Natural highs in Hawaii
Known as “a paradise born of fire”, Hawaii’s picture-perfect beauty has a frisson of danger. This dreamy archipelago of islands was created by a volcanic eruption that rumbled up from beneath the ocean. While most of the craters are dormant, some are still sensationally alive. There’s nothing like the thrill of hiking or biking along the rim of a smouldering crater, snorkelling through coral reefs in an underwater caldera, or taking a helicopter ride over a bubbling sea of lava. (Just don’t try to take a lava rock home as a souvenir, as Hawaiians believe it will bring bad luck.)
Among the towering volcanic peaks, you’ll discover an extraordinary range of micro-climates, from tropical to tundra. This natural playground offers all kinds of opportunities for spine-tingling kicks: rappel down a cascading waterfall; fly across the forest canopy on a series of zipwires and sky bridges; or take a night drive to the pinnacle of the world’s tallest volcano, Mauna Kea, and watch the skies light up from the astronomy observatory.
You don’t need to hit the peaks for adventure. Hawaii’s coastline is famous for its jet-black sands and perfect breaks. Several of Hawaii’s beaches are contenders for the world’s best surfing spot, drawing wave-junkies from every continent. But it's the beaches of Oahu's North Shore, with their thirty-foot pipelines, that have captured the imagination — and made the name — of countless professional surfers. Watching these fearless dudes ride the swell is an adrenaline buzz in itself; but you don’t need to be a pro to dive right in and get into the aloha spirit.
Up for a serious physical and mental challenge? Take the plunge on a night dive with massive manta rays. Or submerge yourself in a steel cage and watch the feeding frenzy as a school of hammerhead and tiger sharks swarm all around you. You might spot humpback whales, dolphins and sea turtles on your way back to shore, where you can cool off at one of the pull-out-all-stops resorts. No wonder Mark Twain called Hawaii “the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean”.