Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch

Located about 45 minutes north of Honolulu, Kualoa Ranch is a working cattle ranch that has seen some varied transitions since it was established in 1850. Today Kualoa’s owners have diversified the ranch’s activities to keep its 4,000 acres unspoiled and its landscape intact—protected from development. Kualoa means ‘long back,’ referring to the spectacular ridge that towers above the lush valleys below, where at one time up to 1,000 cattle roamed.

Always considered a sacred place, Kualoa Ranch has a rich history, full of folklore and myths. One of those myths is that the Menehune, Hawaii’s legendary little people, built its Moli`i fishpond in only one night. Created over 800 years ago, the fishpond boasts a 4,000-foot rock wall with a series of gates at various intervals. Small fish enter the ponds to feed, and then grow too large to escape. Fishermen then can easily harvest them either by spear or with nets.

When the first Polynesians landed their canoes on Oahu more than 1,500 years ago, many of them established themselves in the fertile Hakipu`u Valley near the foothills of the Kualoa Mountains. It was a place of refuge and sanctuary. Royalty were instructed here in the arts of war, history and social traditions.

Early in the 1800s, missionaries brought religion to Hawaii and began to establish schools. They arranged for a doctor to come from the eastern U.S. to care for the Hawaiian people in 1828. Dr. Gerrit P. Judd became a personal advisor to King Kamehameha III, who eventually allowed Judd to buy 620 acres of land—Kualoa--for $1,300 in 1850. Judd’s son Charles bought the adjacent valleys of Hakipu`u and Ka`a`awa 10 years later and started a sugar plantation. He built the Kualoa Sugar Mill together with his brother-in-law Samuel Wilder in 1863. However, the sugar plantation failed because of a lack of water, and the mill closed only eight years later.

Cattle ranching was the next venture on the combined lands, and it thrived for a number of years. Then the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 brought a new challenge with the entrance into World War II. The federal government seized a good portion of the property to build an airfield, where large monkeypod trees provided natural hangars for some small planes. Giant bunkers and other installations appeared at the base of Kualoa Ridge.

Many years later when the war was over, the rebuilding of the ranch began. It was a long process to reintroduce cattle, replant pastures and remove the military hardware. Times had changed, and cattle- ranching was no longer profitable. It was a struggle to survive. On top of that, Government tried to seize parts of the property to create public parks.

To keep the lands intact and supplement the cattle and farming businesses, Dr. Judd’s descendants, the Morgans, have developed low-impact recreational activities and educational programs. Fruit and flowers are still grown, as well as fish and prawns for the local markets. Ancient Hawaiian villages have been faithfully recreated, and school children come to camp, hike, mountain bike, and ride horseback. It’s also become a popular film setting for television and movies. Some familiar titles that feature Kualoa’s perfect landscape are Godzilla, Mighty Joe Young, George of the Jungle, Jurassic Park, and most recently, the popular TV show, Lost.

With the careful stewardship of the Morgan family, Kualoa remains as it has for centuries, well-preserved and pristine.


Dolphin Watching

Dolphin Watching

Hawaii is one of the few places in the world where visitors can get close to dolphins in the wild. Imagine the thrill of seeing dolphins playing just offshore—or one of the dolphin-watching tour companies will be glad to take you aboard for a chance to see some amazing acrobatic displays just off the side of the boat. Some operators also offer excursions for snorkeling or swimming with dolphins.

Oahu’s west coast waters at Waianae are the most likely place on the island that you can see nai’a, the Hawaiian name for dolphin. Spinner and bottlenose dolphins are those most commonly sighted, and your chance of catching a glimpse is higher during the morning hours when small groups come near shore to rest and play.

Spinner dolphins are famous for their incredible jumps—they often fly into the air and make several complete spins before diving back into the ocean. Generally five to seven feet long and weighing between 130 and 200 pounds, Hawaii’s spinners are dark gray on their backs, with a stripe of lighter gray on their sides and a white belly.

Why do the spinner dolphins spin? Some think it’s just a joyful expression or a teaching demonstration, but it may also be a courtship display, a method of ejecting water from the upper respiratory tract, or the more mundane reason of ridding themselves of parasites.
Whatever the reason, it’s exciting to watch.

