This post is part of a series of stories from our 2019 Spring Break adventure in Hawaii.
Click here for all posts.

I wish you could’ve seen the look on Colt’s face when I suggested a doors-off helicopter ride.

Disbelief + terror + confusion + NOPE.

I’d made contact with a helicopter tour company on Maui weeks in advance of our trip, but the person I talked to suggested we wait until we arrived on the island to book in order to be sure we picked a good weather day.

… I don’t recommend this approach…

We arrived and I checked in with them — and they had one opening all week and it was on the day we would be skipping over to Oahu for the day. No flexibility and that was a bummer. So that night in the condo, I casually mentioned to Colt and Becky it would be tough to find another helicopter tour company — because there aren’t as many who offer doors-off tours. And… evidently I’d mentioned a helicopter but somehow left out the little detail of planning a doors-off adventure. Their combined reaction was all I needed to regroup and slow my roll — and maybe we should fly in a helicopter AT ALL before we strap into one that doesn’t even have DOORS.

Ok, fine. Helicopter. With doors.

I called a company called Air Maui and they hooked us up. They answered all my questions, had availability that worked for us, and sent me all the information we’d need in order to feel ready.

Colt and I started a travel tradition a few years ago in New York — that if we have the chance to try a new “mode of transportation” that we DO IT. In NYC, you can try such a variety of transportation in a single day that we started counting and adopted it as a challenge. We’ve traveled by plane, train, bus, car, boat, subway, taxi, rickshaw, bus, aerial tram, limo, hot air balloon, and it was only a matter of time before we added helicopter. I’d been nervous but excited to add this one — and I think I might be hooked now. I want to tour a city this way. And the desert. And I’d fly over Hawaii again in a heartbeat.

Our tour guide and pilot, Cameron, joked a few times about “hating” his job and can you imagine? Seeing Maui from the air all day every day — and getting to tell stories about the area and the history and the culture? And entertaining your guests with a playlist including songs like Gravity and Magic Carpet Ride.

Our tour included a cliffside landing on the west side of the island, which was a good chance to stretch our legs and ask Cameron some questions. Inside the helicopter, we could hear him but if we wanted to ask questions — we had to write them down and pass them up — so he could focus on listening to his crew on the ground instead of our chatter.

Colt picked out a few cool rocks along the coast during our stop. When he asked Cameron if it was OK to take them home, he got a firm, clear NOPE. “It’s bad luck and I don’t want those things in the helicopter.” Who can argue with that? If the pilot of the helicopter you’re about to board says something is bad luck — good idea to humor him, yes? So I snapped a picture of his treasures and he put the rocks back where he found them.

Cameron told us people have experienced this bad luck to the point that they mail rocks back to the island in hopes of getting rid of it. I asked around and heard a dozen stories from friends and family — Pele’s Curse. The legend goes that anything natively Hawaiian (rocks, sand, pumice — and especially lava rocks!) will mean bad luck on whoever removes them from Hawaii. We know better than to take anything from a National Park — so we were happy to comply with the Leave No Trace philosophy of the islands.

Once we were back in the helicopter after our break, it was a short hop back to the airport and we were officially back on solid ground. Truly, a helicopter tour over such a beautiful place was special. I was nervous — but the staff at Air Maui was amazing. Safety was the priority — a beautiful experience was a close second.

How long do I have to wait before I bring up doors-off again?

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