Helicopter flight-seeing excursions can take you over the West Maui Mountains, Haleakala Crater, or the island of Molokai. This is a beautiful, thrilling way to see the island, and the only way to see some of its most dramatic areas and waterfalls. Tour prices usually include a DVD of your trip so you can relive the experience at home. Prices run from about $160 for a half-hour rain-forest tour, to more than $400 for a 90-minute experience that includes a midflight landing at an exclusive remote site where you can enjoy refreshments along with the view. Generally the 45- to 50-minute flights are the best value; discounts may be available online or, if you're willing to chance it, by calling at the last minute.
Tour operators come under sharp scrutiny for passenger safety and equipment maintenance. Don't be shy; ask about a company's safety record, flight paths, age of equipment, and level of operator experience. Generally, though, if they're still in business, they're doing something right.
Air Maui Helicopters. Priding itself on a perfect safety record, this company provides 30- to 65-minute flights covering the waterfalls of the West Maui Mountains, Haleakala Crater, Hana, and the spectacular sea cliffs of Molokai. Prices range from $198 to $348, with considerable discounts available online. Charter flights are also available. Kahului Heliport, Hangar 110, Kahului Airport Rd. and Keolani Blvd., Kahului, HI, 96732. 877/238–4942 or 808/877–7005. www.airmaui.com.
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. Since 1985 this company has provided aerial adventures in Hawaii and has been integral in some of the filming Hollywood has done on Maui. Its A-Star and Eco-Star helicopters are air-conditioned and have Bose noise-blocking headsets for all passengers. Flights are 30 to 120 minutes and cost $169 to $563, with considerable discounts online. Charter flights are also available. Kahului Heliport, Hangar 105, Kahului Airport Rd. and Keolani Blvd., Kahului, HI, 96732. 808/871–8844 or 800/745–2583. www.bluehawaiian.com.
Sunshine Helicopters. Sunshine offers tours of Maui in its FXStar or WhisperStar aircraft. A pilot-narrated DVD of your actual flight is available for purchase. Prices start at $260 for 40 to 65 minutes, with discounts available online. First-class seating is available for an additional fee. Charter flights can be arranged. Kahului Heliport, Hangar 107, Kahului Airport Rd. and Keolani Blvd., Kahului, HI, 96732. 808/270–3999 or 866/501–7738. www.sunshinehelicopters.com.