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.
Not just anyone can become a guide for Discover Hawaii Tours. In fact, prospective guides have to run the gauntlet of rigorous training, studying, and testing on the islands' history. But those who succeed can expound on all manner of local topics from sea turtle anatomy to Pearl Harbor facts. Only then are they qualified to lead the small, personalized tours that span Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and the Big Island.
These themed tours share Hawaii's most treasured sights, often including the acitve volcano Mt. Kilauea and sights as small and wondrous as the darting fish in Hanauma Bay. Depending on which excursion you choose, you might have the chance to pull on a mask and flippers for a day of snorkeling or steel yourself for the fire-dancing performances at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The guides also draw on their knowledge as locals to bring groups to secluded locations, such as the beach on Oahu's North Shore where turtles are known to gather and the cove where surfers go to perfect their mating dances.
Friendly drivers steer AlohaBus's fleet of double-decker buses through Honolulu streets, chaperoning tourists and intrigued locals to scenic and historic locations and allowing riders to disembark or climb aboard at any point. Vehicles arrive every 30–45 minutes at each stop, and riders can enjoy fresh ocean breezes from the open-top vehicles. The buses make eight continuous loops from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., including the daytime historic loop that explores Diamondhead, Waikiki, the Pearl Harbor express loop, and the nighttime loop that meanders through shopping and dining destinations. Complimentary earbuds play music and a GPS-activated narrative whispers fun facts in five languages, including English, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and GPS's native binary. Guests can hop off at stops to get an up-close look at areas of interest or to refill the bus's gas tank with coconut milk.
Jon Jepson draws on his experience navigating the seas for 20 years while captaining Makani Catamaran's crew in a 65-foot luxury vessel that he helped build. He strives to combine grand prix sailing with charter boat comfort while capably navigating waters from Seattle to the Panama Canal.
During morning, afternoon, and evening cruises, Captain Jon's staffers sling refreshments as the ship clips through the waves at speeds of up to 30 knots, zipping past paddling sea turtles or schools of dolphins. Inside the $1.8 million catamaran, an LCD television with a Bose surround-sound system immerses viewers in in-depth exposés of Davy Jones's locker. Below two billowing sails, tanners loll on special nets at the ship's stern, and bartenders pour soft drinks or stronger stuff to fortify them.
The Hawaiian Islands' stunning natural environs and eclectic cultural histories create ample fodder for discussion during Polynesian Adventure Tours' expertly guided excursions. Thoroughly trained drivers ferry attendees across the isles' majestic tropical terrain aboard air-conditioned buses, peppering the landscape with historical tidbits along the way. Throughout each jaunt, they spotlight a cavalcade of fabled landmarks, such as Pearl Harbor's World War II memorials and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Every tour boasts its own unique itinerary, but many amble through scenic rural towns and stop at lookout points to let passengers stretch their legs, take in the sweeping vistas of Hawaii's renowned marine scenery, or face off in yodeling competitions.
Though he earned a Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California San Diego, Matt Zimmerman decided to pursue his love of the ocean instead of science and move to Oahu. He founded Island Divers Hawaii there as a way to share his enthusiasm for scuba diving as well as the discoveries it can share, from intricate coral to schools of fish locked in a never-ending struggle for tenure. Zimmerman and his knowledgeable staff teach dive courses for curious students and lead boat charters that give divers the chance to test their new skills in pristine waters.