Seeing a destination from the air is a special experience and one that you might have on your BUCKiTDREAM list. You may be keen to take a ride in a hot air balloon over Tuscany, paraglide in Thailand or skydive in Switzerland. But have you considered going up in a seaplane?
Seaplanes are a practical mode of transport to get around if you live in an area with lots of lakes and rivers; They’re also a popular way for tourists to access remote places that can’t be reached by normal airplane. A seaplane is able to take off and land on water and some are even amphibious, meaning they can take off from water and land on the ground.
So if you’re planning on traveling to the following five places, we highly recommend doing a seaplane tour to make your visit an even more memorable experience!
View San Francisco From the Air Book a San Francisco Golden Gate Seaplane Tour and experience this vibrant city from a completely different perspective. Head to Sausalito, a suburb 20 minutes north of the CBD, where you’ll board your seaplane. To get to Sausalito you can catch the ferry from downtown San Francisco, Pier 39 at Fisherman’s Wharf.
The flight lasts for 30 minutes and everyone is guaranteed a window seat on the 6-seater seaplane, it has high wings so you’ll get an unobstructed view. Even nervous flyers will be put at ease by the experienced pilot who provides an entertaining commentary and points out landmarks as you pass over the landscape below.
After taking off from the water you’ll cruise the Pacific shoreline, the redwood trees of Muir Woods and fly over the iconic landmark of the Golden Gate Bridge, before heading to downtown San Francisco. Here you’ll soar past sights such Fisherman’s Wharf and the Transamerica Pyramid. Next, the tour heads out over the bay circling around Alcatraz and Angel Island.
The last stop is the waterfront towns of Tiburon and Belvedere before a smooth water landing back at Sausalito. Afterwards, explore Sausalito at your leisure or take the ferry back to San Francisco. Your pilot will be able to tell you the departure times for the ferry.
Access the Alaskan Wilderness Because Alaska is such a large state, planning to reach some of the more remote regions via seaplane is an excellent idea, especially if you’re after a true wilderness adventure such as viewing bears in their natural habitat, hiking, kayaking or fly fishing.
Alternatively, you can just take a scenic seaplane flight to view the glaciers, mountains, and forests that make up the spectacular Alaskan landscape. Anchorage, Alaska’s capital, is well set up for seaplane tours, with three operators based on the shores of Lake Hood which has a large floatplane base.
Alaska Flightseeing Tours take off from the lake and head out either to Denali National Park, Prince William Sound, the Alaska Glacier or the Chugach Mountains. Go for one with an optional landing so you can hop out and take photos and soak up the surroundings. On your tour, you may spot Alaskan wildlife such as black bears, whales, seals and bald eagles and many flight options concentrate solely on bear viewing or fishing trips.
The best time to go to Alaska to take a seaplane flight is between mid-May and mid-September. This is when the average temperatures are between 50℉ and 70℉ and there are long daylight hours. In some places above the Arctic Circle, the sun is up for a full 24 hours.
See British Columbia From the Skies Although Vancouver is the largest city in British Columbia, Victoria is its capital. Both Canadian cities have their tourist attractions and thanks to a regular seaplane schedule they are connected by just a 35-minute flight. When you consider it can take half a day of driving and ferry riding to get between the two, seaplanes are a definitely a practical option.
But not only are seaplanes a favored mode of transport in this region, they’re popular for sightseeing too. Small 6-seater planes (called Beavers) can land in small lakes and harbors, so they’re ideal if you want to access out-of-the-way-places that the larger planes (called Otters) can’t get to. Some activity options for B.C. day trips include wine tasting, kayaking, whale watching and mountain lake picnics.
If your time is limited and you want to do a quick scenic flight of Vancouver city then this is an option too. Seaplanes leave from Coal Harbor in downtown Vancouver and there are a number of operators to choose from. For example, a Vancouver Panorama Classic Experience is a 30-minute flight that gives you an aerial view of the city with its parks and beaches and takes in the North Shore Mountains. On a fine day, this would be a stunning way to view the city.
A Bird’s-Eye View Of Sydney A top place to do a seaplane ride is in the city of Sydney, Australia, simply for the fact that it has great weather, beautiful beaches, and a drop-dead gorgeous harbor. An aerial viewpoint is the best way to see iconic landmarks like the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge, as well as scenic beaches such as Bondi, Palm Beach, and Pittwater.
The largest operator of seaplane tours here is Sydney Seaplanes who offer a range of scenic flights combined with gourmet meals and overnight stays to secret coves and islands. If you really want a special treat when you’re visiting Sydney then going on one of these will make your holiday a particularly memorable one.
For a Fly and Dine experience, choose from a range of options that can cater to most budgets. Lunch at Jonah’s is a 40-minute flight to a prestigious retreat overlooking Palm Beach and offering 180-degree views of the ocean. Another option is a 15-minute Sydney Highlights flight combined with a delicious three-course lunch at Catalina Restaurant in Rose Bay; with this experience, you’ll spend more time eating than flying!
With a Fly and Stay experience, there are a number of options. You might choose return seaplane flights to Jonah’s boutique accommodation, with an inclusive three-course à la carte dinner and gourmet breakfast. Another option is to fly to Cottage Point Inn on the Hawkesbury River for an overnight stay in a self-contained apartment, also including dinner and breakfast.
Fly Over The Maldives Taking a trip to The Maldives is a unique experience in itself. An archipelago in the Indian Ocean characterized by a series of atolls, reefs, and lagoons, The Maldives is known for its luxury 4- and 5-star resorts. Many of these can only be reached by seaplane transfer during daylight hours, which is sometimes included in the package price.
If you have a choice of a ferry or a seaplane transfer to your resort, then go for the seaplane; it’s quicker (most flights are 20 – 45 minutes long) and it will give you an amazing perspective of the destination.
Taking off from the seaplane port next to Male International airport, you’ll soar over lush deep green islands surrounded by white sandy beaches before splashing down gently on the turquoise water. Some resorts have their own wharves, while others simply have a beach landing. Many also offer scenic seaplane flights as resort activities.
Even if you only manage to tick off one of these seaplane rides, you’ll have memories (and photos) that will last a lifetime. Remember to take note of all of these seaplane destinations in your BUCKiTDREAM planner and share images from your dream trip on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.