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Aloha, Accessible Hawaii!

Lindsay Nott swapped a chilly Australian winter for a brilliant Hawaiian summer - and told us all about it!

Who wants to trade the Australian winter for a Hawaiian summer? Sign me up!

I was looking forward to escaping our winter for a couple of weeks of nice warm weather, sipping Pina Coladas while looking out at the idyllic waters of Waikiki, Honolulu, O’ahu Hawaii.

As a super-organised traveller, I researched all of the accessible hotels, airport transfers, car hire, cruises, and attractions for months before I boarded the plane to take me to my tropical island getaway. The only thing that slipped past me was taking a stock of Aussie sunscreen – the American stuff does not hold up. That’s my first hot tip!

Here are my four favourite accessible activities to try if you’re visiting Hawaii.

1. Helicopter ride

I was thrilled to learn that Blue Hawaii (of Jurassic Park fame) has a mechanised seat for transfer. My travel buddy and I sat in the back row next to the window, which is the best position for mesmerising views of the island as the helicopter circles above.

I highly recommend an around-the-island flight!

Lindsay Nott with a travel companion sitting in a Blue Hawaii helicopter, with the mechanised transfer seat next to them
A helicopter ride is an amazing way to see Hawaii. Credit: Lindsay Nott

2. Relaxing by the hotel pool

Before my trip to Hawaii, I hadn’t been in a pool for about 25 years. I was thrilled when Outrigger Waikiki hotel told me they had an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant pool.

I consulted with my exercise physiologist and my travel buddy, and worked on an exercise routine leading up to the trip, so I could make the most of it.

The pool hoist at Outrigger Waikiki is bolted to the side of the pool, and you use a remote to lower yourself into the warm, salty water. I was nervous, but once I got comfortable there was no drama at all.

I had an awesome view overlooking the ocean, and I celebrated the moment with a Pina Colada poolside.

As I have an incomplete injury, with altered sensation throughout my body, it was fantastic to try something new and to be able to feel the water over my body. The Outrigger Waikiki – with their pool hoist, helpful staff, a slide board, and my new floaty device – made it possible.

Lindsay Nott in the hotel pool using a pool hoist
A pool hoist allowed Lindsay to make the most of his Hawaiian holiday. Credit: Lindsay Nott

3. Take a dip in the ocean

One (lucky) day at my hotel, I was waiting for an elevator when I struck up a conversation with a couple of friendly Scottish guys. A few days later, they were helping me and my travel buddy transfer me into a beach wheelchair for my first beach experience in over 25 years!

It was a huge effort getting the beach wheelchair across the soft sand and into the water, but teamwork made it work. It was glorious, feeling the waves roll in and getting drenched in the salty sea water.

It was a wonderful afternoon, one we were lucky enough to share and enjoy together. We all celebrated with cocktails and beers at the end of the day, watching a beautiful beach sunset.

Lindsay Nott in a beach wheelchair on the sand of a busy Hawaiian beach
With a beach wheelchair and muscle power, Lindsay had a fantastic beach day in Hawaii. Credit: Lindsay Nott

4. Hire a van

Hiring an accessible van gave me the opportunity to visit some world-renowned locations and have once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

I got to see the Kualoa Ranch (which you might recognise from movies like Jurassic Park and 50 First Dates), visit the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens, enjoy a sunset dinner from local food trucks, and drive along the Waimea Bay Beach with the Beach Boys playing on the stereo.

You can easily drive around the whole island in a day. Even if you don’t choose to hire a van, there are plenty of other accessible transport options – including buses – that will take you to locations like Pearl Harbour and Diamond Head.

Lindsay Nott seated in his wheelchair in an accessible hire van with the doors open
An accessible hire van makes getting around Hawaii a breeze! Credit: Lindsay Nott

Find out more about Lindsay’s adventures around the world on his website, and follow along on Instagram.

This story first appeared in Travel Without Limits. You can subscribe to the magazine here.

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