Have you ever thought why should you do a helicopter tour when they often seem sooooo expensive for a flight that lasts such a short period of time!!! And why on this, God’s dear earth, would you fly in a helicopter with NO DOORS?!!!
Well for photos of views like just like this…? oh that and a very VERY fresh breeze in your hair ?
Until we went to Hawaii I had never ever been on a helicopter. Jake had been adventurous with a helicopter tour in New Zealand and ended up looooving it, so he was keen as beans to organise a helicopter tour for us while we were on our honeymoon. So away went my little type A personality and researched like crazy!! Turns out they are an absolutely awesome way to see the sights and from all my pinteresting (yep here we go again) Oahu was the island to see. I would have loved to see Kauai (ahhhhh the green island with those gorgeous cinematic cliffs) but that was just slightly stretching the travel distance this time round #nexttrip
Truth be told, I had one of those moments while walking out on the tarmac, wondering if I would absolutely freak out being up so high with no doors!!! But it ended up being one of the highlights of our holiday and I was sooo happy just snapping away like crazy out of those open doors! No holding on for me (don’t stress there was a harness hahaha).
But we did learn a few things that are important for an open door helicopter tour and why you should definitely book one yourself next trip. So I thought I’d put them down for y’all to enjoy along with some of the highlight photos from the trip.
1. It’s all about the photos.
As someone who dabbles in photography, for me going open doors was all about trying to get the best quality photos that I could. Not only for the fresh air and rush of adrenaline but also there are none of those pesky window reflections that always come up at the worst time and often frustrate me! (Come on guys, I know I’m not the only one!!!). I wasn’t needing to dodge the reflections or any window edges and having no door at all meant I could take photos pretty much directly down!!! Makes for drone like photography ?.
I recommend taking a wide angle lens and have a large volume SD card pretty much empty haha. I took 45min of photos pretty much consecutively… and took soooooooooo many photos. I started the tour shooting in manual mode but with the overcast day and swapping so suddenly between sea and an overexposed sky I ended up swapping to automatic mode for ease of shooting and so I could just sit back and relax. But it’s whatever you really feel comfortable with.
2. Look at a map before you go.
This one is one of Jakes recommendations – I looked at the map before we went and he hadn’t. Now our pilot, Jordan, was absolutely brilliant and did an awesome job of explaining everything over the headset… but be warned it is VERY noisy and there is so much going on it helped me so much to identify locations and keep up with him. Often the helicopter companies will have an overview map somewhere of where the tour will go and the key tourist spots you’ll see on the flight so that is a massive help. But I guess even just studying any map (thankfully Oahu isn’t too big haha) will help.
One on the landmarks we wanted to fly over was the Arizona memorial!! It is really the best vantage point to see the ship under the water and gave me so much perspective when we visited the memorial later that week.
3. Be prepared with you hardware!!
This one caught us a little unprepared. I had read that my canon camera would be fine to take up as long as it had a neck strap… but if the camera lens cap isn’t connected, be prepared to leave it behind in lockers at the office (this is what I did). Jakes mobile phone however… not as easy.
They require you to have some way of securing your camera/device to your body (you know to avoid flying phones of helicopter doors). Now, they do sell plastic contraption type things to do this (see the photo below)… buuuuuuut if you can avoid it with your own wrist strap or something like that, I would highly recommend it. The soft plastic got warped with the high winds against the camera lens it making all his videos and photos blurry ??? (that was pretty much the reaction haha).
4. Wrap up snug and be aware of your belongings.
It gets very VERY windy!!! Haha teeth chattering windy. Remember there are no doors. Even in the height of summer I would still recommend a jumper and jeans because the wind really just cuts through you! I’m pretty sure my cheeks where frozen for about 30min afterwards haha. Also talking about how to dress appropriately etc, again from the point before be aware of belongings that may detach from your body, like glasses, hats etc etc. And don’t forget hair!! This is a day to bring out the braid game!! I did a double French braid in my hair and even then the wispy bits escaped and ended up being horribly knotted (ended up having to cut that bit out!!!!!).
I find it easier just to plan for these things in advance rather than showing up and then having to try and deal with it. Our tour company did have lockers you could hire (for a cost of course) and thats where we stored my wallet, that pesky camera lens cap and the hotel keys etc.
5. Remember to keep some cash on you for a tip!
Tipping is so foreign for us, so while I had money for a tip in my wallet (which was stowed safety in the office) I didn’t even twig to keep some cash on me to give our pilot at the end of our tour. Making for a major awkward moment when the other couple tipped and we really wanted to tip him for the great job he had done but had no access to give the money to him ??♀️. So this is a major note to myself for next time!!! Haha just tuck it super tight in a pocket… we don’t want that flying everywhere.
Last but not least just a bit of info about our tour. We booked our helicopter tour about 4-5 days before we actually did the tour. There were plenty of time slots available. We decided on a 9.30am tour time just because it has been getting pretty rainy on and off over Oahu through the days so we thought we’d chance it… bummer it was cloudy ??♀️ but as you can see that didn’t stop us from getting some stunning photos. We found ours through Viator and booked with them for ease but the company they had vouchers for was Magnum Helicopters.
I’m interested now to see what you guys have been up to. Have you ever done an open door helicopter tour? Are you keen to give one a go?! Let me know in the comments!