Survivor, the Discovery Channel and reality TV all cover adventures that the viewer never wants to do personally, but they may also bring some exciting possibilities to an expectant group travelers consciousness.
With Hawaii in mind, imagine paddling a kayak along the coast of the island of Molokai, flying down a zip line over a pristine tropical Maui forest, or hiking a mountain trail in the verdant Koolau Mountains above Honolulu. Too athletic? Try a leisurely walk to the top of Diamond Head, towering over Waikiki Beach. Take a snorkel cruise in the crystal clear ocean waters of Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii, whale watch on every island or get lost and found at the Dole Pineapple Maze. From around-town trolley rides to kite surfing, Hawaii is the place for individual, family or group reality adventures!
Oahu is action central, where adventures are only minutes apart. Start easy. Take a free open-air trolley ride around Waikiki, all along the waterfront, arriving at Hilo Hatties main store on Nimitz Highway. An old-style free pineapple juice greeting is followed by an invite to shoppers to wander through galleries of wicky-wacky Hawaiian trinkets, designer Aloha wear for men, women and children, and a multitude of tempting Hawaiian snacks. The free trolley waits for the return trip.
Jumping off at Aloha Tower Marketplace is encouraged. The tower was once the tallest building in Honolulu and is still the dock for the big cruise liners sailing the islands and crossing the Pacific. Free maps are available as a guide to wander the waterfront and take a walking tour of Honolulu colorful Chinatown. A visit to the dozens of trinket shops, open vegetable markets, live fish tanks, Chinese herb shops and tiny hole-in-the-wall dim sum eateries adds up to an easy 2-1/2-mile walk.
On Friday, visitors and groups end the walk at Iolani Palace, America’s only royal palace and home to Hawaii last reigning monarch. Each Friday the Royal Hawaiian Band plays a royal concert from noon to 1 p.m., recreating the days when King David Kalakaua enjoyed the concert from his palace office. A tour of the interior of the Palace includes viewing of the royal jewels, crowns, and spectacular feather capes created from millions of feathers and worn by the rulers of the Hawaiian Islands. History is told by trained docents, sharing the fact that King David Kalakaua was the first royal monarch to circumnavigate the globe. The Palace is filled with treasures and gifts from European monarchs. Add a walk to the nearby, free, Hawaii State Art Museum and it will be time for a foot rub and a Mai Tai.
An early morning hike to the 720-foot peak of the crater at Diamond Head National Natural Landmark gives a 180-degree panoramic view of Waikiki and Honolulu. The entrance is off Diamond Head Road and can be reached by car, taxi or Honolulu famous transport system, THE BUS. The 1.4-mile hike includes several hundred steps and a semi-dark tunnel. Water, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, and a flashlight are musts. The tunnels and stairs were created when Diamond Head was a military installation lookout following the attack on Pearl Harbor. The best thing to follow this hike is a dive into the surf of Waikiki Beach.
At the Honolulu waterfront the 1,500 passenger, ADA approved, Star of Honolulu cruise ship makes an offer not to be refused. During Hawaii Humpback whale season, sightseeing cruise companies offer 2-3 hour whale watch cruise of Waikiki, narrated by the ship’s captain or a qualified tour guide. If no whales are in sight, the company offers passenger a free return ticket every day until a whale is spotted. For extreme ocean activity, board the 128-foot Starlet motor yacht, cruise and anchor off Waikiki beach for a morning of snorkeling, kayaking, windsurfing, water sliding, water trampolining and fishing fun combined with an on-board BBQ lunch.
For turtle watching, catch the launch at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort, cruise out and board the Atlantis Submarine, dive 120 feet below the surface of the ocean and see turtles doze on the deck of a shipwreck. For a toes-to-nose fish encounter, visit Sea Life Park and join in the newest adventure, the Manta Ray Encounter. Ocean specialists guide guests along a sandy path to a knee-deep spot on the side of the ocean tank. There the gentle giant Manta Rays perform a graceful water ballet around the visitors feet.
Get up-close and personal with the intimate, one-on-one, Dolphin Quest encounter swim in the Kahala Mandarin Oriental hotels dolphin lagoon. Guests don life vests, have a training session on dolphin etiquette, then swim with a professional trainer and the resident dolphins. The dolphins train the guests quickly one dolphin back flip and the guest responds with a fish treat. Getting a dolphin kiss at the close of the session is a Kodak moment.
Leaving the metropolis of Honolulu for Molokai is an adventure in itself. Called the Friendly Isle, Molokai invites visitors to slow down. Here no building is taller than a coconut tree. There is no traffic and no traffic lights. The gentlest adventure on the island is the Sacred Waters Yoga Retreat. Screened Hawaiian-style cabins, nestled in a banana patch, come with surround-sound birdsong, a yoga deck only yards from the beach, vegetarian dining and solar and wind-powered utilities. The yoga classes are guaranteed to stretch the imagination, along with arms, legs and backs.