Adventure Travel Hawaii
15 Great Ideas

Adventure Travel Hawaii

Adventure Travel Hawaii-Up for some excitement & thrills or just silly fun?

Here's 15 great ideas to have the time of your life, overcome some fears or get incredible photos to show off or cherish the memories forever.

Adventure Travel Hawaii Ideas


1. Parasailing

Parasailing in Hawaii

Parasailing in Hawaii at Maunalua Bay


Adventure Travel Hawaii-Need to Know

1. The rides are tandem

2. You can go up as high as 600 ft (the state's legal limit) or 1200 ft of line or go as low as 150 ft (300 ft of line). I'd say the average person does 300 ft (600 ft of line).

3. The lower distances will have you up there about 5-7 minutes while the higher ones will keep you up there 8-10 minutes.

4. Commute time from Waikiki is about 15 minutes; 25-40 minutes if going to Hawaii Kai for more combo options

There are no parsailing stands on the beach in Waikiki because it's not zoned for that. For this reason you have to leave the timmediate area.

5. Block off a 1.5-2 hour period to do if going to a company nearby (15 minutes away)

6. Transportation is available

7. Some companies have combo activities you can do

The packages allow you to save money vs paying for each activity individually

For example: add on jet ski, scuba diving or snorkeling at Hanauma Bay

You'll be transported from one activity to another via water taxi or driven to Hanauma Bay

8. Take a towel




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2. Jet Ski

Jet Ski Oahu

Jet skiing on Oahu...


Great activity to do for some great silly fun with friends.

I screamed like a crazy person while my husband drove like a nut (to me).

General Info

1. Not located directly in Waikiki. You must travel either:

15-20 minutes away near the airport

25-40 minutes away in Hawaii Kai

2. Staying close by is great if all you want to do is jet ski. Get in, get out & get on with your day. This allows you to do (or not do) additional things. Relaxing on the beach & shopping are important too.

3. Going further away is better if you want to do additional water activities such as parasailing, banana boat, jet lev or snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.

The companies out here are set up for you to be able to hang out longer. They have a big platform that you can hang out on while listening to some nice island reggae music.

While waiting for the water taxi to come take & take me to my next activity I sunbathed & swam in the ocean to rinse off.

4. The water is nicer & the surrounding area is nicer if you go to Hawaii Kai.

5. Transportation is included

6. Can ride tandem w/ another person. They have a side lane where you can change drivers.

7. Must be at least 16 years old to drive.

8. There is a set course-a big loop

9. The jet skis have a set maximum speed




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3. Helicopter Ride

Helicopter Rides Oahu

Helicopter Tour on Oahu


Great way to see the entire island because

1. See it all in 45-60 minutes

2. See spots ONLY visible from the air such as:

-The hidden waterfall Sacred Falls

-The entire sunken USS Arizona beneath the memorial

-The entire shape of the Pineapple Maze at Dole Pineapple Plantation

-Fly over Diamond Head crater (without having to hike it)

-Fly over Hanauma Bay

-Hidden famous film locations

3. Get the classic photo shots you can only get from the air (especially w/ doors off)

4. Whole time commitment including transportation & check-in is only about 3-4 hours total

5. Roundtrip transportation is included

6. Have enough time to do something else that day or night

7. At time of booking have the height, weight & first name of everyone ready. 250 lbs is the max unless doing doors off.

I have more details and pictures here so check it out if you'd like to know more.

Meanwhile, if you're just trying to price it out for now see the link below.




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4. Shark Swim

Hawaii shark encounter sharks underwater by the cage

Doing a shark encounter on the north shore of the island is a cool, safe way to interact with one of man's greatest feared predators.

Very, VERY popular activity

keep the following things in mind

  • During summer or Christmas it's best to reserve a spot several days in advance.

  • Go early in the morning as in by 6, 7 or 8 am because the later it gets to be in the day the more likely the tour will be cancelled due to weather conditions such as strong winds.

  • The cancellation rate goes up dramatically after 11am. Transportation is available from Waikiki but at an average $55 surcharge per person you may as well rent a car.
  • Each tour lasts about 2 hours round trip
  • You'll be in the cage with about 2-4 people

I go into more details and have pictures from the time that I did it with my husband here.





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5. Surfing

Surfing lessons in Hawaii with Dane Kealoha at Middles

Surfing lesson w/ legend Dane Kealoha in Waikiki


General tips and info

1. If you have a family or group of 3-4 I'd just pay for a private or semi-private lesson for your own group.

-The rate will be better

-The rate will be MUCH better if you've got kids who are not old enough to be in the general group. When they're young they insist on a private lesson for EACH kid.

