Days spent recumbent in poolside chaises sipping fruity cocktails just isn’t my thing, unless followed by an epic day of exploring and thrill-seeking. From climbing around the ruins of Machu Picchu to spelunking in New Zealand caves, vacationing for me has always run towards the extreme. One of my favorite places on earth to have such a trip has long been Hawaii. With its lush natural beauty, diverse geological terrain and welcoming community all within close proximity to civilization like Waikiki hotels, it’s one of my top destinations for a true adventure.
Here’s just a sampling of some of my favorite activities in the islands.
I bike daily. Getting off my reliable ten-speed and onto a durable mountain bike is an instant way to make the experience ten times better. What’s best about this ride is it is all downhill, so even the most reticent biker can handle it. I spent half the day in this gorgeous spot, starting at 3,600 feet and then cruising down to sea level. Along the way, we stopped to admire the stunning views of the canyons and the sparkling Pacific. It’s a good little trip to break into your adventurous vacation with.
Kaui is just undeniably beautiful. When a place is selected to serve as the backdrop for films like Jurassic Park, how could exploring it be anything short of epic? In this one, you start out with a two-mile kayak paddle on the Hule’ia River, skimming along the water to the sounds of tropical birds. Pull up to the bank and immediately start trekking through the forest to waterfalls and verdant foliage. There, a series of zip lines awaits! Soar over the forest floor and enjoy bird’s eye views whilst your heart is racing from the flight.
Get over your fear of the “mano” (shark) and set off on an experience to glimpse the true beauty and splendor of these magnificent animals. You’ll depart by boat from the Haleiwa Harbor and head three miles off of Oahu’s North Shore, during which you’ll often have the privilege of seeing dolphins and Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. Then, it’s time to put on your game face: dive, swim and view sharks from a secure metal cage. Coming face to face with these creatures will leave you with newfound respect, and some major props from your friends back home!
Forget what you know of Oahu being nothing more than a stream of hotels and shopping. The island isn’t just a tropical amusement park; it’s perfect for outdoor adventures like tandem hang-gliding. You can literally get a taste of what it’s like to be a lucky bird of paradise as you and an instructor soar over the beautiful island.
After all these adrenaline-surging activities, I always make time for a little R&R. Hit the Modern Honolulu for a post-adventure cocktail or local cuisine, or turn in for a much-needed rest.
[Image via speedphotos / Flickr]