Jan 07

Hawaii: Day 10—Surfing Safari

We are getting near the end of the trip.  This is actually going to be my last day summary post.  It is technically our second to last day, but the final day was mainly preparing to leave and heading home.  I’m going to do one more Hawaii post after this with my overall thoughts and observations of the trip, but then it will be back the boring old regular posts. 

We woke up Friday to the best sunrise we had all trip.  Don’t get me wrong, every sunrise we saw was gorgeous, but this takes the cake for being the most colorful.  I believe Jennie calls this a “cotton candy” sunrise.

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After breakfast, we headed to the Ty Gurney Surf School for our surf lessons.  Ty Gurney is the owner of the rental property and runs a surf school for some of the 5 star hotels in Waikiki.  We booked our rental as part of their Surf & Stay program which included complimentary surf lessons.

Our lesson started at 9:00 and we immediately headed down to the beach.  We each had separate instructors, Lopaka for Jennie and Mike for me.  Lopaka was a Hawaii native who has never seen snow except from a plane or in the movies.  We started our lesson on the beach to learn the basics.  We practiced moving from a laying down position, to our knees, and then standing up.  For the yoga practitioners out there, the steps for standing up are similar to going into upward dog and then into warrior 1.  Easy right?  Now try doing it on a narrow board while floating in the water.  Not so easy.

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After getting our initial instruction, we headed out into the surf.  Surfing, we found was 90% paddling, 10% surfing.  So, paddle, paddle, paddle we went.  I started paddling on my own and soon realized that Mike was way behind me.  Apparently, my swimming has paid off because I am a good paddler.  Hopefully this translates to good surfing.

We waited out in the surf for a good wave to come.  The plan was that Mike would tell me when to start paddling in anticipation of the wave and then when to stand up.  As a wave approached, Mike started me paddling.  I could feel the wave approaching and all I head from Mike was, “[something] up”.  I figured it was “Get up”, so I let the wave take me and I stood up.

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Wow! That was easier than I thought!  I stood up on my first wave.  After riding the wave, I starting paddling back.  I later found out the Mike had really said “HOLD up”.  He was worried that I was going to miss the wave and was going to have me wait for the next one.  Whoops!

Unfortunately, Jennie and I got separated in our lessons so I really didn’t know how she was doing.  I found out afterwards that she had quite the scare.  She too was able to stand up on her first wave, but after standing up, she wiped out.  As she fell, the board swung around and hit her on the head – hard.  Apparently it made such a loud “thunk” that both the instructor and cameraman rushed over to make sure she was alright.  Other than a large bump on her head, she was no worse for the wear.

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After my first wave, I was a bit cocky, and wiped out myself.  The spill was humbling and I took my time on the next wave.  One of the keys to being able to stand up is to keep your head up.  While surfing, I instinctively want to look down at the board and check my position.  Looking down makes you lean forward and you go head over heals into the water.  Instead, the key is to keep your head up and look forward.

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I was able to stand up the rest of my attempts and had a blast!  My only complaint was that I felt like the lesson involved too much hand holding.  Mike would push me out into a wave and do most of the initial work for me.  I really didn’t feel like I left with good feeling of how to surf solo.

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After surf lessons we headed back to the rental for lunch.  On the way back to the rental we passed by this store.

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We had actually passed it a couple times previous, but never had the camera with me.  I knew that I had to take a picture for Big Daddy Diesel.  Unfortunately they were still closed, but I was able to take another picture through the window.  You know you want a pair BDD!

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We also walked passed a large Christmas tree display.  We never really got used to see all the Christmas decorations without the snow.  It just seemed unnatural for some reason.  Anyways, we actually saw this tree on Hawaii Five-O after we got home.  We have actually recognized quite a few destinations on Hawaii Five-O now – kinda cool.  Too bad we didn’t see any of the actual filming take place.