Include mom and/or dad & you can probably negotiate for a better deal just for you guys. Some companies are better about this than others.

2. If you seriously want to learn to surf do a private or semi-private lesson. Otherwise you'll be one of many waiting to get pushed & won't get as much attention or instruction.

3. Lessons are about 2 hours. Your arms probably won't last the whole time.

4. Most schools will pick you up at your hotel in Waikiki (if the lesson is in Waikiki)

5. Don't go with a full belly after a meal

6. Most schools will have anywhere from 4-10 students with a student to teacher ratio of 2:1

7. They'll provide the boards & probably reef booties & rash guards. Take your own rash guard just in case.

I talk more about surfing lessons here.

Just want to get an idea about the general pricing & availability check out the link just below.




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6. ATV

Kualoa Ranch ATV Tour

Passing ATV riders above at Kualoa Ranch


There's 2 main places where you can go for an ATV ride on Oahu

One is is at Kualoa Ranch and the other is at Coral Crater Adventure Park. A couple of other places have off-road expedition tours but these 2 places are pure ATV. Pricing & availability for everything is at the link below.


Some good things to know about kualoa are...

-Is on the windward or eastern side of the island about 40 minutes from Waikiki and they have transportation available if you do it in tandem with other activities. They won't pick you up if you're doing just one thing.

-You must be at least 16 years old to ride an ATV

-You can't ride on the back of an ATV with anyone else. One person per vehicle.

-Can do for 1 or 2 hours or combine w/ other activities

-You'll ride through the ancient, tropical valley as pictured above past many of the famous film locations that were used in the valley such as Godzilla, 50 First Dates and the tv show Lost. The list is extensive.

-You won't be able to drive really fast or go all cuckoo like you're in some action movie at Kualoa. You'll drive in a single file line as pictured above at an easy cruising speed.

-You must wear closed-toe shoes.

-Combo activities available such as ziplining (super-pretty), horseback riding or cultural actitivities


west side atv option-Coral creek

The island now has another option where you can do side-by-side ATV off-roading on the west side in Kapolei at Coral Crater Adventure Park

-Kapolei is about 60 minutes from Waikiki realistically. Transportation is available

-These vehicles are more Mad Max looking but you're still restricted on speed. I haven't tried these guys out but heard that you can't go very fast.

-The course is 2 laps & also includes hills

-Must be 18 years old

-Must wear closed-toe shoes

-Combo activities available with zipline & climbing




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7. Snorkeling

Adventure travel Hawaii snorkeling

Snorkeling with turtles on the west side



Your options when it comes to snorkeling. You can:

1. Snorkel off a boat (the best way I think because you'll see more fish)

2. Snorkel by walking in from the beach



There's also lots of variety on WHERE you can snorkel:

1. Waikiki

2. West side (usually by boat)

3. North shore (during the summer)

4. Hanauma Bay



1. Accessibility and cost vary depending on which options you'd choose above and your own personal guidelines such as budget, physical limitations or having little kids.


2. I personally prefer taking a cruise because they can take you to the reefs further offshore where the turtles and more exotic fish are hanging out.


Depending on where the cruise is located you'll probably see dolphins. The west side location and companies over there are able to deliver on this probability more.


3. Hanauma Bay is the most famous one but is also the most crowded one plus walking in from the beach limits how much diversity you'll be able to see especially with a bunch of other people around.

Go early when they open in order to cut down on this scenario.


4. Waikiki Beach offers the most affordable snorkeling cruises if that's where you're staying & transportation time is also less.


5. The north shore at Sharks Cove in the summer offers fantastic snorkeling options.

-Although you can walk in the reef system here is quite complex and is a favorite amongst scuba divers as well.

-The water is deep so if you want to be able to stand and explore this spot is not for you.

-Go early 1st thing in the morning here as well as it gets crowded here too and parking disappears.

I go into more detail on snorkeling options here and include more pictures.


If you just want to get an idea of what the costs and availability would be check out the link below:




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8. Kayaking

Adventure travel Hawaii kayaking

Kayaking in Kailua above


Kayaking is awesome to do on Oahu!

Unfortunately the island can feel crowded & not very island-like or Hawaiian.

The visions of escaping to a relaxed, tropical paradise may evaporate quickly while sitting in traffic amongst high-rises but going on kayak tour will take all of that away!

The views are epic, the water is gorgeous and the sun and breezes feel magical.


Basic Info


1. I'd go to the windward side such as Kailua

2. Go on a tour or just rent a kayak.

I opted for the tour because I didn't want to have to deal with unfamiliar rip currents & wind patterns.

