One hundred feet beneath the surface of Maunalua Bay, the Corsair⎯a World War II airplane—rests on a sandy floor. Its massive shell and magnetism for schools of soldier fish lures deep-sea explorers to the site every year. As divers propel themselves alongside the plane's wing and fuselage, they get an up-close look at the wreck's current residents, which range from colorful goatfish to reclusive moray eels.
With more than 30 years of experience, the scuba instructors at Waikiki Diving Center lead daily dives for certified divers to submerged sites such as the Cosair wreck. Earning a five-star Instructor Development Center designation from the Professional Association of Diving Instructors, the center's team coordinates parties of 12–14 people and takes them out on one of two customized dive boats—The Submariner or Snoopy V—for adventures ranging from snuggling sea turtles to earning PADI open-water certifications. To enhance visitors' experiences, Waikiki Diving Center's crew arranges complimentary shuttle service to and from Waikiki hotels.
When Jeff Chang and Karen Lar Rieu—the brother-sister team behind Wet Feet Hawaii—aren't scrawling on the ocean's waves with their paddles, they're usually in their shop chatting with customers about their experiences. Behind their counter, they sell and rent gear, and orchestrate a team of paddleboard racers, an ocean conservationist, and water enthusiasts as they lead lessons and tours.
During the eco tour, a conservationist—who was the first woman to cross the Molokai Channel on a standup paddleboard—teaches the basics while leading tour members to conservation areas to expound on the problem of plastics in the ocean. On the downwind tours, some of Hawaii’s top standup-paddleboard racers guide and coach guests to tackle the infamous downwind runs of Oahu. With four different levels to suit all experiences and 5- to 12-mile runs, tour members can challenge themselves without challenging every dolphin they see to a race. In recognition of their service to the sport and the community, Honolulu magazine named Wet Feet Hawaii Best Standup Paddle Shop in Honolulu for 2010.
Hawaiian WaterSports set up shop with the intention of equipping residents and visitors with everything they need to enjoy the aqua waves and waterways of Hawaii. The shop realized that goal with two locations, each stacked to the gills with surfboards, kiteboards, kayaks, snorkeling equipment, and books on how to beat mermaids at Marco Polo. Hawaiian WaterSports is an official IKO kiteboarding center and its IKO-certified instructors teach students wind theory and the skills necessary to set up, launch, and ride their own kiteboard. Expert surfers on staff can also take squads of aquatic adventures out into the curling sea for lessons specifically designed to get beginners hanging ten and perfecting balancing technique for future limbo competitions.
Aboard a 170'x50' catamaran, dinner cruisers with Ali'i Kai taste piquant Polynesian dishes while watching traditional tribal dance in front of a stunning ocean sunset. During the two-hour dinner cruise (up to a $79/person value), complete with a lei and an additional alcoholic beverage (a $12 value), palates can experience new island flavors with buffet items such as the spicy pipikaula salad, pulehu cilantro-lime-marinated beef, or the mango-pineapple-teriyaki-glazed chicken. Vegetarians who call or skywrite their preferences in ahead of time can nibble on a specially made meat-free meal.
South Pacific Watersports' expert captains send patrons on thrilling aquatic excursions, promoting both watery amusement and the conservation of Hawaii's delicate oceanic life. Adventurers cling to a rollicking bumper tube with up to three other guests as it skims the wake of Koko Marina tethered to a zooming motorboat or a benevolent plesiosaur's neck. Up to five folks can then clamber aboard a boat to Maunalua Bay, where knowledgeable instructors lead a 20-minute course imparting the basics of standup paddleboarding before turning pupils loose on the tide. Perched atop provided boards, students draw lengthy paddles through the surf while soaking in views of the ocean floor's inhabitants and mermaid sock hops through the bay's crystal-clear waters. The 90-minute outing also doubles as a full-body workout as paddlers buff up arms against rippling waters and clench abs and quads to stabilize their balance.
Blue Hawaii LifeStyle Café supplies visiting snackers with a variety of healthy, vigor-inducing fuels. The clean, sunny store serves up its signature açaí bowl, which uses a delicious organic açaí-soymilk blend as the soapbox upon which granola, fruit, and honey preach the word of good health. Açaí is a South American drupe considered to be the most super of the super fruits, so high in antioxidants that in its wake lays only free radicals dejectedly crying to their mommies.