For many, Hawaii is synonymous with Waikiki Beach – tropical sun, surf and a strip of luxury resorts. Given that Hawaii is an archipelago of eight major islands, with regular flights servicing the main four (Oahu, Big Island, Maui and Kauai) it would be a shame to limit yourself to just one stretch of beach.
Beyond the resorts you'll find gushing waterfalls, fluted mountains, rainbow-veiled valleys and fresh lava flows. Here are 10 activities guaranteed to get your pulse racing. See gohawaii.com/au
1. HIKE INTO A CRATER – MAUI
Sunrise from the top of Haleakala Volcano is a must-do for all visitors to Maui. However, the Sliding Sands Trail from the summit to the crater floor takes the experience to a whole other level – a knee-burning, 762-metre drop over 6.3 kilometres. Once inside the crater the scene takes on an otherworldly appearance; a brutal landscape of cinder cones and coloured sands, platinum silverswords and blood-red rocks. It's a tough trek; especially coming back out at elevation, but even a short descent gives ample reward. See gohawaii.com/au
2.WITNESS NEW LAND BEING FORMED – BIG ISLAND
Kilauea, which means "spewing, much spreading" is living up to its name, producing 200,000 to 500,000 cubic metres of lava every day. For those who love fireworks the best way to get close to the action is with Hawaiian Lava Boat Tours (age, weight and fitness constraints apply). Like a fire-breathing dragon, there's much spitting and complaining as the hot lava hits the cold ocean. Although Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983, the flow of lava reaching the sea has had a three-year hiatus, only starting up again in July 2016. With the show back on, now is the time to visit. See hawaiianlavaboattours.com
3. RIDE THE RANGE – BIG ISLAND
Fun fact: Hawaii is home to cowboys, or paniolos, as they are known, descendants of the Mexican vaqueros who arrived in the 1800s. On Ponoholo Ranch on Kohala Mountain it is possible to become a paniolo for a day, riding alongside grazing cattle and ancient ruins while enjoying views over the ocean and across to Maui. Experienced riders should try the Wrangler Ride. For first-timers, the City Slicker Ride is a doddle. Other options include a sunset ride, picnic ride or a private ride. See panioloadventures.com
4. MEET THE MANTAS – BIG ISLAND
It's hard to beat the sheer joy of snorkelling with manta rays as they glide through the inky water, their pectoral fins flapping like birds' wings. Drawn by plankton (which in turn are drawn by bright lights) these caped crusaders turn up each night at natural "feeding stations" on the Kona Coast of the Big Island. To coincide with the feasting, Keauhou Bay Adventures takes snorkellers out at 7pm, 8.15pm and 9.30pm, its small group tours allowing for an intimate experience with less impact on the manta rays. See keauhoubayadventures.com/manta
5. SNORKEL INSIDE A CRATER – MAUI
Hawaii is blessed with snorkelling locations, but only on Maui can you swim inside a crater. Sailing tours with Trilogy Excursions leave from Maalaea Harbour, stopping at two snorkelling spots – one inside the clear waters of Molokini Crater, the other at a less crowded, shallow site known for its sea turtles. While cruising under sail lends an air of adventure, the home-style cooking and personal care give it a comfortable touch. Trilogy has a strong commitment to preserving the ocean, working in partnership with Surfrider Foundation to clean up reefs around Maui. See sailtrilogy.com
6. SWING FROM THE TREES – OAHU and KAUAI
The Kualoa Private Reserve on Oahu's east coast offers a treetop zipline experience involving seven zip stations, two suspension bridges and three hiking sections. This family-owned enterprise, whose mission is to preserve and celebrate culture (while making people scream), is as educational as it is fun. On Kauai, Skyline Kauai offers an eight-line adventure, soaring across three lush valleys. See kualoa.com zipline.com/maui
7. DISCOVER VOLCANO COUNTRY – BIG ISLAND
Descend inside a lava tube, hike close to red-hot lava, watch the fiery glow of Pele's eruption inside Halema'uma'u Crater or take in sunrise from the top of the tallest volcano on Earth. Whatever your volcanic vice, Hawaii Forest and Trail has a tour to suit. For those with sturdy limbs and lungs the full-day Kilauea lava tour, which includes a 16-kilometre hike, is not to be missed. If you prefer your adventures on the mild side, the "epic island volcano journey" combines the must-see sights of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park with gourmet, sustainably sourced farm foods. See hawaii-forest.com
8. GET HIGH IN A CHOPPER – ALL ISLANDS
Fly across lava flows on the Big Island, see the hidden rainforests of Oahu, view Jurassic Park Falls on Kauai or circle the fluted mountains of west Maui. Only from the air is it possible to gain perspective of the breadth of microclimates across the Hawaiian Islands. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters offers tours on all four main islands using spacious, ultra-quiet Eco Star helicopters. Soaring across valleys while your pilot plays the theme song to Jurassic Park is a bonus. See bluehawaiian.com
9. KAYAK TO THE BEACH WHERE CAPTAIN COOK WAS KILLED – BIG ISLAND
A simple white obelisk marks the spot, where, on February 14, 1779, Captain James Cook was killed in a conflict between his crew and the Hawaiians. Located 19 kilometres south of Kailua Village, you can hike the Captain Cook Monument Trail down to the beach (two to four hours return) or, on a calm day, paddle there from the Kealakekua Bay State Historical Park. Hire a kayak or join a guided tour, but be warned, the ocean can turn from Lake Placid to Sea Monster in the blink of an eye.
10. SURF THE WIND – MAUI
Maui's North Shore provides the perfect storm for windsurfers – a windward coastline, reliable trade winds and large winter waves. Kanaha Beach Park is the most popular, catering to all levels (in designated zones and times), while Ho'okipa Beach Park (the Everest of the windsurfing world), must be left to the pros. In general, June to August is the time of high, reliable winds, while from December to February the north-easterlies are less consistent, but the waves are bigger. It's a matter of picking your preferred poison (wind or waves). Hire a windsurfer for a few hours, take a lesson, join a speed-sailing clinic or sign up for a five-day camp. See actionsportsmaui.com
Kerry van der Jagt was a guest of Hawaii Tourism Oceania.