3. Most tour options are 2 hrs, 4 hrs or 8 hrs. I did the 4 hrs.

We had plenty of breaks & that included time to explore one of the islands we went to and lunch.

Exploration was a choice of solo or in a group. There was even natural bath formed out of reef.

I talk more about my adventure here.

Forget the 8 hr option unless you're an expert kayaker.

4. Transportation from Waikiki is available or drive on your own

5. Kailua has over 1.5 miles of white, sandy beaches. Just beautiful & gorgeous.

Have lunch on the beach. If you have people who don't want to kayak they can hang out on the beach while you do it.




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9. Scuba Diving

Adventure travel Hawaii scuba diving

Oahu scuba diving


General Things to Know

1. The water is warm, 78-83 degrees

2. You don't have to know how to scuba dive

3. They have beginner & advanced (certified) options

4. They kept us beginners behind for more instruction & took the advanced on more involved exploration while we learned basics

5. After learning basics they took us beginners for basic exploration within the 30-40 ft range

6. Depending on your certification level you can dive from 30-100ft.

7. Certification available-many places will help you/offer training

8. If you have a PADI license you'll be asked to prove it-show it or be in the database

9. Equipment is provided-wetsuits, tanks & masks

10. You'll have the option of a 1 or 2 tank dive usually

11. Diving on the west side (away from the city) is supposed to be the best-more reefs, more remote, clearer water

12. Transportation is usually provided or available

13. They do refresher training if it's been a while since you dove.

Overall it was beautiful there were little coves and I could not believe how silent and peaceful it was.

I learned to truly appreciate how gracefully fish and turtles can move.

Some were also just sleeping on the floor of the ocean like little babies.

If you are certified I can only imagine the world of wonder waiting for you to explore and discover.





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10. Ziplining

Ziplining on Oahu

There's now ziplining on Oahu! Climb Kaena Farms pictured above.


Choose the type of landscape or adventure that you'd like.

3 main places to do it

1. Kualoa

-Jungle like, gorgeous
-Windward (east side)
-Combo activities available
-45 minutes from Waikiki; transportation available


2. Clmb (Kaena Farms)

-@ 1/4 mile walking, sky bridges & boardwalks
-North shore
-You need a car. Technically they have transportation available but for the money you may as well rent a car. Get a car & check out the rest of the north shore while you're at it.
-1-1.5 hours from Waikiki
-@ 3.5 hrs long


3. Coral Creek Crater

-West side
-Adventure park environment
-Combo activities available
-45-60 minutes from Waikiki; transportation available


The Need to Know

1. Wear closed-toe shoes

2. Weight restrictions-usually between 40-70 & 275-280 lbs

3. Secure things on your body-put long hair in a bun or ponytail. Make sure jewelry, etc is not dangling or can get easily caught on anything.

Nothing in pockets that can fall out like cell phones or car keys.

4. Take cash for storing belongings, snacks & tipping if interested




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11. Jet Pack

Adventure travel Hawaii jet lev

Jet lev at Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai


Imagine having a rocket ship attached to your back that you can steer. That's jet lev or jet pack as some places call it.

My husband pictured above got the hang of it right away.

Me, not so much. I kept face planting every time I got 1-2 ft off the ground.

We took our GoPro.

It looks like a lot of fun but I can't actually say. My husband had a blast.

We did this at Maunalua Bay in Hawaii Kai near Hanauma Bay with a company called Seabreeze but now there's another company you can do it with too called Xtreme Parasail. They conduct theirs at Keehi lagoon

The Basics

1. Location/distance:

Maunalua Bay is about 25-40 minutes from Waikiki (depends on time of day & how you catch the lights).

Keehi lagoon is about 20 minutes from Waikiki near the airport.

If you go to the Hawaii Kai option the area is really pretty & scenic & the water is nice. The Keehi area is meh in my opinion but on the plus side it's closer.

2. Weight restrictions average 85-100 lbs minimum to 315-350 maximum

3. Packages range from 15-60 minute options depending on the company. Please note 10-20 minutes will be for instruction.

4. Transportation available

5. Go as high as 30 ft in the air




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12. Horseback Riding

Kualoa Ranch horses

Horseback riding at Kualoa Ranch


The Basics

1. Choose your landscape-jungle/rainforest, beach, valleys or mountains surrounding

2. Available on the north shore and the east side

3. You need a car in most cases. Kualoa Ranch will pick you up.

4. Wear closed toe shoes & long pants

5. Some venues have combo activity options like Kualoa Ranch

6. 1-2 hour options on average

7. Sunset or romance options available

8. Expect to drive 1-1.5 hours from Waikiki on average

9. Group sizes range from 4-15 depending on the company & type of tour

10. Private options are available

11. Weight restrictions-no more than 230-250 lbs on average

12. In most cases you won't be able to "run" the horses but just go on a steady walk/trot.

13. Kualoa Ranch will allow you to combine other activities and/or offer other activities for those in your group who may wish to do something else while you ride a horse.

