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.
Often called “Jurassic Rock” for its brief appearance in the beginning of the movie Jurassic Park (bet you saw that one coming), Keopuka can be seen from land from Maui’s Garden of Eden overlook, but you don’t really get the full effect until you see it from a helicopter. 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 complete island tour allows guests a special glimpse of this often-missed sight.
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 back side 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 back side of Haleakala Volcano.
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.
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!