An aerial tour of the Islands opens up a world of perspective. Looking down from the sky at the outline of the USS Arizona where it lays in its final resting place below the waters of Pearl Harbor or getting a glimpse of how Mother Nature carved a vast expanse of volcanic crater are the kinds of views only seen by an "eye in the sky." If you go, don't forget your camera.
Island Seaplane Service. Harking back to the days of the earliest air visitors to Hawaii, the seaplane has always had a special spot in island lore. The only seaplane service still operating in Hawaii takes off from Keehi Lagoon. Flight options are either a half-hour south and eastern Oahu shoreline tour or an hour island circle tour. The Pan Am Clipper may be gone, but you can revisit the experience for $149 to $269. 85 Lagoon Dr., Honolulu, HI, 96819. PHONE: 808/836-6273. www.islandseaplane.com.
Makani Kai Helicopters. This may be the best way to see the beautiful Sacred Falls on the windward side of the island, as the park around the falls was closed to hikers after a deadly 1999 rock slide. Makani Kai dips the helicopter down to show you one of Hawaii's former favorite trails and the pristine waterfall it leads to. Half-hour tour rates begin at $170 per person, and full-hour tours are $300. Customized private charters are available starting at $1,750 per hour. 130 Iolana Pl., Honolulu, HI, 96819. PHONE: 808/834-5813. www.makanikai.com.
The Original Glider Rides. "Mr. Bill" has been offering piloted glider (sailplane) rides over the northwest end of Oahu's North Shore since 1970. These are piloted scenic rides for one or two passengers in sleek, bubble-top, motorless aircraft. You'll get aerial views of mountains, shoreline, coral pools, windsurfing sails, and, in winter, humpback whales. Reservations are recommended; flights range from 10 to 60 minutes long and depart continuously from 10 to 5 daily. The charge for one passenger is $79-$215, depending on the length of the flight; two people fly for $128-$390. Dillingham Airfield, 68 Farrington Hwy., Waialua, HI, 96791. PHONE: 808/677-3404. www.honolulusoaring.com.
Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. This company stakes its claim as Hawaii's largest 'copter company, with tours on all the major islands and more than two dozen choppers in its fleet. The Oahu tour, with six seats and narration from your friendly pilot, takes a little less than an hour and includes sweeping views of Waikiki, the beautiful windward coast, and the North Shore. If you like to see the world from above or are just pinched for time and want to get a quick overview of the whole island without renting a car, this is the way to go. Tours are $233 per person. 99 Kaulele Pl., Honolulu, HI, 96819. PHONE: 808/831-8800. www.bluehawaiian.com.