Garden Isle

Kauai is one of the most consistently beautiful places I’ve ever seen. The entire island is teeming with waterfalls and lush vegetation, and rainbows are a daily (sometimes hourly) event. I’m sure that Oahu has its share of natural beauty as well (I hear the North Shore is quite lovely), but after spending several days in the high-rise tourist mini-metropolis that is Waikiki, stepping off the plane in Lihue is like going back in time two hundred years. The waterfall you see here is Wailua Falls, which is one of the most famous natural landmarks on the island and looks as amazing from ground level as it does from above.

Safe from the Sea

The Pacific can get extremely rough along the Na Pali coast on the north side of Kauai, but the coastline is stunningly beautiful and there’s no way to get there except by sea. Hence, groups of kayakers will work their way across the uninhabited shore over the course of a few days. I think it would be an absolutely amazing trip and I was constantly on watch for kayakers while we flew overhead in the helicopter. The symmetry of this scene really caught my eye, with the implicit safety of the shade on one side and the pounding surf on the other, and the beached kayaks scattered in between.

Na Pali at 90 Knots

This summer I visited Hawaii for a wedding, and while there spent an hour aloft with Jack Harter Helicopters on an aerial tour of the island of Kauai. It was definitely one of the most exhilarating hours of the trip. Kauai is generally only inhabited within a few miles of its coastline, and there’s a vast interior that’s totally unexplorable by any means other than being in an aircraft or doing some serious backwoods bushwhacking. Fortunately we were able to take the former route, skimming over ridgetops at low altitude and then ascending up to 4000 feet ASL to observe the phenomenally beautiful views while we cruised along at 120 mph. This is the north-west part of the island, known as the Na Pali coast, which has no roads and is only reachable by sea. We saw it from a boat as well, but that’s a subject for another post…