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Our afternoon adventure was to head out Kailua to get some shave ice.  If you haven’t ever heard of shave ice, it is the Hawaiian version of a snow cone.  I really don’t care for snow cones, but shave ice is amazing.  It isn’t ice crystally like a snow cone and has more the consistency of fresh snow.

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We ended up at Island Snow in Kaliua.  While you can get shave ice at dozens of places, Island Snow had made the list of favorite places for shave ice because it is a favorite of the Obama family on their holiday vacations.

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Each serving of shave ice came with your choice of three flavors of syrup.  I chose strawberry, grape and watermelon and Jennie picked raspberry, grape, and boysenberry.  It was excellent and left me scouring the Internet looking for a DIY version of shave ice.  No luck so far unfortunately so I guess we are stuck with Jennie’s Snoopy Snowcone Machine.

After our shave ice, we stopped by Kaliua Beach which has been called Hawaii’s best beach.  It had an enormous white sandy beach and calm waters.  There were a ton of people who had rented kayaks and stand up paddle boards out in the water.  The water was extremely calm on this beach which made it great for these activities.

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It would have been the perfect beach for an open water swim, but alas we were not were not prepared and I didn’t have my suit with me. 

As we headed back to the rental, we passed by a school.

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My grade school! Ok, well not really.  But it has the same name and I have actually never seen another St. John Vianney School.  Growing up, I used to talk really fast (and still do sometimes) and called it St. Johnianney (all one word).  But I digress.

We snapped some more pictures of the scenery as we drove back.

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After we got back, I was feeling bold and figured that I was going to try surfing on my own.  Because our rental was owned by the surf company, there was a ton of surf boards and stuff for use.  I took one of the boards and Jennie took one of the kayaks.

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It didn’t go well.  I think part of the problem was that it was low tide so the water was more shallow than normal.  This meant that every time I wiped out, I would scrap against the sharp rocks on the ocean floor.  It was less than pleasant and I ended up calling it a day after only 20 minutes or so.  I think I spent more time paddling out to the surf and back than I did actually surfing.

Neither of us were really inspired for a fancy dinner.  We really didn’t want to go out and we really couldn’t eat in.  We couldn’t eat in because we were nearly out of food and we didn’t want to buy any more because we were leaving the next day.  The only thing we really had left in the fridge was a bag of lettuce.  So, we ordered a pizza from Papa John’s and made a big salad to share. 

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In case you lost count, this was our third meal of pizza.  What can I say, we like pizza!

And that brings us to the end of our last full day in Hawaii.  Stay tuned for the closing ceremonies tomorrow and our overall impressions!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.ironmanbythirty.com/2011/01/07/hawaii-day-10surfing-safari


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  1. Jon

    DUDE! You are a natural! Awesome that they bring out a photographer to document your experience. That is a totally killer wave you caught! You looked like a pro!

    Aaaaaaaaaaand, I gotta close this page so as to not look @ that pizza anymore….

  2. Jeff

    Really? You had to post the pic of the pizza? Your killing us dude, killing us!

    Sooo one question, did you check to see if the surfboard was okay after cracking off Jennie’s head?

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      Shockingly, the board was unharmed which is surprising because Jennie has one heck of a hard head.

      And apologies to both you and Jon for the pizza. I’ll refrain from posting pictures from Big Kahuna’s that we had before we got on the plane. 🙂

  3. BDD

    Was that pic after she got whacked in the head? If so, she is an american version of Chrissie Wellington, she smiles at every thing, she should get into tris

    I looked at the Diesel site, dang its more expensive then tri gear, wth!!!! oh well, stealing the picture though

    1. Ironman By Thirty (Kevin)

      I read Jennie the part of getting into to tris. And I quote, “pfft!” haha

      The picture was right after she crashed. At that point I think she was a little dazed.

      Unfortunately the Diesel store was closed when we went by. I was hoping that they sold a Diesel sticker or something. Based on their price though, a sticker probably cost $20.

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