Hawaii is the land of endless adventures for all ages. From the beautiful beaches and cascading waterfalls to amazing underwater and aerial activities, there are always new things waiting just around every corner in this adventurer’s paradise. You’ll be blown away by how incredible these natural wonders really look up close. 

There’s never a dull moment in this tropical destination. Here are ten adventure-filled activities that you can do in Hawaii with your family and friends. 

1. Waterfall hike: Appreciate the grandeur of nature 

manoa waterfall

One of the most fascinating Hawaiian experiences you can have is making your way to a cascading waterfall. It’s perfect for nature lovers who are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. This is just what you need to tune out of your hectic world and tune in to nature. 

Embarking on a waterfall hike in Hawaii is a bucket list-worthy activity. Imagine going through lush rainforest with a green canopy overhead. There are easy paved trails and there are also moderate trails that cut into hilly terrain along the river. The intense sounds of water falling and crashing against the rocks grow louder as you get closer to the focal point of your hike. There are no words to express the stunning radiance of the waterfall as it comes into view with a pool of crystal clear water. Some nature pools are ideal for swimming … What better place to cool off after a hike? We’ll round up some of our favorite waterfall hikes in Hawaii and share them with you soon. 

2. Snorkeling: Enjoy the crystal clear waters

snorkeling in Hawaii

The beautiful waters of Hawaii are a magical place. Easy access to the shore, crystal-clear sea teeming with marine life, and tropical weather perfect for all sorts of water adventures, what more can you ask for? 

These waters are a haven for snorkelers. Experience the beauty of coral reefs and the incredible creatures that thrive beneath the waves including a wide array of fish such as the humuhumunukunukuapua`a (the state fish of Hawaii). These waters are also a favorite playground of seals, dolphins, Manta rays, and Hawaiian Green Turtles. 

Please keep in mind that sea turtles and other marine creatures are protected by local wildlife conservation laws. Do not feed, touch, chase, or get too close to turtles and other wildlife (keep a minimum distance of 10 feet). The islands are also home to enchanting sea caves. Some of them are accessible via kayaking.

We recommend that you go on a private Hawaii snorkeling tour to have access to the best snorkeling spots on the island. 

3. Scuba Diving: Discover Hawaii’s underwater world

Diving with marine life

Scuba divers from different parts of the globe are drawn to Hawaii’s aquamarine waters because of its healthy reefs and rich marine life. The bountiful plankton in these waters attracts small fish and crustaceans which in turn attract larger predators from Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles to spinner dolphins. Giant sea creatures like whale sharks and humpback whales also grace these waters. 

Oahu is tagged as the wreck capital of Hawaii because of its underwater wrecks including the Corsair plane wreck which sank in 1946. Divers can also explore shipwrecks namely the YO-257 and the San Pedro wreck which have turned into artificial reefs and are home to many marine creatures. In Waikiki, you’ll find the wreck of the Sea Tiger which lies at 120 feet. This site is great for penetration dives. A PADI certification is required when diving more than 30 feet. Beginners can take scuba diving courses in Hawaii to become certified divers. 

4. Pillbox hike: See stunning vistas

Lanikai Pillbox

World War II military bunkers called pillboxes can be found around Hawaii.  These structures were used as lookouts during the war and they can be found in the north, east, and south of the island. If you are looking to do a pillbox hike, Oahu is a great pick! Some notable pillboxes are Lanikai Pillbox, Diamond Head Pillbox, Sunset Pillbox, and Stairway to Heaven. Many pillboxes are located in the mountains and overlooking the ocean. They usually stand out because of the colorful artworks on their exterior and interior. Some are easy to reach within 20-30 minutes but others may be a little more challenging. The hike is always rewarded by stunning vantage points.

We recommend wearing proper hiking shoes and bringing essentials such as a hat, sunscreen, light snacks, and water.

5. Kayaking or paddleboarding: Navigate through the waters 

Paddle boarding in Oahu

Kayaking and paddleboarding in Hawaii are excellent ways to explore the beautiful waters of the island and enjoy the stunning scenery. It’s easy to rent kayaks and paddleboards around Hawaii.

Kayakers and paddleboarders can enjoy the freedom of navigating through the waters. Since you have the perfect point of view of the ocean floor, you have the chance to spot marine creatures like the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles. The best part about kayaks and paddle boards? They’re easy enough for beginners. There are many instructors who can teach you the proper and efficient techniques to get you going.

6. Surfing: Ride the waves

surfing in Oahu

Hawaii is a surfing mecca for those looking to ride incredible waves. The sun-soaked terrain and warm, crystal clear blue waters make it an unforgettable experience for both beginners and surfing enthusiasts.

Whether you’re a complete newbie or have been taking up surfing as a hobby, Hawaii is the place to be. With gorgeous views and lots of excellent instructors and lifeguards, there are sure to be waves that will suit any level! If you want to have surfing lessons, we recommend Hi Surf Camp. They have friendly, professional surf instructors who can teach you to stand on your board and catch your first wave in no time!

For advanced and expert surfers, Oahu’s North Shore is a surfer’s paradise. Big waves come alive on the North Shore during the Hawaiian winter. Laniakea, Chun’s Reef, and Leftovers have great swells during this season. People also flock to Waimea Bay and Banzai Pipeline to watch surfing competitions and see waves that can reach 15-20 feet. When summer comes, the big waves roll into Oahu’s South Shore. 

7. ATV: Go on a joyride around the island

Fun ATV ride

Driving through scenic landscapes on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) is one of the most thrilling ways to explore the island. Adrenaline comes rushing as you drive along the dirt trail, make turns, pass through streams, and immerse in the great outdoors. You can pause along the way and take photos. 

If you’re up for this kind of off-road adventure with family and friends, you might want to check out the ATV tours in Kualoa Ranch. ATVs are fun, safe, and easy to ride. Have an exciting joyride and appreciate the gorgeous overlooks. 

8. Horseback riding: Sustainable island tour

sustainable horseback riding tour

Looking for a sustainable way to do a tour? Horseback riding is a fun and environmentally-friendly activity for both young and old. Yup, no need for gas! All you need is some ‘horsepower’ and you’re off to see the island’s stunning views.

There are many horseback riding activities around the island. You can go on a morning beach horseback ride or sunset ride on the North Shore of Oahu. You can also go horseback riding in the beautiful rainforest around Hilo or explore Waipio Valley, where roads are hard to access by vehicles. 

9. Ziplining: Explore new heights

Ziplining and appreciate nature

Ziplining is probably the closest thing to flying. Glide on a moving pulley and soar among the tall trees. Enjoy unobstructed views of Hawaii such as canopies of rainforests, rugged valleys, canyons, coastal landscapes, and more. There are around three great zipline adventures in Oahu – one in the north, east, and west. 

10. Skydiving: Get your dose of adrenaline rush

tandem skydiving

Skydiving is almost like flying above the clouds and falling through the skies at an average speed of 120mph. It’s an exhilarating feeling like no other! Hawaii is such a beautiful drop zone. Just imagine jumping off to the dramatic view of the mountain range and the glistening waters of the coastline. Two reliable skydiving centers in the Northshore offer skydiving packages such as tandem diving. 

Head on to Hawaii to start your adventure!

With so many amazing things to do in Hawaii, you’re sure to have an adventure-filled experience.  You can choose one or a combination of activities to maximize your Hawaiian excursion.

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