I discuss more of the different horseback riding options and the differences between them here.

For pricing, availability and even more info see the link below.




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13. Volcano-Big Island

Volcano Big Island from a helicopter

It's DEFINITELY worth taking a day trip to the big island to do this.

Ways to Experience the Volcano

1. Helicopter-doors on or off
2. Hiking the lava
3. Driving through the park
4. Biking the volcano
5. Night lava viewing tours


Tips & general info

1. Book well ahead of time. 1 week to 1 month is usually fine but allow more time if traveling during the peak times of summer or Christmas. I'd say 1 month + during peak times especially if you have more than 2 people.

2. Flights are non-refundable; have full names & dates of birth info ready at time of booking

3. Fly into Hilo International Airport

4. The flight takes about 45 minutes from Oahu

5. If booking a helicopter ride have your height & weight information ready at the time of booking

6. Do the helicopter 1st thing in the morning and then drive down to the volcano. Helicopter rides leave from the airport. You can grab your rental car when done. It's a small airport so the logistics are simple.

7. It takes about 1 hour to drive down to Volcanoes National Park from Hilo International Airport

8. Wear closed-toe shoes

9. Dress for cooler weather-think layers. It get chilly at the higher elevations at the volcano especially at night. If doing a doors off helicopter ride dress for 50 degree temps.

10. If you are asthmatic, have breathing issues or just sensitive to air quality in general then the volcano (or even the Big Island) is not for you. You'll notice the volcanic ash in the air.

11. Bus tours (motorcoach, minicoach or vans) will pick you up at the airport in Hilo upon arriving. They'll take you to the airport from Waikiki, you'll fly over & then they'll get you in Hilo & take you to Volcanoes National Park.

12. I have a map of Volcanoes National Park & some more information here.

13. Be sure to visit the Jagger Museum & walk through the Thurston Lava Tube while there.

More info on all of the different options, ways to do it and pricing below:




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14. Fishing

Adventure travel Hawaii fishing

Oahu fishing charter


Most of the suggestions here apply to sports fishing off of a boat.

Tips & General Info

1. Your trip may or may not get canceled-depends on how many people book

My tips:

-Try to join another scheduled trip

-Gather up enough people on your own. The minimum to sail is usually 4 people.

2. Transportation's not included. Most of the boats are located about a 10-15 minute cab ride from Waikiki at Kewalo Basin which is just past Ala Moana Shopping Center.

3. Most start early as in be there by sunrise early

4. Charters are half day or full day. From Waikiki full day is best because you have more time to find a happening spot for fish or to go trolling. Each person also needs time in the seat to catch a fish.

5. The types of boats vary with the nicer ones being in the 38'-53' range.

6. The types of fish you'll catch are Blue Marlin, Striped Marlin, Mahi Mahi, Ono (Wahoo), Ahi (Yellow Fin Tuna), and Skip Jack Tuna

7. It's possible to go fly-fishing. No boat drama or headaches involved plus you can learn more about traditional Hawaiian culture. You'll probably go to a more remote beach on a different part of the island on the east side or north shore. Transportation will be included.

8. There is one company that does late night shark fishing. Do not go with them. That's all I will say.

9. As far as keeping what you catch: usually most boats will allow this.

More than likely they'll clean and fillet it and split it into portions so that everybody has some to take home. This can work out to 3-4 lbs of fish per person depending.




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15. Biking

Adventure Travel Hawaii Bicycling

Biking on Oahu at Kualoa Ranch


Main options & General Info

Bike Hawaii (pictured above)

-True biking adventures in a variety of areas
-Guided tours but you have independence
-Owner-operator is an experienced biker & even wrote a book; customer-care is important
-Has combo options w/ snorkeling, etc
-Has family-oriented options
-Has challenging options for those who are more advanced
-Transportation included
-Closed-toe shoes required
-Group size 6-8 people on average depending


The Surf Bus

-Biking is more like cruising on a bike/jogging path on the north shore. Stop & check out the beaches & famous surf spots
-Exploration is independent-they drop you off at the path & you go on your own
-Combo activities available-I wouldn't go up there just to do this but as part of other things related to the north shore
-Transportation included
-Owner-operated, north shore resident & customer-care is important





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