Hawaiian travel tips for surfers (Oahu)

Back in July I recently had the chance to travel to Hawaii on the company dime. Here are some travel tips that I recommend not just for surfers but for anyone.

1.       Don’t bring your surfboard. The airlines charged me 200 bucks to transport my 6’ fish. They dinged it up so bad that I had to do some emergency surgery in my hotel room with some Suncure before I paddled out. Better yet a couple of weeks prior start looking for a board to buy when you arrive. Craigslist and Ebay are great places to find barely used boards. Hey it’s Hawaii you are bound to find someone selling a used board somewhere. With some patience you can find deals that will cost you less then what the airlines charge you and you get a cool souvenir. If you are a long boarder, you are better off renting.

2.       If you insist on bringing your stick because you just gotta have your custom made Al Merrick Carbon Fiber Thruster or if you are like me absolutely needed to paddle out when you get off the plane, make sure you pack that board good. Get a quality board bag and pack clothes all around it. This also saves space in your luggage and maybe all you have to bring is a carry on. It’s a tropical island all you need are flip flops and board shorts anyway.

3.       Leave your rental car unlocked and never leave anything it that you don’t want stolen. Petty theft is big in Hawaii. I had a buddy’s Jeep (rental) broken into for 2 hotel towels. The doors were locked but he had a soft top but instead of unzipping the sides they cut a hole in it. End result he had to drive all the way back to the rental car office to get a new Jeep. No big whoop since it’s not his car and it’s insured but he had to deal with the hassle for just 2 hotel towels. Thieves will break the windows in your car if they think there is something in there worth their effort. Moral of the story, leave the car unlocked and nothing inside, definitely nothing valuable in plain view. Worst case scenario, someone snoops around in your car and finds nothing. You probably won’t even notice he was there.

4.       Eat on the cheap. Hawaii is an expensive place and caters to tourism. Especially places like Waikiki. Yes should treat yourself every now and then and eat at nice restaurants but you didn’t travel 15 hours half way across the globe to eat at PF Chang’s. Get out of Waikiki for starters. There are many local restaurants that are affordable and sometimes better than the big name tourist traps. Here are a couple to check out: Side Street Inn, Puka Dog, Coco’s Curry House, Sweet Home Waimolano, Grass Skirt Café, Ono’s, and the multitude of shrimp trucks that litter the country side. It’s a staple of Hawaiian dining. For more detailed dining info check out my Blog www.Foodfightlife.com/blog

5.       Get a waterproof container. This goes more in line with my third tip. I used my wife’s waterproof wallet thingy that was big enough to carry a cell phone. This enabled me to surf with my car keys, 1 credit card, and ID and not worry about them getting stolen from my rental car. This goes into my next tip.

6.       Travel light. Less is more. Get a smart phone or at least a camera phone. Carry 1 credit card/ debit card. The less you have on you the less you have to lose doing all those adventurous things we all love to do, like cliff diving, hiking, sky diving, swimming with sharks etc.

7.       Stay away from the west side of the Oahu. Every place has its bad spots, this is Hawaii’s. If you can’t pass for a local don’t go there. If you can pass for a local but drive a rental car don’t go there. There are little stickers on all rentals that locals look for. Sticker = Tourist which means prepare to get messed with.

8.       Traffic is horrendous in Honolulu. It’s a big city that has its share of rush hour traffic. Plan accordingly

9.       Research the various surf breaks. You don’t want to paddle out alone completely ignorant to the surrounding ocean conditions. This not only applies for safety but for going to a spot that is suited to your style of surfing. For example if you are taking a short board out you probably don’t want to paddle out to spots in Waikiki. Even though one day I was there waves were 7-8’ and squeaky clean, Waikiki is infested with people on logs catching rides way outside. The only rides I got that day were ones that sneaked past the iron clad defensive wall of long boards. That wasn’t many. If you are riding something small check out the channel entrances but realize it could get a little aggro at some of these spots. If you are lucky the locals will let you in on some local knowledge that isn’t in any surf guide. IE surf Diamond Head but go early the wind picks pretty good as the days does on.

10.   Get in shape by getting some paddle only sessions in. Some spots on the South Shore break pretty far off shore.

11.   Respect everyone especially the locals. If you do they may let you in on the secrets of the island. My favorite guys to talk to were valets and the bartenders at the hotel bar. They always knew the best places to eat and surf.

12.   If you must shop set one day aside for shopping. Buy what you want, get it out of your system and don’t even think about shopping again. Best bet is to go to the swap meet on Saturdays at the University of Hawaii. Souvenirs there are usually cheaper and locally made. That $100 shirt from Abercrombie and Fitch that says Hawaii was probably made in Korea.

13.   Respect the land, don’t litter. It’s an island there’s not a lot of places for trash to go. Plus if a local sees you they will not be happy. FYI there are some locals that get on you for littering and then litter themselves. There are people like that all over the world….they are called a#@holes.

14.   Don’t wear your lei draped all the way forward. It’s not right, I don’t know why but it’s not. It should be draped evenly front and back. A Hawaiian friend of mine couldn’t stand it anymore and had to correct me. She said I looked stupid. You single guys should use this knowledge on unsuspecting haole girls. Remember lei forward means I’m new and I don’t know what’s going on.

15. Learn the Shaka Brah. The pinky thumb wave. Each island has its own way of doing it. Big Island- up and down, Kauai- side to side, Oahu- rotating wrist shake, the other islands- I don’t know. I didn’t meet anyone from anywhere else.

16. Last tip embrace the Aloha Spirit. I had the trip of a life time. I was on the island for 21 days and surfed 19 of them. I had the chance to visit 3 island and view several from the air. I met a ton of good people and truly belief the Aloha Spirit exists in Hawaii. In only that same good to each other attitude was everywhere. How different life would be. Enjoy the island, Respect other people and the land, and paddle hard

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