If you want to rent beach toys, like snorkel gear or boogie boards, the beach concessions at all the big resorts, as well as tour desks and dive shops, offer equipment rentals and sometimes lessons for beginners. The cheapest place to get great rental equipment is Snorkel Bob's, in the parking lot of Huggo's restaurant at 75-5831 Kahakai Rd., at Alii Drive, Kailua-Kona (www.snorkelbob.com; tel. 808/329-0770), and in the New Industrial Area, 73-4976 Kamanu St. (tel. 808/329-0771).
Ziplining gives Big Island visitors an exhilarating way to view dramatic gulches, thick forests, gushing waterfalls, and other inspiring scenery—without significantly altering the landscape. Typically, the pulley-and-harness systems have redundant safety mechanisms, with lines and gear inspected daily and multiple checks of your equipment during the tour; your biggest worry may be losing your cellphone or anything not in a zipped pocket. Most outfitters also rent GoPro video cameras that attach to your helmets, so you can relive your whizzing rides at home.
Note: For safety reasons, tours have minimum ages (4–10 years, depending on the outfitter) and minimum and maximum weights; read the fine print carefully before booking. Outfitters also go out several times a day, rain or shine, which on the Hilo side is likely to include both on any given day; dress accordingly. Most excursions last 2 to 3 hours, but the exact length of your tour will vary based on number of riders, so don’t schedule your day too tightly.
North Kohala--The Australian eucalyptus and native kukui trees on Kohala Zipline’s Canopy Tour (www.kohalazipline.com; tel. 800/464-1993 or 808/331-3620) might not provide the most colorful panoramas, but this nine-line adventure ($169 adults, $139 kids 8–12) emphasizes environmental awareness and cultural history in a compelling way—and the extra-quiet ziplines and multiple suspension bridges are a hoot, too. You’ll fly from platform to platform in a sylvan setting that includes ancient taro terraces believed to have been farmed by Kamehameha before he became king. Tours depart from the zip station on Highway 270 between Hawi and Kapaau, but shuttle service is also available from South Kohala and North Kona resorts for the 8:30am and 1pm tours; the package costs $209 for adults and $179 for children, with lunch included. For a very special splurge, take the outfitter’s 8-hour Kohala Zip & Dip ($249), which combines the Canopy Tour with Hawaii Forest & Trail’s fascinating Kohala Waterfalls Adventure , including a waterfall swim and picnic overlooking beautiful Pololu Valley. The Zip & Dip tours depart from Queens’ MarketPlace in Waikoloa Beach Resort and Hawaii Forest & Trail headquarters on Highway 19 in Kailua-Kona, 74-5035 Queen Kaahumanu Hwy. (north of Kealakehe Parkway). Tip: Book online for 10-percent discount.
Kailua-Kona--The eight-line course of Kona Eco Adventures (www.konazip.com; tel. 808/324-4111), some 4,000 feet above the Keauhou coastline, is exciting while still being suitable for beginners. Opened in 2013, the tree-to-tree course ($155) includes two suspension bridges and a good look at the livestock and wildlife on Misty Mountain Farm, a working cattle ranch. A shuttle meets participants at the Keauhou Shopping Center to deliver them to the farm, where a rugged six-wheel Pinzgauer van then ferries them to the course. Bring a light jacket, since you’re at high elevation,
The Hamakua Coast--I don’t like the misleading name, but I can’t begrudge the thrills involved on the Akaka Falls Skyline Adventure (www.ziplinehawaii.com; tel. 888/864-6947),which actually zips past the nearly 250-foot-tall Kolekole Falls, downstream from the taller and more famous Akaka Falls in Honomu, about 12 miles north of Hilo. The seven-line course builds in length and speed, while the well-informed guides share insights into local flora and fauna—including banana, taro, and wild pigs—and the area’s history as a sugar plantation. The 2 1/2- to 3-hour tour costs $170, with 10 percent off for online bookings.
The Umauma Falls Zipline Tour (www.umaumaexperience.com; tel. 808/930-9477) lives up to its name, where you see the captivating, three-tiered falls along with 13 other smaller cascades, as you zip along its nine-line course ($189) in Hakalau, about 16 miles north of Hilo. The Zip and Dip option ($239) includes an hour of kayaking and swimming under a waterfall; for a four-line option, contact the company directly.
Just down the road from Umauma Falls, Zip Isle Zip Line (www.zipisle.com; tel. 888/947-4753 or 808/963-5427) operates a seven-line course ($147) at World Botanical Gardens that’s a little easier on the legs (less climbing) and nerves, unless suspension bridges bother you. Those who still don’t want to zip can watch those who do while strolling through the tropical gardens below.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.