Bottlenose dolphins are larger than the spinners, ranging in size from seven to 10 feet in length and weighing between 600 and 800 pounds. Their backs are a medium gray color, with their sides being lighter gray and their bellies are white or pink. The population of bottlenose dolphins around Hawaii is believed to be a few thousand, but you might see them in groups of two to 15 individuals.

Bottlenose dolphins are the ones you generally see at aquarium shows and on TV programs, and are thought to be one of the most intelligent mammals on planet earth.

A Few Dolphin Facts:

  • Dolphins breathe through a blowhole on top of their head. They are conscious breathers: in other words, they think about when to breathe. They can breathe without surfacing. They blow a bubble when near the water surface and then quickly draw breath in when the bubble forms a bridge between the blowhole and the air, through the water. As the dolphin exhales the air leaves the blowhole at speeds of over 100 miles per hour.

  • A dolphin puts one half of its brain to sleep at a time (literally sleeping with one eye open). In this way, it is never completely unconscious.

  • Dolphins hunt mostly at night, eating fish, jellyfish, krill, squid, and small crustaceans. Before diving up to 800 feet into the darkness below, they assemble into a pod, possibly to protect themselves from sharks, which are natural dolphin predators. They find their prey using echolocation.

  • Dolphins are generally believed to have an average life expectancy of about 30 years.




Hawaii boasts many beautiful flowers, trees and shrubs, but none more beautiful or exotic than the orchid. According to experts, the first orchids existed with the dinosaurs over 100 million years ago. There are at least 35,000 known species, and they live in many different environments, including Hawaii’s diverse mini climates, on all continents except for Antarctica.

For centuries, people have admired the orchid as a symbol of love and beauty. In several ancient cultures, orchids were considered so special that only royalty was allowed to own or wear them. Luckily for us, mere mortals are now accepted orchid owners and growers.

Orchids are not hard to grow, but they do need the right conditions to keep them healthy and to persuade them into re-blooming. They need a balance of light, air, water and food to grow and flower well.

Light: Without enough light, your orchid may not bloom. How much light is enough? The foliage should have light, somewhat yellow-green foliage (but not too yellow or reddish, that means too much light). Darker foliage means it’s not getting enough light. Depending on the type of orchid, most will grow beautifully in a sunny window. If placed outside, orchids will need a little more shade. Once the plant blooms, place it anywhere out of direct sunlight.

Air & Media: Orchid roots, and eventually the entire plant, will die without air. This is the reason they are not usually grown in soil, but rather in commercial grower’s mix, tree fern fibers, sphagnum moss, coconut fiber, cinders, peat moss, fir or redwood bark chips.

Air movement is a must—with Hawaii’s gentle trade winds and breezes, it’s no wonder orchids thrive here. Good air movement also prevents cold or hot spots, which can make it more difficult for orchids to grow well.

Water: Orchids should be watered just as they begin to dry out. How to find that out? The best way is to insert a finger into the potting mix. If in doubt, wait a day! If it’s almost dry, take it to the sink and let tepid water run through it for a minute or so. This will also flush out the salts that naturally accumulate. Be sure to let the plant drain completely. Use a paper towel to blot the water from the crown (where the leaves join in the center) to avoid crown rot. It is best to water in the morning or mid-day to allow it to dry before night.

Temperature & Humidity: Orchids thrive in Hawaii because the temperature and humidity is perfect for them—above 60°F at night and between 70° to 80° or higher during the day. Most home temperatures are acceptable for growing orchids.

Fertilizer: Any balanced orchid fertilizer (look at the numbers on the container, 20-20-20, etc.) can be used once or twice a month to fertilize your orchid, unless it’s in bark, in which case it needs more nitrogen: use 30-10-10.

Pests: Orchids occasionally have insect and disease problems. Mealy bugs, scales, and aphids can simply be washed off.

With a little luck, your orchid will flourish and add a touch of elegance to your home or garden!


Funny Hawaiian Fruits

Coconuts and bananas are the most well-known of Hawaii’s traditional staple fruits. But there are many other fruits grown here as well, and some of them are really funny-looking!


Pineapple is well-known the world over, but if you think about it, it’s a strange-looking fruit. One wonders who discovered that it could be eaten? Who was the first to learn that there was a sweet delicious fruit inside that hard, spiky shell? Pineapple contains sugar, malic and citric fruit acids. It is high in vitamin B1, B2, B6, C and manganese. Its enzyme bromelain aids digestion.


