Everyone knows Hawaii is an ideal destination for anyone looking to relax, soak up some sun, and escape normal life for a little while. But, did you also know that this tropical paradise has plenty to offer adventure travelers too? Those who like to stay active on their vacations will find plenty to see and do too, with opportunities to explore beneath the surface of the ocean all the way to the summit of the tallest mountain on the planet.
Here are our suggestions for the most adventurous things while in Hawaii.
1. Climb to the Summit of Mauna Kea
Did you know that the tallest mountain in the world is found in Hawaii? Yes, it’s true that Mt. Everest is the highest mountain on the planet in terms of altitude, but Mauna Kea is actually considerably taller—although most of it sits beneath the surface of the ocean. In fact, Mauna Kea stands more than 33,000 feet in height, which is 4000 feet taller than Everest, but just 13,803 feet of the mountain is actually above sea level.
Visitors to Hawaii can make the trek to the summit of the mountain along a six-mile-long trail that begins at a visitor center located at 9200 feet and climbs slowly, but steadily up to the summit. Anyone attempting the trek should take care, as the extreme change in altitude from sea level to the top of the mountain can have some adverse effects on the body. But, if you hike slowly, stay hydrated, and stop to enjoy the views along the way, it can be quite a rewarding experience. If you go at the right time of year, you might even find snow on the summit.
2. Explore the Heart of a Volcano
There aren’t many places where you can walk into the interior of a volcano, but it is an option in Hawaii. Located inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Thurston Lava Tube gives visitors a chance to stroll into a subterranean corridor that was created when lave bubbled up through this section of the Earth. Later, when it receded, the chamber was left behind, and now it is a popular attraction for those who want to delve beneath the surface and explore the geological formation for themselves.
3. Hike the Na Pali Coast
There are a number of great hikes to take when visiting the various islands in Hawaii, but perhaps the most stunning of these is the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast on Kauai. The 11-mile route runs from Kee Beach to Kalalau Beach and offers the only access by land to this remote part of the island. Visitors while finding stunning views of the ocean, secluded beaches, and towering cliffs while hiking through a lush tropical forest. Camping is allowed at two different sites for those who want to trek end-to-end, which is the absolute best way to take in everything that this trail has to offer.
4. Paddle the Kauai Coastline
Hiking the Na Pali Coast isn’t the only way to see this amazing part of the world. Kayakers can also take to the ocean to paddle the many hidden coves, fishing sanctuaries, and even sea caves that dot the landscape there. Be warned, however, this excursion isn’t for the inexperienced paddler. It requires some finesse and stamina to navigate the entire 16-mile route, but for those who are up to it, this is an adventure of a lifetime.
5. Surf the North Shore
Hawaii is a mecca for surfers, offering up some of the best big waves found anywhere in the world. But, the North Shore on Ohau is perhaps the most epic playground of them all, with seven miles of beautiful beaches and massive tubes to ride.
This isn’t a place for beginners to pick up the sport, but for experienced surfers, it is amongst the best places on Earth to catch a wave. The largest appear between November and February, with swells rising as high as 30 feet. For a calmer, more relaxed experience, visit between May and September, when the waters are much more manageable.
6. Snorkel and Dive Molokini
The crescent-moon-shaped island of Molokini has been declared a marine and bird wildlife sanctuary, making it an epic destination for divers and snorkelers alike. Located 3 miles off the coast of Maui, the volcano atoll is home to hundreds of fish species, sea turtles, crustaceans, and more. It also features the wreck of a ship called St. Anthony, which is open for divers to explore as well.
Visit during the winter, and you’re likely to see humpback whales playing in the waters around Molokini as well.
7. Go Deep Sea Fishing
Hawaii offers some of the best sport fishing in the world, with plenty of opportunities to reel in marlin, ahi, and mahimahi. Deep-sea charters are available on almost any island, taking travelers out onto the stunning waters in search of game fish. If you don’t have time for a full day at sea, drop a hook in the water at one of the many piers that can be found on the islands as well. Some very rewarding angling can be found close to shore too.