Getting into the Aloha Spirit

The locals of the Hawaiian islands are famed for their “Aloha spirit”, a friendly accepting attitude and a powerful way of overcoming any problem, and I could use bags of it to overcome my present obstacle – getting my surfboard to keep my body out of the sea for as long as possible. Luckily for me my surf instructor, Jeb, had more than enough patient acceptance to cope with my lack of timing, skill and balance. All could be overcome with an easy-going chuckle and a pick-your-self-up-and-carry-on approach!

The first trick was to grab a wave – which came in frequently enough to wipe away thoughts of the last catastrophe and focus on the next wave…which is long enough for beginners but high enough to keep it more than interesting for surfers of all levels. Once the board was successfully turned with the wave rushing up from behind, I tried to power forward. With my gangly arms flailing at the water to gain speed…I could only just about kneel weakly as I plummeted (and I mean, plummeted…) towards the shoreline…

Getting into the Aloha Spirit

And with the beautiful white sands of Hukilau Beach, on the North East coast of the island of O’ahu, stretching out to embrace me as I raced head over heels towards her white sands – I thought there are far worse landing pads in the world than this one. In fact the beach is so beautiful they sing a song about it, “Oh we’re going to a Hukilau, a huki, huki, hukilau…” and I certainly was – headfirst.

After the fourth or fifth sea-to-ground collision I was able to raise myself above a kneeling position and actually stand – which was both exhilarating and all too brief. I now felt able to wish Jeb a fond farewell with thanks for getting me started – all this exercise and sea air made me feel like I’d endured a full workout in a gym where the machines had all been set at least two notches above reasonable.


But what I was certain about was the need for a good lunch! I again summoned the Aloha spirit to gather my now, jellied legs, to the nearest beachside restaurant – which must have been a whole 30 paces away on the edge of the little town of Laie.

Scanning the menu I could see that Hawaiian cuisine was an interesting mix of international foods. I immediately opted to rehydrate with a fresh coconut with its top cut off and a straw stuck in the top – bought to me by a friendly and tanned old lady. There seemed to be a variety of mixed influences from all over the Pacific world – Filipino inspired noodles, Italian pizzas and American cheeseburgers. When my eyes ranged over the words “plate lunch”, I politely enquired and was given a vague explanation of rice, fish, meat, veg and “special gravy”.


When the dish arrived on a paper plate – for just $12 with a coke – it was steaming with aromatic goodness. It tasted like simmered teriyaki pork pieces accompanied by a fresh fish salad on the side. So the next choice would be whether or not to head back into the sea to practice my newfound surf ‘skills’ – so I ordered a nice cold beer whilst I thought about it….

Author Bio: Leon Levy is a British writer specialising in travel, the environment and current affairs. He has a particular interest in the Middle East and South Asia.

All pictures and text are from the author.

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