The noni tree has beautiful broad green leaves, and the fruit looks somewhat potato-like, although green, ripening to a translucent yellow/white with warty-looking brown spots. Noni is well-known as a Hawaiian medicinal plant. However, we are warned by gardeners not to plant it near a bedroom window. As it ripens, the fruit smells truly horrible—like unwashed feet that have been in rubber slippers too long. And, it doesn't taste good either! It is known as a famine fruit, which means, probably, edible only if there’s nothing else to eat.

As a medicine, noni juice is used by traditional healers for heart problems, high blood pressure, and diabetes. It’s also used to treat skin cancer.

Star Fruit

Funny-shaped but pretty, star fruit is a really juicy semi-sweet five-edged fruit. When sliced, it looks like a star. It should be eaten when yellow or light green. The edges will be brown, but don’t worry about that. It’s only got about 30 calories and it’s a good source of Vitamin C. It’s also rich in antioxidants, low in sugar and acid.


Breadfruit is a staple food of Pacific islanders, often substituted for starchy foods like potatoes, pasta, or rice. It can be roasted, baked, fried or boiled; the taste is somewhat potato-like, or similar to fresh-baked bread. The fruit is rarely sold except at roadside fruit stands in season, but a breadfruit tree in your yard is an invitation for locals to come by. A neighbor once took several and a month later brought back some dried breadfruit ‘chips’ to try.

Nutritionally speaking, breadfruit is high in energy from carbohydrates and low in fat. It is a good source of fiber, calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, thiamine, and niacin.

When cut, a milky juice comes out that’s extremely sticky. In the old days this latex was useful for boat caulking—not sure if that makes it more or less appetizing…

The breadfruit tree leaves, bark, and latex have been used medicinally by native Hawaiians. It’s a whole pharmacy in one tree. The latex can be massaged into the skin to treat broken bones or sprains, and compresses applied to the spine relieve sciatica. Crushed leaves benefit skin problems and fungal diseases like thrush. Diluted juice is taken internally to treat diarrhea, tummy aches, and dysentery. The sap from the crushed leaf stems heals ear infections or sore eyes. Chase away a headache with a remedy made from its bark. It is thought that tea made from the leaves will control diabetes.

"Rambut" is Malay for 'hairy,' so it’s obvious why the fruit is called rambutan. The fruit has a single central inedible seed with white flesh wrapped around it, just like lychee. The fresh fruits are easily bruised and have a limited shelf life. Rambutan fruit is rich in fat, calcium, iron, protein, nitrogen, zinc, magnesium, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, vitamins C and A, thiamin, riboflavin, and fiber. Some sources say that eating rambutan can decrease the chance of cancer, and it’s very effective in lowering blood pressure.


Let's Bon Dance!

Let’s Bon Dance!

Traditionally held in Japan to honor the spirits of those who have passed on, Obon Dance Festivals in Hawaii have become a highly popular cultural celebration of Japanese and Okinawan ethnic roots. In Japan, the Obon lasts a long weekend, but in Hawaii, Bon Dance Season stretches the entire summer, with dances held every weekend from June through September at various Buddhist Temples around the islands.

In Japan, community associations typically sponsor bon dances. Here in Hawaii the events are usually staged at Buddhist temples, the keepers of Japanese culture. Although you might think the atmosphere would be serious, the whole air of a bon dance is joyful—good times for all participants, people from all cultures and ethnicities, local families and tourists alike. Even though they are held at temples, most of the dances are not religious--they’re more like folk dances.

Usually held in the evening, everyone is invited to join the simple, repetitive movements accompanied by traditional Japanese music. Colorful paper lanterns are hung to help beckon the spirits of the ancestors, and taiko drummers keep a happy beat that is hard to resist. Aside from the dancing, the smell of traditional foods like andagi emanating from food booths welcomes everyone to join. Sometimes craft booths are set up as well, offering traditional and local handicrafts and mementos.

The dancing usually begins a little before dark, and if you know nothing about the movements, you can just follow the dancers in the inner circles. The dances start off slowly and gain momentum. You don’t need to wear a yukata or happi coat to participate, although they are often available for sale at the site—casual wear is fine. A yagura, or freestanding tower, is the focus at the center of the dance, where the musicians will take turns playing the traditional bamboo flutes, hand gongs, shamisen (a three-stringed instrument like a guitar), and of course, taiko drums.

