Sometimes, the best places to visit are not so easily accessible. That makes sense since places that are beautiful and easy to get to are trampled by tourists, right?
To be candid, I've yet to take a helicopter tour, remote or otherwise. I'm scared of heights more than flying, and a helicopter seems to be more height-intense somehow. However, I will be trying one out probably later this year, and I am somewhat relieved that my fiance will accompany me, as he was a helicopter mechanic in the US Army including during the Iraq war! He knows the ins and outs of helicopters and should put my mind at ease.
For you, braver folks, who don't need an informed expert to accompany you, we've compiled an amazing list of remote and off-the-charts scenic places that you can generally only reach by chopper. Some can be seen via a seaplane (but only at certain times), while a helicopter is the main way to arrive and depart.
Some helicopter destinations require a passport, while others are part of the good ol' USA. Certain spots are temporarily helicopter only, while most are and have always been this difficult to reach. No matter what, they all are so tough to reach that it's a given that they are exquisitely exclusive.
25 Waterfalls, Fjords And Bears, Oh My!
Nimmo Bay is a remote, luxurious lodge in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia. It's listed as a National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, which means that it has to be outstanding.
Nimmo Bay began in the 1980’s as one of the first eco-lodges in the world, according to National Geographic. It started as a heli-fishing lodge, but today, they offer a variety of experiences ranging from fly-fishing to kayaking to my level of wilderness adventure, picnicking.
Visitors can gawk at bears, orcas, river salmon, and sea lions in the midst of granite mountains, pristine waterfalls and rivers, and old-growth forest. The accommodations are rustic-chic chalets, either perched on the water where the tidal flow will lull you to sleep or in the forest next to a burbling stream.
Only 9 cabins are on the property, ensuring a quiet and peaceful retreat. This is no roughing it adventure, however, as the cabins are complete with 2 bedrooms, minibar, local wine selection, and a full bath, as well as a cozy porch to listen to the nearby waterfall. Oh, and yes, there's WiFi too.
Other amenities include a hot tub, a waterfall pool, and a campfire area. Local First People guides share their culture and the resort showcases their artwork.
24 Frozen Beauty And Solace: Ittoqqortoormiit, Greenland
Please don't ask me how to say it, but Ittoqqortoormiit is a remote haven in the world, nearly completely isolated from the idea of tourism. There are no hotels, cafes, or gift shops to be found here.
The calling card for Ittoqqortoormiit is that it is called the most isolated town in Greenland, and that it is located in the largest fjord system and on the longest fjord in the world. Residents number approximately 450, and ships can only reach the area in July and August, when the sea has thawed sufficiently.
If you like your vacations rife with trinkets and baubles and with every convenience, forget coming here. But if you love the idea of seeing a part of the world still pristine and filled with polar bears, reindeer, musk oxen, and walrus, this could melt your heart.
Ittoqqortoormiit only opened to visitors fairly recently, and you will require a helicopter to reach this remote town in Greenland. Once there, you can experience all the grand beauty of life at this end of the world, in the shadow of the Arctic's tallest peak, Gunnbjørn’s Mountain. You'll need a local guide and remember that there's only one grocery store in town!
Lovely, colorful local homes dot the icy white landscape, and visitors can enjoy a church, an art store, a post office and try local foods like ox meat.
23 Truly Grand Part Of The Canyon Few See...But Should!
Considered the most remote community in the continental US, Supai is in a remote reach of the Grand Canyon and home to the Havasupai people who have lived in this Eden since 1300 AD. Just glimpsing at pics of the year-round waterfall, I can understand why they've stayed so long!
Supai is so remote that mail carriers make their deliveries by mule. The only way to reach this paradise is by mule, hike, or helicopter. The waterfalls are so gorgeous, you'll swear they were Photoshopped, but nope. The name Havasupai actually means "People of the Blue-Green Water."
Be prepared to carry in your water and food and camp at one of a few campgrounds. There is one lodge, and it is quite basic. But you don't go for the accommodations. There are several hundred Native Americans living here and respectfully don't want to be photographed or bothered by tourists. It is a tough living, and the best way to avoid overworking pack animals is to helicopter in. Once you get past these caveats, be prepared for one of the most spectacular landscapes in the country.
22 New Zealand's Crown Of The Southern Alps
Ever watched The Lord of the Rings and wished to see such splendor in real life? You can, but it will require a chopper to get there!
