Dave's Photo & Travelblogue

Photo shoots. World travel advice. Tips on Munich & environs.

Surfing Sunsets and Hula Dancing

I’ve surfed once before, in Portugal. After several hours, I had a total of about 30 seconds standing/kneeling on the board. Surfing is tough!

After a few beers yesterday evening with surfing mates I met in the hostel, I decided to try surfing again in Waikiki today (May 20th).

So… I slathered my body with SPF50, rented a longboard for $20 (6 hours), and headed out with Dan. The first break was very crowded with people, and I was constantly in the way. But I did get a couple of rides and stood up in a mid-crouch for at least one of them.

After lunch (takoyaki) I went back for a second round, with more SPF50 on my back. We paddled to a far-away break where there weren’t so many people. But the break was quite narrow, so in the end it was just as crowded as the morning’s break, as everyone converged on the same spot. I got about three rides, and headed in when my arms felt like they were about to give out from paddling.

In the evening we checked out a free Hula show on the beach. I didn’t know that the primary dancers are the men, not the women (though in this show they were equally featured).

Hula Dancing and Hawaiian Music at Waikiki Beach

My heart is officially melting from the wonderful Aloha…

Hula Dancer on Waikiki Beach

And I caught a few good sunset shots.

Beautiful Sunset at Waikiki Beach

Viele Grüße to the Germans I met in the hostel! I hope we can meet again at Oktoberfest, when I have more time and am less sunburned.

Fellow Travelers from Germany

Dave’s Surfing Tips

I’m no expert, but please, learn from my experiences (and mistakes)!

  • You have to see where the good (big & steep) waves are breaking, and go there. Probably others will be there as well.
  • Check with locals (or the surf shop) to find out the currents, dangerous/rocky areas, etc. before going out.
  • If you’re waiting for a wave, and someone’s already on it when it comes to you, get out of their way and don’t try to catch the wave as well. You’d be stealing their space, and you might get run over.
  • In case someone wipes out on a wave coming toward you (e.g. when you’re trying to paddle back out), duck under the wave and cover your head with your arms just in case the person or their board hits you.
  • Paddle, paddle, paddle with the wave you want to catch. If you’re not fast enough, the wave will pass you. If it’s not close enough to breaking (not steep enough yet), the wave will pass you. If you are lazy and don’t give 100% paddling, the wave will laugh at you as it passes. I swear I heard this a few times toward the end.
  • I don’t recommend paddling out to really far breaks unless you have seriously toned arms. I did make it back, but a lot of people might have a challenging time if they paddle out too far from shore.
  • Last, and most important: Non-tanned white people cannot surf in full sun without a wetsuit for 4 hours. Even with SPF50, reapplied halfway through, the melanin-challenged will be miserable lobsters the next day. It’s easier to list parts of me that are NOT burned: face, belly, palms, and the front of my legs. One of my ankles is so bad it’s even a wee bit swollen.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful silhouette. I’m sure she surfs way better than I do – hah.

Waikiki Surfing Girl Silhouette

Posted 10 years, 9 months ago at 3:24 pm.

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Crater Hiking

Diamond Head, Oahu is a massive crater formed by the explosion of a shield volcano. You can walk up it: a decent hike of 0.8 miles involving quite a few stairs near the end.

I don’t recommend walking from Waikiki to the entrance of Diamond Head, it takes 40 minutes or more and isn’t that exciting. Take TheBus, which has a stop right in front of the park entrance for Diamond Head. Here’s the view of the crater from the top:

View of Diamond Head crater on Oahu

You can see a great panorama of Oahu’s beaches and towns, including great views of Honolulu and (pictured here) Waikiki Beach:

Waikiki Beach from Diamond Head

Tips for hiking Diamond Head:

  • Go very early to avoid the crowds of tourists. I believe the park is open at 6 or 7am? If you have jet lag from points east, this would be a perfect first-day activity.
  • Bring a hat sunscreen, and water. It’s a short hike, but a decent amount of vertical and quite hot.
  • Take a bus or car to get there. As mentioned above, it’s a long and somewhat boring walk from Waikiki.

Next I headed to downtown Honolulu. It’s a small city, but with quite a lot to see – most people could easily spend a day there. I took TheBus and got off at Punchbowl Street, where I walked through the town admin buildings to the former Hawaiian King’s palace:

Palace in Honolulu

I opted not to take the tour, because it was pretty expensive ($12 or so?), but then again, everything in Hawaii seems ridiculously expensive to me.

If you want a nice overview of the city from up high, go to the (free) Aloha Tower in the shopping complex of the same name. You can ride up to the 10th floor and see great sights:

Honolulu as seen from the Aloha Tower

For a great cup of 100% Kona coffee (I had an iced latte), try out Island Vintage Coffee in that same shopping center. They have a cool promo video that explains what Kona coffee is all about.

Island Vintage Coffee in the Aloha Tower Marketplace

My last stop in Honolulu was a church I wandered by, St. Andrew’s Episcopal. They have a very impressive stained glass window.

Stained Glass Window at St. Andrew's in Honolulu

That’s all for today, May 19th. Tomorrow: a bit about my surfing adventure in Waikiki (few pics as I was on the water!), and hula dancing!

Posted 10 years, 9 months ago at 3:21 pm.

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Waikiki: Playground of the Rich

This surf-obsessed beach lined with expensive shops (and probably Hawaii’s most expensive restaurants) is definitely a haven for lovers of posh hotels and convertibles. When I arrived on May 18th I saw a lot of Mustangs, so I guess that’s the preferred rental cabrio of Oahu.

As I’d been traveling for 24 hours, I didn’t do much upon my late-afternoon arrival. But I did head to Waikiki Beach, five minutes’ walk from my hostel, to take in the sunset:

Sunset at Waikiki Beach on Oahu, Hawaii

There was a free hula show going on with native Hawaiian music, but I’ll have more about that in two days.

For dinner I checked out a delicious Japanese restaurant, which has branches in Waikiki and Tokyo: Jinroku Pacific, a Teppan Grill & Bar (2427 Kuhio Avenue in Waikiki). My longtime readers might remember another post about okonomiyaki, a large Japanese savory pancake:

Okonomyaki being cooked at Jinroku Pacific

And the tasty final product, topped with an egg, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, seaweed flakes, and fish flakes:

Okonomyaki at Jinroku Pacific in Waikiki

Here’s another Japanese “fast food” specialty, takoyaki. I tried the takoyaki for lunch another day. Mine was a little undercooked, but still good. There’s truly an art form to shaping these round octopus dumplings.

Cooking takoyaki at Jinroku Pacific in Waikiki

Let’s just say I slept well this night, after 24h of travel and a good Japanese meal. Though I did wake up early the next day due to 5h of jet lag. Tune in tomorrow to see Diamond Head crater and Honolulu!

Posted 10 years, 9 months ago at 3:17 pm.


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