On the windward side of Oahu, the majestic Mokulau Islands embellish the sun-drenched horizon that faces Kailua, a beach town nestled directly below the Koolau Mountains. Here the aptly named Windward Watersports makes its home, under the direction of Jeff Tobias, a professional kitesurfer who helped to pioneer the sport locally. He and his staff leave the region's fragile ecosystem undisturbed as they lead passengers in exploring it via kayak, kiteboard, standup paddleboard, or surfboard. Patrons can rent the vessels for self-guided adventures into a bay teeming with as many sea turtles as a marine biologist's bathtub, or follow guides on kayak tours to surrounding points of natural splendor such as the "Mokes," only 45 minutes away. Strategically located, Windward Sports takes advantage of year-round trade winds and a temperature perpetually hovering around 80 degrees. Kailua serves as the ideal spot for kitesurfing, standup paddleboarding, and surfing lessons. Jeff and his sporty employees craft lessons that cater to all abilities and focus on safe, fun recreation atop frothy crests.
Giant, man-sized hamster balls filled with humans bob and splash across the surface of swimming pools with bright-blue padded edges. This surreal scene occurs daily at Water Ball Entertainment, where customers crawl into large transparent spheres and bounce, bob, and summersault their way across pools of rippling water fully clothed. Around the pools' perimeters, friends and family cheer as the staff supervises customers at play on the water in up to six floating balls at a time. At the behest of the humans inside, giant balls can turn end over end, bounce on top of the water, send waves splashing, or team up with other balls to form the shape of customers' favorite molecular structures.
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.
Team Move's instructors specialize in private and group training sessions. The collective?which takes its name from the motto "motivating others via exercise"?offers group fitness classes such as yoga and its signature Move camp. Routines are supplemented by equipment, such as resistance bands and weighted balls, for best results. All classes are held outside in the park.
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.
A manmade island floats 300 yards off the shore of Waikiki Beach. Its inhabitants shriek as they plunge from its three 5- to 15-foot cliffs or plummet down a slippery slide into the ocean below. Intrepid sorts don snorkels and masks to mingle with the aquatic fauna that skirt its hulls. Others strike out aboard kayaks and standup paddleboards, steering past an ocean trampoline and its buoyant visitors. Those who choose to remain on the island's sun-drenched surface recline in teak lounge chairs, tipping back refreshments from three bars or munching on morsels fresh from the grill. The founders of Waikiki Ocean Club might prefer to call it a catamaran, but at 145 feet long and 65 feet wide, the site functions as both an island and watery amusement park. As swimmers and sunbathers gather around its decks, scuba divers seek out marine life below the waves and helmet-diving excursions ensure that hair stays dry enough to kindle a fire. Jet skis, AquaQuads, and rigid inflatable boats ferry riders away from the club at exhilarating speeds; boat tours to secluded snorkeling locales and celebrities’ beach houses highlight resplendent scenery. After dark, the floating fairground transforms into a DJ-manned dance floor, awarding Friday-night guests with an unobstructed view of fireworks over Waikiki.