Outdoors on Oahu: Sea and Land Adventures in The Heart of Hawaii

Sponsored Content: Oahu’s breathtaking surroundings—aqua seas and golden shorelines, hidden valleys and emerald cliffs, lush rainforests and refreshing waterfalls—are perfect for outdoor adventures.

Fun in the Sun Means More on Oahu
Fun in the sun takes on a whole new meaning in Oahu. Sea and land activities are also an opportunity to learn about Hawaiian history and culture. When your clients surf at Waikiki, they are catching the same breaks that Hawaiian royal chiefs did for centuries.  An afternoon aboard a handcrafted sailing canoe travels the same waters as early Hawaiians. And a horseback riding adventure at historic Kualoa Ranch passes by an ancient 800-year-old fishpond. 

Surfing and Stand Up Paddle
Surfing was born in Oahu and the island is the epicenter for championship surfing today. Hawaiian alii (royals) ruled and road the waves along what is now Waikiki Beach and the world’s best surfers flock to Oahu’s fabled North Shore every November and December for the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Stand up paddle surfing (SUP) also began in Oahu in the 1950s when Waikiki Beach Boys (legendary surfing instructors) slung cameras around their necks and paddled their surfboards out to capture live action shots of tourists surfing. SUP experienced a renaissance in the early 2000s and is one of the world’s fastest growing sports.  

Year round, Waikiki Beach provides exceptional conditions for surfers and stand up paddlers, whether experienced or new to either sport. Waikiki’s soft sand beach, lined with phenomenal hotels and resorts, is home to a multitude of surf schools offering surfing and stand up paddle lessons. The North Shore’s massive winter waves are a magnet for those who are either expert or professionals at surfing and SUP. However, qualified instructors know spots where even newcomers can learn to surf in winter inside protected reefs at Alii Beach Park in Haleiwa and by Turtle Bay Resort.  And summertime is perfect on the North Shore when the surf is calm and gentle. 

Outrigger Canoe Adventures
Hawaii’s long and proud legacy of ocean voyaging began nearly two millennia ago when Polynesians used the stars to navigate across the Pacific in outrigger canoes. Today, outrigger canoe racing is Hawaii’s most popular sport. Waikiki Beach Services offers thrilling outrigger canoe rides in the Waikiki surf and Hawaiian Ocean Adventures offers outings aboard an authentic handcrafted Hawaiian sailing canoe on either Windward or Leeward Coasts.  

Catamaran Sailing
Few adventures compare to the adrenaline thrills as the Island Magic Catamaran skims across the waters and the winds fill the sails. Leaving right from Grey’s Beach in Waikiki, clients can opt for the daytime Turtle Canyon Adventure Sail or Tradewind Sail, the Sunset Sail, or the Fireworks Sail on Friday evenings.  

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on Oahu’s southeastern shoreline is one of the island’s most popular snorkeling spots. Visitors start at the Marine Education Center to learn about this Marine Life Conservation District’s delicate ecosystem before heading down to the beach to snorkel. On the North Shore, snorkelers flock to Shark’s Cove, Pupukea Beach Park, where a break in the shoreline opens into a large tide pool.  This is best done in the summer months when the North Shore surf is calm.  

Whale Watching and Swimming with Dolphins
Your clients can join marine biologists on a once in a lifetime adventure with Wild Side Specialty Tours which offers year round whale watching, swimming with dolphins, and snorkeling with honu (green sea turtles) on intimate, small group charters off Leeward Oahu.  

A hike up iconic Diamond Head (Leahi in Hawaiian meaning “brow of the tuna”), overlooking Kapiolani Park, provides breathtaking summit panoramas that can include whales frolicking offshore between December and April. Manoa Falls in a scenic Honolulu valley has a two-mile round trip hike through a bamboo jungle and rainforest to a 200-foot high waterfall. Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail on southeast Oahu offers outstanding vistas of the Windward Coast, off shore islets, and Molokai and Lanai on clear days. And hiking is the only way to reach the dramatic lava shoreline at Kaena Point on the western tip of Oahu, a remote and scenic area, home to native plants and seabirds. 

For travelers who would prefer not to hike alone, Hawaii Trail and Mountain Club hikes a different Oahu trail every weekend and Sierra Club has easy, moderate, and strenuous hikes, photography hikes, and service projects such as cleaning and maintaining trails and beaches. Hawaiian Hiking Company’s off the beaten path, private guided hikes of Waimea Valley present an opportunity to learn fascinating historical, cultural, and botanical insights and information while experiencing amazing scenery and panoramas. 

Kapiolani Park in Waikiki or Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu, are two venues with paved flat surfaces and wonderful ocean views. Out on the Windward Coast, runners love the soft sands of gorgeous Kailua Beach Park, noted as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. Runner’s Hi in Aiea and Lanikai Juice in Kailua offer running clubs and the Honolulu Marathon Clinic meets Sundays and has training groups for all levels. Oahu’s hiking trails are also excellent for running. However, it may be advisable to run with locals who know the terrain. Hurt Hawaii is a non-profit club for which offers weekly training sessions and monthly training sessions, and sponsors the annual Hurt 100-Mile Endurance Run.  

The Hawaii Bike League—HBL—website has a calendar of free group and training rides for intermediate, and advanced riders along with recommended cycling routes across Oahu. HBL sponsors two major cycling events open to everyone: the Honolulu Century Ride and the Haleiwa Metric Century Ride. Mountains bikers can check MTBHawaii.com for excellent trail riding information.

Personal Trainers
For clients who are training for a competition or want to maintain their fitness routines on vacation, Oahu has excellent trainers offering group and individualized one-on-one training, sport specific training, and boot camps.  Boca Hawaii specializes in multi-sport training and racing, and offers road races. Visit 808racehawaii.com for information. Try Fitness focuses on women’s health, fitness, and athletic training, and offers road races for women and children.  

Keana Farms on the North Shore is Oahu’s first zipline tour with seven dual zip lines, unique sky bridges and boardwalks, and a fun ATV adventure to the top. Starting high in the mountains, the zip lines provide a bird's eye view of a working commercial farm along with incomparable North Shore mountain, beach, and ocean panoramas.

Horseback Riding
Kualoa, a family-owned, 4,000-acre ranch spanning mountains, valleys, and the shoreline in northeast Oahu, offers guided horseback riding. The two-hour adventure through spectacular Kaaawa Valley passes by TV and move location spots, forests, WWII bunkers, and includes fantastic mountain and ocean views.  The one-hour tour explores the southern end of Kualoa and features views of Mokolii Island and an 800-year-old Hawaiian fishpond. 

Sports and Fitness Events
Oahu is home to wonderful events for active sports enthusiasts and spectators.  

  • Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, November 12-December 20, 2014
  • XTERRA Trail Run World Championship, December 7, 2014
  • Honolulu Marathon, December 14, 2014
  • H.U.R.T. 100-Mile Endurance Run, January 17-18, 2015
  • Great Aloha Run, Monday, February 18, 2015
  • Wanderlust Yoga and Music Festival, February 26-March 1, 2015, 
  • Haleiwa Metric Century Ride, April 26, 2015
  • Honolulu Triathlon, May 17, 2015
  • XTERRA Freedom Fest Hawaii, July 4, 2015
  • Zachary Manago’s Ride in Paradise, July 11-12, 2015
  • Waikiki Roughwater Swim, September 5, 2015