Rapid heart rate. Sweating. Heightened senses. Rapid breathing. Decreased ability to feel pain. Increased strength and performance. Dilated pupils. Feeling jittery or nervous.
These are all symptoms of an adrenaline rush. If you want to break up the vacation with a heart-pounding adventure, consider these activities:
Captain Zodiac will take you to explore some of Hawai‘i’s most amazing sights along the Kona Coast. The destination is Kealakekua Bay which boasts some of the best snorkeling in the state of Hawaii. “This remote marine preserve features hundreds of colorful fish and beautiful coral,” says Amy Comforth, who co-owns the company with her husband Colin. “The bay is a key place in Hawaiian history and site of the Captain Cook Monument, and guides ‘talk story’ about these cultural and historic events.”
Up-close encounters with marine life are an opportunity not to be missed on Captain Zodiac rafts. “We see pods of Hawaiian spinner dolphins, humpback whales (seasonal), pilot whales, sea turtles, and other rare species,” says Amy. “The small-group atmosphere of the adventure allows for a personal and intimate tour.”
Captain and crew are well versed in marine science, animal behavior, geology of the island’s lava flows, Hawaiian history, culture, and folklore. This makes for tours that are informative as well as fun. The captains are part-entertainer and all pirate!
Only highly maneuverable 24-foot Zodiac Hurricane RHIB can get in close to the sea caves, lava tubes, rock archways, blowholes and amazing scenery along the coastline. “With only a maximum of 16 passengers per raft, everyone has a great seat” adds Burns.
Big Island Gravity Skydiving is guaranteed to provide a lifetime memory. Guests take off from Upola Airport and fly up to 12,000 feet above the Seven Sacred Valleys and the Kohala Coast before jumping with a tandem instructor. After experiencing the sensations of a one mile free fall, you’ll float back gently to the earth while soaking in the beauty of Hawaii.
“If your traveling party has different ideas of fun, then Botanical World Adventures is the perfect destination,” says owner Mark Robinson. “BWA,” as it’s known, opened in 1995 as a botanical garden. There are thousands of plant species and two of the most pristine waterfalls in the State. For the thrillseekers in the group, the Zip Isle Zipline Adventure was added in 2009 and gives guests a birds-eye view of the garden. For those looking for a relaxed tour of the gardens, BWA offers a Segway Tour option. “In May, we added a Jungle Falls Bike Experience,” adds Robinson. “We are particularly attractive to the large, multi-generational groups who come to the Big Island. We built out our park to appeal to everyone who visits by providing such diverse activities.”
Flying over a volcano in a helicopter is the epitome of an adrenaline rush, and Safari Helicopters offers this once-in-a-lifetime adventure at a surprisingly affordable price. “Most helicopter companies take off from the Kona side of the island,” explains Safari Owner and Chief Pilot Preston Myers. “We use Hilo as our home base so there’s less time spent getting to the volcano and more time flying over the volcano.”
Started in June, 1987, as a husband and wife business, Myers has always been most concerned about safety. “Safe, smooth and level” is their company motto. Safari received 10 stars from Hawaii Helicopter Operator’s Association, the highest ever awarded. (Insider tip: book direct at safarihelicopters.com and you’ll get the best prices on the island hands down.)
If you’re nervous about zip lining but really want to try it, then consider Kohala Zipline in Halawa. Located on the isle’s northern tip, Kohala Zipline offers a course with nine ziplines and five suspension bridges that take you from tree to tree, ending with an exciting rappel. “We offer a unique element that appeals to the more cautious adventurer,” says Owner Rob Pacheco. “We have a built-in Rider Control System that allows riders to control their own speed.”
No matter the speed, guests get to experience a forested, stream rich terrain with magnificent canopy trees. Adds Pacheco: “Our goal has always remained the same: to operate a world-class canopy tour for Hawaii Island, and we are proud to say that we do.”
Venture to the Kona coffee mecca in Holualoa for a one-of-a-kind “aloha adventure.”
“We’re the only company offering a Polynesian ATV or tiki carving adventure on the Big Island,” says Leiah Layton of Aloha Adventure Farms. “Guests figuratively visit the islands of Hawai‘i, Fiji, Tonga and Sāmoa. They participate in activities at each stop.” This is with the Polynesian ATV Adventure option.
On the Polynesian Carving Adventure, Layton says, “The tiki carving allows guests to sit with a master carver from Tonga, and create their own tiki from locally sourced wood.
“We believe in the spirit of aloha,” continues Layton. “we hope each guest leaves feeling like they are a part of Aloha Adventure Farms’ ‘ohana (family). We also hope they leave with a deeper understanding and appreciation for the people of Polynesia.”
Reservations are required and discounts are available.
[A version of this article appears in print in the pages of This Week Big Island]