A Must-Do Maui Experience:
Scenic Flight with Fly Maui HI
Fly Maui Hi Review – I had barely looked away from my camera viewfinder since we rounded the corner of Molokai. My finger was glued to the shutter button. I needed to get the shot, and this view was too good to miss.
Through my lens, I saw evergreen sea cliffs rising over 3,000 feet from the glistening ocean below. Plunging waterfalls. Untouched valleys. My camera continued to click, click, click away.
Then, something glorious happened. I lowered my camera for a split second. And thank goodness I did – because no photo or video could do justice to the scene before me. For the first time in my life, I was face-to-face (almost literally) with Molokai’s north coast, home to some of the world’s tallest sea cliffs. And – at the risk of sounding corny – it was a truly profound experience.
ABOUT FLY MAUI HI
I was aboard Fly Maui HI’s latest offering: a 50-minute scenic flight. Fly Maui HI is Maui’s premier flight school, but they’ve recently made scenic flights available for visitors and residents alike.
Scenic flights are one of the most highly recommended things to do on Maui – and for good reason. But they usually take place in a helicopter, not a four-seater Cessna.
I’ve never taken a helicopter tour, so I can’t tell you which I prefer. But here’s what I do know: the views are downright epic on Fly Maui HI’s scenic flight. And the experience comes at a slightly lower price than helicopter tours ($400 for two people versus $300+ per person). And you don’t have to share the aircraft with anyone not in your party (well, except for the pilot!).
THE FLY MAUI HI SCENIC TOUR
Less than an hour before laying eyes on Molokai’s sea cliffs, I was clambering into the backseat of the Cessna at Kahului Airport. After our pilot Christian performed a brief safety check, we donned our headsets and were ready to go.
Chatter between air traffic control and other aircraft filled our ears, and Christian explained how the flow of air traffic was handled. Soon, we heard the all-clear for our little Cessna, and it wasn’t long before we were hauling down the runway.
We decided to fly along the north shore first. It was a serendipitously beautiful day with not a breath of wind – unusual for Maui at 12 p.m. This meant we could see the kaleidoscopic patterns of coral reefs beneath the ocean’s surface. We cruised over the familiar sands of Kanaha, Baldwin Beach, Paia Bay, and Ho’okipa. I got a glimpse of the waves that awaited me after the flight. Coolest surf check ever? I think so.
We changed course, zooming towards Kahakuloa, windows open – totally consumed by the cool breeze and views. Soon, we left Maui behind and were flying above the Pailolo Channel that separates Maui and Molokai.
My flying companion, Tiffany, took the yoke – under Christian’s guidance, of course. Christian gave her a mini-lesson in flying, showing her how to descend, ascend, and turn. She got a feel for it, and before we knew it, we had crossed the channel and were nearing the coast of Molokai. Back to sightseeing.
We quickly passed over the island’s eastern tip. “There’s gonna be a big waterfall coming up on the left,” said Christian. We peered out the window. A stepladder of waterfalls was running down a sheer mountain face, tumbling towards Halawa Valley. “Oh yeah, I see it,” said Tiffany. But that wasn’t it, Christian told us. Just wait a little longer.
Sure enough, within seconds, we were at eye-level with Papalaua Falls, which spills vertically over 1,200 feet. Click, click, click. Just beyond that was Wailau Valley – evergreen, untouched, not a soul in sight.
It was here that I looked up and saw the coast stretched out before me. Holy crap!
Even from the sky, you could feel the area’s intense mana (spiritual power). 1.5 million years ago, one-third of Molokai’s northern coast slipped into the ocean in a massive erosion event, creating miles of vertical coastline reaching up to 3,900 feet. Now, eons later, the area is perpetually lush and even more eroded, creating dramatically striking views. Beyond the cliffs, the storied Kalaupapa Peninsula was visible in the distance, jutting two miles out to sea.
We soaked in the beauty of the sea cliffs for a while, and all too soon, it was time to head back to Maui. We retraced our steps across the Pailolo Channel, over Kahakuloa Valley, past the winding S-turns of Kahekili Highway, eventually passing over Kahului Harbor and descending back to OGG.
The flight was over, but visions of the Molokai sea cliffs and Maui from above on an impossibly beautiful day are forever etched into my memory.
FLY MAUI HI REVIEW & RECOMMENDATIONS
If anyone asks me for a scenic flight recommendation, “Fly Maui HI” will be the first words out of my mouth. Here’s what else I’d tell them:
- Bring your camera! The plane’s windows are open during the flight, so you can get amazing photos without any glare. But don’t focus too much on the photos. (Take it from me!)
- You can choose from three routes: Road to Hana, West Maui/Molokai, and South Maui/Molokini. Personally, the Molokai route blew my mind. But you really can’t go wrong with any flight. And the South Maui/Molokini one is probably amazing in whale season!
- The standard price includes seats for 1-2 people. A third person is an extra $50. There’s only enough room for four people on the plane, so it can accommodate a maximum of three guests.
- Kahului Airport is the windiest airport in the United States. That means things can get a little bumpy. If you get motion sickness, I advise taking your usual precautions.
- Lastly, the pilot does a great job pointing out scenic landmarks and answering any questions about the island or flying. Be sure to pack some cash for a tip and thank you.
Thank you for reading this Fly Maui HI review of our fantastic experience.
For more fun on Maui, Check out these great Maui Activities!