Minaret Station, New Zealand is located outside of Queensland, on NZ's South Island. Once owned by Queen Victoria and the British Crown, this jewel of a location is set in the Southern Alps and on the shore of Lake Wanaka, according to the New Zealand Tourism folks.
Minaret Station Alpine Lodge is a small exclusive lodging that features chalets with a king-sized bed and a private hot tub. There's WiFi, iPod docks, and sheepskin rugs, as well as a lodge kitchen with chef-prepared gourmet meals.
Guided fly-fishing, hunting, jet boating, and hiking are a few of the opportunities offered. Or, maybe just sit on the deck and gaze at pristine perfection.
21 Private Mountain Paradise In BC - Talus Lodge
Nestled high in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, this private lodge is accessible only by chopper and provides comfy off-the-grid accommodations for one party of up to 12 or for individuals. They can host wedding parties, retreats, or other group getaways.
Talus Lodge consists of a 2-story chalet with 5 bedrooms, a kitchen, and living and dining rooms. An adjacent cabin provides another bedroom. Facilities are attached by wooden walkway and include sauna, showers, and sinks, while toilets are separate. Electricity is solar-powered, and heat is by wood stoves while you cook using propane. No WiFi is available, so no annoying messages from work.
However, the real attractions are outdoors. The terrain offers opportunities for both intrepid and inexperienced hikers who are rewarded with incredible mountain vistas. Certified hiking guides will lead the way, according to the Lodge website! Wildlife and nature viewing are highlights of the summer season, which runs from June to September. Winter brings cross-country and back-country skiing, tobogganing, and snowshoeing from February through April.
Meals are prepared for guests, emphasizing locally-grown fruit and produce in season. The helicopter trip alone is a standout, flying over Banff National Park and Kananaskis Park.
20 Heliski In BC? Hella Yeah!
Mica Lodge overlooks the Columbia River and is set amid the mingling of three mountain ranges—the Monashee, Rocky, and Selkirk. While the big draw is heliskiing, visitors would be happy to just soak in the views and the super chic setting of the main lodge or chalet with 4 guest suites.
Upscale, pampered, and yet rustic/woodsy, the Lodge offers guests the best of amenities including rooftop hot tubs, stone fireplaces, business and fitness centers, as well as gourmet dining and yes, WiFi!
But the lodge focuses on more than comfort; they are equally dedicated to guests' safety, using only certified guides and ensuring that all visitors are schooled on avalanche safety. After all, it is a heliski destination first and foremost.
Since it's a destination that is for chopper access only, all equipment is provided for guests. You are limited in what you can bring in with you, so no room for skis! However, the lodge knows that sometimes you want your own gear, so they can make arrangements to ship your stuff separately to the destination.
19 A Trip You're Unlikely To Forget In Alaska's Unlikely Valley
It's highly unlikely that you've ever heard of Unlikely Valley, Alaska, but anyone who's been lucky enough to visit will never forget it!
Set in a valley bound by mountains and glaciers, Unlikely Valley is only accessible by helicopter. A number of helitours exist that will fly over the valley, but if you want to stay there in a campsite, you'll likely want the services of Exit Glacier Guides. They will helicopter you in and provide you with all necessary equipment, a guide, and safety info.
Camping on the banks of a glacially-fed river, guests will do some local wandering of incredible remote scenery before enjoying a prepared gourmet meal. In the morning, guests are fed once more, then helicoptered out to view more scenery before being let off to explore a glacier. This is not for the lazy, those in poor health or the pampered, however. It will be a real workout, but for those who've done it, then it's well worth it.
The company has thought of everything and requests that you only bring sleeping gear, clothes (they'll advise on what'll be appropriate), and of course, a camera to take pics of the amazing nature scenes.
Some of the safety preparation is on how to deal with any wildlife encounters, including those with bears. For those with fears of being knocked off the top of the food chain (myself included), be aware.
18 Dropped In A(n) (Extinct) Volcano For Vacation
Looking at pics, you might expect to run into Chris Pratt and some dinosaurs, but this is the French Reunion Islands and specifically Cirque de Mafate. A cirque is not a circus, but rather an extinct volcano that collapsed nearly 3 million years ago. Then it became the perfect hideout for runaway slaves in the 1800's.
Today, about 800 residents, mostly descendants of those runaways, live here and provide gites or hostel-type accommodations that are generally rather spartan but welcoming and provide wonderful Creole food upon arrival and in the morning on departure.
