Traveling to Hawaii with Teenagers
by Lee Foster
If you plan to take your teenager on a vacation trip, Hawaii offers many enticing attractions.
Teenagers savor the spectrum of active sports and the ocean environment that Hawaii promises.
Based on a look at three islands with my own children, Karin and Paul, here is a list of ten favorite activities for teens in The Islands:
1. Learn to surf.
Waikiki is a good place to start because the waves are dependable and manageable. There’s plenty of company among the other aspiring surfers and all the necessary gear can be rented right on the beach. Start with an air mattress to get familiar with the surf. Graduate to a boogie board. Then rent a surf board. The rental people will give you some tips on how to ride the waves. Air mattresses and boogie boards can be rented in front of the Outrigger Hotel. Surf boards can be rented across from the Hyatt Regency Waikiki at the Wizard Stones. Tips: If this is your teen’s first encounter with the Hawaiian sun, start with an hour of exposure and slather on the sunblock.
2. Sail on a catamaran.
The large twin-hulled boats make regular excursion trips, with about 50 passengers aboard, from Waikiki, the Kona Kohala coast of the Big Island, and Maui’s west coast. When the engines are cut in deep water, the craft soars along under sail. The teen will probably be out on the trampoline webbing in the front of the boat to get the full blast of the splashing waves.
3. Check out those feathered capes.
The best place to expose your teen to the culture of Hawaii is at the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. They’ll marvel at the other-than-European culture of Hawaii, such as the prominence of huge feathered capes as the adornment of choice. Teens will enjoy seeing the shark-tooth war clubs of the Polynesians. Try to take in the planetarium show at the Bishop to get a sense of how the early explorers to Hawaii navigated by the stars. Cost:
4. Snorkel to see tropical fish.
We snorkeled at Waikoloa on The Big Island and again off Maui, combining a catamaran sail with snorkeling. Our best snorkeling was off Waikoloa because the water was clear, the coral opulent, and the fish life abundant. Part of the catamaran/snorkel appeal is they provide everything you need–snorkel, flippers, food, and drink. Each resort will also rent you snorkel gear.
5. Take a submarine to see the fish.
The Atlantis submarine company offers deep-sea trips off Oahu, Maui, and The Big Island to see underwater coral and fish. We took the trip off Kona on The Big Island. The trip amounted to a one-hour submersion at depths up to 110 feet. The submarine trip was spectacular, partly because Atlantis sent divers down to chum the fish, which appeared in huge numbers. Divers drew the fish right across our individual portholes.
6. Trek into a volcano.
Haleakala National Park on Maui and Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island would be the two choices. We drove up to Haleakala, a dramatic ride in itself, up 22 miles of twisting road. At the top you peer into the multi-colored caldera. Trails from the top lead out onto the cinder far reaches, with camping and cabins in the distance. However, be careful not to overestimate your hiking ability because you’re at 10,000 feet at the summit.
7. Eat at a luau.
Polynesian entertainment, from hula girls to male fire dancers, will interest teens at a luau. To see the whole pig brought out of the pit can also be high drama. We enjoyed the drums at a Luau on Maui. Hawaii also offers some other culinary adventures a teen will find intriguing, such as a Japanese-style dinner.
8. Swim with the dolphins.
This is a special experience, available at the Hilton Waikoloa on the Big Island. You don’t have to be registered at the hotel to partake of the experience. There are separate programs for young children, teens, and adults. Reservations can be made in advance. In this educational and environmental setting, you are in the water with the dolphins for about 30 minutes, first getting acquainted with them, touching them, and then swimming around with them, all the while learning how saving the dolphins can be a metaphor for saving the planet. The organizers can also make a video of the teen doing the encounter.
9. Meditate on a heiau.
Teens with a spiritual and cultural interest may enjoy the sacred religious sites of the Hawaiians, called heiau. A good book on this is Van James’ Ancient Sites of Oahu. With the book, a family can make a trip around Oahu, looking at the sites, starting right in Waikiki with the Wizard Stones in the main beach area. Other accessible heiau are at the City of Refuge site on the Big Island, which is the best overall introduction to a heiau, or the small King Kamehameha heiau in Kona.
10. Meet other teens.
Teens can accomplish this on their own on the beach at Waikiki. However, at the major destination resorts on outlying islands, inquire if the property has a teen program.
Hawaii is an excellent teen destination, partly because it has the ocean environment and such a large range of active sports of interest to teenagers. Add to this the ancient culture of Hawaii, which is also absorbing.
For parents, the relative safety of Hawaii is also appealing. You know your children won’t encounter any toxic plants, bugs, or reptiles in this unusually-benign tropical paradise. You also can be relatively certain that they won’t get sick from drinking the water, as can happen in Mexico and other tropical settings.
Hawaii With Teenagers: If You Go
For further information, contact the Hawaii Visitors Bureau at http://www.gohawaii.com/.
Copyright © 2014 Lee Foster, Foster Travel Publishing. All rights reserved.
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