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.
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.
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.
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.
Endless Adventures Hawaii combines water-equipment rentals with a knowledge of local breaks and secret spots to create memorable experiences. Its kayaks, standup paddleboards, surfboards, and snorkels get people out in the salty blue. For those who prefer a guided expedition, tours explore the Mokulua twin islands, which are protected as a bird sanctuary, and Kailua Beach. Guides also lead snorkeling expeditions around Lanikai to spot coral reefs and sea-turtle habitats and set out under the stars on a Glow Paddle tour with paddleboards equipped with LED lights to illuminate the water.
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.