Surfing lessons were provided by the famous "Beach Boys of Waikiki" and their instruction was so good that I successfully surfed 10 of 14 tries, and most of the others on our trip enjoyed similar success. We also were treated to a video featuring the surfers who pioneered big wave surfing in the 1960s, Fred Van Dyke and Peter Cole, and then met and conversed with them one evening. Now in their 70s and 80s, they are both still fit and vibrant and very active .
We had a behind-the-scenes tour of the amazing Waikiki Aquarium...
...and climbed up Diamond Head State Monument...
And had a presentation by a professional hula dancer...
This hike was through the rain-forest-like Kahana Valley on O'ahu. All hikes were led by local residents/experts who taught us of the geology, history, flora, fauna, language, and culture of the region, and this hike culminated with local residents providing luau food and traditional music and teaching us to weave plates from leaves. We also toured working taro patches and a fish pond which was being rebuilt, and learned of daily life in the traditional Hawaiian culture.
Haleakala National Park on Maui preserves the volcanic remains of a shield volcano (one with gradually sloping sides) and a series of cinder cones which formed the island long ago. The summit elevation is 10,023 feet above the sea, which it slopes down to. This hike took us several miles to an overlook just beyond this "Rainbow Bridge" ridge. Only a few plants, birds, and insects have adapted to the harsh conditions in the high country.
We kayaked two rivers on Kaua'i, the Wailua and (below) the Hanalei. On the Wailua River, we began on the main channel and then proceeded up a smaller branch, eventually disembarking and hiking to a waterfall for a picnic lunch and a very cold, brief swim. On the Hanalei River, we paddled upriver and then downriver, reaching its confluence with the ocean. However, the high winds, rain, and waves precluded the planned sea kayaking and snorkeling. The movies "Jurassic Park," "South Pacific," and "The Killing Fields" were all filmed here on Kuau'i. Also, the famous 1963 song by Peter, Paul, and Mary, "Puff, the Magic Dragon," is reputed to have been inspired by a visit to Honalei Bay by Peter Yarrow.
This hike took us several miles along the Maha'ulepa Coast of Kaua'i, culminating with a picnic at Kawailoa Bay and a chance to swim in the ocean. We also were able to observe two young monk seals cavorting in the surf by the beach. Other memorable activities on this trip included a hike at Waimea Canyon State Park, attendance at a stage show depicting the history and culture of the islands in dance and music, an explanation and demonstration of the forms and significance of hula, and a video of the destructive force of Hurricane Iniki which devastated Kaua'i in 1992.
The whole gang:
Back row (l to r): Bill, Ginny, Paul, Kris, Bob K., Gene, Suzanne, Verlyn, Ross, Chuck, Heu;
2nd row: Marilyn, Jim, Gail, Barbara, Kate, Eva, Sol;
Kneeling: Matt, Jackie, Bette, Mary, Audrey, Nancy, Dottie;
Seated: Bob H., Jack, and Judy (our intrepid, incomparable leader)
Everything we observed and heard and learned and experienced during our 14 days on the three islands were memorialized in poetry by one of our participants:
by Nancy Weinstein (copyright 2003)
fish, birds, waterfalls, laughter,
warm rain, soft wind, lapping waves.
The prayer is released.
A lei and a kiss:
enchantment of aloha;
a place of refuge.
Dark eyes and bright smiles,
voices chanting heritage;