Hawaii is remote. My flight from Pennsylvania took more than fourteen hours. I can’t sleep sitting up so while the rest of my family slumbered peacefully, no doubt dreaming of blue waters and tropical fruit smoothies, I endured Mr. Bean’s Vacation, Balls of Fury, and Rush Hour 3. Of course I’m not really complaining. When Honolulu is your destination, you can withstand a sore neck and kung fu ping-pong.
Our first stop was on Oahu, the most populated of the eight major Hawaiian islands. The only big city and most of the culture is here. Honolulu, Waikiki, Sunset Beach, Pearl Harbor-there’s a lot to see and do.
I was here to toss some discs at a local Frisbee tournament, which was to be held in the Ho’Omaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe. This is a wonderfully exotic setting about twenty-five minutes outside of Honolulu. Owing to usage restrictions, the site is only available two or three times a year for events, so I was looking forward to the rare opportunity to toss here.
The park doesn’t disappoint, either. After meandering down the winding and overly speedbumped main road, you reach the course site. It’s a lush green area with amazingly varied foliage, some ultrathick shule, and an absolutely killer mountain view. Apparently there are times, after hard rains, when dozens of raging waterfalls appear, each cascading hundreds of feet down the rugged, sheer face of these peaks. What a backdrop.
I arrived and hooked up with some locals who were throwing warm-up tosses at an aging Discatcher. A small club manages regular play, here and at four other Oahu locations, by dragging along a ragtag compliment of portable baskets. Cones and flags usually mark tees. It’s a fair bit of work but the load is shared and it does enable play.
Rule one when playing a course blind is stay on the fairways. Unfortunately, knowledge and execution are sometimes incompatible, and today proved to be one of those times. I tromped through loads of exotic flora. I was scratched and poked by many things I’d never seen before. Luckily for me, one of the guys in our foursome was an arborist. It always helps to identify something that pokes you.
Some time later, full of island anecdotes and smiling despite our poor performance, I said aloha to my new friends and headed back to family HQ. Jetlag quickly overcame us and we all fell into happy, peaceful sleep.
I awoke early on Saturday and headed out to nearby Kailua beach to greet the sun.
There’s a reason this place has been called the best beach on earth. Feathery white sand stretches far in either direction. The sea is shockingly blue and clear. I splashed in the surf with my girls, all of us awash in the brilliant yellow and orange morning light. The beauty here is at once clichéd and indescribable. Don’t ever try to tell me this isn’t paradise.
After drying off in the warm ocean breezes, we feasted on some local papayas then headed out and north on a mission to reach the world famous Sunset Beach.
Located on Oahu’s north shore, Sunset Beach is a surfer’s paradise. Winter storms in the Pacific create huge swells that, coupled with the area’s reefs and underwater topography, result in ten to twenty-foot average waves. Occasional heavies measure more than forty feet. We’d never seen anything like it and were stoked to get a look at the awesome power of the mighty Pacific.
The trip up was cool, too. We stopped at a macadamia plantation and the girls got to smash some nuts old school (a rock and stump). We gurgled coconut water and feasted on fresh pineapple from a roadside fruit stand. We stopped at one of those quaint touristy shops and perused all the tropical clothes, jewelry, and swimsuits. The owner, a transplanted Pakistani with a friendly demeanor and a dream of American pop stardom, entertained us with an original guitar ballad.
It’s like that here. The pace is slow and relaxing. People are generally friendly, particularly if they have something to sell you. To be sure, you and your money part at an alarming rate. But somehow you hardly mind. The experience is priceless. As we snuggled on our bamboo mats and watched the sun vanish into the ocean, the pounding surf providing a soundtrack, our little ones frolicking in the sand nearby, it was impossible to remember a more beautiful setting or a more enjoyable day.