Intrepid adventurers can shimmy down a waterfall-strewn cliff on Maui. // © 2017 Rappel Maui
Feature image (above): Divers and snorkelers come within inches of manta rays during evening tours on Hawaii Island. // © 2017 Fair Wind Cruises
Following are six invigorating Hawaii activities that can wow even the most hardcore adventurers.
Doors-Off Flightseeing Over an Active Volcano (Hawaii Island)
When clients want to heat things up, this helicopter tour answers the call. Lifting off from Hilo, the doorless chopper heads to Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Hovering just 500 feet above sizzling flows and vents, guests smell the sulfur and feel rising warmth from the lava, which measures up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. As passengers fly without doors, they hear the wind and tune into the elements like never before.
Napali Coast Kayaking (Kauai)
Expert paddlers call this excursion the Mount Everest of ocean kayaking. The day-long tour regales clients with unparalleled views of the cliffs, caves, valleys, waterfalls and arches of Kauai’s remote 17-mile-long coast. As participants stroke and glide in their two-person sea kayaks, they see plenty of wildlife, from turtles and dolphins to seabirds and monk seals. Appealing to adults in good shape, the trip is a challenge, but the payoffs are huge.
Nighttime Manta Ray Diving and Snorkeling (Hawaii Island)
At once mysterious and friendly, manta rays gravitate to the Kona Coast to feed off plankton each night. During evening diving and snorkeling tours, boats shine lights into the ocean, providing intimate looks at these gentle giants with 20-foot wingspans. Guests come astoundingly close to the mesmerizing marvels as they drift and twirl. How to keep calm as those gaping mouths approach? Just remember that they prefer nonhuman food.
Rappelling Down a Waterfall (Maui)
Breathe deeply and take that first step. Next thing you know, you’re hanging off the edge of a 50-foot-high, waterfall-strewn cliff. If that sounds like fun, then sign up for this heart-thumping tour. A six-hour humdinger, it happens in an east Maui rainforest known for its wild, natural beauty. Rappel Maui promises top-rated equipment and highly trained guides, making the experience safe and stimulating for visitors ages 10 and up.
Swimming with Sharks (Oahu)
Three miles off Oahu’s North Shore await populations of tiger, sandbar and Galapagos sharks. Clients can enter their world safely courtesy of two-hour shark encounter tours. Pulses race within a protective floating cage as guests view the handsome predators, who swim as close as 1 foot away. During the boat ride out and back, passengers pick up fascinating facts about environmental conservation while spotting other sea creatures such as dolphins, whales and turtles.
Ziplining to the Extreme (Maui)
Most every major island offers at least one zipline, but Flyin Hawaiian boasts the most extreme in the state to date. Clients soar up to 250 feet above the ground and sometimes faster than 50 mph. While each of the eight lines is unique, nothing tops the grand finale: a 3,600-foot run, the longest in Hawaii. West Maui’s mountains set a gorgeous backdrop for this soul-stirring course, which takes about five hours to complete.