Hawaii Trip, Day 3: Kayaking and Snorkeling

With our last day on Oahu, we went on a kayaking/snorkeling adventure…
(photos from today are on Day 3 of the Hawaii Trip Gallery)

We had booked a guided kayaking/snorkeling tour (basically a day trip) with a company called Twogood Kayaks that does tours in Kailua Bay in Oahu. They picked us up from our hotel at about 8AM and then picked up a few others (from other Waikiki hotels) who’d go kayaking in the group. They drove us to their store in Kailua and it was interesting to see how much greener the eastern part of the island is compared to Waikiki. We’ve done kayaking before in Santa Barbara, so we weren’t concerned about it, but the group spent a while going over how to kayak and general safety. After all of that was done (which seemed to take a lot longer than it needed to, but our group did have 17 people) we hopped in their van again and were dropped off near the Kailua beach park. We helped unload the kayaks onto the beach. We were then pushed off into the calm ocean waves in our tandem kayak.

We’d never used a tandem kayak before, and I think it’s the only way we’d ever do it in the future – it was a lot more fun than using two separate kayaks (you get to chat a lot more, and if one person gets tired the other person can take over for a bit to give them a break). We kayaked about three miles out to an island, the Mokulual State Seabird Sanctuary. The island (like many there, it seems) is a seabird sanctuary so we could only land and then walk around the sides on the rocky cliffs and tide pools. This seemed a bit trickier for some of the older people in our group (who were already tired from the miles of kayaking) and the two tour guides helped spot people as they climbed the rocks, but I get the feeling that it was much more of an ordeal than the people had expected it to be. The guides didn’t really explain where we were going, but after 20 or so minutes of climbing the slippery rocks, we stopped and the guides told us that we could do a 25 foot cliff dive up ahead if we wanted to. (Looking back at a map of the island, this was after we’d climbed halfway around the island to this location!) Two people (out of our group of 17 people) did the jump, and one was Andrew! He said it was very thrilling and terrifying, especially since when he climbed up to jump they told him to be sure to push off as he jumped or he’d hit the rocks right below him! Utterly terrifying.

We then made the rocky, slippery climb back to our kayaks and kayaked to a nearby sandy beach, Lanikai Beach. Somehow, the guides did not time things well and we only had about 20 minutes to eat lunch and do snorkeling from the beach! We quickly devoured our lunches (they provided Subway sandwiches, a drink, and chips), threw on our snorkeling gear, and got into the water. Teisha had never snorkeled before and wanted to be sure to do it. It was a very safe place to do it – a sandy beach led into super calm waves. It was an amazing experience – there were a lot of lively reefs and many fish, probably because this was not a very busy beach human-wise. (This was the first of four times we got to go snorkeling on this trip.) After not nearly enough time studying the reefs, we had to go ashore and hop back into the kayaks. We paddled up to the original beach we set off from and again helped load our kayaks into the truck. (We later found out that because of a law that passed in the area a few years ago, the beaches weren’t allowed to be used commercially, so the kayaking company had a customer drive the trucks, and the customers load the trucks with the kayaks, so that staff was not nearby – a van would then pick us up at another location… it all seemed a bit strange, and interesting lengths to go to to technically circumvent the law.)

We got dropped back at our hotel around 4PM, and decided that for our last dinner in Waikiki we’d go to an authentic-looking Japanese restaurant we found online, Marukame Udon. Sure enough, it lived up to our expectations – we got to make our own udon or ramen bowls, pick the toppings, and pick interesting sides (all while standing in a line and going along to pick what we wanted from the different options). It was delicious and we’d highly recommend it. (As a side note, it seems like iced green tea is more popular here than hot green tea – it was still tasty, just unexpected.)

We then wandered a bit, stopping by the Fun Factory that we’d checked out our first night. After playing a few games, Teisha played the Stacker game to try and get a “minor prize” – she got it on her first try. Then, knowing she wouldn’t get it, Teisha tried for a “major prize,” which were all iPads. She got the major prize on her first try. It didn’t seem like this happened very often – the person working at the desk had to call his manager to ask when the iPad would arrive, and how to ship it to us since we were flying to the Big Island the next morning. After exchanging information, he assured us it’d be mailed to us. (This is actually the second time Teisha’s won an iPad – the first time was at a stem cell conference in San Francisco at a raffle.) Update: When we got home from our trip, the iPad was waiting there in a package!

Buzzing with happiness from winning an iPad, we wandered Waikiki, our last night there. We wandered many merchant stalls that filled some general shopping areas – it again reminded us a lot of Las Vegas. We bought several Hawaiian shirts from one store, Royal Hawaiian. (Later we regretted not getting more shirts there as we found it’s really hard to get actual “Made in Hawaii” Hawaiian shirts – they’re usually made in China or another Asian country.) We then again got some tasty shave ice before turning into our hotel to get ready for our early morning airport shuttle.

As a side note, a chain of stores called the ABC Stores are all over in this area, selling all sorts of things a tourist could need there, from snorkels and souvenirs (like cans of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts) to living Hawaiian plants/seeds (approved to be taken back to the mainland) and waterproof cameras. We came to make a “slug bug” game out of spotting an ABC store while wandering around town.

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