AMAZING DOORS OFF HELICOPTER TOUR OF OAHU, HAWAII

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After having lived on Oahu for almost two years, there were few items left remaining on my bucket list. However, there was one experience I had been dreaming of having the opportunity to take on for a while. It was the open door helicopter tour of Oahu.

Click Here to book your doors off helicopter flight: Use code ‘JACKSON‘ for 5% discount with Mauna Loa helicopters (The same company I went with for my flight)

I knew the island would look unbelievable from the air and couldn’t wait to see the spine of the island from a birds-eye view. I organized the photography-specific open door helicopter tour of Oahu with Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours. They are one of the few tour operators on the island who allow doors off and run specialty photography flights. This means your pilot will happily double back or fly to the exact position you need for your composition. On a general flight you will cruise past locations once and if you don’t get the shot it’s tough luck and the tour moves on.

We went for the open door helicopter tour of Oahu just after sunrise, hoping for some soft lighting. I love vibrant blues when they clash against the strong green tones of the mountains. That’s why I chose sunrise to mid-morning for the flight rather than a golden hour flight. it turned out to be a perfect decision. The weather was a little stormy so the lighting was forgivingly soft on the landscape and I even was able to shoot some thunderstorms raging over the island of Oahu from the safety of the sunny ocean.

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A storm rages over Kaneohe

The hard part about a doors off helicopter tour of Oahu is that the weather changes quickly and is quite unpredictable as you will see in my photos below. On Oahu, we had sunshine, a rainbow, storms and thick clouds all within an hour. This rapid change in conditions coupled with the constant movement of the helicopter makes shooting an exciting challenge.

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Kaneohe

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Pali Puka Hike

Fittingly, the first scene out of the airport to shoot was Ala Moana, my local beach for over 2 years. Looking down on this beach out of our open door helicopter filled with me so much nostalgia, I almost forgot I was holding a camera until I quickly grabbed the first frame of what would be an epic hour of photography and sightseeing.

Click Here to book your doors off helicopter flight: Use code ‘JACKSON‘ for 5% discount with Mauna Loa helicopters (The same company I went with for my flight)

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Ala Moana

We cruised straight over Waikiki, watching surfers catch waves from directly above, too high to notice the craziness of the strip. It almost seems like a peaceful beach district from the air. Looks can be deceiving.

Flying over Diamond Head and Koko Head Crater was a good memory from the doors off helicopter tour of Oahu. It’s hard to fully grasp the nature of the entire crater from a hike or a viewpoint. Being high enough and far enough out from the volcanic craters gave us so much more perspective to fully understand the grandeur of these formations.

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Koko Head Crater

 

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East Coast of Oahu

 

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Makapu’u Lighthouse

 

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The sad perspective of how close the dolphins of ‘Seaworld’ are to the actual sea.

We headed inland to explore the Koolau Mountain Range. I knew this was going to be epic and I wasn’t let down. It was ridges on ridges as Josh, our pilot, slowed down the helicopter so we could hang our feet out and enjoy a few minutes of relaxing with the fresh air blowing in our faces while we stared down at the Stairway To Heaven (Haiku Stairs) Hike. This is why a doors off helicopter tour of Oahu is the way to go. Moments like this were the highlight of the flight.

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Three Peaks

 

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Highways in Hawaii are better!

 

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Stairway to Heaven

 

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Ridges on ridges!

Kaneohe Sandbar was our refuge as we watched a storm rage over Kualoa Valley. It was quite surreal to cruise in the sunshine over the ocean while we watched a storm pour down on land.

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Kaneohe Sandbar

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Kualoa Valley

My favorite part of the doors off helicopter tour of Oahu was over my favorite part of the island. Kahana Bay. The Crouching Lion Hike gives good views of Kahana Bay but I’ve never felt more satisfied than clicking my shutter as we rounded the corner and had a dead-on view into Kahana Bay with a dark storm brewing in the background.

I even asked our pilot Josh, to double-back for a second pass. That’s the beauty of a photography tour. It is still an island tour essentially but the pilot is doing their best to get you good angles for photos, not just a good view. Josh didn’t blink any time we requested a double-pass or to hang our feet out of the helicopter and was all for the adventure and down to help us grab the photos we had our heart set on.

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Kahana Bay

 

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Crouching Lion Hike

 

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My favorite shot of the flight!

 

My open door helicopter tour of Oahu had been unreal and I loved that we were chasing storms and watching rain funnels the whole trip.

Click Here to book your doors off helicopter flight: Use code ‘JACKSON‘ for 5% discount with Mauna Loa helicopters (The same company I went with for my flight)

I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!

80 THINGS TO DO ON OAHU – THE BUCKET LIST

THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII: UPDATED 2018

11 AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII

11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU, HAWAII

WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU, HAWAII

10 BEST HIKES ON OAHU, HAWAII

 

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