hike to Kaena Point offers miles of walking along
ó For someone approaching 60 years old, Joey Carroll is
quite at home with the word "bro." And as a
bronzed and lean Carroll led me through a Wednesday
morning surf lesson on the waves off Waikiki, the word was
welcome encouragement for a first-timer.
got that one, bro!" Carroll said as we paddled our
boards back through the salty surf, moments after I had
ridden my first wave on two steady feet. "Great
a week in Oahu, I chased three kinds of Hawaiian adventure
ó one on the water, one under the water and one by foot.
youíve never ridden a wave, surfing looks like a pursuit
that requires plenty of discussion, instruction and
theory. Not so much. The beach portion of my lesson with
Carroll lasted five minutes.
Waikiki beach below an endless line of hotels, the former
surfing champ explained how to mount the board (at the
back-middle, belly first), how to pop onto my knees (one
swift, confident motion) and then how to lift and position
myself (feet a couple of feet apart on opposite sides of
the board). And then we went to the water.
led the way as we paddled into the ocean until we were
several hundred yards off the shore, with the waves gently
rolling below us (the smaller waves are a good reason to
learn at Waikiki rather than the fabled North Shore, where
the surf can reach epic sizes).
is called "The Wave Whisperer" for a reason; he
spots the surf worth grabbing 15 or 20 seconds before it
arrives (and finding those waves, I would learn, is harder
than riding them). With Carrollís guidance, I rode the
first one on my belly. Fun. Then I rode one on my knees.
Also fun. For the third one, Carroll said to ride it
however I wanted and to try standing when I was
the wave swelled beneath me, and my surf board rose in the
foam, I popped up as I had been instructed on land ó and
I rode it! It was a magnificent feeling: snow skiing meets
skateboarding meets flying. I was riding the ocean.
the wave ran out of energy and I toppled into the ocean, I
paddled back to Carroll and asked the key to becoming a
he said. "Waiting to be in the right place at the
the next 90 minutes, I discovered other necessary
attributes. Balance. Relaxation. And letting the body do
more work than the mind. Eventually I even figured out how
to steer the board by shifting my weight (one reason it
helps to have skied).
began giving me thumbs up as I rode with them. But the
most gratifying compliment came back on the beach, when I
was salt-drenched and exhilarated and dreaming of my next
bro," Carroll said.
information: There are many quality options for surf
lessons in Waikiki; I opted for Ty Gurney Surf School. (tygurneysurfschool.com,
808-271-9557). Private one-hour lessons cost $110 plus
tax, and two-hour lessons cost $165, plus tax.
on the ocean floor
freaking out already," said a Rhode Island woman as
the boat headed into the Pacific Ocean one windy morning.
didnít know how to swim. But even for someone who does,
itís hard not to be a little intimidated by the concept
of the underwater scooter, which is exactly what its name
implies ó a scooter that putters across the ocean floor.
psych yourself out," our guide said. "Breathe
like you are right now, and everything will be all
only do you not need to know how to swim to operate an
underwater scooter, you barely need to know how to drive a
simple: Climb from the boat into the water, where a worker
waits with one of the bright yellow scooters. Hold your
breath, dunk your head and pop up in an astronaut helmet,
of sorts, thatís attached to the scooter. Oxygen is
pumped into that helmet; no mask required.
the scooter descends about 15 feet to the ocean floor.
down is an odd sensation: The ears pop, oxygen hisses, and
you try to convince yourself that you are safe. But after
a couple of minutes, your thoughts shift to steering where
you wish to go.
truth, the scooter is less about underwater exploration
ó I probably didnít leave a 50-foot radius ó and
more about breathing underwater while surrounded by fish.
The scooterís mesh bag, stuffed with bread, helps ensure
a good crowd.
the most rewarding moments werenít communing with the
fish. They were looking up at the surface, no tubes
attached to my face, with one simple thought: "Iím
information: Island Water Sports (islandwatersportshawaii.com,
808-224-0076) is the only place to rent an underwater
scooter on Oahu. Cost is $99 for a 20-minute ride.
stayed in the tourist crush of Waikiki, which meant I was
quite happy to find a quiet corner of the island for
exploring by foot. Several locals suggested driving an
hour north, along Oahuís west coast, to Kaena Point
is the northwest corner of the island, and it offers one
of the islandís simplest, most magnificent hikes: 2.5
miles along the rocky coast to Kaena Point, which extends
like a finger into the ocean and is accessible only by
step is rewarding, as waves churn and crash against the
rocks below. Itís an almost completely flat trail,
allowing for ample serenity in the peaceful Hawaiian
beauty before ending at a sandy point that segues into a
spent an hour on that beach, sipping water, chatting with
locals (who wondered how a tourist had figured out that
the trail existed) and saw three Hawaiian monk seals,
which I was told was a relatively rare sight.
I turned around and walked those blissful 2.5 Hawaiian
miles back, Oahuís towering green cliffs looming ahead.
information: Access to the park is free. Smash-and-grab
break-ins are not uncommon at the Kaena Point trail head (tinyurl.com/kaenapointhike),
so carry your valuables and leave your car unlocked with
nothing of value inside. The trail is exposed, so carry
plenty of water and snacks and wear a hat.