All too often Hawaii’s visitors as well as some of its residents view ocean recreation around the island of Oahu as suited for the experienced only. And considering our famous 40-foot winter waves on the North Shore and the nearly constant 15- to 20-knot trade winds offshore, it is often sound reasoning.
There are, however, a number of opportunities available for even the least experienced among us to venture out on Oahu’s surrounding warm, clear ocean, bays and lagoons.
From Waikiki’s famous statue of the legendary Duke Kahanamoku on Kuhio Beach, to the totally renovated Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Village, there are numerous “beach boy” services that offer an exciting variety of water activities.
Arguably the most popular are the colorful catamarans that take passengers directly off the beach for an hour sail across the reefs and beyond. The view is spectacular, especially at sunset, and all that is required of passengers is to kick back and relax. The available beer and mai tais are optional.
Another option for boating off the beach, although requiring more physical participation, are the outrigger canoes. With beach boys steering, the passengers provide the power to paddle offshore and then experience the exhilaration of catching the crest of a wave and being propelled a 100 yards or more back to land. No beer or mai tais offered, but the adrenalin rush is free.
For those even more adventurous, Waikiki’s beach boys can help nearly anyone who can swim, to learn to surf. Plus, thanks to the benign nature of Waikiki’s wave-sets most of the year, there can’t be an easier place to learn.
Still, there are those who prefer their ocean activities more relaxing and the Fort DeRussy and Hilton-end of Waikiki Beach is where they will find it. The surrounding coral reefs protect both beaches from all but the largest waves and the Hilton has its own fully enclosed saltwater lagoon that is open to the public. The lagoon’s water is replaced several times a day from underground wells to maintain its purity.
One- and two-person kayaks can be rented for these placid waters, along with pedal-powered tricycles fitted with huge plastic wheels, called “aqua-cycles.” And, as stand-up paddleboards have become one of Oahu’s most popular ocean activities, they are also available at numerous locations by the hour or the day.
So it’s clear, whether one is visiting for a week or has lived here for years, with Oahu’s wide array of ocean activities available, taking part is just a matter of choosing which one to do first.