5 Best Hawaii Activities For Visitors and Residents

Everyone at Hawaii Life loves living the lifestyle, and I’m no exception. Here are five experiences I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the past few months and highly recommend to anyone living or visiting our island home.

1. Volcanoes National Park

Over 1 million visitors a year travel to Volcanoes National Park – and for good reason. It’s the only place in the U.S. where you can see a live volcano, up close and in person!

Erupting for 20+ years, some years Kilauea offers the opportunity to walk right up to the flowing lava and singe off your eyebrows, and other years it’s a gnarly hike 10+ miles one way to see red lava.

Right now, you can either drive to the “end of the road” near Kalapana and walk 1/4 mile on a trail to see lava flowing down the mountain, or you can drive to the National Park and see the glow from the Pu’u ‘O crater. I recommend going at night to see the red glow from the crater, but bring sweaters and blankets, because it’s cold up there!

2. Riding with Wild Hawaii Ocean Adventures – WHOA!

Big mahalos to our friend, Darlene Azur, for inviting us for a ride with her ‘ohana on what’s arguably the very best tourist attraction on the Kona-Kohala Coast – Wild Hawaii Ocean Adventures.

If you aren’t a Navy S.E.A.L., it’s unlikely that you’ve ever been on a boat quite like this one! With the ability to turn 180-degrees on a dime, you’d better hang on or be tossed off by G-forces!! This boat travels so fast we were able to leave Honokohau Harbor in Kona around 10am, have lunch at Cafe Pesto at Kawaihae, and return to Kona by 3pm.

The owners and captains are world-class free divers and photographers with an uncanny ability to find sea life everywhere they go – the highlight of our trip was swimming with several pods of Pilot Whales, an unusual and incredible adventure!

3. Riding Horses in North Kohala

If you know Beth Robinson, R(B) and/or read her blogs, you know she’s an accomplished horsewoman. If you know me, you know I haven’t been on a horse since I was roughly 13 years old.

Okay, so we didn’t actually ride the horses (this time), but when Beth invited us to be part of a fundraiser for the North Kohala Equine Educational Center by participating in an Equine Guided Education workshop, my Masters of Psychology self couldn’t resist finding out how I “show up” these days in group exercises.

Beth and Sue Moore from Oregon are highly trained co-facilitators for this workshop held at the Paso Fino Ranch in North Kohala that uses these sensitive horses as part of group exercises to give (very honest) feedback about your behavior in a group.

I’m hoping to set up an EGE workshop for the Big Island Hawaii Life Team later this year, and believe I’ve found a new goal: Learn to ride a horse!

4. A Sunset Boat Trip on the Napali Coast, Kauai

Everyone who visits Kauai has the opportunity to book a boat ride down the Napali coast, but very few have the chance to take a sunset boat ride from Hanalei on a privately owned Zodiac Pro Open with perhaps the most experienced and accomplished waterman on the North Shore, Winston Welborn.

As we flew along the coast looking at all the amazing estate homes on the water, Winston gave us a personal and historic tour of the area. We jammed into a lava cave to see one of the most amazing natural wonders I’ve ever seen – a waterfall flowing through a hole in the roof of a lava tube cave!

It didn’t hurt that we stopped for a swim and made it back to Hanalei just in time to see another glorious sunset. Mahalo nui loa for your kokua, Winston!

5. Flying to New York on the New Hawaiian Airlines Direct Flight From Honolulu to JFK

True, this is not technically something to do in our island home, but it was an incredible adventure nonetheless – taking one of the inaugural Hawaiian Airlines non-stop flights from Honolulu straight to JFK.

Not only did I run into a colleague taking the same flight, it seemed that most of my fellow travelers had never been to the Big Apple before! In true Hawaii-style, the entire cabin spent the first 30 minutes of the flight talking about all the places they were going to eat in NYC and discussing food and restaurant choices!

What an absolute joy to be “in Hawaii” all the way across the continental U.S., and wake up in the morning to the NYC skyline glittering in the morning sun. Ahhhh…so much better than stopping somewhere on the mainland. Thank you, Hawaiian Airlines!! Now, when are you flying non-stop to Europe?

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9 Responses to “5 Best Hawaii Activities For Visitors and Residents”

  1. Catherine Klug, R(S)
    July 10, 2012 at 11:51 am #

    Fun blog, Katie. If you ever hear about a non-stop flight from Honolulu to Paris, I am in! As much as I would like to get off the rock and go back to NY I think I would like to experience activity #2 for now. I remember seeing you right after your wild ride on the ocean and you were thrilled!

  2. Cate McCann Fleming
    July 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

    My favorite thing is the Na Pali boat ride. This is truly one of the world’s most incredible wonders. I cannot believe that I live in a place where that kind of beauty is just around the corner… last time I was there, I was 6 months pregnant. Now my honey and I need to get a babysitter and go alone :)

  3. Shaylyn Kimura, R(S)
    July 10, 2012 at 4:35 pm #

    Katie, I’ve been bit by the travel bug as it seems I have some catching up to do on the Big Island. I haven’t been there in over 10 years. However, I like the HNL to JFK idea the best!

  4. Heidi White
    July 11, 2012 at 7:16 am #

    Humm, guess I need to get out and partake in some of these, #2 will be first! Looks like fun!

  5. Beth Thoma Robinson, R(B)
    July 12, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Katie, maybe Hawaii LIFE should come up with some package tours for prospective buyers! Thanks for mentioning our day of Equine Guided Education, I had a blast sharing my passion for horses.

  6. Pat Strausse
    July 14, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    Only five Katie? Hmm I think this is part one of many parts..would think you could easily get up to 20 or so! I would add to the list – make a beach day at Hapuna with snow capped Mauna Kea in background – only on the Big Island can you do this one!

  7. Denise Laitinen
    July 16, 2012 at 11:07 am #

    Katie – any time you want to go horse back riding let me know – would love to join ya! I’ve spent a lot of time working on Kauai over the past decade – so many gorgeous places.

    But closer to home – how about diving with the manta rays in Keauhou? Kahua Ranch in Kohala puts on an awesome cowboy luau – it’s a blast. Don’t forget deep sea fishing off Kona. Or checking out what green sand looks like in Ka’u. The drive from Kalapana to Pohoiki is also breathtaking. You can also check out the lava in Kalapana – before the viewing area was set up you could walk right up to flowing lava and poke it with a stick. Snow capped sunset from atop Mauna Kea after spending the day at the beach is pretty cool too. Whew. How is anyone supposed to get any work done with all that good fun out there???? lol

  8. carol andrews
    July 16, 2012 at 5:26 pm #

    Thank you Katie- I am absolutely adding the Ride on the Wild Hawaii Ocean Adventure on my list of things to do!

  9. Katie Minkus, R(BIC)
    July 18, 2012 at 7:50 am #

    Mahalo, everyone for your comments and contribution! There really are so many amazing things to do in Hawaii, guess I’ll have to write a follow up blog in a few months after I’ve gathered a few more adventures under my belt! Of course, with Hawaiian Airlines announcing their new non-stop service from HNL to Auckland, New Zealand starting next March, you know what’s on my list already for next year! Kia Ora!

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