Category Archives: Beach and Ocean

31 Days of Life in my Hawaii Day 29:: Beach and ocean: Paddleboard

Obviously we love our time at the beach and in the ocean for recreational reasons. And there are always going to be those who want to do such activities competitively.

A couple guys in my family fit this description. Our boy, for example, is not only an avid surfer — surfs every single day he has off from work — but also likes to compete in surf contests.

The Coach doesn’t surf in contests anymore, but he does surf for fun as often as he can. He has a regular surf date with his best friend every Sunday afternoon. A few years ago, he started to “cross train” on a paddleboard in order to stay in condition for surfing.

To clarify: I’m not talking about what people on the mainland call a “paddleboard” — the real name for which is a SUP, or stand-up paddle, board. The difference is pretty straightforward: on one you’re standing up, on the other you’re kneeling or lying down, what they call prone.

A prone paddleboard looks somewhat like a surfboard, and you lie on it on your stomach and paddle with your arms like a surfboard, but the similarities kind of end there. For one thing, the board is anywhere from 9 to 15 feet long, much longer than a surfboard. Also, the bottom of the board is rounded like the hull of a canoe, rather than flat like a surfboard. This makes it more hydrodynamic, which is what you want as you’re trying to propel yourself across a stretch of water with only your, you know, arms.

Anyway, when our boy came home from the mainland after college, The Coach talked him into doing the paddleboard cross training thing, to help him improve his surfing. The next thing you know, our boy was entering races and had designs on doing the biggest paddleboard race of them all: the Molokai to Oahu Paddleboard World Championships.

So that’s how, in late July, I came to be sitting — for six-plus hours — in an escort boat in the Kaiwi Channel between the islands of Molokai and Oahu, watching my husband and son paddle a board, in a relay format, for 32 miles.

It just occurred to me: this probably qualifies as an extreme sport. Because the best way I can think to describe it is … grueling. Took a year or two off my life just following along in the boat, helping them stay hydrated, and timing their 20-minute turns on the board.

It’s hard to imagine anything harder, but I guess they must have had fun.

Because our boy says he wants to do it again next year.

Which means I’ll need to decide if I want to sacrifice another year or two of my life in the escort boat.

This is the twenty-ninth post in my series, 31 Days of Life in my Hawaii. Click here to get the links to the other posts in the series.

31 Days of Life in my Hawaii Day 22:: Beach and ocean: Canoe surfing

I have a friend, a lifeguard for the City and County of Honolulu, who tells me that something like 95 percent of visitors to Hawaii come here with the intention of participating in some sort of beach- or ocean-related activity.

Now, obviously not everyone is going to have the skills and/or confidence to do something like scuba diving or parasailing or even learning how to surf. But what many visitors — particularly those to the world’s most famous beach, Waikiki — can do, with the help of an authentic, experienced Waikiki beach boy, is canoe surfing.

Doesn’t this look like fun?
photo credit:

Here’s how one of the top beach concessions describes this thrilling activity:

The outrigger canoe ride of today was derived from the original sport that was beloved by the elite of old Hawaii – outrigger canoe surfing. Outrigger canoe surfing is a sport that is unique to Hawaii, and, more specifically, to Waikiki. In old Hawaii, Waikiki was the playground of the elite, and outrigger canoe surfing was a privilege reserved solely for the aliʻi, or Hawaiian royalty. To this day, Waikiki Beach is still the only place in the world where you can experience the thrill of racing down a wave on an outrigger canoe.

The outrigger canoe is one of the safest ocean vessels today. It is the only vessel that does not require life jackets by the US Coast Guard, making it the perfect activity for the whole family. Anyone can participate in this “royal” activity and experience the thrill of surfing from the safety of our outrigger canoe.

I happen to have a particular fondness for this sport, because it is what The Coach and I did on our first date.

Having paddled outrigger canoes since he was a kid, he is a skilled steersman who is a master of catching and riding Waikiki’s waves. So that first time we went out together in a canoe and did a little surfing, I had a blast. Nearly 30 years later, it’s still one of the things we love to do together.

