If you're traveling to Hawaii looking for outdoor adventures, you'll love some of these fun Big Island activities!
When vacationing on Hawaii Island, you could choose to sit back and just lounge on the beach all vacation long . . . it's not a bad view, after all, no matter what beach you land on.
For me, beach lounging is only enjoyable for so long. I like to get out and explore, don't you? I get bored and restless just sitting around.
Hawaii Island offers so many outdoor adventures. How could you NOT take advantage of at least a few of them?
Big Island adventures
Earlier, I shared my ziplining adventure in Hilo, and my tour of a sweet, family-owned plantation coffee farm, as well as great places to eat. Today I am excited to share my kayaking, snorkeling, and Kohala Ditch Big Island activities with you.
On my fifth day visiting Hawaii Island, we woke up bright and early to meet up for the Morning Magic Kealakekua Bay Kayak & Snorkel Tour with Kona Boys. An island style surf, kayak, and dive shop with two locationson Hawaii Island's Kona coast (in the Kealakekua Bay and on the beach in Kailua-Kona in front of King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel), Kona Boys offers a variety of outdoor adventure tours for all ages.
Kayaking on the Big Island
The Morning Magic Kayak & Snorkel Tour begins at the shop. Here we were outfitted for snorkel gear and reviewed safety tips.
Then we were off to Kealakekua Bay. We buddied up for 2-person kayaks and hit the calm waters.
I love kayaking, but I don't do it often enough at home, and at the time of this trip, I was admittedly fairly out of shape. I think I was able to pull my weight, but my arms and shoulders were feeling it. While you don't have to be athletic at all to kayak, it does involve some upper body strength and stamina. If you have any concerns at all, you can always ask to buddy up with one of the guides.
The guides were wonderful and made sure we all stuck together. And we had some nice leisurely hang time on the water to chat and learn more about the history of the area as we made our way across the bay. Hawaiian history is fascinating. I love how you can sense the deep pride and passion tour guides have for the off-book legends that have been passed on through generations.
As we continued kayaking across the bay, we were also lucky enough to see a lot of Nai’a (Hawaiian spinner dolphins). Although I sadly didn't get close enough to get any great photos. If you haven't been that close to dolphins in open waters before, it really is an incredible experience.
We kayaked across the bay to the protected shorelines of Ka’awaloa. As we parked our kayaks near the Captain Cook monument, the guides shared tales of Captain Cook's adventures here as the first reported westerner to set foot on Hawaii shores. Then we were off to snorkel in what is considered to be one of the most pristine reefs in the world. With more than 200 species of reef fish, turtles, eels, reef sharks, and rays, it's pretty incredible!
Some of my tour members were lucky enough to be out while dolphins swam right next to them. It was SO amazing! But darn it if that wasn't the same time I chose to take my lunch break! I promptly dropped my sandwich and grabbed my snorkel gear. But by the time I swam out, the dolphins had already moved on.
I did get the chance to use my GoPro for the first time underwater during these Big Island activities. I am pretty lazy when it comes to reading directions. So I just winged it and got these shots of some colorful fish and interesting reef:
That last one totally looks like a brain. Am I right?
Here's our best attempt at getting a group shot underwater:
And here's me underwater, looking oh so elegant and refined as ever. . . an underwater model, I am not! :)
Kona Boys Kayaking & Snorkeling Tours start at $119 per adult, and $99 per child. You can visit the Kona Boys website for full details, and for more about their surfing, scuba diving, and SUP rentals and tours.
Kohala Ditch Adventures
I am very sad to say that shortly after our trip to Hawaii Island, the Kohala Ditch sustained major damage. Unfortunately, Kohala Ditch Adventures had to close up shop.
However, they are offering other Big Island activities, such as ATV Outfitter Adventures. One of the ATV tours takes you over the Kohala Ditch Trails and along the gorgeous Kohala coastline.
On the ATV tours, you can still see some of the stunning scenery we were able to catch a glimpse of on our Kohala Ditch Adventure.
For the Kohala Ditch Adventure, we kayaked through earth tunnels high in the mountains of the famed Kohala Ditch System. Built in 18 months, the system is an engineering miracle that contains more than 22 miles of flumes and tunnels that transmitted water for sugar cane irrigation and helped bring prosperity to the area thanks to the Kohala Sugar Company. The Sugar Company eventually closed and the last sugar cane harvest was in 1975, but the ditch system remained.
Some of the tunnels were really narrow, and if you're a tall lad or lass, I imagine you'd have to duck your head most of the time. Some tunnels were quick to maneuver, while others seemed to go on and on and on for a long time. We wore head lamps to turn on when we'd head into the tunnels, because they were pitch black otherwise. Above our heads, you could see glimmering crystalization from the rocks.
Here's a quick clip of what it was like to kayak through one of the earth tunnels/flumes:
While you can no longer take the Kohala Ditch Adventure tours, I hope you will consider checking out the ATV Outfitters Adventure tours if you are traveling near Kohala. It's a wonderful glimpse into the area's past. And the town itself offers a lot of wonderful shops and restaurants. We'll be taking a look at one of those restaurants in my next post in this travel series!