Surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, outrigger canoeing, hula dancing. Watching your grandchildren try new activities is one of life’s greatest joys. Our son and his family go to Oahu for nine days, and they invite us along. The youngsters (ages 15, 13, 12) discover that pineapples don’t grow on trees, take their first ride on a public bus, and learn that aloha means more than hello and goodbye.
Thrilling and chilling
Tuesday we go from thrilling to chilling in a three-part day organized by Carol, owner and CEO of North Shore Surf Girls.
First up is a two-hour lesson on surfing, “Hawaii’s gift to the world.” North Shore Surf Girls specialize in beginner surfing lessons, and they do a great job. All of our participants stand up and ride waves during their lesson. It’s thrilling, but it’s hard work, resulting in sore arms and cut feet.
“It’s so peaceful,” observes Scarlett, as we venture up-river on our two-hour stand up paddle board lesson. The day ends with a sunset barbecue at Hale’iwa Ali’i Beach Park. We relax on lawn chairs while our private chef prepares dinner. We enjoy the ocean view and the community park ambience, which includes family picnics, a Hawaiian wedding, and big sea turtles resting on the beach.
Hawaiian outrigger canoes have their own secret language. The call “hut ho,” for instance, means paddlers should switch paddles from one side to the other. Seat one sets the cadence. Middle seats provide forward motion. The stern seat is the leader of the boat, and the crew needs to trust him completely.
Simeon and Blane, our two sternsmen, are lifeguards, professional paddlers, and outstanding tour guides from We Go! Island Canoe. We meet them on beautiful Kailua Beach. After a brief introduction, we launch into the surf and begin a 45-minute paddle to the Mokulua Islands. We are paddling into a brisk wind, and Alec is amazed how quickly we can move the boat. That’s good boat design – and good teamwork!
We spend an hour or so on Mokulua, enjoying the scenery and jumping into a tide pool. Standing on the beach, Doug and Nathan are almost wiped out by a solo kayaker who is tossed out of control by a big wave. “See why it’s best to go with a guide?” says Simeon, and we agree.
Mokulua’s playful waves are just right for canoe surfing, and Simeon takes us out to catch a few waves. A following wind brings us back to Kailua Beach, where this well-designed three-hour tour ends.
Shave ice and other goals
No Oahu vacation is complete without indulging in shave ice, Hawaii’s iconic frozen treat. Doug’s trip goal is to determine the best shave ice spot on Oahu. After careful research, he produces a list of five top-rated stores for us to test. The clear winner is Uncle Clay’s House of Pure Aloha, where the texture, flavour, and service are just perfect.
Other family members have trip goals, too, and we believe that all goals are achieved. Angie creates a well-thought-out list of must-sees, including Pearl Harbour, a luau, a pineapple plantation, and Waimea Falls. Alec wants a strenuous road-bike ride, and he finds it on Mount Tantalus. Nathan needs to practice his cross-country running; while on Oahu he earns three course records on Strava (a social network for athletes). Scarlett and Robin want to try scuba diving, which they do, seeing a whole new underwater world, silent except for the dolphins that they can hear. Cathy wants to sip Kona coffee while catching up with the young people, listening to their thoughts about life.
The spirit of aloha
“Warmest Aloha” signs Carol when we write to ask about surf lessons for our group. This prompts us to investigate the meaning of aloha.
While aloha can mean hello and goodbye, the real meaning is much more than that. Aloha means love, peace, compassion, kindness, humility, and patience, and it’s a guideline for how to live. When we extend warmth and respect to others, the world becomes a better place.
The Aloha Spirit is an actual law in Hawaii, encoded in the Hawaii Revised Statutes, section 5-7.5. The law is largely symbolic and unenforceable, but what a noble gesture and a lesson for us all!