Hawaii's Best Water Sports

The pristine waters off the Hawaiian Islands are the perfect playground for your aquatic, adventurous spirit.
By: Erica Walsh

Whether you're paddling out, hoisting the jib or revving your engine, the pristine waters off the Hawaiian Islands are the perfect playground for your aquatic, adventurous spirit.

Go Underwater
The Hawaiian Islands are made up of 132 islands, but are generally recognized as the eight main islands: Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui, Kahoolawe and Hawaii. Nestled in the Pacific Ocean over 2,400 miles from the nearest continent, these islands provide a unique and awe-inspiring underwater environment perfect for scuba diving and snorkeling.

Hawaii's year-round, warm waters provide some of the best dive sites in the world. Each site has different skill requirements, so check in advance before booking your tour. One amazing site on Niihau is home to gigantic sea arches, endangered monk seals and large pelagic fish.

Most Hawaiian resorts and water activity companies offer snorkeling equipment rentals and instructions. The beaches of Maui, Oahu and Hawaii are some of the most popular locations for coastal explorations. This complete guide to snorkeling in Hawaii offers tips and reviews of the most popular snorkeling spots.

Ride a Jet Ski or Wave Runner
Change up the pace from the lazy flick of your snorkel fins and climb aboard a Jet Ski or wave runner. Easy to operate and maneuver, you'll love tearing through the Hawaiian waters with your friends and family.

Hawaii Water Sports will shuttle you out to their Jet Ski course off the coast of Oahu's Manunalua Bay. Hawaii Active lets you power through the waters off the Big Island seven days a week. Remember that you'll need a valid driver's license to operate one of these high-powered toys.

Paddle Out
Hawaii is home to world-class surfing. Each of the Hawaiian Islands get legendary swells, but the pipeline off Oahu's North Shore is mind-blowing. The best swells occur between October and March, generated from storms in the North Pacific. Whether you're a novice or looking to improve your skill set, attending a surf camp in Hawaii is the perfect vacation for those looking for a little Zen calm.

If the word "camping" brings to mind bugs, uncomfortable sleeping arrangements and bad food, don't worry. There are a slew of camps on Hawaii's main islands, like Surf Hawaii Surf School, that offer stylish, beachfront accommodations, healthy meals prepared in a gourmet kitchen, relaxing massage packages and cleansing yoga sessions.

Additionally, the camp will provide transportation to and from the beach as well as guided personal instruction for all abilities.

Take Flight
Parasailing, a favorite vacation activity, offers a relaxing flight above Hawaii's crystalline waters and the lush landscapes. Parasailing is available on each of Hawaii's major islands, but one company takes you to higher than the rest -- Xtreme Parasailing on Waikiki.

Xtreme offers three different rides varying in height and length: the standard ride at 700 feet for 9 to 11 minutes; the deluxe ride at 900 feet for 11 to 13 minutes; and the extreme ride at 1,200 feet for 13 to 15 minutes. The package includes ground transportation to and from your hotel and all the safety information and equipment you'll need.

Parasailing is an affordable and breathtaking way to spend a day in and above the Hawaiian waters.

Skim the Surface
From sailing above the boat to being dragged behind it, wakeboarding and waterskiing are exhilarating ways to soak up the Hawaiian sun and surf. Hawaii Water Sports offers both wakeboarding and waterskiing in Oahu's tropical Koko Marina. The staff here is fully equipped to deal with any level of ability -- they even offer a six-ball slalom waterskiing course in the upper marina for those looking to put their skills to the test (or maybe just show off a little.)

Almost all wakeboarding and waterskiing outfits require reservations and a deposit, so make your plans the night before while sipping a daiquiri and enjoying the Hawaiian sunset.

Set Sail
For a more relaxing way to experience the beauty of Hawaii's waters and its majestic landscapes, book a sailing tour. Adventure Sailing on Oahu offers several different tours guaranteed to be a perfect complement to your vacation. From the barbecue sunset sail featuring cold beer, hot food and Hawaiian music to the romantic private honeymoon sail, every detail is perfectly tailored to your desires.

Book a more adventurous journey, and go whale-watching or swimming with dolphins and sea turtles. Again, equipment and instruction will be provided, but you might want to pack your own binoculars to view the humpbacks. From November to March, these beautiful creatures visit the Hawaiian waters to birth their pups -- it's an ideal time to see the graceful and caring mammals with their families.

Take the reigns and learn to sail yourself by taking some private lessons. Command the seas and your own boat by learning port from starboard and the jib from the main sail.

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