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In Hawai'i, water sports flourish

by Jonas Kirby, '00

Water sports flourish throughout Hawai‘i with its flashing ocean, surfable waves, pristine coastline, tropical lagoons, and radiant weather. People flock from all over the globe to bask in the sun on white sand beaches and play in the aqua-green sea.


A good Hawai‘i experience means being knowledgeable about what activities are available to residents and visitors alike. This list of activities will help everyone make the most of their time in Hawai‘i.

One caution: Not all of the activities or the places listed are suitable for inexperienced swimmers. At each location, check the signs, use common sense, and observe the safety precautions listed on this page.

Swimming: The best swimming on O‘ahu generally exists at beaches where seas are calm or the water is protected in coves or bays, or sheltered by points of land or barrier reefs.

Suggested places: Ala Moana Beach Park, Waikiki Beach, Hanauma Bay, Sandy Beach Park, Makapu‘u Beach Park, Waimanalo Beach Park, Lanikai Beach, Kailua Beach Park, Kokololio Beach Park, La‘ie Beach Park, Sunset Beach Park, Waimea Bay Beach Park, and Mokule‘ia Beach Park. (Beach parks have dressing rooms, showers, and lifeguards.)

Body surfing and body-boarding:
Body boarding and body surfing are wave-riding sports that are often practiced in close proximity to the shore. Body surfers use only their bodies to ride a wave, whereas body boarders lie prone on a small foam board about three feet long. Riders in both sports wear fins for added propulsion. Body boarding and body surfing are popular because they are physically challenging, fun, and only require equipment that is inexpensive and easy to transport.

Suggested places: Beach parks at Sandy Beach , Makapu‘u, Ala Moana, Sunset Beach, and ‘Ehukai.

Surfing: Hawai‘i has some of the best surfing sites in the world. From small beginner’s breaks on the south shores to for-experts-only breaks on the north shores. Beginners should go to Waikiki and take a lesson before heading out on their own, and they should stay out of big surf until they get some experience.

Everyone visiting O‘ahu during the winter months should visit the North Shore, the Mecca of big wave surfing, for a first- hand look at some of the world’s biggest waves and best surfers in action. However, only very advanced surfers should try to ride these waves themselves.
Suggested places for beginners are: Waikiki Beach, Ala Moana Beach Park, Sunset Beach Park, Pipeline, and Waimea Bay Beach Park.

Snorkeling and scuba: Shore waters and reefs surrounding O‘ahu contain diverse marine life and spectacular underwater terrain. Some of the world’s best snorkeling and scuba diving sites are found here. Novice snorklers and scuba divers can arrange for lessons and equipment rentals through beach concessions, tour desks, and dive shops.

Suggested places: Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Sharks Cove, Mokule‘ia Beach Park, and reefs surrounding the western shores.

Kayaking: Ocean kayaking provides opportunities for paddlers to explore Hawai‘i’s shoreline bays and small offshore islands. Kayaks are light, from six to nine feet in length, and easy to carry, launch, and land.

Suggested places: Ocean kayak rentals and tours are available around all coasts of O‘ahu.

Check your yellow pages (under boat excursions and sight-seeing trips) for more information.

Sailing: One of the most popular sailing crafts in Hawai‘i is the catamaran, a twin-hulled sailboat modeled after the ancient Polynesian double-hulled sailing canoes. Several local organizations offer lessons (see the January, 1999 issue of Kalamalama), and both lessons and rentals can be arranged from beach concessions around O‘ahu.

Suggested: Among the most popular is Ala Moana Beach Park and Waikiki Beach. Check your yellow pages under “sailboat renting” for other locations.



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