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AMAZING DOORS OFF HELICOPTER TOUR OF OAHU, HAWAII

AMAZING DOORS OFF HELICOPTER TOUR OF OAHU, HAWAII

There’s one activity on Oahu that I always recommend to people. It’s simply one of the best places in the world for an open-door helicopter flight. The island has incredible mountain ridges, beautiful beaches, islands, sandbars, and hidden waterfalls. You will finish the flight with your mind absolutely blown away when you take an open-door helicopter tour of Oahu.

If you want to book a seat on an open-door helicopter with the same company I flew with, you can reserve your flight in advance as they often fill the schedule, especially during peak season. I’ll give you the details below.

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OPEN-DOOR HELICOPTER TOUR OF OAHU

There are a few options when it comes to booking a helicopter flight on Oahu and I’ve outlined them below in a comparison table. I did the tour with Rainbow Helicopters and found the entire experience to be safe, professional and they really wanted us to have a great experience and get some sweet photos.

Oahu Helicopter Tour

  • Doors on or off
  • 1-Hour Flight
  • Full Island Highlights Tour

OAHU HELICOPTER TOUR COMPARISON TABLE

OAHU HELICOPTER TOURSRATETIME
45-Minute Tour with Doors on or off$275/person45 min
60-Minute Tour: Doors on or off$325/person60 min
Waikiki Sunset Flight: Doors on or off$333/person75 min
Path to Pali 30-Minute Tour$215/person30 min
Waikiki 20-Minute Tour$190/person20 min
Exclusive Private Romantic Flight$1500/group of 360 min

MY OPEN-DOOR HELICOPTER TOUR OF OAHU

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 open-door helicopter tour of Oahu. They are one of the few tour operators on the island who allow doors off and run specialty photography flights but the regular flights are still great for taking photos and enjoying the scenery.

Book your tour: 60-Minute Tour: Doors On or Off

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 solo sail boat in Ala Moana
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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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Pali Puka Hike
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Kaneohe

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.

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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. If you are just interested in flying over Waikiki there is an awesome tour option that is still doors off but is a specialized sunset Waikiki tour, which can be pretty epic at golden hour.

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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Stairway to Heaven
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Highways in Hawaii are better!

Kaneohe Sandbar was our refuge as we watched a storm rages 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. There are a few different helicopter tour options on Oahu and they vary in price and where exactly they fly. I’ve already linked above to the exact flight and tour company I used but I’ll share some cheaper options and different tour flight routes below.

THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS

WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU

  • Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach with a private lagoon.
  • Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach.
  • Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD.
  • Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location.
  • Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like you are living in a theme park.

MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS

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!

PINK PILLBOX (MAILI PILLBOX) HIKE ON OAHU’S WEST SIDE IN HAWAII – Circhub

Thursday 20th of May 2021

[…] My favorite experience on Oahu: AMAZING DOORS OFF HELICOPTER TOUR OF OAHU, HAWAII […]

Hayley

Thursday 21st of March 2019

Hi just wondering if you asked them specifically if you could hang your legs out? Obviously they were okay with that???

Amazing pics!!!

ALAN DAVIS BEACH ON OAHU HAWAII - Travel Guides Info

Monday 4th of March 2019

[…] Oahu Open Door Helicopter Review and Photos: AMAZING DOORS OFF HELICOPTER TOUR OF OAHU, HAWAII […]

Mike Lotempio

Saturday 19th of January 2019

hi, Which helicopter company did you fly with? Heading to Hawaii and want to make sure I go with one where I am able to hang my feet out!

thanks.

Wednesday 18th of November 2020

The. Doors of Helicopter ride was on Mauna Loa Helicopters. The Pilot ??‍✈️ was actually my son, Joseph, Jackson said his name was Josh. My son is no loner at MLH but there are a lot of good pilots still there, my son trained Marc or Tianna. It’s the pilots call to let you hang you legs out ask a head of time. This was a private photographer ride not a tour.

Laresa

Sunday 27th of May 2018

Really loving your site! I am looking for information and you are a goldmine. Those shots are beautiful, what gear are you using, i.e., Canon? Lenses? I definitely want to do a helicopter tour for photos and I'm not sure the best lens combos for the best shots. Thanks so much for the information!