Monday, January 08, 2007

Hawaii (Oahu, Days 1 & 2)

After a short, five day stay in Taipei, I was off to Oahu for a friend's wedding, and then a week of vacation in Kauai. I didn't have time to write about all the fun things we did while we were there, but I'm going to try to get them down in the next few days, before they escape my horrible memory.

Day 1:

We arrived at 7am, met up with friends at the hotel, went to Eggs & Things for breakfast. Eggs & Things is an extremely popular breakfast place (interestingly, open from 11pm to 2pm daily) and it took an hour to get a table. However, since it took half an hour to find parking, we effectively waited for only half an hour. I had some very yummy blueberry pancakes, which were light and fluffy but probably full of butter.

After eating, we headed to Diamond Head and "hiked" up the trail to the lookout at the top. Very nice views of Waikiki, as advertised:

I'm pretty sure I've been up there before, but it's been at least 15 years since I've been to Hawaii so I don't remember it at all.

That afternoon, we checked out Waikiki Beach for a couple of hours. It's pretty and all, but I don't really like crowded beaches; it took awhile to find a place to put our towels down, and there were tons of beginner surfers in the water. We only hung out for a couple of hours before we decided it was too hot to stay much longer.

For dinner, we met up with even more friends who were in town for the wedding. We decided on Petite Garlic for dinner, in part because they had a short wait compared to most of the restaurants in the area.

After dinner, we headed to Coconut Cafe, also in Waikiki. Some people had the $1 corn dogs, and others had shave ice and/or smoothies.

Day 2:

The next day, we went on a kayaking excursion with the groom, in lieu of a bachelor's party. We drove out to Kailua, on the east coast of Oahu, and the fourteen of us rented seven tandem kayaks from Two Good Kayaks. After a lengthy safety briefing, we were on our way.

We got our bearings in a small channel which was separated from the ocean by a sandbar, and then lugged the kayaks over the sandbar into the Pacific Ocean. About five minutes after we launched into the ocean, it started to rain like mad, which was a bit scary since it made the water choppy and visibility poor. We paddled through it and the rain cleared up about ten minutes later.

There are three islands off the coast of Kailua, a "flat" island, and two larger islands which both seem to be called Mokulua Island, one (or both) of which is a bird sanctuary. Our intended destination was the first Mokulua Island, but according to the safety briefing person, the only safe approach to the first island was to paddle parallel to the coast, straight towards the second island, until the first island was directly to the left, and then turn ninety degrees towards the first island.

My interpretation of the "safe" route:

Once we were in the ocean, it became obvious what he was talking about. The waves were coming from both directions around the two islands, except that the second island acted as a kind of buffer for the first one, so there was a channel about ten or twenty feet wide where the water was somewhat calmer, which could be used to approach a small beach on the inside edge of the first island.

Out of seven kayaks, five made it to the island within about twenty minutes of each other. The sixth kayak had some issues with the rain and choppy water and decided to land on the "flat" island instead, and the seventh kayak had an experienced kayaker onboard who decided to explore elsewhere. Of the five kayaks which reached the island, three capsized while attempting to land on the beach. My kayak landed successfully (yay!) after a tense minute or so, during which we were paddling as furiously as we could, to try to reach the beach before the waves got to us. The whole time, the people in the first two kayaks were waving their arms wildly in an effort to steer us to shore.

Here's a view of the second island from the small beach on the first island:

The ten of us tried to hike around the island, but were soon thwarted by high surf which made the rocks on the coast slippery. We munched on some snacks and hung out on the beach instead, before beginning the return journey.

As exciting as landing was, launching was even more interesting. The challenge was to get some speed before any large waves hit the kayak sideways, and then to paddle as quickly as possible out to the calmer water. Only one kayak capsized leaving the island, probably because the people still on land were helping, by pushing the kayaks as they entered the water. Once we were all afloat, we had a good time taking photos of each other and racing for various short distances, and one person saw a sea turtle poking its head out of the water.

After we returned the kayaks, we drove back to Waikiki and got cleaned up for the wedding rehearsal dinner, which was at a Chinese restaurant called Royal Garden Chinese Restaurant in Honolulu. After ten courses of Chinese banquet food, we went home to sleep off the food coma.


This is my personal blog. The views expressed on these pages are mine alone and not that of my employer.