One of the most iconic scenes from Jurassic Park is when Dr. Alan Grant et al. first arrive on the island and they land a helicopter at the base of a huge waterfall known as Manawaiopuna Falls.
Today, the waterfall is also referred to as “Jurassic Falls” and you can actually book a tour that will take you right to the base of this magnificent waterfall.
Below, I’ll give you a full review of the Jurassic Falls Landing Adventure. I’ll also show you how to line up some of your photographs so that you can get exact replicas from scenes in the movie!
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What is the Jurassic Falls Landing Adventure?
The Jurassic Falls Landing adventure is a scenic helicopter tour that takes you to the base of Manawaiopuna Falls which is a waterfall featured in the 1993 hit film, Jurassic Park. It is the only tour that has permission to land at the falls making it one of the most unique helicopter tours you can do.
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The Jurassic Falls Landing Adventure experience
Each seat on the Jurassic Falls Landing Adventure will cost you $362. There is a cheaper option that does not land at the falls and will only cost you $214.
Just be sure you are aware of the weight requirements, which state:
Any passenger over 250 lbs. may be required to purchase an additional seat. For parties of two traveling together, that do not exceed 250 lbs. individually, but have combined weights exceeding 420 lbs., may be required to purchase an additional seat.
So two people of just over 210 pounds would have to pay for an extra seat. That’s one of the lower weight requirements I’ve seen on helicopter tours so be prepared for that.
Note: there is no doors off option for this tour.
During booking, they should tell you to wear dark clothing on your tour which is designed to reduce the glare on the windows. You can wear black or any kind of dark color like dark gray or navy.
Try to wear something long sleeve to further reduce the glare but be aware that other people on the helicopter may be causing your glares so there is only so much you can do to prevent it from happening.
They also have other rules like no selfie sticks, no camera lenses larger than 4 inches, etc.
Arriving at the airport
Your experience will begin at the helipad area of Lihue Airport.
As you arrive at the airport you will see a sign indicating you to go left to get to the helipad area so it’s very easy to navigate.
The airport has a section with several helipads and luckily for you this company occupies the first one and actually has a building on site.
Other companies require you to check in at other facilities nearby so this makes it really easy to check in for your tour.
Once you arrive at the building, you’ll head inside and you’ll need to sign a waiver and also step on the scale.
Once you hop on the scale, your weight will be read out over a PA system and if you are under the weight requirement, you’ll get a thumbs up.
Okay, I’m kidding they are very discreet about your weight and they do not even tell you what your weight is.
From there, you can just hang out in their building where they have some T-shirts and other things on sale.
They also have two bathrooms which is very nice because the other companies will require you to utilize a portable toilet if you have to go.
Once it is time to go you will be ushered out through the gate and into a little covered area where you will be told where to sit.
It is here where you will receive your safety briefing and also get your little belt containing a life jacket since you will be flying over water.
The tour also requires you to put on some shoe coverings so that you do not bring anything unwanted into the soil surrounding the falls.
Make sure you put your shoe cover on the right way because otherwise you might end up ripping it much like I did. Oh well.
The helicopter will board up to six passengers which is where I had a problem with the tour.
If you are given one of the two middle seats in the back, you are going to struggle to get any kind of quality photos as your views will be very restricted.
Compared to the people sitting up front, you really have a subpar experience and it’s kind of weird that you are paying the same price that they are.
Even sitting on the end in the backseat where I was it it is a bit tough, too.
For one, you have reflections to contend with which are not a factor on a doors off helicopter tour.
And then there are the people upfront.
Their heads will be in your way and they will no doubt be raising their arms to get shots with their phones or cameras which will further obstruct your view.
You’ll be able to utilize the side window but that requires you to contort your body and it is considerably more difficult to get photos from that angle then if you were up front.
The seat directly behind the pilot is much better since you have a much larger window to work with (the pilot’s seat is pushed forward).
I knew that we had booked a doors off helicopter tour to take after this one so I was not too disappointed.
But if you are looking to get some cool shots with your camera/phone and you get placed in the back row, especially in the middle, you are going to have to work extra hard to get decent shots.
It can actually turn into a pretty frustrating experience.
The other thing that made this difficult is that they had the microphones zip tied so that passengers could not use them.
Typically, on a helicopter tour you can speak to the pilot and ask them things like, “can you turn so that I can get a better view of the falls.”
Unless it presents a major complication, pilots usually happily accommodate your request.
This is very much needed for passengers in the back who are working with very limited views but because the microphones were locked up, there was no way to communicate with the pilot.