Cirque de Mafate is a World Heritage site and within a National Park and only accessible by helicopter. The brightly-colored homes in isolated villages rely on solar power, generators powered by diesel, and the helicopters to keep their lives running.
Lush mountains, waterfalls, and wildflowers beckon visitors, and over 100 miles of walking trails will keep them busy. Just remember, as a French territory, English is not widely spoken. Don't parlez-vous Francais? Then better get a guide!
The island hosts a major marathon, the Grand Raid, that brings in runners from around the world, so choose your vacation schedule accordingly.
17 Paradise Not Lost, But Not Easily Found: Medhufaru
While the Maldives have been on the hot list of places to go and get away from it all, it's not so much for one particular island of the country's 183 inhabited islands (out of a total 1000-plus islands). Medhufaru is somewhat accessible by boat, but a helicopter is faster, easier, and cheaper.
The Maldives is an archipelago set southwest of India and Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. Known for its exquisitely clear blue waters teeming with diverse marine life, the Maldives is a snorkeling and diving paradise.
For the landlubbers, Medhufaru offers the option of enjoying paradise poolside in an overwater villa, which could be vacation enough for most. Accommodations range from simple rooms with WiFi and basic comforts, to exotic yet chic villas with even retractable roofs to allow starlight to be your nightlight.
Besides diving and snorkeling, you can kite or windsail, jet ski or go on a fishing excursion. See mantas, dolphin, sea turtles, and all kinds of other aquatic life. Not scary enough for your thrill-seekers out there? How about sharks and moray eels too?
Medhufaru is also home to some kid-friendly facilities, despite their obviously romantic natural setting. So, if you want a family trip with some grownup time built in, this could work out beautifully.
16 Nazca Lines: A View From Above
Just this April, researchers discovered 50 previously-unknown Nazca figures in Peru's high desert regions of the south, according to National Geographic. Up until this latest find, it was believed that there were over 1000 geoglyphs, or writing on the ground, that were dated back to 200 to 700 AD. These latest discoveries have been linked to Paracas and Topara cultures and are much older, perhaps going back to 500 BC to 200 AD.
For those wanting the best views of the Peruvian figures, a helicopter ride is essential. The figures include geometric lines, figures such as a monkey, hummingbird, and lizard, as well as a whale, llama, and duck. The newest finds add humans to the list.
Those with an affinity for ancient cultures will find other attractions to snare their attention in the area, besides this wonder of the world. For instance, you can check out the Cantalloc Aqueduct, the spiral stone-shaped watering system that dates back from the ancient Nazca people and are still in use today by farmers!
Or, you could visit some Nazca mummies at the Cemeterio Chauchilla. If you go, get a local guide so you can understand more about the site and the people enshrined there.
Staying in the Nazca area won't cost a lot, but don't expect a 5-star resort either. If you don't mind a simple room and yummy local meals, you may pay as little as $20 for a night, however!
15 Grownups In Secluded Paradise
Family vacations are getaway mainstays, but sometimes, it needs to be grownup time. Only adults. Anyone with kids and a brain understands this.
Just the word Fiji conjures up images of places so gorgeous, you'd mutiny and commit treason to stay a few days. No need for anything so drastic, however, should you opt to visit Royal Davui Island Resort in Fiji.
This piece of paradise can be gotten to via a small plane and launch, but it's much faster and easier to climb aboard a helicopter and start relaxing even sooner.
The resort features 16 vales, or villas, on 10 acres of pristine white sand beaches. They have verandas, mahogany wood detailing, private plunge pools, and some offer sunset views over the Pacific. Thatched roofs, lagoon views, and sun/dining decks are a few of the amenities, according to the Fiji Tourist Board.
Want to do more than lounge and laze in paradise? Then you can go for a sail, a hike, or beachcomb. You could alternatively golf, sightsee cultural or natural treasures, or just plain shop, should that be your sport.
And no worries over kids' activities, child menus, or babyproofing; no kids are permitted! This adult-only sanctuary is set up with all you need: WiFi, restaurant, room service, and a spa.
14 Bankroll Needed For Bliss In Tanzania
For those who have always hungered for a private island getaway with all the bells and whistles, Thanda Island has it all...for a price!
Thanda Island is a private marine reserve in Tanzania, in East Africa. It's set on a little over 11 acres and is 18 miles from the mainland. Surrounded by coral reefs, the protected waters are home to whale sharks, sea turtles, and dolphin.
The luxury villa sleeps up to 19 guests in 5-bedroom suites featuring king-sized beds. It offers an indoor aquarium, a Steinway grand piano and a glass-enclosed swimming pool, among other distinctive luxe features.
