Friday, January 30, 2015

68 hours of Hawai’i – The Big Island [Blog Series] Part 4 A Bird's Eye View

Being one of Fairmont Hotels Destination GoPro Hero’s and given the opportunity to film our story at Fairmont Orchid was a once in a lifetime experience.  In Part 1 of my blog series, Joel and I were introduced to luxury travel.  Part 2 took us on a cultural and historical journey that exposed us to the many different traditions, agriculture, and landscapes that make up and define the people of Hawaii.  Part 3 was where we experienced some good old outdoor adventure with a beach run, valley hike, ocean swim, and trail run.  What’s next?  There is no better way to view the diverse landscapes and sheer size of Hawaii Island than from above.  Bring on the helicopter!

For me, travel means explore, adventure, and experience.  When traveling and adventuring as a family, our preferred method of exploring would be human powered.  Unfortunately, to explore as much of Hawaii as we possibly could in 68 hours and film a kick ass video of it all meant looking at other modes of transportation.  We considered renting a vehicle.  This would have given us the freedom to discover hidden gems and allow for spontaneous travel experiences.  However, the distance covered would have been drastically reduced and time was not on our side.  While planning our trip, the wonderful concierge staff at Fairmont Orchid suggested we go on a helicopter tour.  I will admit that a helicopter tour was not on my radar.  Not for a lack of interest, excitement, or even affordability.  Simply put – it is not something we usually think about and work into our travel and adventure plans.  Once the option was presented though, it made perfect sense.  Half a day in a helicopter meant Joel and I could explore 70% of Hawaii by helicopter while capturing some pretty sweet footage for our video.  SOLD.

Our thanks to Paradise Helicopters for an amazing adventure!  The experience is described on their website as follows: A premier air adventure.  Experience Hawai‘i and explore all five volcanoes, hidden white and black sand beaches, lush waterfalls cascading down 2,000-foot valley walls, breathtaking coastlines and 11 different climate zones.  It is exactly as it sounds plus more!

At the end of Part 2, I wrote “Does Hawaii really grow rock?”  It does.  A large portion of Hawaii’s landscape is lava flow, easily seen from land but the scope of size and power becomes obvious when flying over it.  Our trip to Hawaii was when Kilauea was active and witnessing the volcanic smoke, hot burning lava, and lava flowing (growing rock) added to the dramatic fly over the crater. 

Our tour in the helicopter came after our cultural experience with Kona coffee and hiking the Pololu Valley.  Being able to fly over the slopes of Mauna Loa and Hualalai, where Kona coffee beans are grown and along the lush rainforest and valleys of the Kohala, Pololu being one, really helped put the landscapes previously explored into perspective.   It provided a greater appreciation of the vast contrast of landscapes Hawaii holds.  An added bonus was combining these two experiences with the helicopter landing on top a valley and enjoying a fresh cup of Kona coffee, brewed by our pilot, Mark, who knows coffee.  Talented guy!

The excitement of flying in a helicopter, touring Hawaii, taking in breathtaking waterfalls, coastlines, and even a lone humpback whale swimming in the Pacific Ocean was enough to fulfill my desire to “explore, adventure, and experience”.  Of course Paradise Helicopters knows how to make the experience even better.   Wearing the stylish headphones for safety also meant being in total communication with our pilot, Mark.  He provided great information during the entire tour and delighted us with humor.  Pilot Mark and Joel had a great comedy routine going and at one point I really wished I could have tuned them out.  They seemed to think everyone on board enjoyed their humor as much as they did. (I tried to warn them but they didn’t believe me) But I knew if I did I would miss listening to “Somewhere over the Rainbow” by Hawaii’s very own Israel Kamakawiwoʻole.  When Mark flew over the crater, through the valleys, and beside waterfalls the humor stopped, music increased ever so softly, and it felt as though I was flying through the air.  I can close my eyes and listen to that song and instantly I am back in the helicopter, truly a magical experience.

I learned from this travel experience that sometimes it is ok to step outside of my usual adventure style and embrace the moment.  I will always seek out ways to outdoor adventure under my own energy but am now open to try other methods.  I will say one thing for sure.  The footage from the helicopter was pretty darn sweet!  And when can the video we produced be viewed you ask?  Soon, very soon. 

Coming up on Part 5 - The final adventure on Hawaii and we go out with a splash!

P.S. I was able to cross two things off my bucket list with this adventure.  (One a bit more glamourous than the other.) Helicopter ride & Requesting a pit stop (mid-flight) to a helicopter pilot (Thanks Mark)

1 comment:

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