Living in Hawaii, or even vacationing on the islands, is truly an adventure in itself, but there are some adventures found throughout our beautiful islands sure to test your nerves. From slightly nerve-wracking swinging bridges and mountain tubing to jumping out of a perfectly good airplane and mountain biking down the side of a mountain, these 13 epic Hawaiian adventures are perfect for thrill-seekers of all kinds.
1. Drive the unpaved road to the summit of Mauna Kea.
Mauna Kea measures in at 13,796 feet above sea level, the highest point in the state of Hawaii. The peak is so tall, in fact, that visitors are advised to stop at the visitor center for at least half an hour to acclimate to the elevation before continuing on to the summit. The eight-mile road to the summit from the visitor’s center requires that you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, and although it can be quite nerve-wrecking, the sunsets and sunrises are well worth the work.
2. Hang out in the sky on a parasailing trip.
Fly high above the beautiful crystalline Pacific Ocean on a magnificent parasailing ride. The perfect adventure for the entire family - you don’t need any special skills to go parasailing, and the sweeping panoramic views are sure to make you forget about that fear of heights — if only for a moment.
3. Get up close and personal with flowing lava at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
There are very few places on this planet where you can watch flowing lava in person, and even fewer where you can walk right up to it. Kalapana, on Hawaii Island’s southern shore, is the safest and easiest to access. Not only might you see flowing lava, but you’ll be walking along the youngest land you’ve ever set foot on - which is pretty unbelievable, if you ask me.
4. Experience Hawaii’s natural beauty on an ATV tour.
Head off the beaten path and experience the unspoiled natural beauty of Hawaii’s valleys, rainforests and ranchlands on an thrill-inducing ATV tour – just be prepared to get a little muddy.
5. Test your nerves and go cage diving with sharks on Oahu’s north shore.
An activity not recommended for the faint at heart, cage diving with sharks could be the greatest adventure of your lifetime. When else would you be able to get up close and personal with these monstrous creatures without much danger at all?
6. For a tame adventure, consider mountain tubing through an old irrigation canal.
Let Kauai Backcountry Adventures take you on a magnificent journey through an old sugar cane plantation irrigation and canal system. Imagine your favorite waterpark lazy river and multiply the experience by 100 – it’s that awesome!
7. Bike down the side of Mount Haleakala.
Just 27 square miles short of equaling the entire size of Oahu, Mount Haleakala is a gentle giant – a dormant volcano that has inspired those who make the journey to its summit for centuries. Translating to "House of the Sun," Haleakala rises more than 10,000 feet above sea level, comprises 75 percent of Maui Island, and is the perfect place for an epic mountain bike ride!
8. Stand at the edge of the massive Waimea Canyon.
Many tourists tend to hit up the Waimea Canyon lookout and leave, but locals know that the real way to go is to do some hiking and hang out on the edge of the canyon - soaking in the beauty of your surroundings and recognizing just how far you are from the canyon floor. (The canyon is up to 3,600 feet deep in areas!)
9. Get your adrenaline pumping by jumping out of an airplane...
There is little more adrenaline-inducing than jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet in elevation, and nowhere is skydiving more gorgeous than over the Hawaiian Islands. This once-in-a-lifetime experience is certain to test even the most adventurous thrill-seekers.
10. ...or maybe just soar through the sky on a zipline.
What better way to immerse yourself in the Hawaiian rainforest than to spend the afternoon zipping through towering trees and lush valleys? And trust us – anyone can zip line! While you might want to stay away if you’re terrified of heights, zip lining is a perfect activity for anyone who wants a little adventure in their life or just some incredible aerial views of the islands.
11. Cross the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge.
This charming swinging bridge is one of the most popular attractions in this small Kauai town. The bridge was built in the early 1900s as a means for residents to cross the river, and was restored after Hurricane Iniki, but has since become worn out, and could use a few repairs again.
12. Drive Maui’s thrilling Hana Highway.
This infamous 64.4-mile stretch of highway between Kahului and Hana features 59 bridges, 46 of which are only one lane wide, and 620 curves through lush, tropical jungle. The Hana Highway was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2001, and while it only takes two and a half hours to drive the entire road, you could easily make several stops along the way and make it either a day, or two day, adventure.
13. Dive with manta rays after dark.
For an adventure you’ll never forget, head to Honokohau Harbor to embark on a night time scuba dive cruise with Big Island Divers. Opt for the two tank charters, where you will enjoy a twilight reef dive before watching the sunset and taking to the water again - where the boat's dive lights will attract plankton and feeding manta rays.
What is your favorite Hawaiian adventure you’ve ever been on? I personally can’t decide between zip lining through the Oahu jungle, skydiving over Oahu’s picturesque north shore, and driving up to the summit of Mauna Kea.
From cascading waterfalls and flowing lava to stunning beaches, state parks, and land formations, every Hawaii local must add
these 16 epic adventures to their island bucket list.