Feb 2019 - NCL Pride of America - Day 8 - Kauai - DOORS OFF

We had chosen Kauai  for our helicopter tour. If its good enough for Spielberg then it seems the right spot to choose. Its probably the most dramatic of the islands for this type of tour but to take full advantage - choose a helicopter with NO doors between you and that scenery.

We chose Jack Harter (click here for details) after a lot of pre cruise research and booked it from home  directly with them. Smooth and simple with excellent  information and communication. There's also another Jack Harter booking office in the swish Sheraton hotel at Nawiliwili port.

Jack Harter operate  4 passenger Hughes 500s.. You cant choose where you sit - this is determined by weight and balance.

A brave smile from Amber and Jack - I think at this point everyone is a little nervous, not one of us 4 has ever travelled by copter before. Let alone with doors off, yikes!

We're soon on our way - its amazing how light and nippy the helicopter is - it feels like it can be spun turned and flipped on a penny.

Here we approach and recreate a scene from Jurassic Park - the descent down the Manawaiopuna Falls - now commonly called the Jurassic Falls

Our pilot, the most excellent Christopher, keeps up  a constant, great commentary throughout the entire  one hour flight time (Jack Harters ensure you're flying and in the air for one hour - boarding and unloading are not part of your time)

You can talk back to him using a push to talk system - but we are a quiet group today - or just clinging on for life. Once you get used to the fact though you can't possibly fall out  it is absolutely exhilarating.

Waimea Canyon shows just how diverse the landscape on Kauai is - from plains of agricultural farm lands to desert canyons, mountains and tropical jungle. All packed onto this small island.

Wrap up warmly though no matter what the weather is at ground level - it will be a lot cooler up here and as is typical on all the Hawaiian islands - somewhere it will be wet. Kauai actually boasts one of the wettest places on earth.

Equipment wise my only tips would be to use a wrist strap even on an SLR - you will have much more flexibility - use the widest lens possible at the highest shutter speed you can get away with for it - and finally google where your F stop will be at its sharpest for your lens. You cant avoid a rather weird visual phenomenon caused by the downdraft of the air from the rotors but it will keep you as sharp as possible,

Favourite moments have to be circling valleys then diving into them like an X wing heading for death stars trench.

Screaming towards the Napali coastline.

Christopher tells us we will reach 130knts (approx 150mph) but its amazing how this machine can stop in an instance, spin around on a dime (so everyone gets a view of each side).

You will lose count of waterfalls. All that water from one of the wettest places on earth has to go somewhere!

I would also recommend taking  a flight that avoids the afternoon light. Not only can it get quite hazy, because the sun is so high here you do start to lose shadows on the mountains.

Eventually you find the Na Pali coastline in all its beauty. Tomorrow we will sail along this beautiful mountainous shoreline.

The Cathedrals - Na Pali Coast - I can see why it gets the name. If Gaudi was a god I can imagine him creating mountains like this.

No I cant work this one out either - thats either some serious left banking. or a trick of the lens.

If you have long trousers they will end up as shorts :) Just the most amazing experience of our lives!

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