Wednesday 2 October 2013

Kauai: By Helicopter

The biggest tragedy of all would be to go to Kauai and not see it from a helicopter.  Take Wai'ale'ale Crater, the Na Pali coast, Waimea Canyon, and Jurassic Falls: any one of these would be enough reason to take to the air, but seeing them all at once was one of the coolest experiences of my life.  We went with Sunshine Helicopters, mostly because they flew out of Princeville, but there are a plethora of companies to choose from.  Don't expect any to be cheap.  The standard cheesy joke is the the helicopter is Hawaii's state bird...

Our chopper taking off
We started by heading for Mount Wai'ale'ale, a shield volcano crater, billed by the local tourist industry as the wettest place on Earth (I thought it was a place in India that gets monsoon rain, which is closer to the truth, but "wettest" is hotly debated).  In any case, watching the water cascade down the wall of tears is an impressive sight.

On the approach to Wai'ale'ale, green so green it hurts your eyes and waterfalls everywhere

Wall of tears (really hard to capture in a single photo)
We threaded the needle with the weather: enough rain that every single waterfall was operating, and just clear enough of clouds to actually see it.  Without large bodies of water to feed the falls many of them dry up less than an hour after rain.  Our pilot had only seen all the falls operating a handful of times, despite hundreds of flights.

Look like the set of Jurassic Park?  That's because it is.  Manawaipuna (Jurassic Park) falls.
Approach to Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon: "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" isn't overselling.
Waimea Canyon
Razor sharp knife-edge ridges of the Na Pali coast

Impossibly pretty Na Pali coast

The Na Pali coast: land of knife-edge ridges that plummet into warm turquoise water
Ke'e beach center right, looking East towards Hanalei Bay 
Once we were done with the helicopter, and swapped kid-minding duties so the rest of the family could go, we went and hung out at the fanciest hotel on the island: the St. Regis in Princeville.

St. Regis, private beach
St Regis

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