The Tiki Gods are Smilin’ on Me – Part 4

Posted on February 6, 2013

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Sunrise from our condo balcony – brilliant!

As I mentioned in my last post, Kauai’s topography is wildly rugged with outstanding mountain ridges, peaks in the clouds, an extinct volcanic crater, miles and miles of beach, and a deep canyon that rivals the Grand Canyon. So much of it is uninhabited, jungle/rainforest, or inaccessible by road. It was because of this virtual pristineness that Hubby and I made the decision to pay the big bucks and take an hour-long aerial tour around the island by helicopter, using Blue Hawaiian Helicopters.

Blue Hawaiian Helicopter Tours

I had managed the short helicopter trips back in December (see my post “Transported to Skiing Nirvana – Parts 1 and 2), so I figured the odds were good I could survive 60 minutes without using a barf bag. (Trust me, if one person “looses his lunch” in that small a space, then your chances of a group barf-a-thon increases dramatically, and I certainly didn’t want that party to happen!) Just to be safe, though, breakfast was lean and we only had a light snack before we departed.

Slopes rise up from the Menehune Fish Pond

What a view from the sky!

The word “awesome” just doesn’t cut it when you’re basically “chauffeured” in the sky by an experienced, ex-fighter pilot who has the pulse of what’s happening on the Garden Island, its history, Hawaiian mythology, celebrity gossip (the who’s-who that make Kauai their home), and is extremely knowledgeable about the topography from all angles. Our pilot, Jimmy, maneuvered that helicopter in places I figured you’d have a hard time parking an RV. With six passengers along for the tour, he was still very intent on answering any questions we had and keeping things lively with his choice of on-board music. I definitely think cruising the skies with Creedance Clearwater Revival’s “Run Through the Jungle” playing was bang on!

Climbing out of the crater.

Our first stop on the tour as we departed the Lihu’e airport was following the mountain ridges around the Kilohana Crater.  The exposed red rock and dirt are in sharp contrast to the tropical trees and green taro fields nearby. We were excited to see the numerous, magnificent waterfalls carved into the landscape of ravines and valleys, many more than you could ever witness at ground level. Climbing higher, we made our way through a rain cloud as we approached Mt. Kawaikini, with an elevation of 5243 feet, deemed to be the Wettest Place on Earth with a recorded rainfall last year of over 600 inches (yikes!). Passing onward down one of its ridges, we follow the Hanapepe River towards the drier side of the island, towards the resort area of Po’ipu. Even from the air, there seemed to be a heck of a lot of bodies baking down at the beaches.

Waimea Canyon from above.

Turning again inland, we reached the crest of Waimea Canyon. All of us looked liked tiny tots gazing into a toy store window in wonder as Jimmy circled the helicopter around to get as many angles of the canyon as possible. The colours of the canyon walls melted from brown and brick reds to charcoal to olives and back again to golden oranges. (You instinctively knew any photos you took at this point would not do the scenery justice.) It is grandiose as far as scale, and I felt like a miniscule gnat against its size. Wow! But there was more to see

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