Founded with the goal of curating unique island adventures that promote up-close encounters with local wildlife, Island Water Sports Hawaii facilitates humans’ return to nature with intimate tours and activities. Working out of the Hawaii Kai Marina, Island Water Sports’ passionate staff of boat captains ferries guests out into Maunalua Bay to partake in aquatic adventures including snorkeling. The company’s signature eco-friendly submarine scooters secure riders' heads in clear, bubble-like helmets that draw on the principles of diving bells to safely seal air inside and keep faces dry, comfortable, and breathing easily throughout underwater tours. On boat tours, the balmy sea air tussles the manes of Island Watersports’ skippers as they point out awe-inspiring vistas and wildlife such as humpback whales that migrate to Hawaii from Alaska to nurse, mate, and take their sundresses out of storage.
Hawaii’s lush beauty is too abundant to be experienced solely on foot, which is why Botanical World offers up-close-and-personal views of the Big Island's meticulously kept botanical gardens with services including ziplines and Segway tours. Segway riders speed past swaths of exotic plants, trees, and scenic waterfalls as they explore the garden's meandering pathways during self-guided or guide-guided tours. Elevated zipline trips, meanwhile, send guests soaring over the Hanapueo Streams falls, showing off trees’ receding hairlines as well as stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the nearby Mauna Kea volcano.
Elsewhere in the garden, guests can explore the arboretum, which houses a sampling of Hawaii's vast array of trees, whereas the paved quarter-mile Rainbow Walk contains a cactus garden, perennial plants, and a wall of orchids. Adventurous young ones can attempt to navigate the world's second-largest permanently-planted maze, covering a space as large as a football field.
Windward Watersports, home to one of the only certified kiteboarding schools on Oahu and professional kiteboarder Jeff Tobias, feeds wave-hungry visitors a steady diet of water-sport thrills on kiteboards, sea kayaks, and surfboards. Beginners steam toward an off-shore sandbar to safely launch into a kiteboard lesson with a certified instructor on a two-way radio helping novices navigate the warm crystal waters and grasp the kiteboarding basics, such as how to set up a four-line inflatable kite, kite theory and the wind window, and how to ensure heirloom swimsuits remain in the family using the double-knot technique. Waterbugs wishing to explore the rolling spray via the self-guided kayak eco-tour will take in a host of native coral, birds, turtles, and if lucky, a glimpse of the rare endangered monk seal. Kayak rental also includes paddle, safety vest, and the combination to Davy Jones' locker.
Each fall, a team from United Pacific Builders transforms the tunnels and hospitality room beneath Aloha Stadium into a maze of halls and rooms where ghastly creatures await fresh souls to spook. On top of providing Halloween chills, the team behind the event supports the community by donating a portion of the proceeds to the Hawaii Meth Project.
When a canoe enters the lagoon at Polynesian Cultural Center, its passengers transcend time, distance, and the need for a passport. The boat drifts to the shores of different exhibits, each of which represents a unique Polynesian region. At the Samoa section, for instance, visitors learn how to spark a fire and cook native cuisine. Nearby, the sounds of the haka—a lively war dance—ring through the Aotearoa area, while rhythmic drumming permeates the Fiji and Tonga exhibits. Those who stop by the miniature Tahiti can learn a traditional dance, and guests of the Hawaiian village observe skilled artists weaving leis.
For a cultural cap on an exploratory day, patrons can upgrade their general admission ticket and attend the nightly Ali'i Luau. A celebratory feast is laid out, including authentic Hawaiian cuisine and a whole pig roasted in an underground oven. Alternatively, guest can upgrade to even more evening entertainment, Ha: Breath of Life. During this show, more than 100 Polynesian performers dance, play music, and toss fire to tell an epic story. Dinner is not included with Ha: Breath of Life.
Up to 19 passengers sit comfortably on North Shore Catamaran Charters' 40-foot sailing vessel, the Ho’O Nanea, which Captain Don Germain steers along Oahu’s scenic shores. The catamaran’s name means “to pass the time in ease and comfort,” an apt phrase, as guests will find the day quickly and serenely passes when they’re onboard. North Shore can charter the boat for snorkeling adventures in Waimea Bay or for romantic BYOB sunset sails.
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