A long enough Hawaii stopover to get in a bit of tropical adventuring before buckling up and scooting the last 16 hours of travel time toward Melbourne? Sign me up! I wasn’t able to get out exploring outside of Waikiki as I’d [over-ambitiously] hoped, but I’d still rate the experience as a successful attempt to maximize my short stint on Hawaii’s most populous island.
Our plane touched down amid gray-white cloud cover, a diminishing drizzle, and a humidity that felt like walking through the steam rising off a giant cup of tea being made from the Pacific Ocean. With some help from friendly airport staff I found the shuttle desk, booked a ride, and within a few minutes was speeding off through Honolulu in an air-conditioned (if anemically so…) bus toward that most touristy of Hawaiian tourist draws: Waikiki. Moving to plan B after a few declined CouchSurfing requests in the area, I’d booked a hostel just a block and a half from the beach which had great reviews and gave me a good basecamp to roam the neighborhood’s POIs on foot.
Because it’d been a few years since I’d last surfed, I watched Point Break on the flight as a refresher. Amped up on a young Lori Petty and three or four packs of Belvita breakfast bars, once I’d dropped off my several kilotonnes of luggage at the hostel I struck out to track down a surfbort and get amongst the waves. As it turned out, the Yelp-five-star establishment that is the straightforwardly named “Waikiki Surfboard Rentals” is a narrow desk in the drably carpeted hall of a side street hotel, and the only information I could gather on utilizing their services was that the attendant wasn’t there now (this much I’d independently ascertained), and sometime if the weather wasn’t good they weren’t there. As the drizzle had picked back up, that presumably accounted for the lack of surf equipment resources, as well as my frustrated inner Swayze at not being able to get out on the waves. Jogging back to the hostel, I grabbed one of their boards (going to the surf shop first was in hopes of location rec’s), and legged it for the ocean.
Frothy waves rhythmically pushed their way up the crunchy wet sand then slithered back green and glassy to the ocean. My feet plopped into the gently increasing depths of warm surf, and after a few wading steps I was able to slide myself into the deliciously warm water and revel in its cleansing the grime and sweat and staleness accumulated over the past few thousand miles of global traverse. An involuntary smile spread across my face and dug its way into my cheeks. “I’m in Hawaii!” I thought back to the mirrored moment it had sunk in I’d made it to Australia: the surging embrace of St. Kilda’s postcard-blue waves against my skin. I hopped on the 8’ soft-top and swam out to the breaks. Over the next three hours or so I achieved exactly one wave ridden, but the surroundings more than compensated for a mediocre shredding performance (we’ll blame it on the swells). My Oahu experience hadn’t seen much sunshine, but just as the sun was setting it rent an ember-red slit in the gray clouds and pushed a warm glow on the distant concrete, designer handbags, and palm trees of Waikiki. Mauves and sherbet-oranges faded to inky blue, and soon I was among only three or four surfers craning around to try to discern the telling dark line of a forming break against the dimming horizon. Eventually the darkness won, and I paddled back to shore to rinse off and make tracks for some of the area’s famed nightlife.
Denying the feeling of sleepiness post- dinner of curry udon at a Japanese restaurant, I took off for “Honolulu’s Hottest Nightclub” (Addiction, for those of you not in-the-know). I can attest to the club’s hotness – at least that generated while traveling to the establishment on foot – but the $20 cover seemed like a bit of a steep gamble so I did an about face and headed back south. Approaching 24 hours of awakeness I’d decided to just give up on getting my dance on when I spotted SKY Waikiki – a brand new rooftop bar on Kalakaua Avenue. I hopped in line, made friends with some locals, and, while we eventually bailed waiting on SKY access, they showed me around to a few of their favorite mainstays.
Back at the hostel at 1AM (that’s 7AM EST – a personal best I do believe) I stretched out on crisp white sheets in the glorious breeze of a box fan I decided to claim as my own and powered down. 6AM I awoke and decided I had time to jog to the beach, rent a paddleboard, and fire up my core with some SUP in the post-dawn light. From there, shuttled back toward HNL and boarded HA 451 which is the setting in which I’m finishing this post – the effects of the 100MG of caffeine I took this morning wearing off and drowsiness setting in.
Mahalo Hawaii for a phenom time!