Two traditional bandas are also on property, and they accommodate another 8 per building. These are decorated with locally-carved wood furnishings and fabrics from the area.
Service and amenities are topnotch and include spa beds, pizza oven, a full gym, and tennis court. Recreation opportunities include snorkeling, jet skis, deep sea fishing, and kayaks, as well as yoga and beach volleyball.
Dining is a gourmet affair and can be arranged on the beach, if desired. All this indulgence does come at a price. Expect to pay over $10,000 a night. (jaw drop) Yes, a night!
13 Great Barrier Reef Retreat
Orpheus Island Resort in Australia is located smack dab in the midst of the Great Barrier Reef and is a swanky, all-inclusive private island lodge. Best of all, the visitor count caps at 28 for the whole island. That's private!
The island is about 7 miles long and is surrounded by over 3000 acres of National Park. The surrounding waters are designated as a World Heritage Site, according to the Australian Tourism webpage.
At Orpheus, you arrive by helicopter, but certainly, the Reef is the star once you arrive. Considered a prime dive location, most people seek to take advantage of the spot and peer at 1100 species of fish and maybe take a snorkel and a picnic.
Accommodations are described as laid-back luxury, and the dining, of course, features locally-caught seafood. There are also plenty of options for ethnic menus such as Thai, Moroccan, and even American. Activities are mostly focused on water, such as private boat trips, paddleboarding, fishing, and kayaks, as well as sunset cruises.
The resort is also child-friendly. But don't worry, there's a spa on site for the grown folk. You can watch staff feed sharks, should such things appeal to you rather than terrorize you.
12 Remote Backcountry Ski Chalet
Set adjacent to Glacier National Park, Purcell Mountain Lodge is set 7200 feet amid Bald Mountain's alpine slopes. The 3-story timber frame lodge is environmentally friendly, with its own power grid, utilizing propane, and running its own sewer system.
The rooms are cozy and rustic-chic, with a choice of 10 private rooms on the top floor with amazing mountain views, hardwood floors, and a balcony. They have sinks and vanities in the rooms, and private showers and toilets across the hall. Shared rooms with a queen bed and three single bunks are also available.
The lodge is accessible by a 15-minute helicopter ride, and the main draw is skiing, but there's plenty to do anytime of year, including guided hikes, mountain biking, and wildflower hikes in the summer and fall. Meals are provided and there's a fireplace and sauna to sweeten the surroundings.
It's cozy and charming and WiFi-free. Purcell makes an excellent wedding or retreat facility as well. They host summer artist residencies as well. A bar offers local British Columbia wines, as well as craft beers.
11 An Island Sanctuary Of Mozambique's Quirimbas
Quilalea Island Resort is located in Mozambique Quirimbas National Park. Quirimbas Archipelago Marine Sanctuary surrounds the resort, and the archipelago consists of 31 islands just off the African nation's coast in the Indian Ocean.
This resort is located on an island inhabited by only resort employees and guests, so its 86 acres are quite private. There are 3 different styles of villas, all luxurious. But it's luxury that's earth-friendly, with the villas built from thatched materials and coral, energy derived from sun and wind, and rainwater is collected.
Guests enjoy modern conveniences in the most laid-back of settings, complete with beachfront access, sundecks, minibars, and decks with daybeds.
Activities include the usual water sports like snorkeling in the turquoise waters filled with dolphins, sea turtles, and sea cows, scuba diving, and kayaking. Also available are whale watching and sailing. There's a spa, cultural excursions to nearby islands, picnicking, and nature walks.
A couple can snag special deals for a week's accommodation for under $6000, according to mozambiquetravel.com. But if your pockets are deeper, you could rent the entire island for your own party. Paradise just a helicopter ride from Africa's mainland.
10 An Alpine Eden At Mistaya Lodge In Canada
This lodge in the Canadian Rocky Mountains is within WildCat Creek Basin and is at 6700 feet in elevation. The only way in is via the resorts helicopter transport, assuring guests of a private mountain getaway.
The lodge has six bedrooms which can host up to 14 people. There are indoor washrooms, a sauna, and two outhouses. (This is an environmentally-friendly facility.) Other amenities include a drying room, boot dryers, and a dining room where all meals are served during a guest's stay.
However, guests don't come for what's inside the lodge. They are here for the pristine views of the mountain, meadows, and glaciers. Activities include skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and tobogganing, as well as snowshoeing. Photography tops the pastime list as well.
