not only Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali Coast, but also the Bali Hai Cliffs (Remember “South Pacific?”), Hanalei Bay and the Princeville Resort area. If weather permits, you’ll fly into the center of the crater of Mt. Waialeale, the wettest spot on earth.

The trip will cost slightly upwards of $200 per person, and it will be worth every penny. Pick an agent from the Hawaii-Aloha Website or call 1-800-843-8771. We’ll see to it that you get the most from your Kauai visit at the best possible price.

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