Powered by twin Cummins engines, it's not a rare sight to see the good ship Kilikina skipping across Oahu's waves to speedily deliver divers to the best dive spots. Under the banner of Hawaiian Diving Adventures, LLC, she plies the waters to provide a luxurious diving experience for up to 13 passengers. Kilikina boasts a freshwater shower, rinse buckets for expensive camera equipment, and comfortable wide seating, thanks to a clever tank-storage system. She doesn’t cater only to experience divers, however; she also serves as the launch point for guided snorkeling tours, which provide close encounters with local wildlife and reefs.
Three miles off the coast, the guides hand over the snorkels, and then it's time. Tour members climb down into the floating cage and slip just beneath the water's surface. There they peer through large poly glass windows into the deep blue ocean as swimming shapes, perhaps hazy at first, pull into focus.
When the tour-goers finally glimpse the creatures, it might not exactly be love at first sight, but one thing is for sure: after spending time face-to-face with a Galapagos, sandbar, or tiger shark, they'll leave that protected cage with a whole new appreciation for these carnivores of the deep. That's of the utmost importance to Hawaii Shark Encounters, since the company hopes to turn each person they meet into a "shark ally," an advocate for the animals' global conservation.
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.
With its pink sails filling with ocean breezes, the Island Magic Catamaran carries passengers out to sea in search of painted sunsets, playful humpbacks, and salty sprays. During sails, the crew carefully handles the 30-passenger vessel, allowing it to float lazily on glassy water or race against the island's fast-flowing swells. In addition to cruises, the team leads snorkeling adventures near Turtle Canyon, where sightseers can splash among green sea turtles before they finish hatching into boring, shell-less lizards. Sunset cruises depart 1.5 hours before the sun dips below the horizon, allowing passengers to admire the waves as they catch the last few bits of sunlight.
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.
Aloha Activities equips adventurers with the tools needed to cruise Oahu in style. Over the course of 24 hours, speed racers perch on a 50cc Daelim moped and scoot past swaying palms, crashing azure waves, and people crushed by the realization that they don't have a moped. The two-wheeler's 1-gallon tank should last for about 70 miles, and a complimentary lock and chain allow ample freedom to make pit stops and take advantage of photo ops at leisure. For an additional fee, customers can join a guided tour to visit volcanic formations, look at waterfalls, and get a rare glimpse of the world-famous ocean.