Finding Adventure in Hawaii
The Big Island is packed with sights to see and adventures to go on; it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream!
Once I was settled, I ventured out of the resort, ready to take advantage of all the Big Island had to offer. There are dozens adventures to go on when you visit Hawaii; it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream!
One of the best adventures the Big Island has to offer is a tour of an active volcano on the Hilo side of the island. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters offers the most spectacular way to see it… and really the only safe way, if you want to get in close. They provide several aerial tours, which take you over and around the volcano, over the Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa Volcanoes (now extinct), Parker Ranch, and through the Kohala Mountains to the magical 1,000-foot waterfalls that cascade down the cliffsides. It’s an experience you can’t afford to miss. Even if you don’t have time for anything else, make room for this helicopter tour. And while you’re at it, request pilot George Nischan for the adventure – he’s a great flyer and a very informative guide.
There’s another cool way to see this vast island: by boat! The ORCA Raft Adventure takes you on the ride of your life aboard their 28-foot, 350-horsepower hard bottom boat. It’s great fun and a fast way to get you in the water at Kealakekua Bay and snorkeling with spinner dolphins. Let the incredibly knowledgeable Mitch Stauffer and Kirk Hering round off the experience with detailed info about the island and its underwater life, sea caves, and lava tubes.
Did you know that the Big Island is one of the best areas to stargaze? For hundreds of years, explorers and astronomers have flocked from all over the world to Hawaii’s Mauna Kea, the highest point in the Pacific. It’s technically the tallest mountain in the world, (though more than half of it is submerged) rising 33,100 feet – more than twice the height of Mount Everest!
Mauna Kea is home to the enormous Onizuka Center for International Astronomy, where you can take guided tours up to the summit (about an 8-hour journey). But if you’re not keen on frigid day-long ascents, or if you just don’t have time for the climb, that’s okay! The Four Seasons, as well as many other resorts on the island, regularly invite expert astronomer Wayne Fukunaga (and his telescope) to share his knowledge with the visitors. It’s a very educational — and far less exhausting way to stargaze.
Scuba divers take note! If you’ve never tried a night dive, this is the place to do it. Multiple Kona diving facilities offer what’s called “dinner with the manta rays” (don’t worry, you’re not the dinner). It’s an amazing experience to be in the water with these shy sea creatures. The adults have wingspans of over 12 feet and can weigh as much as an elephant. Each manta has a descriptive pattern on its underside, and over 100 of these have been identified and studied. While I was there, three new ones were added to the list. If you’re a diving enthusiast, you won’t want to miss this one of a kind experience.