Aloha! I’ve been incommunicado for the last couple of weeks. My wife Nancy and I went to Maui on a secret mission—to recon the highest sea cliffs in the world, located on Molokai, the Hawaiian island visible from our perch on the northwestern end of Maui, near Honolua Bay. You see, the Tsunami Rangers intend to paddle the coast of Molokai in two years on one of our retreats, and the island cliff landing spots are rough, full of rocks, wind, and waves.
Originally, I hoped to take a helicopter tour from Maui to Molokai, so I could get a good overview of the beautiful sea cliffs and scout a route. But a few days after our arrival on Maui, the very helicopter I intended to ride in crashed into a cliff in Molokai. That dimmed my enthusiasm for an aerial view. Instead, I just took pictures of the mountains of Molokai from the beach in Maui. Good enough.
SUPs Rule the Waters
So what to do? I checked out the small boat scene, hoping to paddle an OC2 with Nancy. It turns out that OCs (outrigger canoes) and surf skis are not for rent on Maui. At least, I could not find a place to rent one. However, stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) were everywhere and beginner’s boards could be rented for a mere $45 a day ($65 for speed or surfing SUPs). Jeez, what a deal. A $600 SUP could be rented for the same price as a $25,000 car. Somebody was sure making the big bucks.
There was no way I was going to get ripped off that badly, so I asked a sunburned touron if I could take a spin on his intermediate SUP. He was tired of paddling in circles so he magnanimously let me toddle around the bay, which was experiencing wind, currents, and surf from the storms of the past few days. Now, I’ve never paddled an SUP, so I promptly fell off when I first stood up. Undaunted by the choppy water, I kept trying and finally got the hang of it, but I did not break any speed records nor surf any significant waves.
The long-handled SUP paddles presented a dilemma. The dude I borrowed the board from said that you’re supposed to paddle it with the non-scoop side of the blade, which made no sense to me, as I’m used to maximizing scoop power (as in swimming the crawl stroke and your hand scoops the water as opposed to bulldozing it), but what do I know? So I tried using the paddle with what I’d deem the power face (the scoop, with the blade bent toward the paddler) and the way the guy said (the bulldozer, with the blade bent toward the bow). It turned out it worked either way, but I believe the scoop power face produced more speed. Maybe a reader can set me straight about the mechanics of the SUP forward stroke.
I counted about 20 SUPs a day for a total of 200. There were two of all other paddle-powered boats per day (that includes all plastic sit-on-tops [SOTs], inflatables, surf skis, OCs). That means SUPs outnumbered all other boats by a 10-to1 ratio. A year ago the ratio would have been the opposite. That’s how fast the SUP craze has swept the world.
The water and air temperatures were warm (75F and 81F respectively), so I didn’t expect boaters to wear wetsuits, and no one did. But guess how many wore PFDs? Zero. Guess how many had PFDs on board? Nada. Guess how many paddlers appeared competent? Maybe 11 of 220, or 1 in 20—and those were locals on surf skis, OCs and surfing SUPs. So much for water safety in Hawaii.
The Rest of the Visit
We don’t visit Hawaii for the nightlife (insert Don Ho joke here), and we’ve already done the requisite whale watching/catamaran sailing/snorkeling tour to Lanai, so mostly we spent our time relaxing, doing tai chi in the morning, body surfing, swimming and skin diving, and eating delicious Spam musubi and ahi poke.
We also walked around. On past trips to Maui we have hiked miles up the exquisitely beautiful Iao valley and through the desolate craters of Haleakala. This trip we strolled along the coast and watched waves crash into rocks. Every day we golfed—okay, we putted on an 18-hole course in bare feet with mai tais in hand. It could have been worse.
We also celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary (the actual reason for the trip) by enjoying a fabulous dinner at Maui’s finest restaurant, the Pineapple Grill at Kapalua. As you can see from the photos, we had a great time in Maui, as we always do on any of the islands of Hawaii. This winter would be a perfect time for YOU to visit these heavenly isles.
What do you think of Hawaii? Is it still paradise? Please feel free to add your thoughts by pressing the “comments” button below. Mahalo for your kokua.