Hawaii's got its own beach boys

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin 11/17/01)
By Ray Pendleton

By most reports, the Waikiki Hotel Association's dining-on-the-beach events have been quite successful in attracting our local population back into Waikiki.

So much so, in fact, it occurs to me that efforts should also be made to remind O`ahu's residents of the unique ocean recreation available to them along Hawaii's most famous beach.

From the Hilton Hawaiian Village to the Kapahulu Groin, there are numerous beachboy services offering a variety of activities many people living here may have forgotten about or never experienced.

A few years ago, I interviewed about 40 fifth-graders from a school in upper Kalihi. They were on a whale watching field trip aboard a cruise boat out of Kewalo Basin.

When I asked how many of them had ever been offshore on a boat, I was a bit surprised when only a couple of hands were raised. But when one of their 30-something teachers admitted she had never been offshore either, I was stunned.

How could anyone live for decades on an island the size of O`ahu, I thought, and not have the opportunity to gaze at it from an offshore perspective even once?

It's apparent that too often much of our kamaaina population considers Hawaii's various tourist attractions for visitors only, when they could be availing themselves of many exciting, enjoyable and inexpensive activities.

For instance, for around $12, there are a half-dozen catamarans along the beach that will take you out for an hour sail across the reefs and beyond. The view is spectacular and your only responsibility is to kick back and enjoy the ride.

For between seven and ten bucks beachboys will put you into a seat of a six-man outrigger canoe with a paddle in your hands. Within minutes you'll be experiencing the exhilarating rush of being propelled back to the beach on the face of a wave, and then you'll paddle out to do it again.

After surfing in a canoe, perhaps you'll want to try the real thing - board surfing. With a little help from the beachboys, you can quickly learn how.

Most only charge around $30 to $40 for lessons, and there can't be an easier break in the world than Waikiki's winter surf to learn on.

Because the waters along Fort De Russy and the Hilton Hawaiian Village are more protected by reefs, many of the activities offered there don't involve the surf.

For between $10 and $30 per hour, you can rent one- and two-man kayaks, four-place pedal-powered boats and two-place tricycles.

These "aquacycles" have huge plastic wheels for floatation and like all of these vessels, can be used for coastal cruising or as platforms for snorkeling around the reefs.

If you have always wanted to give sailing a try, the beachboys at the Hilton have stable, unsinkable, 15-foot trimarans for $55 an hour.

These little babies are easy to learn to sail and within a few minutes you can be speeding across the lagoon like a pro.

So hit the beach Hawai`i.

Shop around for the best price and don't forget to tell them you're a kamaaina.

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