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Activities in Hawaii

Just about anything you ever dreamed of doing in the tropics is available in Hawaii.  People return to Hawaii not just for the beautiful scenery, but also because of the many activities available while vacationing there.  

There is a wide variety of visitor information and much of it is free.  The activity industry in Hawaii is massive and much of the free information you will find is simply advertising paid for by the activity providers, even if it doesn't say "advertisement" anywhere on the brochure, magazine, web page, etc.  There are many reputable providers, but there are also some that are primarily interested in making a profit by "processing" as many visitors a day as possible.  So, you should be skeptical when looking at advertisements or talking to activity desks or activity booths in hotels or on the street.  Some often "recommend" only companies that give them the biggest commissions.

The types of activities are numerous and we won't go into detail on this page about them.  This section of the web site is updated frequently as we try out more activities on each trip.

Biking varies from renting a bicycle to signing up with one of the companies on Maui that take you from the 10,000 foot level of Haleakala down to sea level.

Boating and sailing.  Opportunities abound.  There are glass bottom boat rides, sunrise, mid-day, and dinner cruises, sailing expeditions that include snorkeling or scuba diving, and more.

Camping is a low-cost alternative for those who love the outdoors.  In a few locations there are also some cabins that you can rent for a limited number of days.

Fishing includes deep sea fishing as well as some fresh water fishing.  We have heard that in Hawaii, the fish caught belong to the boat, which means the captain.  If this bothers you, make arrangements with the captain before booking a trip.

Golf ranges from extremely expensive courses to low-cost public courses.  The scenery can be beautiful, but the wind can be a disaster for the average player.  

Helicopter rides are available on the four major islands.  These rides are rather expensive, but the view is breathtaking.  If you aren't afraid of flying, you simply cannot beat exploring the islands from a helicopter.

Hiking varies from very short 10 minute hikes off the road to see waterfalls, etc. to hikes that will take at least two days to complete.  Here are some examples.

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Kauai:  Kalalau Trail This 11 mile trail begins at the end of the road at Ke'e Beach on the North Shore.  The round trip will require you to spend at least one night on the trail.  But the first two miles of the trail is a moderate hike and will take the average person 3 - 4 hours for the round trip.  Some of the trail is easy hiking but there are a number of rocky places and a few springs create muddy areas.  If it is raining, or has rained recently, the trail will be muddy, slippery and the hike will take much longer and can be dangerous.  There are a number of fantastic views of the Na Pali coastline along the hike and after two miles you arrive at Hanakapiai Beach.  The Hanakapiai Stream feeds into the ocean here and you can take a refreshing dip (it's fairly cold water) in fresh water instead of salt water before starting the return trip.

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Oahu:  Makapu'u Lighthouse  This one and one-half mile hike on the Southeast part of the island is relatively easy because you hike over paved road.  Leave Honolulu on H1 Eastbound which will soon turn into Kalanianaole Highway.  Continue past Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach Park.  A short distance later you will see the entrance to an old road blocked by a closed gate.  The only parking here is along the highway.  Be sure not to block the gate or your car may be towed away.  About two-thirds of the way along the road you have expansive views of the coast line stretching back toward Hanauma Bay.  At the end of the hike are viewing platforms where you have impressive views of the coast line toward Kailua Bay.  The lighthouse can be seen below the point but is not accessible.

Horseback Riding in Waipio Valley, Big Island
Horseback Riding in Waipi'o Valley, Big Island
Horseback riding is available on most islands.  While you get a birds eye view from a helicopter you can see the countryside up-close from a horse.  As with hiking, trips can vary from an hour or two to multiple day trips.  If you are an experienced rider, you will probably want to schedule an open range ride.  Otherwise, you may be better off with a "nose to tail" guided tour.  Match your experience with the type of ride and you will enjoy the thrill of the never ending scenery.

Kayaking is one of our favorite activities in Hawaii and deserves individual treatment. Check out this link for more information.

Scuba diving around the islands can be incredible.  Although we are not certified, we still enjoy going on introductory dives that consist of a short introduction and then a 30 - 45 minute off-shore dive.

Snorkeling is one of our favorite activities in the islands.  Done properly, people of all ages can enjoy the rainbow colors of abundant fish and coral almost effortlessly.  Here are a few points to help you.
Be sure your mask fits properly:  The portion of the mask that fits against your face should make a water tight seal or you risk water leaks and fogging.  Try the mask on by placing it against your face and letting go without breathing.  If it sticks to your face, it should be tight when the water presses it against your face. Ensure none of your hair is partly under the mask and partly out or it will certainly leak.
Use mask defog: You can find solutions at dive shops that prevent condensation in your mask.  If you rent snorkel equipment, or it's supplied on a snorkel trip, they will supply defog solution.  We have our own snorkel equipment and have found that two to three parts of water mixed with one part baby shampoo is inexpensive and works as well as any defog we've purchased
Avoid taking your mask off and on during snorkeling:  Once you put your mask on, leave it on.  Even defog solution will not prevent condensation if you keep removing and replacing your mask. 
Snorkel around coral or lava rock, not a sandy bottom:  You will consistently find the fish around the reef or rocks.
DO NOT STAND ON OR HANDLE THE CORAL:  Coral is a marine animal just like fish and broken coral takes years to grow back.  We find coral almost as fascinating to view as the brilliantly colored fish and if the coral is destroyed the fish will go elsewhere.
Exercise beach safety:  Check with the life guard or someone who just came out of the water about conditions.  Never turn your back on the ocean.  Know what is happening so you will be ready to react properly. Never snorkel alone. 

The Hawaii Beaches web page has links to the beaches on each island for locations to snorkel.

Surfing is almost synonymous with Hawaii.  Hawaiians invented it and the North Shore of Oahu is famous for tremendous winter waves at Sunset Beach, the Banzai Pipeline, etc.  However, for the beginner there are many places on the leeward side of the islands that offer one to three foot waves.

Swimming   The islands are surrounded by beaches and the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean.  You can find a perfect spot for either challenging surf, or just paddling around in a calm lagoon.  Many swimming locations are identified on the corresponding beaches page for each Island.

Tennis   There are hundreds of courts on the islands.  Some are public and many are private.  Many hotels and almost all resorts have tennis courts for the use of guests.  

Windsurfing is attaching a sail to a surfboard and sailing the boards at rapid speeds for some distance off the coast.  You can take lessons and learn to windsurf in a relatively short time.  If you want to see the professionals though, check out Ho'okipa on Maui.

Whale watching is a favorite activity from December through March or April.  Tours generally last about two hours.  There are fines for getting closer than 100 yards to the humpbacks but you still get a great view from that distance.  When we took the Trilogy tour from Kaanapali Beach on Maui, we motored out to an area where whales had been seen and turned off the engine.  During the next 60 - 90 minutes, the curiosity of the humpbacks seemed to draw them to the boat.  Probably a dozen whales swam around and under the boat many times and a few breached fairly close to the boat. 

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