A fun way to experience the Big Island's rugged coastline and wild ranch lands is through an off-road adventure—a real backcountry experience. At higher elevations, the weather gets nippy and rainy, but views can be awesome. Protective gear is provided, and everyone gets a mini driving lesson. Generally, you must be 16 or older to ride your own ATV; some outfitters allow children seven and older as passengers.
ATV Outfitters Hawaii. These trips take in the scenic beauty of the rugged North Kohala Coast, traveling along coastal cliffs and into the forest in search of waterfalls. ATV Outfitters also offers double-seater ATVs for parents traveling with children or adults who don't feel comfortable operating their own vehicle. 51-324 Lighthouse Rd., Kapaau, HI, 96755. 808/889–6000 or 888/288–7288. www.atvoutfittershawaii.com.
Waipio Ride the Rim. A fabulous way to experience the extraordinary beauty atop lush Waipio Valley, the tour is led by fun and knowledgeable guides along private trails to the headwaters of the twin Hiilawe Falls, Hawaii's highest single-fall waterfall. You'll stop for a snack and swim in a ginger-laden grotto with a refreshing waterfall (disclaimer: it's freezing cold!) and travel to a series of lookouts—at times crossing the still-active Hamakua Ditch—where you can observe the Valley's enchanting black-sand beach (the longest in the state) from all angles. Bring a bathing suit and be prepared to get wet and muddy. Beginners are welcome. It's teen-tastically fun. (To drive your own ATV, you must be 16 or over.) Prices start at $179, or take the guided buggy tour if you're not up to driving. Waipio Valley Artworks Bldg., 48-5416 Kukuihaele Rd., Kukuihaele, HI, 96727. 808/775–1450 or 877/775–1450. www.ridetherim.com.