Would you participate in a doors-off helicopter tour? Scenes from We Were Soldiers (2002) come to mind when I saw the helicopter.
Ke'ehi Harbor to Magic Island Lagoon
Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon to Waikiki’s Kuhio Beach next to St. Augustine by the Sea (Catholic church built in 1962) on Ohua Avenue - down the block from home!
There’s the War Memorial Natatorium and Kaimana Beach at the end of Kalakaua Ave with Diamond Head backdrops.
There’s the Black Point home (top-left photo: almost missed the shot of it) our friend was going to renovate... gorgeous properties plus a private, natural infinity saltwater pool for the residences. We past the luxury Kahala Resort, which opened in January 1964. The Kāhala has hosted A-list celebrity guests - John Wayne, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, the Dalai Lama, Prince Charles and Princess Diana… We continue our coastal route paralleling Kalanianaole Hwy and envy all the beach, oceanfront homes.
Koko Crater has a heart-pounding, Koko Head Trailhead.
"This trail—dubbed 'Nature’s StairMaster' and the 'Stairs of Doom' —is actually an old railroad. During World War II, the United States military built lookout pillbox bunkers on Koko Crater. They constructed a railway tram to shuttle supplies and people up and down the steep terrain. After the war, the site was converted into an Air Force station, which was deactivated in 1966." -Atlas Obscura
AllTrails categorizes the trek as HARD but only 1.6-miles (out & back) with an elevation gain of ~885ft. As we swing past the crater, we can see the angle of the steep climb.
Flying around the Windward, east side of the island, first we spot the Halona Blowhole Lookout where ocean water can shoot 30 feet into the air from a lava tube. [Learning Hawaiian: Hālona, in Hawaiian, means "lookout."] Plus, Eternity Beach where you can relax and swim. Then, the Makapu'u Point Lighthouse.
Waimānalo Beach down below with "jaw-dropping dead gorgeous, turquoise blue waters and miles of some of the softest white sand..." -Best Of Oahu
You can see the controversially built H-3 within Ha'ikū Valley, plus (illegal) Stairway to Heaven - with its 3,922-step ladder/stairway (although there's a legal back way via the Moanalua Valley Trail).
Kahalu'u Fishpond, on Kāne'ohe Bay, was once the location of the Okinawan village that was the primary set of the film - Karate Kid 2 (1986).
The Moli'i Fishpond and Mokoli'i which locals call Chinaman’s Hat. Can you imagine how the island resembles a peasant’s hat worn in rural China? [Learning Hawaiian: Mokoli'i means "little lizard."]
We rounded past Kualoa Ranch where I snapped a picture of the tiny Kuala Beach in Ka'a'awa Valley (aka Kualoa Valley). [Learning Hawaiian: Ka'a'awa means "the wrasse (fish)."] What a beautiful, lush valley it is!
We're now near Kahana Bay Beach Park. See that boat? We were told that they're filming ABC's "The River" there and that boat is part of their set.
We had a glimpse of Sacred Falls (or Kaliuwa'a Falls) which is hands down the most beautiful waterfall in Oahu. Unfortunately, the bottom 80ft drop of its 1100ft waterfall has been closed for sometime due to a landslide that killed and injured several back in 1999. -World of Waterfalls
In the distance was the newly developing, ever growing Kahuku Wind Farm.
Off towards the Dole Plantation where the Dole Whips were born! I have tried the ice cream but have yet to try their Garden Maze - declared the world’s largest maze, in 2008.
Our pilot said he’s taking us on a Japanese Bombing Route of WWII. We had views of Wheeler Army Airfield, USS Utah Memorial, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum where next to it they were in the middle of renovating the Control Tower on Ford Island… lined up battleships to the Battleship Missouri Memorial... and the USS Arizona Memorial. Pearl Harbor is worth a visit.
Full circle passing the Navy Marine Golf Course (open to eligible MWR patrons only) and heading back to Daniel K. Inouye International (HNL) Airport.