There’s a great variety of adventure sports on O‘ahu’s north shore covering land, sky, and sea, and most outfitters are equipped to handle first-time or experienced adventure seekers; some even have great options for children.
For those who would rather stay inside an aircraft, yet still partake of those North Shore views, Hana Hou Air (808/222-4235) offers 20-minute scenic glider flights above the Wai‘anae Mountains along the North Shore for $100. Reservations are required. Also accessing the Dillingham Airfield is Honolulu Soaring (808/637-0207). They have several planes in their fleet and offer scenic as well as acrobatic glider flights. The average visibility is 30 to 40 miles. One-passenger scenic flights start at $79 for 10 minutes and go to $215 for 60 minutes. Two-passenger scenic flights start at $128 for 10 minutes and go to $390 for 60 minutes. One-passenger acrobatic flights start at $165 for 15 minutes and go to $285 for 60 minutes. Combination scenic and acrobatic flights are also available.
There are two shark diving tour operators out of Hale‘iwa Harbor. They travel three to four miles offshore and drop a metal shark cage in the water, where guests dive in to see Galapagos, tiger, hammerhead, and other sandbar sharks from a safe underwater vantage point. The tours are weather dependent, and no diving experience is required. If you’re lucky, you’ll see spinner dolphins, turtles, and even humpback whales during your time at sea. North Shore Shark Adventures (808/228-5900) offers two-hour tours throughout the day for $120 adult, $60 children 3-13 years old. If you require transportation from Waikiki, they charge $55. Hawaii Shark Encounters (808/351-9373) offers tours for $105 for adults and $75 for children under 12 years old.
The North Shore is a rural enclave from Kahuku to Mokule‘ia, and farms and ranches are common along the coast. Up on Pupukea, overlooking Waimea Valley and the North Shore is Happy Trails Hawaii (59-231 Pupukea Rd., 808/638-7433). Their trails meander through forest, ranch land, and tropical orchards, offering panoramic mountain and ocean views. Two-hour tours are $99, and one-hour tours are $79. Riders must be at least six years old. Gunstock Ranch (56-250 Kamehameha Hwy., 808/293-2026), just outside of Kahuku, is a family owned and operated working ranch at the base of the Ko‘olau Mountains. They have a network of trails and tours for all riding levels. The mountain terrain and beautiful ocean views stretch all the way down the windward coast to Kane‘ohe Bay. Their Scenic Ride is a 90-minute guided ride suitable for all skill levels for $89; the Keiki Experience is a 30-minute horse experience and ride for children ages 2-7 years old for $39; the Advanced Trail Ride is a one-hour ride with trotting and cantering during the ride for $109, and previous riding experience is required. They also offer a Moonlight Ride, a Picnic Ride, a Sweetheart Ride, a Sunset Ride, and a Dinner Sunset Ride.
What could be more exhilarating than seeing the entire island of O‘ahu, all at once, from 20,000 feet? Jumping out of the plane that took you that high and parachuting back to earth. Skydive Hawaii (68-760 Farrington Hwy., 808/637-9700 or 808/945-0222) operates from Dillingham Airfield in Mokule‘ia and specializes in tandem skydiving for first-time jumpers, but their services also extend to experienced skydivers and skydiving students. They make three jumps a day and offer a free shuttle service from several points in Honolulu. Tandem skydiving from 12,000 feet is $225, from 14,000 feet is $250, and from 20,000 feet (the highest tandem skydive in Hawaii) is $998. Skydivers must be at least 18 years old. You can also find similar rates and services literally right next door at Pacific Skydiving Hawaii (68-760 Farrington Hwy., 808/637-7472).
Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Hawaiian Islands.