When you step off an airplane or cruise ship in Hawaii and look around, it’s hard to imagine this place even exists within the United States. With a world-class metropolitan city, adventure hiking, exotic marine life, and exquisite scenery, Hawaii vacations make the list for a must-see multi-generational destination. It’s also a pretty spectacular place for singles, couples, and just about any other traveler that loves tropical landscapes and adventure. But if you’ve already been to Hawaii, or are just an off the beaten track adventurer at heart, you must try an intimate, local experience to satisfy your wanderlust. Here’s where to go and what to see for a unique tour in Hawaii you won’t forget.
There’s more beauty and scenery in Hawaii than you probably bargained for, so plan to spend the afternoon or entire day exploring the islands to really soak up the area. Consider taking a flight on a helicopter tour and see the expanse of the islands from above. A helicopter tour is also an exhilarating bucket list adventure while soaking up dazzling views of Maui, Honolulu, Kona, Kauai, and beyond. See epic waterfalls, mystical canyons, and lush valleys over a two-hour adventure in the sky by helicopter from Kauai. If a helicopter tour isn’t quite unique enough for your tastes, soar above Oahu in a bubble-topped sailplane and see the world like you’ve never experienced it before. The pilot will even perform some aerial acrobatics in flight.
Soar Above the Trees
Adventure seekers who need more than a helicopter or sailplane tour to satisfy their adrenaline itch have plenty of options in Hawaii. Get off the ground and into the air on a zip line and experience the Pacific Ocean in a totally unique way. West Maui’s Zip Adventure offers 8 different ziplines for panoramic views soaring over a 1,000-foot overlook. If that’s not enough flying, there’s also a Hawaiian Waterfall ziplining adventure from Hilo on The Big Island so you can soar past 250 ft high cascading waterfalls. It’s all about embracing your inner Tarzan or Jane and soaring through the trees for hours–just without the jungle-themed outfits.
Dive Into Beauty
A trip to the Hawaiian islands isn’t complete without diving into the crystal blue waters on a snorkeling trip from the exquisite beaches in Hawaii. Get up close and personal with the marine life on Kona with a Snorkel and Whale Watch Adventure Afternoon Trip. Watch for whales and then dive right in to explore marine life underwater in their natural habitat. For something a bit less extreme that still embraces your sense of curious adventure, head to Sea Life Park in Oahu. Sign-up to swim with the dolphins, pet some sharks, and browse the interactive exhibits. Travelers looking for a feast can join a lū’au party with the Kauai Garden Luau to see a live Imu ceremony, a Rhythm of Aloha Show, and sip cocktails while enjoying island favorites like kalua pork, beef teriyaki, chicken adobo, and sweet-n-sour mahi mahi.
Head to Hanauma Bay
A protected marine life conservation area and underwater park, Hanauma State Park attracts snorkel lovers to its unique beach formed in a curved, tuff ring. The park also ranks as one of the best beaches in the U.S. and features a unique “Toilet Bowl” phenomenon. Visitors line up to see where the ocean water rises and falls along with the waves. It takes awhile to get your head wrapped around the exquisite place, but when you’re ready, grab your snorkel gear and head into view sea turtles, dolphins, and tons of marine life.
Marvel at the Waterfalls
All of the glorious Instagram shots and videos of Hawaiian waterfalls just don’t do them justice. Make time to see them in person on a helicopter tour or hike. For starters, a private tour along Hamakua Coast takes visitors out to Akaska Falls with a chance of spotting green sea turtles. When you can pry your eyes off of the waterfalls, you’ll also see exotic plants, flowers, an old sugar mill site and steep cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean below. Or you can combine a hike with a kayaking adventure to see even more glorious waterfalls and what makes Kauai so unique, even among the Hawaiian islands.
Get Flavor Inspired
Hawaii experiences are big on tantalizing the senses from hearing the rush of roaring waterfalls to taking in the bright colors of its lush flowers and vegetation. And Hawaii also packs in powerful flavor that leaves you wanting more. A Kona for Chocolate Lovers tour invites guests to see the Kokoleka Lani farm and learn about the process of turning cacao to cocoa. Taste the raw pods and indulge in a chocolate feast including imbibing on Hawaiian drinking chocolate and fresh fondue. For more tasting experiences, a Flavors of Hawaii tour introduces visitors to favorite hot spots, poke shops, and famous food trucks. Try local delicacies including macadamia and sticky rice salad or lau lau.
Of course, there may be nothing more satisfying than just watching the locals soak up the island life. From surfing on the pipeline to meeting the shrimp trucks on Oahu; from laying on the stunning beaches of Hawaii to heading out for a hike to the falls, the locals of Hawaii embrace life as a beautiful adventure with nature as its backdrop. The hardest part is going home and knowing a place like this exists without you there.
This article was originally published at Unique Tours in Hawaii for Adventurers at Heart.