City folk are welcome and safe here, as certified guides will help assist guests with their activities. Wildlife abounds here, but you can also catch a glimpse of some older critters as in fossils, according to the lodge's website.
9 Heavenly One & Only Le Saint Géran
For those unaware of this particular slice of heaven, Mauritius Island is 2000 miles off the southeast coast of Africa, in the vivid blue waters of the Indian Ocean. Democratic, multiracial, multinational, and home to World Heritage sites, this island nation has plenty to offer visitors.
One gem is the One & Only Le Saint Géran, a resort where you can arrive via luxury transport, including helicopter. How lovely is it? Mark Twain claimed that heaven was modeled on this island, and this resort is a perfect way to enjoy it.
Guests can choose between beach front, lagoon, or ocean views and enjoy the resort's luxe spa, white sand beach, and children's programming.
Activities include complimentary water-skiing, kayaking, and paddleboarding, as well as banana rides and scuba diving. Kids 3 to 17 are kept blissfully busy, so mom and dad can enjoy grownup offerings.
Of course, the dining options are scrumptious and found in 3 different restaurants, a bakery/coffee shop and a beachfront grill.
8 Glamorous Fishing In Canada
For those with an affinity for fishing but love staying in comfort (or perhaps their partners do), Canadian Northern Outfitters Lodge has the hookup.
Located on Newfoundland's Burin Peninsula, the Lodge offers guests exclusive fishing on the Long Harbour River, famed for salmon. The Lodge is so remote that the absolute only way to get there is via private helicopter.
No need to rough it, since the Lodge offers 7 individual rooms with wood paneling and hardwood floors, each with private baths, turndown service, and satellite phone and internet service. There's also access to a large wraparound deck. Rooms are furnished with antique European furniture and features art work from local artists.
The main building features a dining room where all meals are served to guests, a lounge area, and a patio with idyllic river and wooded views. Meals feature fresh local seafood and wild game from Newfoundland. A sommelier is on hand to help guests pick the perfect vintage to accompany meals.
There's also a wood-fired sauna to ease your tired body after a day in the wilderness or opt to hop in the hot tub. There are wilderness trails to hike, cooking classes with the executive chef, and plenty of opportunities to be an avid amateur photographer.
7 The Beautiful Forbidden Island Of Niihau, Hawaii
What could be more beguiling than a tropical paradise referred to as "The Forbidden Island?" The entire island of Niihau (pronounced Nee-ee-how) has been owned by the Sinclair family since 1864 when it was purchased for $10,000 from King Kamehameha V.
Only their family members, and now descendants, and their invited guests have had the privilege of being on the Eden-like island. The notable exception is the people of Niihau who were living there at the time of the transaction and continuing to this day.
This island is the paradise the rest of Hawaii would be today, had it not been for modern "advances," tourism, and the changes those things bring.
Today, there is one possible way for someone outside of these groups to visit this 18-mile-long, 6-mile-wide island. Book a tour through Niihau Helicopters and Niihau Safaris, which are owned by the island's owners. Profits go to the people of Niihau.
Visitors to Niihau can enjoy Ninina Beach's white sand and crystal blue waters, snorkel, and glimpse sea turtles, monk seals, and brightly-colored tropical fish or go hunting for Polynesian boar, Barbary sheep, and other exotic sounding wildlife. If lucky enough, guests can return with some trinkets and treasures made by Niihauan artists, such as shell jewelry.
6 Luxury Fly-Fishing In Alaska
I'll be honest. Say "helifish" and I assumed you were talking about a lot of fish, not a helicopter-access-only fishing lodge in an Alaskan wilderness.
Talaheim Lodge caters to fly-fisherman who want all the extras—included helicopter transfer, remote locations that are guaranteed to be private and not overfished, personal attention, and mouth-watering menus expertly prepared.
The Lodge only allows 6 to 8 anglers to be at the Lodge in any given week, and the rooms have a warm rustic charm with all the needed amenities such as internet, hot tub, laundry facilities, and a fire pit, as well as a sauna, deck, and alcoholic beverages. You can fish, canoe and swim, heli-hike, wildlife watch, and do a float trip.
The feel is woodsy, rustic, and private. The views are of rivers, forests, and mountains. You can even go for a glacier tour or kick back on the patio with a drink. Since it's such a small group, the website states the ratio of staff to guest is 1:2; that means winging it and making plans on the fly.