The day woke grey and misty. Winds made themselves known intermittently, much the way I read in bed, fully engaged with the text one minute, losing focus the next as my eyes grow heavy, and snapping back to attention when the book or Kindle or iPad in my hand starts its dive for the floor because my hands are responding to my body’s demand for sleep.
I wasn’t expecting this gentle opening to the day. I had fully expected to awake throughout the night as thunder cracked across the sky or lightning stared in my bedroom window as rudely as a nighttime intruder.
But Flossie didn’t materialize in the way weather forecasters had predicted. The tropical storm was downgraded to a tropical depression as it made its way across the Hawaiian Island chain, starting with Hawaii Island and moving northwest. By the time it arrived in Kauai this morning, the local paper had already printed its front page headline, “Flossie Fizzles.”
We’ve had a few near misses in Hawaii in as many years, what with two tsunami warnings and, now, Flossie that didn’t result in disaster. Still, I expect the next time I receive a 6:00 a.m. call from the Civil Defense with another warning, as I did Monday morning, I will still prepare—still fill up the cupboards with non-perishable foods, still fill the vehicles with gas, still stock extra toilet paper, still fill the five-gallon water jugs and bath tubs, still stock up on ice and dog food, still make sure there are plenty of batteries for flashlights. I suppose these warnings are like buying lottery tickets. All it takes is one.
Because I don’t have much of a Flossie story to share, I’ve decide to share a few discoveries from my last visit to Oahu:
- Snorkeling: There aren’t many snorkeling spots in Waikiki. Most know about area fronting the Waikiki Aquarium at the south end of Queen’s Surf Beach Park, but that was at the clear other end of Waikiki. I was staying at Outrigger Reef on the Beach and found a lovely c-shaped reef within a three-minute walk. A school of Moorish idols; a chunky, little Hawaiian box fish; a few state fish—the humuhumunukunukuapuaa; a bunch of sergeant majors and numerous sea urchins joined me for my morning swim. I was also surprised by the diversity of coral growing here, albeit not in huge numbers. To find this reef, take the beachwalk outside Outrigger Reef on the Beach west. Enter the water at the point where a sidewalk bisects Fort DeRussy Park, approximately halfway between the Hawaii Army Museum and the volleyball courts.
- Dinner at Ocean House: Make sure you’re seated before the sunset. It’s worth making a reservation. This place specializes in prime rib, but even for a non-meat eater like me, I was happy with their large selection of salads and vegetables sides. Kind of impressive, really. No matter what you order, try the Vegetable Luau, made of steamed taro leaf, coconut milk and Maui onion, a true Hawaii taste treat that you won’t find many places.
- Massage at Shiatsu & Massage Center. Don’t go for the ambiance. Don’t go for the spa. There isn’t much of either. Go for the massage. Ask for Nikki. I will only go if she’s working. “Massage is my passion,” Nikki says. I’ve enjoyed hundreds of massages over the years, but Nikki managed to surprise me with some effective, new techniques, including walking on my back. (She’s tiny, by the way.) It was like she was performing an acrobatics show up there that, sadly, went unseen. Plus, she has opposable big toes as dexterous as thumbs that she could work between and alongside my vertebrae to great effect.
- Kani Ka Pila Grille: One of the reasons I go out with friends is to enjoy their company. So, I am not big into the whole community table dining thing. Kani Ka Pila Grille features live Hawaiian music every night of the week. On Wednesdays, Hawaiian music legend Cyril Pahinui draws a crowd, leaving few choice tables available. On the night I went, as expected, all the tables were taken. At one four-top with a particular good view, a young man sat alone. I hesitated when he invited us to join him, but boy am I glad we said yes. Turned out, he was Uncle Cyril’s sound guy. He knew every song, the two guys accompanying Uncle, and recommended his favorite CDs. We bought two.
- Canoe surfing with Faith Surf School: This was so much fun that I already devoted its own blog post to the adventure of canoe surfing.
- Shore Bird: I go for the all-you-can-eat salad bar. You would probably go for the grill. Not only is it a grill with a view—of Diamond Head—but you grill your own entrée selection. Everyone seemed to have a blast doing so. If you want to experience the grill virtually, they even have a live grill cam. If I had known this when I was there, I would have waved.
- The Groin in front of Outrigger Reef on the Beach: This is the place to be for sunset photography. Stay after dark and watch Waikiki light up. Bring your tripod to capture a panoramic shot spanning clear to Diamond Head. (P.S. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a groin is “a rigid structure built out from a shore to protect the shore from erosion, to trap sand, or to direct a current for scouring a channel.”)
What about you? What are your favorite Hawaii discoveries?
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