Hawaii or more specifically Oahu, was all about sensation. From the time we left the airport until our return, we were saturated in the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feel of the island. Unfortunately, we were delayed getting to the island because an optic fiber cable had been cut somewhere and it meant that the Alaskan airlines folks had to do everything by hand. While slow, they all worked really hard to make sure we all got where we wanted to go. So, instead of getting to Oahu at 3, we got there about 6 pm.
The sights started as soon as we walked out the airport to baggage claim. There was this massive tree with a myriad of branches in the middle of a jewel of a garden that was just amazing to look at.
As we drove to Kailua and our home for the next week, it just kept getting more and more beautiful. We kept pointing out things to each other, cliff faces filled with verdant green foliage, clouds that seemed to touch the tops of the mountains, emperor palms like a giants’ fan, and the ocean an incredible light blue color with dark patches wherever volcanic rock poked through the white sands.
I believe the word WOW
was used quite a bit. Our hosts were a family of five that Marc had met on a previous visit. Tom is another paraglider pilot and his wife Donna welcomed me with a hug that felt like warm tradition. The girls Myle, and Cala are beautiful and bright and totally into island sports and their grandmother Carol was great to share mild morning patio time with.Thinking back on all the wonderful sites we saw, the best was probably seeing sea turtles on the North Shore. We had no idea when we arrived and had just camped out under a tree when we started noticing these shapes in the water. They would be there, and then gone. Took us a while to realize they were sea turtles surfacing to breathe.
We went back another day and actually saw a few lugging themselves up onto the beach. We were kinda concerned until someone told us it was normal for them to come up and rest/sleep and sun themselves.
Each morning we would wake to the sounds of doves cooing close by and Carol quietly getting breakfast ready for the girls. During the day we would drive around the island listening to the MP3 player in the car (island radio? not good), or the surf breaking when on the beach and always with the wind a constant susurrus in the consciousness. It was also neat to hear the varied accents of the people we met while there. Mainly French with some German and a little Spanish for variety .And at every shop and restaurant; Hawaiian songs playing over the speakers.
The air smelled so good everywhere we went. Although we didn’t see an over abundance of flowers, the breeze seemed to carry the scent of every bloom on the island our way. Nearer the ocean, it was pure salt water taking over our noses. It seemed more intense than what I remember growing up in Virginia Beach. Perhaps because there is just so much more of it around. In any case, it did seem to help make me hungry every day. It didn’t hurt that driving around the island we would also get these amazing scents of BBQ and shrimp cooking from these food trucks that are parked somewhat permanently all around the island.
Speaking of smelling food trucks, tasting the food from them was even better. We sampled several kinds of garlic shrimp and spicy shrimp and everything was so tasty. We also tasted the fish nacho’s at the number #1 fish taco site on the island.Very good. Most every night it was spiced rum or beers on the beach and a nice little dinner somewhere along the drive except for the nights we spent with the Flying Monkeys. Get a bunch of para gliders together and see what happens. My experience was an eclectic bunch of mostly men with understanding girlfriends or wives who invited us to dinner without hesitation. Once to The Shack ,once to Duck & Ginger’s for a great home cooked Thai meal, and one evening a group of the flying monkeys descended upon Tom and Donna’s for an impromptu get together. One of the guys there was picked up walking along the side of the road and brought home simply because he had a wing strapped to his back. Turns out he just arrived from France and didn’t know anyone. That’s how these guys are wired. Crazy about the sport and incredibly helpful to visiting pilots. Oh yeah, I also fell in love with Sweet Maui Onion potato chips. I thought they were a local delicacy, but further investigation revealed they’re made in NJ by Frito Lay. Gods they were good though. I actually brought some to take to NZ. Those and some shrimp chips. Love me some shrimp chips. One last thing, you can actually buy fresh sliced pineapple from roadside stands. This has got to be the BEST pineapple I have ever eaten!
To feel the island best is to put on your bathing suit and get outside. The sun is warm and inviting and relentless in it’s intensity. We went through a ton of sunscreen while we were there and still browned up nicely.
The sand underfoot varied in texture and it was interesting to feel the difference between the fine white powder of Lanakai, and the deep, coarser sand on a little beach we found further up on the north shore. The fine stuff felt like walking on hard packed velvet, while the coarse deep sand was rougher and required extra effort because you would sink down about 3-4 inches every step you took.The ocean, while initially cool on a hot body became quite comfortable within a few minutes of splashing around. Afterwards, I could literally feel my skin tightening up from the sun and the salt in the water. The wind was the most fun sensation and we took full advantage of it. We kited almost every day either near or on a beach somewhere and our kites varied with the wind speed. On lighter days we would fly Marc’s superlight stunt kite, heavier wind days we would use the 1 or 2 meter or the Micron stunt kite.
Once, Marc got to fly his paraglider. We were coming back from the south and went past Makapu’u. As we rounded a corner we saw several gliders in the air. From there it was just a short drive to the trail that led to the launch site. He flew for two hours while I took a nap between the dunes on the beach. Got some pretty good shots of him too.
Me, I’m getting better with the 2 meter. I’m happy to say I did NOT get yanked off my feet once while I was flying it and I’m getting to the point where I can get some lift off it too. Starting to become very interested in kite boarding now.
Not much else to say about Oahu except, I can’t wait to go back! The people were so nice and friendly and the whole attitude of the island is one of unhurriedness and welcoming to all. I’m hoping to see a waterfall next time and perhaps learn kiteboarding and spend lots more time investigating the best place to get garlic shrimp and hang out with the Flying Monkeys, at least when they’re on the ground. Hope you like the pictures and all I can say is go to Oahu! It’s one of the best places in the world!