Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The windward paradise

Kailua! On the east side of Oahu, Kailua offers beautiful sandy beaches that are much quieter and much less touristy than Waikiki (well, what isn't?), though they did a fairly good business with tourists like us who were coming in to kayak. And eat shave ice, which I think pales in comparison to a real NJ Italian ice.

We rented a double for my friends and a single for me from a German surfing expert and pulled them on wheels to the beach. Kayaks are surprisingly heavy, by the way. And guess what, none of us inexperienced kayakers had worn bathing suits, so we just soaked ourselves pushing off. I unflappably waded to my waist, hopped up and took off, then realized that my paddles were oriented at about five degrees to each other, which made for an awkward stroke. Nonetheless, I really enjoyed kayaking, especially when we got to the edge of the 'safe zone' and rode the waves. My friends flipped over. It was hilarious, except that the volcanic rock on the bottom there was extremely sharp, and one friend was not wearing reef shoes, so he was dancing around trying not to cut himself and push the kayak back over. Not a good combination.

We landed at a tiny islet called Flat Island, a seabird sanctuary, and walked around. A native Hawaiian was looking for fish. He was kind enough to go down with his net to amuse us, even though he'd seen about two fish. Paddling back felt harder -- tired arms? -- but the views of the coast were worth it. Thirteen hours later, I was in Chicago, staring at the rain.

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