Anyone who’s ever been to Maui will tell you that having a vehicle is pretty much a must. From the winding roads of Hana to the 10,000-foot summit of Haleakala Volcano, there’s a lot of ground to cover on Maui, literally and figuratively.
But even with a car, there’s still a ton of Maui that can’t be reached, even with the most sturdy of 4-wheel drives. Helicopter tours, on the other hand, offer a magical glimpse of the untouched Hawaiian landscape, some of which is impossible to reach otherwise.
West Maui Mountains
Many first-time visitors to Maui are surprised to find full-blown mountains on a tropical island. While Haleakala is given all the adventure street cred, the West Maui Mountains, in my opinion, are just as cool, if not cooler. The thing about the West Maui Mountains, however, is that most of it is completely inaccessible by car and foot.
With steep, foliage-covered walls, deep valleys, and seemingly endless lingering clouds, most visitors and residents never get a deeper look inside the mountains beyond Iao Valley or Olowalu. One particularly gorgeous hidden gem includes the “Wall of Tears”, located near the summit of Pu’u Kukui deep within the mountains, which features as many as 17 cascading waterfalls at any given time.
Keopuka Rock is often called “Jurassic Rock” for its brief appearance at the beginning of the movie Jurassic Park. Located off a remote coastline on Maui’s Road to Hana, Keopuka can be seen from land at the Garden of Eden – a large botanical garden and one of the most popular attractions in the area. While you can glimpse Keopuka on a self-guided tour of the garden, you’ll form a deeper appreciation for the striking rock and its place in Hawaii’s cinematic history while on a Garden of Eden Tour with Humble Tours. Better yet, your tour guide can double as your photographer and help you get the photo of a lifetime with Keopuka as a backdrop.
Alternatively, you can view Keopuka on a helicopter tour. Backed by a stunning cascading waterfall (which you can also only see from the air or water) and the steep cliff lines of Maui’s northeastern shores, a Hana Coast and Haleakala tour allows guests a special glimpse of this often-missed sight. This aptly named excursion visits the best of Maui, from the towering rim of Haleakala Crater to the rugged Hana coast. The flight kicks off with an aerial tour of north and east Maui, where you can easily spot Keopuka Rock jutting out of the coastal waters.
Back Side of Haleakala Volcano
Alright, so this area isn’t totally inaccessible (consider the Kaupo Gap hike), but unless you’re a super go-getter, rugged, hardcore, extreme outdoorsy-type, the backside of Haleakala is really only seen when following the bumpy road around the backside of the volcano. With a helicopter tour, not only will you see on-level views of Haleakala Crater, which is large enough to hold all of Manhattan, but the barren, beautiful, and starkly unique landscape of the backside of Haleakala Volcano.
Hop on the Full Maui Helicopter Tour and tick this rugged region off your itinerary. After exploring Hana, this flight rounds Haleakala’s eastern corner. The landscape changes from dense rainforest to arid desert pocked with parched canyons. As you ascend towards the rim of Haleakala Crater, the grandeur of this harsh, lonely backside region is spread out before you.
The Road to Hana is one thing, but most people don’t even consider all that lies beyond the road. While some hiking trails lead farther inland, you can’t appreciate the huge amount of inaccessible land surrounding you until you see it from the air. Waterfall after waterfall peeks out from the intensely dense foliage, and it’s clear that while the Road to Hana offers several stunning waterfalls, they’re really only the tip of the iceberg. The best and most rewarding way to comprehend this isolated terrain is from the sky, namely via the 75-minute Hana and Haleakala tour with a bonus cliffside landing. On this Haleakala circumnavigation tour, you’ll not only admire the mountain’s expansive north-east flank but east, south, and west sides too.
What are more hidden helicopter gems on Maui that we didn’t list? Let us know in the comments below, and as always, mahalo for reading!