Outdoors

8 Ways to Take Your Hawaii Adventure to the Next Level

Ready for some outdoor adventure on your next trip to Hawaii? Maybe you want to immerse yourself in Mother Nature while you’re on the islands, pick up some Instagram-worthy skills, or perhaps you’re chasing heart-pounding thrills.

No matter what type of experience you’re after, here are some ideas for fresh twists on old favorites.

Tandem Paragliding

Soar off an upcountry Maui hill in a tandem paraglider. Beginners are given instruction before being strapped into a harness-like chair and dashing like mad with a certified instructor into the great wide yonder.

At Proflyght Paragliding, owner Dexter Binder says the 3,000-foot descent into said yonder is the most popular choice customers make, as it involves 10 to 12 minutes of airtime, though a faster, 1,000-foot descent is available, as well.

Rapel Through a Waterfall

hawaii adventure activities
Feel the rush as you rappel down a waterfall. (Photo: Getty Images)

It doesn’t get more Indiana Jones than rappelling down through a rushing waterfall. Try this breathtaking experience with an operator such as Umauma Falls Zipline & Rappel Experience on Hawaii Island or on Maui via Adventure in Hawaii or Rappel Maui.

Kitesurfing

Kailua, on Oahu’s windward side, is ground zero for kitesurfing activity due to favorable trade winds year-round. The many schools here boast top-notch instructors, many of them former and current competitors.

Whether you want to take a beginner lesson or are an experienced windsurfer looking for pointers on advanced aerials, Kailua is the place to go.

Give Back as You Hike

Glimpse incredible views of west Maui and gain the chance to explore a Hawaiian site on private land with a Hike & Restore Project in Honokowai Valley.

Volunteer hikers, intermediate level and up, work with Maui Cultural Lands to remove invasive plants and replant with Hawaiian varieties, all the while learning about history and getting gloriously muddy.

Hop on a Traditional Sailing Canoe

hawaii adventure activities
Get a taste of Hawaiian tradition. (Photo: Getty Images)

Experience some of the authentic native Hawaiian traditions of seafaring by venturing out on the ocean in a hand-built sailing canoe off Oahu’s coast. Or try your hand with a more advanced paddle to Honolua Bay off Maui.

SUP After Dark

By day, in Laie, Oahu’s Polynesian Cultural Center is a lively place to try one’s hand at skills such as spear tossing and poi ball twirling. But after dark, there’s a behind-the-scenes, more hidden experience whispering out.

The Lunar Legends Lagoon Tour is conducted by North Shore Explorers. Standing atop glowing SUP boards, paddlers explore the lagoon and hear myths from around Oceania.

Tube or Kayak Plantation-Era Portals

Hand-dug irrigation ditches and darkened tunnels from Hawaii’s early plantation era allow you to traverse where few other visitors go.

hawaii adventure activities
Head into the waters of the backcountry. (Photo: Alamy)

Try Flumin’ Kohala on Hawaii Island or, for a Garden Isle frolic, Kauai Backcountry Adventures. Raging waters, these are not, but a more unusual experience is hard to come by.

Horseback Riding with a Twist

Gunstock Ranch, in the Laie/Malaekahana area of Oahu, has verdant mountainside trails, bird-watching ops, and you might even spot a feral pig. Riders also get to meander through a Hawaiian Legacy Forest and then select their own trees to plant.

As your tree grows, you’ll be able to track it online to see how it’s doing using its GPS location and a radio frequency identification (RFID) tag.