Along Waikiki's beaches, surfers ride waves, curling over the horizon and gently splashing into the water just before reaching the sand. Kai Sallas—no stranger to tall waves—takes his beginner-level students nearly a mile south of Waikiki to a friendly, isolated shore that's ideal for learning to long board without a crowd.
An acclaimed professional surfer, Kai belongs to a breed of world-class athletes whose competitive talents are accompanied by teaching acumen. The long-board champion relished teaching family and friends how to surf as early as age 12. Before teaching professionally, though, Kai amassed a long list of awards from around the globe, including the coveted Professional Longboard Association championship twice and playing Peter Pan twice in a dolphin-only performance. In 2009, he came ashore to his home in Waikiki and opened Kai Sallas' Pro Surf School Hawaii. The venture made him a second-generation surfing teacher, since his father also taught surfing for 35 years. Housed in the Waikiki Beach Marriott, the business has evolved to not only include surfing lessons but also tours.
A manmade island floats 300 yards off the shore of Waikiki Beach. Its inhabitants shriek as they plunge from its three 5- to 15-foot cliffs or plummet down a slippery slide into the ocean below. Intrepid sorts don snorkels and masks to mingle with the aquatic fauna that skirt its hulls. Others strike out aboard kayaks and standup paddleboards, steering past an ocean trampoline and its buoyant visitors. Those who choose to remain on the island's sun-drenched surface recline in teak lounge chairs, tipping back refreshments from three bars or munching on morsels fresh from the grill. The founders of Waikiki Ocean Club might prefer to call it a catamaran, but at 145 feet long and 65 feet wide, the site functions as both an island and watery amusement park. As swimmers and sunbathers gather around its decks, scuba divers seek out marine life below the waves and helmet-diving excursions ensure that hair stays dry enough to kindle a fire. Jet skis, AquaQuads, and rigid inflatable boats ferry riders away from the club at exhilarating speeds; boat tours to secluded snorkeling locales and celebrities’ beach houses highlight resplendent scenery. After dark, the floating fairground transforms into a DJ-manned dance floor, awarding Friday-night guests with an unobstructed view of fireworks over Waikiki.
Hawaiian WaterSports set up shop with the intention of equipping residents and visitors with everything they need to enjoy the aqua waves and waterways of Hawaii. The shop realized that goal with two locations, each stacked to the gills with surfboards, kiteboards, kayaks, snorkeling equipment, and books on how to beat mermaids at Marco Polo. Hawaiian WaterSports is an official IKO kiteboarding center and its IKO-certified instructors teach students wind theory and the skills necessary to set up, launch, and ride their own kiteboard. Expert surfers on staff can also take squads of aquatic adventures out into the curling sea for lessons specifically designed to get beginners hanging ten and perfecting balancing technique for future limbo competitions.
Epic Hawaii's tour guides leave no corner of Oahu unexplored. With Hawaii's rich culture, history, and ecology dictating their paths, they take visitors on snorkeling adventures off the North Shore. Tour-goers hike through majestic waterfalls and rain forests, and they kayak from Kailua Beach to Moku Nui Island, where seabirds thrive.