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; 808/329-0770), and in the New Industrial Area, 73-4976 Kamanu St. (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 (listed below) and/or minimum and maximum weights; read the fine print carefully before booking. Prices reflect online booking discounts.
The Australian eucalyptus and native kukui trees on Kohala Zipline’s Canopy Tour (www.kohalazipline.com; 800/464-1993 or 808/331-3620) might not provide the most colorful panoramas, but this nine-line adventure ($178 adults, $154 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 up to 16 times daily.
For a very special splurge, take the outfitter’s 8-hour Kohala Zip & Dip, 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 ($264 adults, $236 for ages 8–12, with lunch) 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).
Hilo & the Hamakua Coast
A few miles north of Hilo, KapohoKine Adventures (https://kapohokine.com; 808/964-1000) has 2 miles of dual (side-by-side) ziplines, eight in all, soaring over rainforest, waterfalls, and farmland on its Zipline Through Paradise tour ($189 adults, $169 ages 5 to 11, walk-along $49); the Zip ‘n Swim version pairs zipping with a swim in a waterfall and deli lunch ($238). Other options include transport from Kona, barbecue, helicopter ride, and/or a guided tour of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. For an unrivaled emphasis on Hawaiian culture, ask about the Nohona Hawaii Tour ($299 adults, $289 children), which combines zipping with a workshop in traditional herbal medicine, crafts, and legends. Tours depart from KapohoKine’s store at the Grand Naniloa Hotel, 93 Banyan Dr., Hilo.
The name is misleading, but the thrills are real on the Skyline Akaka Falls Adventure (www.zipline.com/bigisland; 888/864-6947), which actually zips past the nearly 250-foot-tall Kolekole Falls, downstream from more famous Akaka Falls in Honomu, 12 miles north of Hilo. The seven-line course builds in length and speed, while the well-informed guides share insights on 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 (ages 10 and older); a 5-hour Zip n’ Dip tour adds time at a waterfall swimming hole ($220).
The Umauma Falls Zipline Tour (www.ziplinehawaii.com; 808/930-9477) lives up to its name, where you see the captivating, three-tiered falls (p. ###) and 13 other smaller cascades as you zip along its 2-mile, 9-line course ($189 ages 4 and older) in Hakalau, about 16 miles north of Hilo. The Zip & Dip option ($239 ages 4 and older) includes an hour of kayaking and swimming under a waterfall, next to the region’s only known petroglyph. For a quicker thrill, try the three-person giant swing ($20, ages 4 and older), which soars 150 feet over the falls. The new Umauma Waterfall Rappel and River Experience skips the zips but combines rappelling down two waterfalls, hiking, and swimming ($285, ages 8 and older).
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.