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Locals and visitors alike can enjoy Hawaii’s ocean recreation

Hilton Hawaiian Village's Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon
Hilton Hawaiian Village's Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon
Ray Pendleton

Hawaii’s visitors as well as its residents often view ocean recreation around the island of Oahu as suited only for the experienced. And considering our famous 40-foot winter waves on the North Shore and the frequent 20- to 30-knot trade winds for sailors offshore, it is often sound reasoning.

Still there are a number of opportunities available for even the least experienced among us to venture out on Oahu’s surrounding warm, azure seas and lagoons.

From Waikiki’s famous statue of the legendary Duke Kahanamoku on Kuhio Beach, to the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, there are numerous “beach boy” services that provide an exciting variety of on-the-water activities.

Arguably the most popular are the colorful catamarans that take passengers directly off the beach for an hour sail across the reefs and beyond. The view is spectacular, especially at sunset, and all that is required of passengers is to kick back and relax. Partaking in a mai tai or a cold beer during the sail are inviting options.

Alternatives to sailing catamarans off the beach, although requiring more participation, are the six-to-eight-person outrigger canoes. With beach boys steering, the passengers provide the power to paddle offshore and then experience the exhilaration of catching the crest of a wave and being propelled a 100 yards or more back to land.

For the even more adventurous, Waikiki’s beach boys can help nearly anyone who can swim, to learn to surf. Plus, thanks to the benign nature of Waikiki’s wave-sets most of the year, there can’t be an easier place to learn.

Still, there are those who prefer their ocean activities at the opposite end of the spectrum, and the Fort DeRussy and Hilton-end of Waikiki Beach is where they will find it. The surrounding coral reefs protect both beaches from all but the largest waves and the Hilton has its own fully enclosed saltwater lagoon that is open to the public. The lagoon’s saltwater is replaced several times a day from underground wells to maintain its cleanliness.

One- and two-person kayaks can be rented for these placid waters, along with pedal-powered tricycles fitted with huge plastic wheels, called “aqua-cycles.” And, as stand-up paddleboards have recently become one of Oahu’s most popular ocean activities, they are also available at numerous locations by the hour or the day.

With the low cost for all of these ocean activities, it becomes clear, whether one’s home is Hawaii or elsewhere, taking part is just a matter of choosing which one to do first.

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