The diversified landscapes of the Hawaiian Islands offer an abundance of opportunities for inspiration and rejuvenation. From witnessing molten lava flows on the island of Hawaii and soaking in views of Mount Waialeale while water tubing through the rainforests of Kauai, to viewing the sunrise at the 10,023-foot elevation summit of Haleakala volcano on Maui and experiencing a brand new adventure park on Oahu’s west side, a wide-range of exploration and excitement awaits.
Whether you prefer exploring the Islands in the company of clouds, beneath the ocean surface, or somewhere in between, here’s a sampling of multiple ways to experience Hawaii’s natural beauty and diversity by land, sea and air.
• Adding to the number of ways visitors can already opt to explore century-old Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on foot is a new hike to the ocean entry of Kilauea volcano’s current lava flow. But don’t miss out on visiting the island of Hawaii’s four other National Park Service-managed parks, sites and trails – Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park and the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. Each has a unique story to tell of its importance and role in Hawaiian culture and history.
• From the challenging Kalalau Trail along the Napali Coast to the far mellower nature trails of Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park, with much of Kauai inaccessible by automobile, hiking is a great way to see the island’s natural splendor up-close.
• Avid hikers can now book Backroads’ new Maui and Lanai Walking and Hiking Tour. The five-day adventure’s diverse hiking terrain, which includes exposed lava rock paths and native-forest trails, will have guests trekking the Hoapili Trail and Waihee Ridge Trail on Maui, and the Koloiki Ridge Trail and Naha Trail on Lanai.
• The recently opened Coral Crater Adventure Park in west Oahu features safe, fun-for-the-whole-family activities, including a thrilling 40-mph zipline ride, an off-road side-by-side ATV tilted on a banked turn, and a king swing on the edge of a steep cliff. The park features thrilling rides, exciting challenges, formidable obstacles, games and local-style food. Visitors can relax at the picnic area and enjoy food and drinks while playing horseshoes and other activities, or try out the park’s state-of-the-art Adventure Tower and climbing wall.
• Explore the sensational sea life and reef-filled waters of Molokini crater, one of Hawaii’s premier snorkeling destinations. Sail Trilogy offers a relaxing catamaran sail from Maui’s south shore to the submerged volcanic crater, and an invigorating snorkel tour of its waters, which are among the clearest on the island.
• The island of Hawaii is home to some of the best snorkeling and diving locations in the world. Everyone can swim, snorkel or relax in the clear waters of Kealakekua Bay, but visitors seeking a culturally significant water adventure are encouraged to join in on a Kona Coast outrigger canoe ride with Kona Boys.
• Marvel at majestic waterfalls and hidden valleys while paddling to a blue water reef for snorkeling on a Napali Coast adventure with Kayak Kauai, which offers adventure activities the whole family can enjoy.
• Holokai Adventures’ guided Heeia Fishpond Exploration tour offers an authentic, off-the-beaten path Hawaiian cultural activity. The adventure begins with lessons on the basics of kayaking and ocean safety before moving to the water, where participants learn about the modern-day restoration and historic cultural significance of early Hawaiian fishponds. Guides discuss the importance of fishponds like Heeia to the sustainable food gathering efforts of early Hawaiians and how visitors can apply similar thinking to current times.
• Kauai Backcountry Adventures‘ zipline tours may start on land, but they don’t stay there long. Visitors looking for an airborne activity will immediately feel the rush as they soar through the air over tropical rainforests, deep valleys and natural watering holes. On Oahu, the three-hour guided tour at CLIMB Works Keana Farms will have participants soaring above a working agricultural farm nestled between the North Shore’s world-famous beaches and lush mountains, all while taking in exquisite panoramic views.
• Visitors looking to reach even higher heights should book one (or more) of the many helicopter tours showcasing the Hawaiian Islands’ awe-inspiring natural landscapes. Operators such as Blue Hawaiian Helicopters offer a variety of tours with ample bird’s-eye views of Oahu, Maui, the island of Hawaii and Kauai.
• At an elevation of 13,802 feet above sea level, you’ll feel as if you’re in the realm of the clouds at the summit of Maunakea volcano on the island of Hawaii. Hawaii Forest & Trail’s new Maunakea Sunrise Experience takes visitors to Maunakea’s summit to experience a predawn sky still alive with stars and planets, and view the morning sun’s rise from the east. Post-sunrise, the tour heads back down the mountain to the 9,200-foot elevation Maunakea Visitor Information Station for a light breakfast and brief, guided excursion of the Maunakea silversword plant enclosure. The seven- to eight-hour round-trip Maunakea Sunrise Experience is a Hawaii Forest & Trail exclusive.
• Paradise Helicopters is now offering visitors the opportunity to play an active role in the reforestation of Hawaii’s native trees while experiencing some of the Islands’ most incredible sights and heli-landing locations. Through the Hawaiian Legacy Reforestation Initiative, guests can choose from a menu of nearly 20 available tour options for the sponsorship of koa Legacy Trees. Guests sponsoring the planting of seven koa Legacy Trees will receive a half-hour Diamond Head Scenic tour from Paradise Helicopters, departing from its new Kalaeloa Airport base operation near the Ko Olina Resort area on Oahu. Other sponsorship reward options include North Shore tours, volcano and waterfall adventures on the island of Hawaii, and a circle-island tour of Lanai.
Looking for more adventures in Hawaii? Check out “100 Best things to do Hawaii“