Because of this, many people would be better off booking a doors off helicopter tour where they can secure a better view.
The tour is basically going to take you on a clockwise route around the island.
The first big stop is of course Manawaiopuna Falls which is known as Jurassic Falls .
As you may already know, this is the only helicopter company licensed to approach the falls so close and to land near it which makes this tour special.
In fact, this is why you are paying so much for the tour in the first place.
The pilot will play some Jurassic Park theme music as you approach the falls and it’s a really cool moment although for the people in the back the views are somewhat limited on the approach.
You won’t land exactly where the helicopter landed in the movie because that helipad does not exist anymore.
Instead, it’s a very short walk over easy terrain to get to the falls so you don’t have to worry about any kind of crazy hiking or anything.
After you land and get the okay from your pilot to step out, you can remove your life jacket belt and proceed to the falls.
Once the falls is coming to view it’s a really special moment.
In fact, it’s so special that on our tour I witnessed someone propose.
It was a pretty cool moment to witness something like that as I’ve never seen anyone make a surprise proposal in real time and thankfully she said yes.
The drawback was that we had a limited time at the falls.
They had hired an undercover photographer as the other passenger and that meant a good chunk of our time was eaten up by working around the photo session.
While I did feel a little bit rushed when it came to getting my own photos, I pretty much got all the photos I wanted, so it wasn’t a huge deal.
Speaking of photos, you have the opportunity to line up some photographs that will line up directly with the Jurassic Park movie scenes.
Here are the shots you can get:
As the helicopter approaches the falls, you can see where the helipad was located at the base.
As mentioned, this is not there anymore but you can still get an approximate view as you land or takeoff.
When they first land by the falls and Dr. John Hammond steps out of the helicopter you can easily get a direct lineup of that shot.
When they first arrive and the camera is looking up through the electric fence, there’s a glimpse of the upper portion of the falls. While the fence is obviously not there anymore it’s still pretty easy to line up.
When they are leaving in the Jeeps this is right along the path that you’ll be walking.
Of course, you also need to make time to take some selfies.
Note: If you’re wondering about the intro scenes where the helicopter first approaches the coast and zooms through the steep canyon walls, I believe those were shot in Maui and not in Kauai.
After spending about 20 to 25 minutes at the falls, we were ushered back to the helicopter where we would resume the tour.
From this point, we were taken over to Waimea Canyon which is one of the most scenic spots in all of Hawaii and is known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”
It’s a pretty stunning area and we were lucky enough to go hiking in there a couple of days later where we enjoyed some spectacular canyon views.
From there you’ll be taken along the Nepali coast which is one of the most stunning stretches of coastline in the world.
The full grandeur of this coastline is probably best appreciated farther away from the coast (or perhaps by boat) but you still get some sick aerial views from the helicopter.
During this entire time, your pilot will be playing all sorts of different music which depending on your taste of music may add or detract from the experience (I felt like it mostly added to the experience).
You’ll then cover some of the northern coast line near Princeville.
After taking in all that extraordinary scenery you’ll head inland toward the highest point of the island near Mount Waialeale.
It’s very common to have clouds and weather systems around the summit which offer some pretty dramatic scenery from a helicopter.
Prepare to be blown away by sheer cliffs and waterfalls falling from dizzying heights.
At a certain point, you’ll probably just lose track of the number of waterfalls you’ll encounter.
After that, you’ll head back to the airport, so that the total length of your tour is about 80 minutes.
I believe everything above is the standard route but depending on the weather, you could end up doing a slightly different route.
Jurassic Falls FAQ
Yes, you can book a helicopter tour that will land at the base of Jurassic Falls.
No, unfortunately you cannot swim at the bottom of the Jurassic Falls.
No, you must take a helicopter tour to visit Jurassic Falls. Here’s how to book one.
No, you must take a helicopter tour to visit Jurassic Falls. Here’s how to book one.
No, unfortunately doors-off helicopter tours are not offered.
The original helipad was dismantled but you can still land pretty close to the base of the falls.
If you really want to land at the base of Jurassic Falls, this is the only tour in Hawaii that can offer you that experience. So from that perspective, it makes sense to go with the tour.
The problem is that if you get placed in one of the back middle seats you might end up having a pretty frustrating experience with admiring the views and getting photographs.
My personal preference is to do a doors off helicopter tour so that you can get great photographs and video of the stunning scenery with no glares and without dealing with other passengers crammed in a helicopter.
But if you are a diehard Jurassic Park fan, it can be worth dealing with the limited views for the ultimate reward of hanging out at the base of Jurassic Falls.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.