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The Best Ways to Enjoy Hawaii While in a Wheelchair
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The Best Ways to Enjoy Hawaii While in a Wheelchair

Hawaii is one of those places people immediately think of when the word “vacation” comes to mind. Hawaii is a stunning string of Polynesian islands offering one of the most vibrant and colorful backdrops in the United States. With its volcanic-glass-filled beaches, crystal clear water, gorgeous rainforest-like nature, and a beautiful indigenous culture dating back thousands of years, this tropical getaway is one of a kind.

The best thing is, Hawaii’s islands are more accessible than most people think. There are plenty of wheelchair-friendly things to do and ways to get around including many accessible rental vans. Don’t believe it? Keep reading to see all the accessible activities available in the Hawaiian islands, and more specifically, the island of Oahu.


You can’t visit a tropical island without visiting a beach. In Hawaii, there are quite a few beaches that offer ADA amenities on Oahu, also known as the Big Island. In comparison to other parts of the world, this is pretty much unheard of.

The beaches you’ll want to visit on the Big Island are Hawi, Spencer, Hapuna Beach, Kua Bay Beach, Kaloko National Park, Pine Trees, Konokahua, Old Airport Park, King Kamehameha, Honls, Magic Sounds, and Kahalu’u. There are even some beaches that offer all-terrain wheelchairs.

Pearl Harbor Historic Site (USS Arizona), Honolulu

This marks the place of the infamous Pearl Harbor attack that occurred on December 7, 1941, and claimed the lives of 1,177 people who served the military. Every year, over 1.5 million people visit the memorial to pay their respects. The site itself provides an experience that can’t be found anywhere else.

Here, visitors can watch a documentary regarding the attack, hear about Pearl Harbor from a park ranger or a survivor, or check out the museum. After touring the site, you will be able to access the memorial through the Navy shuttle boat. All of the features in and around the historic site are wheelchair accessible.

Polynesian Cultural Center

You’re in Hawaii, for crying out loud! One of the reasons why it’s so beautiful is because of the culture of the indigenous people. That being said, the Polynesian Cultural Center is the top Polynesian cultural hub where you can go and learn a thing or two about Hawaiian (and Polynesian) cultures. They offer a variety of different workshops from learning the Maori Haka and Ori Tahiti to learning how to drum, throw fishnets, and paddle a canoe.

There’s something for everyone. The Polynesian Cultural Center also offers a festive luau, where you can enjoy the scrumptious flavors of Polynesia while relaxing and catching a floor show. The pure artistry that is shared from these colorful South Pacific Island cultures is something that you definitely don’t want to miss, as you won’t be able to see it anywhere else in the states.

Body Glove Excursions

Between December and April, Hawaii expects over 8,000 humpback whales to visit the islands to breed. This is the perfect time to go on a whale watching excursion; the increased whale activity nearly guarantees a sighting. While you’re scanning the water for those unmistakable fins, marine life naturalists give talks, sharing their knowledge of these incredible animals and the amazing Hawaiian backdrop with tourists.

You can also book a Historical Dinner Cruise, where you will be taken on a three-hour tour of Kealakekua Bay and Captain Cook’s monument. Following the tour, you’ll be able to enjoy refreshments and, in true Aloha spirit, live entertainment.

Kona Boys Kayaks

Want a closer look at the marine life in Hawaii? Check out Kona Boys Kayaks. You’ll be able to paddle through the dolphin and turtle habitats at Kamakahonu Bay. Here, you’ll be accompanied by certified guides, where you’ll learn a bit about the bay and its cultural significance to Hawaiian culture.

If you’re lucky, you might see a dolphin or even a humpback whale (if the season’s right.) This offers a unique experience for you to get close and personal with the surrounding environment and it’s perfect for anybody who loves the open water and great outdoors.

Big Island Air Tours

For a literal bird’s eye view of the island, try booking a tour with Hawaii’s oldest air tour company that’s been around for 30 years! This is a great alternative if you aren’t too keen on spending time driving everywhere, or if you want to see everything and all at once.

Go for a ride over Hawaii’s stunning beaches, forests, and volcanoes. Big Island Air Tours offer a few options in terms of touring packages. Circle the island or fly into the sunset. Either way, you’ll be receiving an unforgettable experience with this touring company.

Your time spent on any one of these amazing and picturesque islands is sure to leave you with memories to last a lifetime. There is no need to worry about accessibility as almost all of the islands offer ample wheelchair-friendly activities and amenities. So use this article as a starting point for one of the most amazing vacations of your life.

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  2. Keliko808
    Aloha! Oahu and the Big Island are not the same place. The Big Island, or the island of Hawaii, is where I live. The Big Island is where all those great beaches are, but Kua Bay Beach, Pine Trees and Honls are not wheelchair accessible. You have to be very mobile to go to those. Body Glove has amazing cruises and is completely wheelchair accessible on the lower deck. For Kona Boys Kayaks, you must be fairly mobile in that you have to be able to physically lift yourself into and out of the kayak without help from the guides. Oahu is the island where Honolulu, Waikiki, Polynesian Cultural Center and Pearl Harbor are. Oahu is the "big city" island, and is the most accessible for wheelchair users in terms of ramps, paved areas, and wheelchair friendly buses.
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