Thursday, January 13, 2011

Hip Getaways - Hawaii Baby!

By: Katie Schmeer
Come Fly with Me
We are particularly lucky to live on a planet with just about a million and one tropical destinations to visit. However, if you ever have an opportunity to visit Hawaii, GO THERE! Of all the tropical places I have ever been to (and yes, I have been to a few), Hawaii is one of those places that enchanted me at every turn. 

I was fortunate enough to be on a cruise that went to several of the Hawaiian Islands, which meant that I got a fantastic “sampler platter” of what Hawaii had to offer. 

All of the major islands of Hawaii offer helicopter tours. While perhaps a more expensive activity to partake in, if there is any place in the world to take a helicopter tour, this is it!

It’s important that you go with a reputable company when you are planning your helicopter tour.  Sometimes cheaper is NOT better, especially when you’re going to be thousands of feet in the air. The company we went with was Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. It was a well run company, with excellent pilots and friendly service. They made our trip absolutely amazing! 

The helicopters are specially designed for sightseeing and have large windows all around the sides. You are also given a headset so that you can speak to each other during the trip, but to be honest, most of our time was spent with our mouths hanging open at the sights. 

We took our trip on the island of Maui, land of many filming sites, which were pointed out to us throughout our trip. Our pilot also acts as a tour guide, pointing out areas of interest and telling us interesting facts about the island. Ultimately though, nothing I can say or describe would adequately be able to express what it was like being up in that helicopter. Although I have included a few pictures from the journey, they really can’t do it justice.  Which means you’ll just have to try it out for yourself if you get to go!

Living on the Edge…of a Waterfall
Rainbow Falls and The Boiling Pots are on Big Island (yes, this is what it’s called) and make for some excellent sight seeing. They are quintessential Hawaiian sights! Rainbow Falls is a beautiful waterfall, running over a ledge, with a deep cave behind it. Not just ANY cave…this cave is said to be home of the goddess Hina. While I am not particularly familiar with Hina, I was able to see the reason the falls was named, very aptly due to the rainbows that appear in the mist created by the waterfall. 

Just down from the falls are The Boiling Pots. These pockets of water can start to “churn” during the rainy season, giving it the look of boiling water. Rules being perhaps a little more lax in Hawaii, there are signs posted saying that you are welcome to go into the Pots, but only at your own risk. There are no barriers or hand holds…just steep, slippery rocks, heading towards a drop into the water. 

However, you only live once, so I risked my life, crawling down the rocks, just to say I have been IN The Boiling Pots. A warning that this is not for the faint of heart. It was scary! Plus, because there is a drop to get into the water, which means trying to haul yourself up onto that slippery drop again, from the water, is quite difficult. You’ve got to love a challenge, no matter how small and silly it may be!

Hang Ten
Nothing says Hawaii like surfing! If you ever have a chance to go to Hawaii, you MUST make sure that you give surfing a try. The only excuse I will accept for you not trying this, is if you do not have arms or legs. Otherwise, I expect to see you out there in the waves! 

Our surfing experience took place in Kauai and while I wish I could tell you who our surf instructor was, I can’t for the life of me, remember. Frankly, I think he was some sort of Hawaiian tikki God! Extremely energetic and eccentric, he was like a hurricane. Came rushing into our lives and left just as suddenly, leaving us all a little shaken. 

We did not plan surfing in advance and literally drove to a beach and went into a surf shop and asked if they knew of someone who might be available last minute, to give lessons. The man we met up with was a wiry, deeply tanned and wrinkled man, probably in his fifties, wearing a much too small Speedo. He had longer hair, pulled back into a messy tangled ponytail. 

He had a son with him, as an assistant, in his twenties, muscular and lean, but very quiet. I don’t know if we heard him say two words the entire time! 

For lack of a better name, I’ll refer to our instructor as Tikki. Tikki took us to a beach with small waves, great for a beginner. We were surprised though, that it was very rocky. Tikki informed us that he COULD take us to the sandy areas, but while it was sandy there, that was where anemones were and it would be preferable for us to stub a toe on a rock, as opposed to step on an anemone and have to go to the hospital. He warned us though, very explicitly, to not put our feet down if/when we fell off our surfboards. 

After a brief explanation of how to stand on our boards, off we went to the water, where we quickly learned just what an intense workout surfing is. By the way, all those girls in commercials and on TV, surfing, wearing skimpy bikinis…not realistic. He gave us all long sleeved shirts to wear because your arms rub against the board when you paddle, leaving you with an intense rug-burn of sorts. We still ended up with it all down our legs. 

Surfing looks pretty simple, but you wear out quickly when you are paddling so consistently. No fear! That was what Tikki’s son was for. Every time we attempted to surf, he would push us off on good waves and then follow us and drag us back into the water again. At one point I looked over as I struggled to stand up and saw him surf by doing a handstand…I kid you not! 

 I wish I could say my experience was entirely positive, however I quickly broke the cardinal rule and put my feet down after falling off my board, only to have a wave crash into me and my foot get caught between two rocks. When I pulled myself out of the water and onto my board, my foot was bleeding and already turning a deep purple. It hurt so badly, I felt nauseous and wondered whether I would be able to stand up at all! 

Tikki came swimming over to me, like a dolphin. I showed him my foot and said it hurt a lot.

“Are you going to let a hurt foot stand in the way of your DREAMS??” Tikki yelled as he shoved my surfboard into another wave. 

Fair enough! Good rule of thumb for surfing AND life. 

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful blog entry! We went to The Big Island last year and we just got back from Oahu. We had surfing lessons, too, with Ty Gurney Surf School and they were great! I love your story about Tikki... he sounds so cool!