Every month or so I take the family down to Waikiki and we just people watch. The leviathon of tourism commerce is always around us as we walk down Kalakaua Ave. and the street is bustling on both sides with scurrying locals and tourists alike. The air smells of sun screen, perfume, ocean spray, restaurant food, and chlorine (there are tons of fountains in Waikiki). There is also the occasional stench that invokes a memory of walking down the streets of Pusan, Korea. Those are few, however, and always offend my olfactory when we pass an alley next to a big hotel.
Waikiki is a great place in moderation but it lost its luster 10 years ago for me. It is crowded like any other big city and has the same problems big cities have. Although there are few cities in the U.S. where surfers walk around barefoot with their boards wearing the absolute minimum apparel enabling them to enter an ABC store for food and drink.
Although Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous in the world it is, in my opinion, one of the shittiest beaches on the island. The “sand” is actually pulverized concrete and tears the bottom of my feet up as I walk on it. My parents who were out here a few weeks ago also commented on this. In fact, after 2 days in Waikiki they were more than ready to get out and see some other parts of the island.
Waikiki is a gathering place for old and young, sane and insane, clean and filthy, tourist and local. The waves in Waikiki are some of the smoothest and easy rolling of the islands and are the stomping ground of novice and seasoned surfers alike. In fact, on a few pictures I feature people in the middle of surfing lessons. The long board is definitely a must for beginning surfers who want to quickly experience the thrill.
Waikiki offers something for everyone. There is a park with tables imprinted with a checkerboard pattern and there is always a chess or checkers tournament going on. You won’t find the tournaments featured or advertised as they are held among the regulars and bragging rights reign as the grand prize. Under the same pavilion can be found people playing bridge or groups just sitting and enjoying the day.
This time of year provides a special treat because about 2 weeks before Halloween Waikiki starts to put up its Christmas decorations. Only in Hawaii can you see Santa commanding a team (pod?) of dolphins.
I do enjoy a leisurely 2-hour stroll down Kalakaua but I think I have had my fix for the month. I’ll probably head down again around Christmas time when the Kalikimaka is in full swing.