If you’ve always dreamed of going snorkeling and viewing sea life up close, then Hawaii is the place to go. While any of the Hawaiian Islands are spectacular when it comes to snorkeling, Maui is one of the best-known locations to take part in this exciting activity. There are tons of snorkeling excursions to choose from in Maui, and many of them include speed boating, kayaking, and sailing, so you can really soak up the Hawaiian coast. While snorkeling in Maui, you’re almost guaranteed to see some of the most intriguing marine life that resides in the Pacific Ocean, such as large sea turtles, the Spotted Moray Eel, Racoon Butterfly Fish, octopus, manta rays, and even dolphins! Whale and dolphin watching tours that include snorkeling are common to find on this island, so on your next vacation to Maui, make sure to take advantage of this opportunity.
Just like you’ve seen on those episodes of The Bachelor, Oahu ziplining is an exhilarating activity choice in which you can sail across Oahu’s tropical and mountainous landscape. Some guided tours even bring you to the top of a mountain on ATV’s, which is a whole adventure in itself. After the drop off, you’ll strap in and fly down a possible 2,400 feet. Zipline excursions with the inclusion of rope courses are also a fun choice, for those who are looking for some physical challenge. Kualoa Ranch hosts a Jurassic Valley Zipline, which includes some education and viewing of wildlife as you zip through the Ka’a’awa Valley rainforest. If you’re not really interested in any of the extra entertainment, just choose to cruise and enjoy the dreamy panoramic views of Oahu.
Hiking in Oahu
A common misconception about the Hawaiian Islands is that they consist only of tropical beaches and glitzy resorts. But don’t be fooled by the stereotypes though, because Hawaii is actually full of booming mountains and volcanoes, most of which you can hike the several terrains. Oahu is loaded with some of the most incredible trails, both easy and challenging. If you’re looking for a more laid-back hike where you can better observe Oahu’s scenery, check out Manoa falls trail, Ka’ena Point Trail, and Waimea Valley. Each of these treks are under 3 miles, and still offer incredible views. Manoa falls trail ends at the opening of a 150-foot waterfall known as the Manoa Falls waterfall. After reaching the end of Waimea trail, which levels out at about 1.9 miles, you’ll see a stretch of well-maintained botanical gardens and a waterfall where you can swim. More intermediate and advanced hikes include Mount Olympus, which extends up to 2,000 vertical feet. Ropes and other climbing tools are set along this mountain, since it often becomes muddy and slippery. Hikers who meet the peak of Mount Olympus are rewarded with a skyline view of the mountainous trail and jungle forestry, a view like no other. Even if hiking isn’t your forte, make sure to still visit these landmarks, as they allow you to scope out all that the beautiful island of Oahu has to offer.
Aside from the compelling Oahu hikes, volcano trekking is an option in many different parts of Hawaii. Hawaii is one of twelve U.S. states that has volcanoes, 5 of which are active. Volcano exploring is an amazing opportunity that visitors love taking advantage of, as volcanoes are one of the most mysterious and powerful landmarks to exist. A few of the best volcano hikes include Kīlauea Iki, Nāhuku (Thurston Lava Tube), and Maunaulu. If you plan to visit Kīlauea Iki, know that it comes with its fair share of challenges. Hikers trudge through steep, solidified lava lakes with a descend of 400 feet. This loop then extends through a rainforest and down to the crater floor. Nāhuku, or Thurston Lava Tube is a short and more leisurely hike through a dense lava tube hundreds of years old. Maunaulu’s hike travels through a lava field, then peaking at 210 feet, which provides an incredible view of Mauna Loa. The total round trip is just under 3 miles.
You can find cliff jumping opportunities anywhere in Hawaii, but there are some especially exciting spots. Cliff jumping is a more adventurous take on enjoying the ocean, and a perfect activity to take some Pinterest worthy vacation photos. Black rock in Maui is not only an exceptional snorkeling spot, but it’s also great for cliff jumping off rocks up to 18 feet in height. A more dangerous and daring height is the Leap of Faith located in Oahu, made only for expert level cliff divers. Since cliff diving ranges from beginner to advance on the experience scale, it’s a good idea to look at all your options and do your research before deciding which area to dive from.
Caves and Caverns
The Big Island hosts tons of glittery and mystical caves open to visitors. Many caves and caverns in Hawaii were formed by erupted volcanoes, which then turned into beautiful open cavities. Kula Kai Cavern offers some unique cave tours such as the crawl tour and 2-hour guide through the caverns. Waiahuakua Sea Cave is the second longest sea cave in the world and is accessible only by boat. However, Waiahuakua offers mesmerizing and captivating views of cascading waterfalls and crystallized rock formations.
While many resorts and hotels are right near the beach, there’s nothing better or more nature-esque than saying goodnight in a tent on the sand. There are tons of beach campgrounds and sites on every Hawaiian island, including Bellows Field Beach Park, Kaiaka Bay Beach Park, and Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden. Kaiaka Bay Beach Park, located in Oahu, is placed right at the mouth of the Waialua River. Summertime is the perfect season to take a swim at this spot, as well as fish and surf, two popular campsite activities. Up to 10 people per campground can enjoy the exceptionally clean waters and tropical Oahu coastline views. Bellows Field Beach Park in Honolulu is another fantastic camping venue, which is actually part of a military training area. Bellows Field hosts about 50 campgrounds, and is surrounded by the beautiful Pacific Ocean, pristine white beaches, and stunning mountains. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is a wonderland where visitors can become immersed in the Honolulu jungle. Dreamy flower gardens lead to an oceanic opening where you can set up base and enjoy the crashing waves sunrise to sunset.
Oahu Horseback Riding
A more lavish expedition, Oahu is one of the best places in the world to go horseback riding. Guided tours are available, as well as a romantic two-person ride. Depending on how experienced you are with riding horses, experienced guides and instructors are free to help if necessary. Oahu’s landscape is full of rolling hills and volcanoes that outline the many sparkling beaches.
Last but not certainly least, scuba diving is an absolute must-do activity in Hawaii. The Pacific Ocean off the Hawaiian coast consists of some of the blue-ist, crystal clear water and is home to a number of perplexing marine life species – and scuba diving immerses you right in the midst of all the oceanic activity. Each of the Hawaiian Islands carries its own reputation when it comes to scuba diving and sea life. For example, seals, eagle rays, and the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle are all commonly found in Maui. Scuba diving and swimming with dolphins or whale watching are also guided tour options. If you’re daring enough to share the water with sharks, Oahu’s North Shore offers a shark cave in which you can swim and dive with these beastly animals.
So, how do I prepare for my trip?
Aside from knowing where to go and what to do, you’ll need to bring your best apparel and supplies made for the great Hawaiian outdoors.
- For Hawaiian hiking adventures, it’s absolutely necessary to wear a good pair of sneakers or boots. the Salomon X Ultra 4 GORE-TEX Hiking Shoes offer extra support and water-resistant material, to carry you through the toughest terrains.
- During all deep ocean activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving, these O’Neill Hyperfreak wetsuits will follow your movement and offer an extra layer of protection
- Wondering what to wear while hiking, horseback riding, and trekking up some volcanoes? One of our favorite places to grab some much-needed athletic sets is Athleta, like the Conscious Crop with matching leggings.
- While there are tons of tasty places to eat on every corner in Hawaii, it’s still a good idea to pack snacks and beverages on those extra-long days. The Thermos 16 oz Food Jar is an easy, portable, and roomy option to store your fuel.