Last Updated on June 27, 2023

Best adventure sports to try in Hawaii

When people think of Hawaii, images of sprawling beaches and crystal-clear waters usually come to mind.

But the islands have much more to offer than just relaxing by the sea as there are a variety of thrilling outdoor adventure sports that you can experience on these islands.

From ziplining over lush forests to surfing some of the best waves in the world, Hawaii offers a wide range of sporting activities for anyone looking for an adrenaline-filled adventure.

Here are the 10 best adventure sports and activities to try in Hawaii.

1. Surfing

Hawaiians have been surfing since ancient times, and the islands feature some of the best breaks in the world.

With its warm waters and perfect waves, it’s no wonder why this archipelago of islands has become a mecca for surfers from around the world.

The Hawaiian Islands boast a wide variety of breaks that appeal to all levels of skill.

From beginners who want to learn the basics on shorebreaks to seasoned pros who are ready for more challenging reef breaks, there’s something here for every kind of surfer.

The North Shore of Oahu is known as the surfing capital of Hawaii and offers some of the best waves in the world, including famous spots like Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach, and Pipeline.

2. Snorkeling

With its stunning coral reefs and crystal-clear waters, Hawaii is also the perfect place for an underwater adventure.

Explore the vibrant marine life with a snorkel and mask in hand, or why not take a scuba diving lesson?

The islands are surrounded by crystal-clear, turquoise waters that make up some of the best snorkeling spots in the world.

Hawaiian waters teem with vibrant marine life including:

  • green sea turtles
  • manta rays
  • and colorful reef fish

Hawaii offers many excellent locations to go snorkeling, ranging from shallow bays with calm waters to deeper areas where you can explore colorful coral reefs.

Scuba diving in Hawaii

The best time for snorkeling is during the day when the sun is out and the visibility underwater is at its peak.

Make sure to also bring plenty of water, sunscreen, a hat, and a good pair of fins or flippers so you can move through the water easily.

3. Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

If you have never tried SUP before then you must as it’s great fun!

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is a sport that has become very popular in recent years due to its accessibility, low cost, and fun factor.

It’s a water-based sport that requires you to stand on a large surfboard or flat paddle board while using an oar to propel yourself through the water.

There are many different ways to SUP, including recreational touring, flat-water racing, and surf-style paddling.

Stand up paddleboarding

This makes the sport very versatile, allowing anyone of any age or skill level to join in on the fun.

It’s easy to pick up and learn and it’s a low-impact sport so it can be an excellent workout if you are looking for a full body exercise without strenuous effort.

4. Kayaking

Take in all the beauty of Hawaii from the comfort of your kayak as you paddle through tranquil lagoons and winding rivers.

This is a great way to spot dolphins, sea turtles, and even whales in the ocean!

Paddle your way through some of Hawaii’s crystal-clear waters on a kayaking tour or adventure.

Depending on where you go, you may even get to explore lava tubes and other natural features in addition to tropical fish and coral reefs.

5. Hiking

Hiking the coast

Take advantage of Hawaii’s natural scenery by exploring some of its breathtaking trails.

Enjoy your hike with stunning views of cascading waterfalls, lush forests, and tranquil beaches.

The Hawaiian Islands offer hiking trails that range from easy to difficult, with elevation gains varying between 500 and 4000 feet.

From leisurely strolls along white sandy beaches to vigorous treks up steep volcanic peaks, there is something to suit every type of hiker.

The climate in Hawaii makes it perfect for hiking all year round, although some trails can be slippery during wetter months.

From the majestic beauty of Waimea Canyon on Kauai to the rugged terrain of Haleakala National Park on Maui, you’ll want to come back for more!

Hawaii’s hiking trails are also great places to observe native wildlife such as wild goats and birds.

With a little luck, you may even spot endangered species such as the Hawaiian monk seal or the Nene goose.

Whether it’s for a day trip or an extended vacation, Hawaii offers something special for hikers of all ages and abilities.

6. Mountain Biking

If you are quite adventurous, you might wish to take a thrilling ride on one of Hawaii’s many mountain bike trails.

You can explore the island’s volcanic terrain while taking in all the incredible scenic sights from up high.

Mountain biking options include Kauai’s Kokee State Park featuring some great downhill pathways that will take you past the old-growth rainforest and sweeping views.

Or, if you’re seeking out a more extreme adventure, head over to the Big Island’s Mauna Kea Forest Reserve where you can tackle demanding climbs and technical descents.

Remember to respect local rules by staying on designated trails, observing park closures, and following posted speed limits.

It’s also a good idea to bring plenty of water, snacks, and other supplies in case of an emergency or an unexpected change in weather.

If you want a guided experience that will help you unlock the secrets of Hawaii’s mountainside terrain, there are various companies offering tours for all skill levels.

With their expert knowledge and helpful tips, these companies can provide a great introduction to mountain biking in Hawaii while ensuring that your safety is paramount throughout your journey.

7. Ziplining

Get an adrenaline rush as you soar through the air at speeds up to 35 mph while taking in the breathtaking sights of Hawaii.

You can also explore Hawaii’s lush jungles by ziplining through tree canopies and waterfalls with one of many tour companies available.

8. Rock Climbing

Experienced climbers can tackle Hawaii’s challenging rock faces, while beginners can learn with a guided tour and instructor-led lessons. Enjoy breathtaking views from up high as you climb to new heights!

9. Kiteboarding

Catch the wind to perform amazing tricks and jumps on your kiteboard.

Kiteboarding is becoming a popular sport in Hawaii, with many different locations offering lessons and rentals for adventure-seekers.

10. Paragliding

If heights are your thing, paragliding in Maui offers stunning views as you soar above the islands’ lush forests and endless blue oceans below.

Imagine soaring over the spectacular scenery of this paradise island, you will get to witness some of the most breathtaking sights imaginable.

Whether you are a beginner or an experienced paraglider, there are plenty of opportunities for adventure and exploration around Hawaii.

Paragliding is one of the safest air sports available, making it an ideal activity for first-time flyers or experienced pilots alike.

In addition, the warm tropical climate and consistent winds make Hawaii an ideal place to paraglide.

If you are nervous, you might have a tandem flight with an experienced paraglider.

Tandem flights provide the opportunity for you to get an up-close view of Hawaii from above but under the expertise of a professional.

Final Thoughts

If you love to try new things and enjoy the great outdoors and adventure sports, Hawaii is a wonderful place.

Whether it is biking down Haleakala volcano on Maui or surfing on the north shore, do visit Hawaii if you have the chance to.

Sports Travel Booking Resources

Traveling around the world to watch & experience sports, I tend to always use the same resources for booking trips. These are the ones I use most frequently and that I find to have great customer support and competitive prices.

  • Sports Event Tickets – Tickets for all sporting events
  • Get Your Guide – is an excellent site as a one-stop shop for booking attractions, local tours, activities, and excursions. Great customer service and an easy-to-use site.
  • – The best site I have found for hotel and accommodation bookings.
  • Flights – are also now offered by and as I love the brand this is my first port of call now for flights.
  • Safety Wing Travel Insurance – I love Saftey Wing as they cover everything I need to be covered and they have a simple-to-use site, and again, I have found their customer service very good, when I needed to ask questions.
  • Hostelworld – Book backpacker hostel rooms around the world with Hostel World.