The Coach taking some young ladies out for their first canoe ride

This is the twenty-second post in my series, 31 Days of Life in my Hawaii. Click here to get the links to the other posts in the series.

31 Days of Life in my Hawaii Day 15:: Beach and ocean: Surfing

You knew I was going to do a post about surfing this month, didn’t you?

Surfing, of course was not only invented in Hawaii, it’s Hawaii’s signature sport.

Even so, you’d be surprised how many people here have never even been on a surfboard, much less take it up as a hobby.

That doesn’t apply to our family, however. We’re what you’d call a multi-generational surfing family.

Last week when I said that hanging out on the beach is the best stress reliever there is, I was talking about myself. My husband, his dad, and our boy would argue that case for surfing.

All three of them began surfing at a young age, which is how most surfers get their start. As soon as you can swim — and sometimes before, if your dad puts you on his board with him — you get out on your board in the little shorebreak surf. What we call ankle snappers.

Eventually you gain more skills and graduate to bigger and more challenging waves. But real surfers will tell you: it’s not about how big the wave is, and they’re right. You can have fun in any size waves.

It’s not real hard to learn, but it might take years to get really good at it. I picked it up when I was around 14 or so, but I’ve never gotten better than so-so at it.

Still, the ones who surf for fun (that is to say, most surfers) would argue that that’s not the point. What it’s really about is being out in the ocean — some would say one with the ocean — enjoying the beauty of God’s creation while playing on the waves. It can be — and often is — therapeutic and exhilarating at the same time.

This is the fifteenth post in my series, 31 Days of Life in my Hawaii. Click here to get the links to the other posts in the series.

31 Days of Life in my Hawaii Day 8:: Beach and ocean: Hanging out

So since today is sort of, but not really a holiday, what might we be doing today?

Many opportunities present themselves, but going to the beach will always top the list.

And there’s a potentially endless list of activities that one can engage in on and near our island beaches: fishing, tidepooling, surfing, body surfing, body boarding, snorkeling — I’ll just stop there, because, as I said: potentially endless.

One of the things I like to do most at the beach is … just hang out. I guess I don’t feel like I need a specific reason — one of the things from the above list — that is my purpose for packing up a bunch of gear, heading out to the beach, and then doing something when I get there.

Maybe it’s because, when I was a kid, the carpool moms would pick us up after school, drive us to the beach, drop us off and come back for us a few hours later. And there we mostly just, you know, hung out. I’m not kidding. Of course nobody does that anymore, just leave their children alone at the beach without adult supervision.

In middle school and high school, we rode our bikes or the bus to the beach, or caught a ride with a pal who had a license and wheels. The Coach tells about how when he first got his license, all his buddies hit him up for rides to the beach; they paid him back by giving him gas money and buying him Dunkin’ Donuts on the way home. So that worked out good for all concerned.

And then when you get to be a grown-up, going to the beach to just hang out is a great way to decompress on your day off. Just sitting there, watching the waves, going for a dip when you get too warm, maybe having a picnic lunch — best stress reliever there is.

When the kids come along, you introduce them to the practice. When they’re tiny you can put them down for a nap in the shade:

Hanging out at the beach with my seven-week-old baby, and my friend Barbara

Then when they get a little older, the beach is their playground. They don’t do a lot of hanging out, but they’ll come in for a cold drink between boogie board rides:

Maybe they’ll even take your picture:

In my experience, women are better than men at hanging out at the beach. Or rather, they enjoy it more. Men are much worse at doing “nothing,” and would generally rather be be out in the water than just sitting next to it:

The Coach, humoring me. Just sitting at the beach is not his favorite thing.

Me? I could do it for hours. Wait a sec while I go grab my suit; it’s a perfect day to hang out at the beach.

This is the eighth post in my series, 31 Days of Life in my Hawaii. Click here to get the links to the other posts in the series.