Mon, Oct 22
Honolulu HI
Partly cloudy
Mostly sunny
Mostly sunny
Mostly sunny

Just Do It!

The thrill of the world’s highest roller coaster, the perspective of a soaring seabird, the awe of unimagined discoveries, the “I can’t believe I’m doing this” of life’s great adventures: That’s what a doors-off helicopter flight is all about. I should know. I took one today.

Picture this: You’re in a VW Bug doing 100 miles an hour. You’re not scared, because you’re buckled in tightly and the professional driver has a spotless safety record. The Bug doesn’t have any doors. It’s also up in the sky, way up in the sky. Diamond Head isn’t perched loftily on the horizon; it’s squatting below you. You’re looking down into it, and the wind is strong.

Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay, Sea Life Park, Kailua Beach, and more: They all were below me this morning. The Koolau Mountains were, too, although they were right beside me as we rounded a jagged jade ridge and came upon sprawling Kaaawa Valley and flew on to isolated Sacred Falls, knifing and tumbling down a path it has been carving patiently for thousands of years.

There’s more green space on my island than I thought there was. Vegetable farms and pineapple fields and vast protected forests. And those burly mountains, of course, wearing layers of native Hawaiian plants.

I saw the great surf spots from above, too — Pipeline, Haleiwa, Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay. All of the famous North Shore, in fact, as I’ve never seen it before. And downtown Honolulu and Waikiki and the Arizona Memorial and Dole Plantation and more.

It gets cold up there. I’m glad I wore a sweater. And the wind is … well, it’s barreling along at 100 miles an hour, inches from your face. The roller coaster part is not up and down, by the way. It’s more about the energy of the experience, the freedom, the feeling that you’re doing something unashamedly exciting, because you are.

I’ve ridden in helicopters before. Those flights were good. This flight is great. If you’re a golfer, it’s like playing golf vs. watching golf. Surfing on a board off Waikiki vs. watching surfing on TV. The real deal, if you know what I mean. And I know that you do.

Just two more important words for you, then I’ll be quiet: Magnum Helicopters. The number is 808.833.4354. There are flights throughout the day, and if you’re like me, when you’re back on solid ground after whichever one you take, you’ll be shaking with excitement and hard pressed to wipe that silly grin off your face.

Just do it!

Big, Very Big

Have you seen any whales? They’re here now, and either they are swimming closer to shore this year, or they’re friskier, or the population is big, very big, like the whales themselves. We are seeing a lot of them!

If you’re driving around the island, stop at the lookouts between Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach and look out. White puffs at the sea’s surface are whales breathing through their blowholes. When you spot that, keep looking in that direction. Often you’ll see a black back, a slapping fin or the entire torso of a whale launched straight out of the water, thundering down with the power that we only imagined our cannonballs would have long ago at the community pool.

The best way to see whales, of course, is aboard a boat. Atlantis Cruises and Hawaii Nautical have absolutely terrific whale-watch cruises every day of the week. Give them a call, and get ready for a big thrill. Very big!