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8 Activities in Hawaii for Adrenaline Junkies

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Hi, My name is Bill, and I have multiple a problems I think you can relate to. I have trouble feeling any feelings unless they are hunger or boredom — or travel (trust me, its a feeling). And unless you’re a pharmaceutical sales rep with a suitcase full of Xanax samples, I won’t be able to sit still on the beach with you for more than two hours. But show me an adventure that knocks at least two of my bodily functions out of biorhythm and I’ll show you a happy guy with two thumbs in need of a new pair of shorts.

If you’re anything like me, you’re looking for a challenge or a thrill on your next travel adventure, anything that can take you out of your natural poolside or beach-chair habitat. With that in mind, I’ve taken a look at some of the best opportunities to do so on each of the four main Hawaiian Islands — Oahu, Kauai Maui and the Big Island — as well as a few fun things you can book with points earned with the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Citi Prestige card by searching under the ‘activities’ tab in their respective travel portals.


1. A 3-in-1 Dune Buggy, Kayaking and Snorkeling Adventure

Book an action-packed “Kayak and Buggy” tour with Aloha Buggies for the chance to coast along some of the North Shore’s most iconic beaches in an open-air dune buggy until you trade in your wheels for a paddle — you’ll then kayak out to Goat Island, home to an albatross sanctuary. Bring your snorkel gear along and spend an hour exploring the reefs off the island before kayaking back for some world-famous shave ice at Matsumoto’s. Okay, it’s not exactly a 10 on the adrenaline scale, but its hard to beat three adventures in one, right?

Get away from the crowds in Waikiki and cruise along the North Shore in a dune buggy. Image courtesy of Aloha Buggies’ Facebook page.

2. Cage Dive With Sharks

If you’re looking to test the tensile strength of a steel cage versus the toothy smirk of a shark’s chomp, you can do so with North Shore Shark Adventures just off the coast of Oahu’s scenic North Shore. With one last chance to relax, you’ll take a three-mile boat ride out into the deep blue where you’ll warm up to the marine life first by spotting green sea turtles, dolphins and humpback whales. Once your captain picks a spot, your adrenaline and your appetite will build as the crew throws bloody fish guts into the water and tells you to jump in whenever they see fins. Risking life and limb, but only if you try to pet these big sea-puppies, you’ll spend 20 minutes submerged in a steel cage playing chicken with enormous tiger sharks — you may also spot hammerheads, reef and Galápagos sharks that can reach up to 15 feet in length! Remember to take some anti-seasickness meds along; if these sea beasts don’t make your stomach turn, the waves most certainly will.

Sharks come from far and wide to dine at the people buffet. Image courtesy of North Shore Shark Adventures’ Facebook page.


3. Rappel Down 100-Foot-Tall Jungle Walls and Waterfalls

Some people come to Maui just to hang — literally. For about $200, you can pay someone to help you hang off of a 100-foot jungle cliff with only a rope strung to your swimsuit area to keep you from falling to your death. Sound too safe for you? Okay, let’s add a gushing 50-foot waterfall to your next decent. Take a trip halfway down the road to Hana (which is an adventure in itself) in a small group of no more than eight people, on a six-hour rappelling-adventure from Rappel Maui. Bring your board shorts because you’ll be hiking through the jungle and swimming across pristine ponds to access your drop points. And when you’re all done with the scary stuff, you’ll hike to the top of a ridge with great views to enjoy a picnic lunch.

Who wants to rappel down a 100-foot waterfall in the Maui jungle? Image courtesy of Rappel Maui’s Facebook page.

4. Take on the Longest Zipline in Hawaii

Located in the mountains of West Maui, the Flyin Hawaiian Zipline is the longest, fastest and highest zipline on the island and one of the tops in the world with more than 2.5 miles of line to let you take in the views — that is, if you aren’t screaming with your eyes closed. After a 4×4 trip deep into Waikapu Valley, you’ll grab your gear, say your prayers and soar through the air down a series of eight ziplines, including an intense 3,600-foot behemoth. Take a breather and let your heart rate rest in between lines while your guide points out local plants and teaches you some Hawaiian history.

Take on Hawaii’s longest, fastest and highest zipline. Image courtesy of the Flyin Hawaiian’s Facebook page.


