Along Waikiki's beaches, surfers ride waves, curling over the horizon and gently splashing into the water just before reaching the sand. Kai Sallas—no stranger to tall waves—takes his beginner-level students nearly a mile south of Waikiki to a friendly, isolated shore that's ideal for learning to long board without a crowd.
An acclaimed professional surfer, Kai belongs to a breed of world-class athletes whose competitive talents are accompanied by teaching acumen. The long-board champion relished teaching family and friends how to surf as early as age 12. Before teaching professionally, though, Kai amassed a long list of awards from around the globe, including the coveted Professional Longboard Association championship twice and playing Peter Pan twice in a dolphin-only performance. In 2009, he came ashore to his home in Waikiki and opened Kai Sallas' Pro Surf School Hawaii. The venture made him a second-generation surfing teacher, since his father also taught surfing for 35 years. Housed in the Waikiki Beach Marriott, the business has evolved to not only include surfing lessons but also tours.
Epic Hawaii's tour guides leave no corner of Oahu unexplored. With Hawaii's rich culture, history, and ecology dictating their paths, they take visitors on snorkeling adventures off the North Shore. Tour-goers hike through majestic waterfalls and rain forests, and they kayak from Kailua Beach to Moku Nui Island, where seabirds thrive.
Oahu endears itself to both visitors and locals with its truly breathtaking scenery. The Ko'olau Mountain Range slopes across the island with rolling green hills and steep peaks that overlook Kailua Bay. Off the sandy shore, the ocean plays host to an array of aquatic wildlife, such as sea turtles, dolphins, exotic fish, and kayakers. The last of these creatures comes from Twogood Kayaks, whose trained naturalists lead tours through the area's brilliant turquoise waters and offshore islets filled with natural coves and 12 species of seabirds.
In addition to garnering a reputation for making and selling some of the swiftest kayaks over the past 30 years, the staffers also train the next generation of competitors during camps and clinics.
Explore coastal caves and rock formations. Walk past active lava flows and tubes. Paddle through schools of tropical fish against the underwater landscape of a reef. These outdoor adventures make up the daily commute for the five guides who helm Hawaii Pack and Paddle. In addition to belonging to the same family, these guides—each certified lifeguards trained in first aid and CPR—share a passion for the untamed splendor of Hawaii's outdoors. It's a passion they bestow upon others during 10 organized tours that challenge participants to kayak, snorkel, and embark on day or night hikes.
As a fully-insured kayak and snorkel-tour company, Hawaii Pack and Paddle sometimes leads forays into little-seen areas, such as the rugged Keauhou Bay or the cave where high-school senior Tiffany keeps her diary. Some tours lead adventurers through the lava flows and jungles of Volcanoes National Park, along the shore of Punaluu Black Sand Beach, or past the waterfalls and ridges of Waipi'o. Other tours focus on special topics such as spear-fishing and underwater geological exploration. Alternatively, multi-day tours may blend several outdoor activities or include overnight camping. On each excursion, guides elucidate facts about the local ecosystem and its ties to Hawaii's cultural history, and they often train participants in one of their favorite skills: marine-life identification.
On Oahu, it may be hard to know where to begin. With a endless variety of activities, from hiking picturesque trails to kayaking along the shore, Active Oahu Tours helps explorers hone in on fun activities—and safely guides them through all adventures. With the added advantage of knowing little-known spots, guides usher tour-goers to less-congested kayaking areas, tropical hikes, and rivers. Other activities such as snorkeling and destination yoga are also available, encouraging visitors and natives alike to actively explore the lush island.
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.