Extreme Hawaii

Those who seek more thrilling escapades on their Hawaiian getaway need look no further: this is Extreme Hawaii.
By: Erica Walsh


'man kiteboarding, on water'

Photo by: Noel Hendrickson

Noel Hendrickson

Hawaii conjures images of sugary beaches, tranquil waters and lush greenery. However, those who seek more thrilling escapades on their Hawaiian escape need look no further: this is Extreme Hawaii.

Extreme Helicopter Ride
Mt. Kilauea, The Big Island
Kilauea means spewing in Hawaiian, and that's the perfect description for this volatile volcano. Estimated to be between 300,000 and 600,000 years old, Kilauea stands over 4,000 feet above sea level and has been erupting since 1952. What's the best way to see Kilauea (and avoid the threat of lava)? From the air. Since 1999 Paradise Helicopters has been offering passengers jaw-dropping volcanic views flying just 500 ft. above the lava and magma flows.

Extreme Kiteboarding
Kite Beach, Maui
The cerulean waters of Hawaii are perfect for sailing, windsurfing and catching waves & or doing all 3 at once. The Kiteboarding School of Maui offers 1- to 3-day classes where beginners can learn to harness the wind and ride the waves. This combination of paragliding and surfing has been popular in Hawaiian waters since 1998 when some Maui surfers decided to attach a kite to themselves -- just for fun. A 40-foot kite can lift a 220-lb. man 20 feet in the air and seasoned riders can easily hit speeds of 50 mph.

Extreme Scuba Diving
Kailua-Kona, The Big Island
From one extreme water adventure to another, plunge into the waters off the Big Island for an extreme scuba-diving experience -- night diving. Kona Honu Divers takes brave diving enthusiasts on a 5-hour tour, 5 miles off the coast of Kailua-Kona. After sunset, groups leave the safety of the boat to swim in waters teeming with Pacific manta rays -- a massive, majestic and seriously intimidating relative of the shark.

Extreme Pineapple
The Dole Plantation, Oahu
The Dole Plantation on Oahu is home to the world's largest -- and quite possibly most difficult -- outdoor maze. After opening in 1998, this luxuriant labyrinth has grown to cover over 3 acres of Hawaiian countryside and is comprised of 14,000 native plants. It takes visitors an average of 45 minutes to find the maze's exit, but this twisted trail comes with an extra challenge. There are 8 stations located throughout the maze, and to properly complete the Dole Plantation challenge, intrepid visitors must have their entrance ticket stamped by each station -- in sequential order.

Extreme Surfing
The Big Island
For some of Hawaii's most extreme surfing, get out of the water. Back on dry land, mount a specially made 12-ft. long, 6-in. wide board and try your hand at mountain surfing; and yes, that means standing on a custom-made board and soaring down grassy mountainsides. The board is called a papaholua and crafting one is an art that goes back over 2,000 years. Today, the only man on the planet still creating papaholua in the ancient tradition is Tom Puhaku Stone, owner of the Hawaiian Boarding Company. By rubbing these beautifully handcrafted boards with kukui oil, you can reach speeds over 40 mph.

Extreme Dancing
The Fire-Knife dance is a Samoan tradition dating back several generations and is viewable at most Hawaiian luaus. However, there are some impromptu pyrotechnic performances pushing this dance into the 21st century. At what are known as Fire Jams, you can witness thrilling new techniques, technology and choreography as performers and drummers learn from one another. Fire Jams occur at rotating locations, so ask around to witness some mind-blowing pyrotechnics on your next trip to Oahu.

Extreme Wildlife
Maui Hunting Safari, Maui
Another luau staple that's getting an extreme update is the main course: pit-roasted wild boar. However, this isn't a new recipe or preparation style -- it's the opportunity to track, catch and kill your own wild boar. Maui Hunting Safari has been teaching bloodthirsty tourists how to hunt wild boar since 2001. After filling out some paperwork (and forking over some serious cash), follow the hounds as they sniff out your dinner. Be forewarned, there are no guns on this hunt. To slay your boar, you'll use a 6- to 8-inch blade and strike at the beast's heart.

Extreme Zip-Lining
Flyin' Hawaiian Tours, Maui
In the West Maui Mountains, experience the rush of soaring at speeds over 60 mph on the longest zip-line course in Hawaii. Flyin' Hawaiian has strung more than 2 1/2 miles of cable covering almost 462 acres of tropical paradise. The zip-line course, featuring 8 different heart-pounding runs, culminates in a 3,200-ft. run that would take 2 days to hike on land.

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