Hawaii in the winter is filled with the Aloha spirit.
Wendy Swenson, CTC breaks down her Hawaiian winter adventure she took her husband on in early January of 2016.
It pays to listen to advice from your experienced travel agent. When I told my boss, Thomas Jackson, President of World Travel Bureau, that I was planning a trip to Hawaii for my husband and myself, he immediately suggested that I go a week after the New Year, to avoid the crowds and enjoy the good weather. We had always visited Hawaii in the summers, but this was our chance to come in the winter, to see the big waves that happen this time of year. We were not disappointed!
We took off the week of January 9th, and our outbound flight to Honolulu was half full. When does that happen anymore? Waikiki Beach had plenty of beachgoers but it was not too crowded compared to summertime. The sidewalks had people but there was room to walk, but the main drag, Kalakaua Avenue, was crowded with traffic as usual. I really liked the way they configured the pedestrian crossing to have all people crossing in both directions while the cars waited and vice-versa.
The days were sunny and very comfortable – 77 to 80 degrees and the water temperature was listed as about the same. The breezes were very light and in the mornings, non-existent, and there was very little humidity. There were no bugs, even when the wind stopped.
We stayed at the hotel we honeymooned in over 40 years ago, The Moana Surfrider, now a Westin Resort & Spa. It’s right in the center of Waikiki offering easy access to beach activities such as surfing, outrigger canoe rides, sunset catamaran cruises, shopping and eating! New for this trip were the Stand up Paddle boarders. Our room was in the old section of the hotel with an ocean view over the banyan courtyard. Every night we heard music wafting up to our room. Every day we saw photographers posing wedding couples all over the hotel. Sometimes we wondered if it was the same white tuxedo and same white wedding dress on each couple! We even saw a guy in a white tuxedo riding the waves on a standup paddleboard, and falling into the water!
We took several drives to the North Shore to see the big waves, and they were beautiful, powerful and huge – about 20 to 30 feet. Sunset Beach was big on one day, and Waimea Bay had the biggest waves on our last day in Hawaii. It was exciting to watch the surfers take off on the waves. My phone camera could not do it justice as they were so far out there. One needed a huge telephoto lens.
Now I was motivated to take my own surfing lesson at Waikiki, which remained very gentle while the North shore was wild. It’s best to take your surfing lesson in the morning before the trade winds begin to blow. I was taught a specific technique which guaranteed that I’d stand up before I fell off. My instructor pushed me into the wave so I didn’t have to worry about catching it. It was such fun, but after about an hour of attempts, I was exhausted! I still need to take another lesson next time because I almost got it!
We visited the Bishop museum, which is a beautiful building, reminding me of our Orange County Courthouse in its stone construction. Inside there are lots of historical, cultural, scientific exhibits including a history of the Hawaiian Kings and Queens, but my favorite was the Duke Kahanamoku exhibit. It included a surfboard which I could balance on, and an interactive video which responded to my foot movements on the board. I replicated Duke’s 35 foot wave ride of 1917! It was a mile long, starting in front of Diamond Head Crater and ending at the Moana Surfrider hotel. I didn’t even fall off! Kids of all ages would love this exhibit, which has been extended until Feb. 28, 2016 according to their website (click here).
We spent most afternoons at the Moana Banyan courtyard enjoying our Hawaiian drinks and pupus, as we watched the surfers at Waikiki. The biggest thing we had to worry about was where to have dinner each night, a perfect vacation!