5. Dive With Manta Rays at Night

If your version of the boogeyman is 16 feet wide, lives underwater and comes out to feed when the sun sets, then a Manta ray night dive probably isn’t for you.  But rest easy knowing these graceful beasts — which, by the way, look like the product of a drunken fling between a shark, a pterodactyl and the Predator — are gentle giants and only came to say ‘hey’ for the plankton and the belly rubs. Big Island Divers offers trips for guests who are SCUBA certified but also allows those in your party who aren’t a chance to come along and snorkel. If you’ve ever wanted to float weightlessly in the dark while breathing from a hose in constant fear of what’s above you, below you or about to eat you, then $149 is all it takes for a two-tank dive — as an added bonus, no one can hear you cry underwater!

Take a night swim and watch these massive manta rays glide through the water. Image courtesy of Big Island Divers' <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook page</a>.
Watch these massive manta rays glide through the water on a night dive. Image courtesy of Big Island Divers’ Facebook page.

6. Hike on an Active Volcano

A little lighter on the adrenaline (but also on the wallet) is a hike across an active volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Sure, you can book a private volcano hiking tour for about $90 per person, or you can drive to the park yourself and ask one of the many qualified rangers for their advice on what to see, where to hike and what time is best to view the bubbling red as it leaves the earth and turns from magma into lava (remember that for trivia night, folks). The park is huge and with many must-see spots like Halema’uma’u Crater (pictured below), the Thurston Lava Tube and the Puʻu ʻŌʻō Vent, it could very easily take you an entire day to do it justice. Just don’t try to take a piece of lava rock home as a souvenir, as it’s considered by the Hawaiians to be bad luck.

Don't miss Halemaʻumaʻu Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Image courtesy of <a href="" target="_blank">Shutterstock</a>.
Don’t miss Halema’uma’u Crater in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.


7. See Kauai from Above in a Vintage Bi-Plane

Climb into the open-air, back seat of a modern YMF-5 Super Waco, a redesign from the highly touted aerobatic aircrafts Waco made back in mid 1930s, and let Air Ventures Hawaii take you on a 60-70 minute tour of the island. You’ll view Hawaii’s largest coffee plantation (Kauai Coffee) and make your way past scenic Waimea Canyon to Hanakapi’ai Valley on the northern side of the island. Remember, this may look like and old plane, but the YMF-5 was designed to maneuver, so if you have the nerve, ask your pilot to show you what she can really do.

If pressurized cabins just aren't your thing, see Kauai from a vintage biplane. Image courtesy of Air Ventures Hawaii's <a href="" target="_blank">Facebook page</a>.
If pressurized cabins aren’t your thing, see Kauai from a vintage biplane. Image courtesy of Air Ventures Hawaii’s Facebook page.

8. Tour ‘Jurassic Park’ From a Helicopter

If you’re anything like me, you probably consider the film “Jurassic Park” to be a great cinematic achievement. Watching the flick alone can get your heart racing, but if you ever wanted to relive your childhood fantasy, take a ride with Island Helicopters on their 90-minute tour of Kauai from an AS-350 helicopter. What truly sets this trip apart from other helicopter rides is its mid-tour, deep canyon landing at the base of the 400-foot tall Manawaiopuna Falls, also referred to as “Jurassic Falls” after its cameo in the film. This is the same spot the characters landed in when first arriving on the island and if you don’t recognize it from the film, you’ll recognize it from the theme music pumping through your headset.

The AS-350 helicopter I took for a spin on the Jurassic Falls Tour. Image by the author.
The AS-350 helicopter I took for a spin on Island Helicopters’ Jurassic Falls Tour. Image by the author.

After your pilot parks in a tight spot, you’ll take a short walk to the base of the falls, where you can feel the mist and all the power it carries. After a 15-minute selfie-shoot, you’ll climb back aboard for the second half of the trip to the legendary Na Pali Coast, where you’ll weave in and out of one of the world’s most dramatic coastlines before heading back to Lihue.

Have you gone on your own Hawaiian adrenaline adventure? Let us know in the comments, below.

Featured image courtesy of Aloha Buggies’ Facebook page.

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