I like to try new things. But that wasn’t always the case. I once thought I knew my limits and was happy to stay within those safe parameters. Then, years ago, I found myself boarding a glider at Dillingham Airfield on O‘ahu and thinking, I can’t believe I’m doing this!
But I did: I soared 2,500 feet above the ground in a sleek blue-and-white aircraft named Sky Surfer, which was most notable for what it didn’t have—an engine. Of course, I was scared at first. How can a plane fly without an engine? It’s actually quite simple, I learned: with skilled pilots who know how to navigate updrafts.
Ten minutes into my hour-long flight, my anxiety gave way to awe. I watched in Super Techniscope as the world unfolded before me: beaches, bays, the brilliant blue of sea and sky, windsurfers skimming whitecaps, the craggy Wai‘anae Mountain Range, and the towns of Waialua and Hale‘iwa. This is what soaring like a bird is like, I realized. Smooth, quiet, graceful, free.
That ride remains one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Since then, I’ve zip lined, parasailed, spelunked, drifted in a hot air balloon, navigated an ATV over rocks and ruts, and ridden a mule 3 miles and 1,700 feet down a narrow, serpentine path to Moloka‘i’s isolated community of Kalaupapa.
Those activities broadened my boundaries and whetted my appetite for more adventures in the great outdoors. Here are three awe-inspiring diversions—and a look at the thrill-makers offering them—that could do the same for you.