By Lori A. May
Oahu is known as "The Gathering Place" for good reason. It's the most populated of the Hawaiian Islands and there are so many incredible towns and neighborhoods to explore by foot, water and air. Whatever your level of adventure, you’re bound to make it to Oahu at some point for the culture of Honolulu, the beaches of Waikiki and the fresh salty air along the North Shore. Ready to plan your best vacation ever? Add these outdoor activities to your wish list and get packing.
Hike to the Top
Diamond Head may seem like the most obvious place to start your adventure, but it really is a must-do. This iconic landmark is a volcanic crater that takes about two hours to climb. While the trail to the summit is considered moderate, it’s deceptively challenging. You’ll have to step up 327 stairs to reach the summit, but what an incredible view you’re in for as a reward! During summer, let that ocean air cool you down. In winter, keep an eye out for humpback whales passing in the ocean below. Pack plenty of water and enjoy the stretch.
Cage Dive with Sharks
I’ve had a long-time fascination with sharks thanks to pop culture, but I never could have seen myself swimming alongside them. Until I discovered the folks at North Shore Shark Adventures, that is. Picture this: set sail on a boat with local shark pros and head two miles out into the ocean. From there, you’ll don a snorkel mask and hop in the warm clear water—within the security of a large floating cage. Sounds simple, right? It is! During this experience, I was completely mesmerized as Galapagos sharks swam gracefully around the cage while I treaded water within. They were curious, but I never once worried about my safety. This shark snorkeling experience was incredible and I can’t wait to do this again. Tip: Bring a waterproof camera to capture memories.
Lori A May
Zipline Jurassic Park
Whether you’re a fan of the Jurassic Park franchise or not, it’s pretty incredible to take a tour around Kualoa Ranch where filming took place. But why stroll when you can fly? The zipline park offers a variety of courses, ranging from two hundred feet to a quarter mile in length. You’ll soar above Ka’a’awa Valley, cross suspension bridges and see an amazing landscape with streams and picturesque plant life. If you prefer to stick closer to the ground, try an ATV adventure tour where you’re guaranteed to get good and dirty exploring the valley.
Surfing Oahu is a must, even if you’re new to the sport. Waikiki Bay has mild waves for novice surfers, and you can rent a board from locals all along Waikiki and Kūhiō Beach. During my stay in Waikiki, I became a frequent customer at Moku Surf Shop, located just around the corner from the Duke Kahanamoku statue. Moku offers lessons for beginners and just about every long and short board under the sun for experienced surfers. On the North Shore, Turtle Bay Resort houses a Hans Hedemann Surf School where you can improve your skills or join a surf tour of secluded breaks. Down the road, be sure to sample the food trucks along Waimea Bay Beach Park for local shrimp plates.
You won’t miss the sound of outrigger canoes riding waves and splashing passengers, as cheers of joy can be heard all along the beach strip. This is one Hawaiian tradition you simply must try, as it’s a load of fun—and an incredibly challenging workout. You’ll paddle out to sea, riding white capped waves, and bouncing along the surf. Your core will burn and your arms will ache, but you’ll get such a thrill with this sport (and panoramic views of the beach).
Lawn Fitness Classes
Visit Nalu Kinetic Spa at Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore for an eclectic assortment of outdoor fitness classes. One of the coolest offerings is Hiva—Tahitian Dancing—though you’ll also find favorites like yoga on the lawn and cardio sessions. With a gorgeous pool behind you and the wide open Pacific in front of you, there’s something extra special about striking a downward dog pose on this lovely patch of greenery. Reward your muscles with a Coconut Lava Shell Massage at the on-site spa.
Soft Adventure & Sound Sleep
Want a hot local tip? If you stay at Vive Hotel Waikiki, you’ll have free access to full-size boogie boards, beach towels and chairs, and sun umbrellas. Plus, you’ll have a free deluxe continental breakfast with local pastries and fresh fruits—perfect for filling up for a hearty day of play. I also loved that Moku Surf Shop was right down the block, which made surf mornings so easy, with Waikiki Bay just a few steps away.
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