Maui Adventures in the Sky

Everybody knows that Maui is a tropical paradise. Everybody knows it is one of the most romantic destinations in the world and that the beaches and resorts are legendary. However, not everybody knows about the abundance of Maui adventures in the sky above the beautiful island. I found out firsthand how much fun they can be.

I arrived late on a Monday night and woke up at 5:30am to head about halfway up Haleakala to meet my team for some paragliding. At first I wasn’t thrilled about the early wake up call and drive out but as soon as I met the team at Proflyght Paragliding, I felt excited and at ease.

We met up, filled out the appropriate paperwork and were off, up to about 6500 feet. At 6500 feet I was briefed by my pilot, Paul G; who ironically is from Connecticut; about 15 minutes from where I grew up.

The basic instructions are as follows for paragliding. When the pilot/instructor says walk, you walk. Then he will say run and you run until your legs simply get lifted off the ground by the parachute and physics. Try not to think that you’re running off a 6500-foot cliff essentially! Just watch the video and you’ll get the idea!

Once in the air, it’s a really cool ride that can last anywhere from about 15-20 minutes. This was not my first time paragliding but it was the first time in a few years. I have actually done more hang gliding than paragliding but they are fun in different ways and are definitely different activities.

Paragliding is way more relaxed except when your pilot asks if you want to do some loops and you catch about 2 G’s of force. That was definitely the best part of my paragliding time over Maui. You do get a little dizzy but the forces you feel are so unnatural that you can’t help but love it.

Landing is another story and much simpler than you’d expect. Basically you come out of your harness as the chute runs parallel with the ground and you run as you hit the ground and try not to fall. It’s not the most scientific process but it does work, trust me. You should just be careful if you have bad knees or ankles because there is definitely some impact albeit not too bad.

Another fantastic activity over Maui is a helicopter tour of the island. I couldn’t wait to do this as each other time I had been to Hawaii, I hadn’t ever done one. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters is based at the heliport just next to Kahului Airport-the main airport on Maui. As I arrived and got the safety briefing I was so excited to go on my West Maui and Molokai tour.

My pilot Tim was an awesome guy who was very knowledgeable about the world and the local topography of Maui and Molokai. I could hear what he was saying through a 2-way headset where the passengers could listen and also ask questions of the pilot. It was a lot of fun and that doesn’t even take into account the amazing scenery.

I had never been to Molokai and I still haven’t technically but we did fly over and through some of the best parts of that island. Some of the cliffs, waterfalls and fauna were truly amazing. I loved every second of it and wished I had another hour to see more and the rest of Maui from the air.

If you’ve never been in a helicopter before they are really cool and not scary as many think they would be. Take off is a piece of cake as you simply lift up. The forces are different than a plane taking off and during some turbulence it can get a little bumpy but you never feel in danger.

This was my 4th time in a helicopter and it certainly won’t be the last! I have to say this ranked second in my helicopter experiences behind the chopper I took from Antigua to Montserrat a few years ago but that was a much different experience.

During the flight over Maui there are actually several cameras taking video of you on the helicopter. You can purchase them afterwards if you want to. I, of course didn’t but it is an option. Also, the best places to sit on the helicopter are on the back left or in the front seats. You simply get more face time with the scenery as opposed to the ocean.

All in all, paragliding and a helicopter tour over Maui and even Molokai will really get your adrenaline flowing. They will be the two most memorable experiences of your time on Maui, at least in my view.

There are several other activities that are fun and worth doing. For instance, zip lining with Kapalua Adventures Zipline or any of several diving or snorkeling tours but for me you can’t beat the two aforementioned activities. So next time you’re in Maui, take a break from the beach or pool and get your blood flowing over Maui!

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  1. Perhaps the thought of plummeting to the ground in a place so beautiful would take my mind off my fear of heights. I’m down for this.

  2. Great video and excellent article…I am down for Maui too!

  3. Wow that looks like so much fun! Which did you prefer if you had to pick one?

    • Hi Chris, I would probably pick the helicopter tour because you can paraglide in a lot of places and but the helicopter tour is really unique although I do like both and both should be done!

  4. I would love to do a helicopter tour, never been in one before

  5. Paragliding is a great thing to do in Maui or anywhere! I love that, it is so relaxing but still full of adrenaline at the same time.

  6. Aloha!

    It was a pleasure to meet you. I remeber that Ululani’s Shave Ice T-shirt…..SHAKA’s! It was a pleasure having you on our tour….thank you so much.

    Safe travels in the future.

    Base Manager- Maui

  7. That waterfall is insane! Looks like helicopter really is the best way to see the island!

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