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Feel a million miles away -
right around the corner

Special to Kalamalama by Jillian Botnen


Living, working, and going to school in downtown Honolulu has its definite pluses. Sure it’s a bustling metropolis, but you pass by the same sea of faces every day, and every once in a while, someone will give you a nod and maybe even throw in a half-smile of recognition.

On the other hand, you could walk the same street at the same imeevery day for the rest of your life in New York City, and the hancesof someone looking at you with a glimmer of recognition are just about as likely as getting only one scoop of rice with your plate lunch—it would simply never happen.

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The friendly barista at Starbucks knows my name and makes my nonfat vanilla latte, with extra whip cream, before we have time to exchange pleasantries. And when I faithfully deposit my paycheck at the bank every two weeks, the teller greets me by my first name as I approach the counter. I consider myself blessed to live in a place that offers every convenience of a city, but still has that small town feeling to a certain degree.


Our weather is incomparable to any other American city. People who have lived here their whole lives may not appreciate the fact that they don’t have to scrape an inch of frost off of their windshields each morning. Living in Hawai‘i makes it easy to forget that there really is weather that is so bitingly cold that once you step foot outside your door, you regret it. Because once outside, your little nose hairs instantly freeze together and any miniscule shred of exposed skin is instantly accosted by what will soon be frostbite.

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But even with all of these wonderful attributes, there is still the undeniable fact that Honolulu is a city, and sometimes we all need to get away. We all get to the point where if we hear one more person’s annoying cell phone ring to Britney’s latest synthesized hit, we may just scream.

When the vein above my left temple starts to pulsate in time with the sound of the county worker’s jackhammer outside my bedroom window, then I know it is definitely time for a little R & R. Fortunately, I don’t have to leave the island to find the solace I so desperately need; there are plenty of places right here on O‘ahu where I can find peace and quiet.

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Magic Island Only five minutes from downtown lies a golden opportunity for relaxation and enjoying the island’s beauty. Why not throw a blanket in the car one morning, so you can enjoy a quiet picnic and a sunset after work or classes? After you clock out, pick up a bite to go and head over to Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park.


I love to watch the surfers paddling for their final waves of the day before the sun sinks below the horizon. In every direction, I see lovers strolling hand in hand, watching the waves crash and the sky turn into an artist’s pallet of yellows and oranges. I always forget that only 100 yards away lies one of the nation’s busiest shopping malls. When I’m sitting on that little peninsula, everything else seems to vanish and I think to myself, “This is paradise.”

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Tourists are always shocked when they see that most people who live here don’t have a beautifully sun-kissed tan. They gasp in utter horror when they hear that weeks and even months have gone by when I haven’t set foot on a beach. They forget that people who live here aren’t on vacation. We actually have to do little things like write research papers and pay bills.

When I do find the time to catch some rays, the last thing I want to do is lay like a sardine on a crowded beach inhaling the fumes of coconut-scented deep bronzing lotion. One of my favorite tourist-free beaches is on the island’s Eastern Shore.

Makapu‘u Beach
Makapu‘u Beach is somewhat hidden, even though it is located directly across the highway from a major tourist destination, Sea Life Park. Maybe this famous body-boarding beach is less populated because beach-goers must climb down a sandy path peppered with rocks to get to the beach. The minor walk is not treacherous by any means, and except for the occasional stubbed toe, is definitely worth it.

The view at Makapu‘u resembles a postcard, with aqua and deep blue waters dancing around outside the wave break. The water is often dotted with bobbing heads waiting for the next good wave. When it comes, dozens of surfers and bodyboarders shoot off along the face of the wave. The sand is so soft from being pummeled over the years by pounding waves that one’s body sinks comfortably into it, making it easy to relax…or doze off.

The North Shore
Sometimes when you need a break, all you want is to get away, which entails a road trip. It may seem counterintuitive to take a road trip on an island, some might say. “What are you going to do, go around in circles?” Forget about them. Just because mainland road trips involve hundreds of miles, countless rest stops, and the inevitable, dreaded numb rear end, they aren’t requirements. On O‘ahu, we have the luxury of traveling from the city to the country in less than an hour. This mean that when someone whines, “Are we almost there yet?” you can look them straight in the eye and give them a resounding, “Yes!”

Grab your shades, roll down the windows, crank up the tunes, and head up to the North Shore. Right about the time you begin to feel a little antsy and want to stretch you legs, you should be almost to Haleiwa. Why not stop by for a shave ice at Matsumoto’s? Visitors and locals alike line up around the building for this tasty treat. Then hop back into your car and continue up the coast to the next stop: Pipeline.

During the winter months, especially during an el nino season, this is a definite must-see. When a big swell comes in, the waves can be higher than two- and three-story buildings. Some waves don’t look like waves at all, but appear to be massive walls ascending towards the beach at phenomenal speeds.

Imagine: You plop down on the sand to watch the few brave souls that rush into the whitewater searching for a channel to lead them out to where the waves are breaking. Behind you are homes of many famous surfers who, when not in the water, are on their porches talking story with other surfing aficionados. From one of the houses, mellow acoustic guitar music drifts down the beach. Wow!

Pipeline is worth visiting in the summer months, as well. The only difference is that there are no big waves, so you don’t have to be a Kelly Slater-type to be able to splash around.

Forget Las Vegas or even going to one of the neighbor islands when you need to escape. You can get away from gridlock, the glare of a computer screen, and the noise of the crowd, without even leaving our little island. Just because paradise doesn’t slap you in the face and say, “I’m right here,” doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Wrestle up a little sense of adventure, and you will find that your own paradise is waiting for you—maybe right down the street.

©2002, Kalamalama, the HPU Student Newspaper. All rights reserved.
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