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Unique Experiences on Oahu

Waimea Bay on Oahu's North Shore

Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore.

When you are on vacation, the hustle and bustle of city streets and crowded shops might not appeal to you. For those who want to try something a little out of the ordinary, who want to think outside the box, and do something adventurous and even a little risky, we have a list of 5 things that are sure to excite your trip to Oahu and give you memories and thrills you’ll never forget.

Hidden Manoa Waterfall Hike  

If you would rather wander off the beaten path, or tourist-traversed main streets into some jungle-like landscapes, then you will love this scenic hike.  Adventuring through thick vegetation and wildlife, you will get to visit the tallest accessible waterfall. This hidden trail was featured in the film Jurassic Park and offers some of the most beautiful views and landscapes on the island. The hike is 2 miles and takes about 4 hours for the full tour.  Pick-ups are at 8:00 am or 2:00 pm, from any Waikiki hotel.

Hawaii Shark Encounter

They say sometimes the best way to deal with fears is to face them.  If you are afraid of the shadowy fierce predator of the deep, then perhaps it is time to live a little on the wild side.  Departing from Haleiwa Harbor on the North Shore, daring visitors sail three miles out into ocean, which at 400 ft deep, is teaming with curious sharks.  From within an underwater cage, you can view sharks only inches from your face, with sometimes much as 30 sharks in one tour. The good news is, seeing a shark is guaranteed.  They are so confident in your experience, that if you don’t see a shark, you don’t have to pay.  But when you do see one up close, it is an exhilarating experience that will leave your heart pounding.

Hawaii Shark Encounters departs at 6:30 am, 8:30 am, and 10:30 am, 7 days a week from Haleiwa Small Boat Harbor.  (Tours can also be arranged from Waikiki Hotels for an additional fee.)

Haleiwa Small Boat Harbor

Haleiwa Small Boat Harbor.

Swim with Dolphins

If you love marine life, but prefer to avoid a close brush with sharks, play it safe with giggling dolphins instead. You can watch them dive and splash away in the sunshine, from the comfort of your boat. Oahu’s Morning Dolphin Cruise and Snorkeling excursion takes you out on an early morning ride from 6:30 am where you can see anything from dolphins, sea turtles or whales, depending on the season.  Then experience an hour-long snorkel for yourself before boarding the boat for a delicious hot buffet lunch as your cruise back to the landing. It is the only experience that will take you up the entire Waianae Coast (the west side of Oahu) from Ko Olina to Kaena Point.

If you want a more up-close encounter, Sea Life Park Hawaii-Dolphin Royal Swim allows you to swim with them, or ride on them as they powerfully pull you through the water. Either way, your day will be filled with smiles and laughter.

Circle Island Tour

On Oahu, there are so many memorials, historical sites, beautiful destinations that one feels remiss not to visit.  If you only have a few days on the island, and you did intend to enjoy the majority of them sipping a cool drink and drifting off to sleep on the beach, then maybe a quick “see-it-all-at-once” tour is just for you. Fortunately for those who want to optimize their time, Oahu offers numerous of these types of tour packages. The Circle Island Tour with Pearl Harbor will take you to the military memorials at historic Pearl Harbor,  a pineapple farm, volcanoes, rain forests, film tours, villages, surf towns, famous beaches and look-outs all in one day.  Leaving from any Waikiki hotel around 6:00 am, until 5:30 pm, you can take in all the island’s historical and notable sites in one fell swoop, so you can spend the rest of your Hawaiian holiday luxuriously lounging.

The USS Arizona and USS Missouri Memorials in Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii

Pearl Harbor Memorials. By English: Petty Officer 2nd Class Kerry E. Baker, U.S. Navy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

JetLev Oahu

We saved the best for last! The JetLev is one of the most exciting technologies developed for real thrill-seeking, maverick type vacationers.  After sailing into the ocean, and strapping into backpack-like jets, the Jetlev pack pumps water through a hoses that can jet you up to 30 feet in the air! Wearing a life vest and helmet for safety, fliers learn how to steer, do elevation control, so that you can have a safe excursion. Have fun “walking on water,” soaring into the sky, or splashing down into the waves, all powered and steered with your own jets.  This is definitely must-do for the adrenaline-junkies on Oahu.

For those who don’t want the fun to end, we recommend seeing Oahu from a hang-glider, where you will soar effortlessly over rainforests, mountains, volcanoes and beaches in beautiful stillness and serenity. For artsy visitors, the Sunrise Photography Tour is perfect for those want to know the best places to snap some photos of the sunrise, from numerous view points.  Anyone who enjoys a linguistic immersion, attend a Hawaiian-language church service at Kawaiahao Church and enjoy the beautiful Hawaiian songs.


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Awards and Affiliations

  • Hawaii's Best 2011
  • Hawaii's Visitors and Convention Bureau
  • American Society of Travel Agents
  • Authorized Disney Vacation Planner
  • CLIA
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