Doors-off private sunset flight over Kauai’s famous Na Pali Coast.

Rainbow Airplane Hawaii

Braving high speed winds and tropical storms while hanging out an airplane.

We made the journey to Kauai largely because of the Na Pali coast.

A mountain range of jagged cliffs so beautiful they are known as the cathedral.

When planning a once-in-a-lifetime flight, one can never be certain of the right timing. Sometimes the best you can do is go with your heart and hope for good conditions.

The whole week, the weather had been unpredictable, with passing tropical storms. We had seen a lot of rainbows already on the island, and after speaking with some friends we met serendipitously earlier in the week on a different island, we were hoping to see a circle rainbow from the sky.

Maybe it was too much to ask for. But if if could be seen anywhere, Kauai’s Na Pali Coast would be the place.

We set out on foot across the deserted airstrip. Our pilot Ray, the owner of Air Ventures Kauai, led us through the airport’s back door, toward the plane we would be taking: a cherry red Cessna 182.

Outrageous though it was, that was the goal: rainbow over the Na Pali Coast. So when we saw storm clouds and light beams behind the plane on the runway, we weren’t discouraged, we were hopeful.

Runway Plane

Ray removed the door and placed it in the hangar. “So you’ve never flown doors-off before,” he said.

“Actually, this will be our first time in a small plane like this.”

 Glancing at the storm, the open door, then back at us, he chuckled. “Well, if we crash, one thing’s for sure: I lived a hell of a lot longer than you two.”

We laughed. What’s an adventure without a little risk?

“Well,” I said. “At least we’ll be going down in style.”

Nate climbed in the back with the zoom lens. With the wide angle, I climbed into the front seat. We discovered that my seatbelt wasn’t able to be fully locked in and secured, but that wasn’t going to stop us now.

We rolled down the runway, feeling every vibration of the engine and the wheels on the pavement beneath us, until suddenly we took off, immediately soaring high above the lush Kauai rainforests.

Sunbeams Flight

Our view as we circled through the island interior.

Wailua Falls

Wailua Falls from above.

Sunlight Hawaii

Panorama of gorgeous afternoon light above Hanalei Bay.

We flew along the interior of the island, finding small rainbows and fresh waterfalls pouring down the mountainsides.

Na Pali Waterfall

Spot the hidden paradise waterfall.

Copilot Controls

Co-pilot controls – check.

Na Pali Coast

Flying low over jagged mountains lining the ocean.

Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay from above – from the deep blue of the sea to the lush green of the land.

Na Pali Coast

Precipitous cliffside views from the sky.

We flew low over the mountains, then passed into the interior of the Na Pali coast and saw the rugged peaks from directly above.

Sunset Plane

Ocean views out the open door as we circled around the Na Pali coast.

Unobstructed sunlight striking the storm created a rainbow in the sky.

Rainbow Coast

Rainbows started to appear in every direction as rain fell across the Na Pali coast.

Kauai Coast Rainbow

Epic coastlines through the storm.

Rainbow Cliffs

We flew back and forth around the edges of the storm, outrunning the rain.

Double Rainbow

Suddenly, through the storm, shimmering in the mist and the sunlight, there it was.

The circle rainbow.

Circle Rainbow Hawaii

A panorama of the Na Pali coast, outlined by the circle rainbow.

Rainstorm Hawaii

The storm became more intense, shrouding the coast with thick rain.

Fading Circle Rainbow

The last of the circle rainbow faded as the storm clouds rained themselves out and drifted apart just in time for sunset.

Sunset Coast

The sunset grew vibrant, casting colored light across the Na Pali coast and into the clouds above.

Our pilot was friendly and knowledgeable, and not to mention incredibly talented. The stories and information he shared with us made the experience that much more powerful, as we learned about the island while we flew.

Last Light Kauai

Not bad for our first flight in a private airplane. Not bad at all.

If you decide to plan a private flight over the Na Pali Coast with Air Ventures Kauai, tell them Jess and Nate from Adventurestep sent you!

Have you ever had an amazing flight? Let us know about it in the comments below!