I had been to Hawaii about 6-7 times in my life and I had not once tried surfing. I always thought it was too difficult or frustrating to learn and never bothered to try it. Until today.
Today my cousin would be taking us to Makapu’u, one of the calmer parts of the island that supposedly had some great beginner waves. I was excited to try out surfing for the first time and I really didn’t know what to expect. We got to the beach and saw a few people out surfing. Most of them looked like beginners, but a few of them look more experienced. I was eager to get in, but I needed to wait my turn. My cousin, the local, would use the surfboard first to get a feel for the waves and give us some pointers. Watching her surf was so cool. She was really good and could ride just about any wave on that beach. Next, my brother had a turn. He had surfed before in California and Indonesia so he had a little bit of experience. Lastly, it was my turn.
I have always been a quick learner, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s good because I can pick things up easily, but bad because I always jump in too quickly and sometimes can get discouraged if I can’t pick something up as fast as I want. The first trick was to spot the right wave. Most of the waves here were a little bit too small to carry the board although a good sized one would come every 2 minutes or so. Patience is the trick with surfing. You have to wait for the wave that’s right for you. A lot of times, people will spend about 10 minutes just looking at the water to see what kind of day it is. This is key to surfing on the professional level because you need to know exactly what the waves are going to do.
I spotted my first wave and went for it. I paddled as hard as I could, but I was just a little bit too late. I was used to bodysurfing where you catch the wave a little bit early, but here you want to catch it just as it begins to crash. After about the third attempt, I was able to catch a ride. The first ride I got was on my stomach, then on my knees, and finally, after being on my knees for a few seconds, I felt comfortable standing up. I was shaky, but I was doing it. This was such an amazing feeling. I didn’t think I was capable of this at all let alone on the first day.
I know it doesn’t look like much, but these beginner waves were just the right size for me to learn. I would attempt to tackle bigger and bigger waves as time goes on, but for now I was so happy just taking these nice slow rides. I can see how surfing can be addictive. Getting a little bit better with each consecutive ride. After each ride, you find yourself saying “that was fun, but it could’ve been a little bit better”. That is what is so enjoyable about it. You never want to go in.
Eventually, we cracked a fin and had to call it a day. I still got about an hour of surfing in though! More than I had ever done in my life.
The next day was perhaps our rainiest. We had been dying to do a particular hike the entire trip and now seemed like the perfect day. My cousins showed this hike to me a few years ago, but I think they had done it so many times they were tired of it. On a rainy day we could go just with my family and no one would have a problem with it because they’d all want to stay inside.
We gathered our stuff and headed up into the mountains for the bamboo forest walk. I remembered this being one of my favorite all time hikes, but I recall so little of it that it became clear once we got into the forest that I had no idea where I was going. The cool thing about a bamboo forest is that, unlike trees, bamboo grows so close together that the forest is super thick. We were completely restrained to the path, and really couldn’t see much beyond it. The rain began picking up, and now it was almost a full downpour. I wasn’t wearing a raincoat. Something I picked up during my trip to New Zealand is that when it rains, as long as you don't have a cell phone or a wallet on you, it doesn’t really bother you that much. Think about it, it’s just like taking a shower. It’s very refreshing and also liberating to not have to complain about the weather. This has been my strategy since. Whenever we would be going on a rainy hike, I wouldn’t bring my phone and I would also not bring a raincoat. I would really recommend trying this sometime as long as you don’t have really nice close or live in a colder climate. You will get cold so make sure you do it during the summer!
We found these amazing ruins in the middle of the forest, left over from Kamehameha. There used to be a getaway house here for him and his servants. We studied the remaining bricks and made conjectures about what they could’ve been.
On a different part of the trail, you can actually follow a stream that leads to a small waterfall. This is definitely the highlight of the hike. The pool beneath the waterfall is about 8 feet deep at the most so it is the perfect place to do some swimming. Definitely do not dive in any body of water you can’t see the bottom of.
We had fun climbing up and down this waterfall and chilling in the small little pools that formed within it. There used to be a rope swing here, which was a ton of fun but I think somebody removed it. It was so nice being here. Because it was raining, it wasn’t the most popular spot so we got a ton of time to ourselves to just talk and enjoy the peace and quiet the rainy bamboo forest provided.
On the way back, I found myself whistling a tune I had heard on the radio. I heard a bird whistling back. It took me awhile to realize he was communicating with me but once I did I was so excited! I tried to mimic his calls as best I could and before I knew it we were deep in conversation. I have no idea what he was saying but it was super fun to have a back and forth like this. I didn’t know this was possible! It was at this moment that I really felt like a part of nature. I’ll have to keep this trick in mind for the next time I hear a bird out in the woods!