Wikiwiki To Waikiki

Surfboard ForestHealing StonesThe Fabulous StellaWhat a view!

Aloha from Oahu!
Copyright: Elle Druskin 2011
This is a special entry because I am writing it live almost as it happens since I am here in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. I’ve been here before but I still love coming to Hawaii. There are so many beaches, you could write a book just about Oahu, never mind the other islands but I am just back from Hyatt Beach which is part of Waikiki where I took a surfing lesson and YES!!! I finally managed to stand up and more than one time. Okay, wiped out in about one second but I DID IT! So this entry is going to be about Hyatt Beach the great time I had with my instructor Stella as well as bit more about that beach.

Okay, so you’ve landed in Honolulu. Chances are, you will be staying on or near the beach, and the beach is never far away from anything on Oahu—it’s an island, after all. It’s getting to be that time of year where the bigger swells of surf are coming in to the North Shore and in another month or so, the big waves will be coming which attracts the pro-surfers and their big money competitions. It also means the waves are getting smaller in Waikiki which is the other end of the island. The weather is great, in the 70’s to 80’s, so it isn’t hot and really comfortable with the breeze from the trade winds. The water temperature is also comfortable and you don’t have to wade in tentatively afraid of a shocking cold temperature.

Hyatt Beach is on Kalakua Avenue, between Kaiulani and Uluniu Avenue. You can’t miss it because the Waikiki Police station is on the beach entrance. For a police station, it looks nice with little waterfall and water pools around the building.

As you walk onto the beach you will see an enclosure with several large stones. These are healing stones, sacred in Polynesian culture and you will see local people leaving leis on the fence surrounding the stones. Just step onto the beach which is beautiful. It’s clean, there are racks of surfboards for hire, almost like a forest of them, paddle surfboards, outrigger canoes and sailboats. The beach concession here is StarBeachBoys. You can rent a lounge chair for $5.00 an hour and add an umbrella for another $5.00. I recommend taking both, especially if you intend to spend time in the water because you will get plenty of sun. If you are going to take a surf lesson or try other water sports and rent your equipment from StarBeachBoys, you can leave your beach bag with them which is definitely recommended—I would not leave money or a credit card just sitting around on the beach and expect to find them when you get back. You might get lucky but why take that chance and spoil your day? Just because the police station is conveniently on the beach doesn’t mean you want to pay them a visit.

The view is spectacular here. On your left is Diamond Head and just a short distance down the beach are the other hotels, especially the famous pink one. I didn’t find the beach overcrowded but that might vary on different days and time of year. It’s just about that time when people seeking an escape from the cold (Yes, it’s snowing in the Northeast of the US and very early in the year for snow) are starting to arrive.

I have been trying to learn to surf this summer and not getting very far in Israel despite determination. I figured this is the place to learn, after all, this is where surfing was born, so I trotted right over to StarBeachboys, told them my problem and they said, “Don’t worry. You’re going to stand up today. Keep your head up and you’re going to get it.” Sure. But then again, I’m an optimist. I took a lesson with Stella who is a native Hawaiian and started surfing as a kid. She is my age, which is not exactly young and she told me, “Girl, you’re going to stand up today, I guarantee it.” Sounded good to me. For starters, being tall, she chose a longer board for me so I would feel more balanced and I did. It helped enormously. The waves are also longer so it gives that bit of extra time to get upright. There were loads of people surfing and I kind of watched in awe as people of all ages were gliding on the waves and thinking, I want to be like that.

Well, Stella was right! She kept giving me little hints, or different ways of trying—keep your head up, don’t look down, look straight ahead, start on your knees if you have to even though you are not supposed to do that, anything to get you up and we correct it later. What was the result? YES I DID IT. And more than once. Okay, I fell off after about one second each time, but at least I was up and I am sure next time I will get up more times, and maybe be able to stay up longer. This was so thrilling and cool, I have no words. I did scrape my toes on some rock, probably coral, and one toe looks like it’s bent out of shape, so not going out again until that heals but I am definitely getting out there again. StarBeachBoys also takes photos of you surfing so you can see yourself afterwards. (Maybe you don’t want to see what you looked like!). If you have never tried surfing, I can really recommend it and especially if you are here in Hawaii, I was really happy with Stella. She laughs, she gives you confidence, she makes you feel you can do anything. You can choose to do a group lesson or semi-private, but I felt for me today at least, the private lesson was the way to go and I am really happy with the results.

Once you are finished with your surfing or paddling or outrigger boating, if you are hungry, there is a stand on the beach with soft drinks, smoothies, burgers, sandwiches, and the typical Hawaiian plate lunch (usually something like a burger and fried eggs always served with rice and macaroni salad) and of course, shave ice. You will be hungry and thirsty after an hour of water sports so bring some extra money to feed and hydrate yourself. You can always walk down the block and find something else if you really want, just mentioning that there is a place right on the beach. Afterwards would be a good time to rent that chair and umbrella and kick back and relax. I take my Kindle everywhere and saw lots of people with the same idea.

While I was having a drink, I got to chatting with a woman who is a local. Turns out she has lived here for 38 years and after about an hour she handed me a card with her email with the offer to help me out with anything I might want or need which I thought was a very nice thing to do.

I can say I was so tired, I couldn’t believe it. Dragged back to my hotel thinking I would sit at the pool for a while but fell asleep and then spent a short time with a nice Aussie lady I had met earlier who is over here to try some surfing too. She’s starting a surf camp on another beach tomorrow—4 hours a day. I couldn’t handle that, but I might go along and have a look.

I am going to haul my tired but exhilarated body off to bed. Mahalo (that’s thank you in Hawaiian) for joining me on the blog and Aloha until the next entry.