Some events end with a toro nagashi, a moving and spectacular occasion where candlelit lanterns are placed in the ocean to guide the spirits back to their world. You cannot fail to be moved by the sight of hundreds of small flames floating on the sea.An evening-long event can be exhausting, but fulfilling and very enjoyable. Next season, why don’t you join? There’s bound to be a Bon Dance held near you. You might meet some new friends and become a convert!


Queen Emma of Hawai'i

Hawaii's history is full of interesting stoires and personalities. One of the more beloved and influential characters is Queen Emma, who co-founded The Queen's Medical Center.

Emma, who was one-quater Caucasian, was born in January 1836 to High Chief George Na'ea and High Chiefess Fanny Kekelaokalani Young. Before her birth, though, baby Emma had been promised to her aunt through adoption, or the Hawaiian tradition of hanai. Chiefess Grace Kama'iku'i Young Rooke and her husband, Dr. Thomas C.B. Rooke were unable to have children, and raised Emma as their own.
Dr. Rooke was a young English surgeon who was serving as the court physician.
Grace was the only royal part-Hawaiian chiefess to marry a white man in her generation.
Growing up in Honolulu at Rooke House, Emma acquired a broad education influenced by her adoptive parents' backgrounds in both cultures. She became very well read, fluent in Hawaiian and English, and was famous for her accomplishments as a horsewoman. She also sang, played piano and danced.

At 20, Emma married Alexander Liholiho, who was also known as King Kamahameha IV. She became Queen Consort Emma Kalanikaumakaamano Kaleleonalani Na'ea Rooke. What's a queen consort? it simply means that she was the wife of a reigning king.

The Young queen soon became involved in matters of the court, particularly in humanitarian efforts and expansion of the scholarly library. Influenced by her hanai father, she encouraged her husband to establish a public hospital to help native Hawaiians.

Visitors to the Islands had brought diseases like smallpox with them that the natives had no defense against, and which were rapidly decimating the population. The king and queen personally gathered over $13,000 by going door to door in Honolulu, and in 1859, they established The Queen's Hospital. Dr. Rooke died only a few months before its completion. Named in Emma's honor, the hospital had 18 patient beds. Within a year, a large building was built with an additional 124 beds.

It took time to convince the Hawaiians to take advantage of the new hospital, as many prefered their traditional healing methods. The queen formed an organization to promote the hospital's services to the natives, and visited patients there almost daily whenever she was in residence in Honolulu. It is now called the Queen's Medical Center.

Queen Emma, often said, "People are the key to healing." The Queen's Medical Center has adopted a philosophy of care called Lokomaika'i, to honor that statement. Lokomaika'i translates as "inner health."

At her death, Emma left the bulk of her estate, some 13,000 acres of land on the Big Island and in Waikiki on Oahu, in trust for the hospital that honors her. The Queen Emma Foundation was set up to provide continuous lease income for the hospital. Some of its holdings include the land where the International Marketplace and Waikiki Town Center building sit.


Ukulele: Hawaii’s Special Musical Tradition

You hear the first few strums and you know exactly what it is. It's the joyful sound of the Hawaiian ukulele! Your spirits lift and you are immediately delighted. Popular in the 1920s, the uke's sound had faded until recently, but it's enjoying a resurgence in Hawaiian culture and around the world.

The Hawaiian word for‘jumping flea,’ukulele lives up to its description. This humble but lively instrument with only four strings has an incredible range from its unsophisticated traditional rhythm melodies to more complex and energetic lead instrument stylings. Though playing it seems to be very simple and is easily learned by beginners, it's hard to play really well. But whatever the skill level of the performer, it's just plain fun.

Ukuleles usually come in four sizes: soprano, concert, tenor, and baritone. With its new popularity, the ukulele itself is evolving – there are now six-, seven-, eight-, and nine-string instruments being made. The best ukes are made with koa wood with rosewood fingerboards, but other woods can be used, including mahogany, mango, cedar, maple, spruce and nato. Some have fancy abalone trim.

Hawaiian artist Israel Kamakawiwo'ole (Bruddah Iz) reintroduced the ukulele's pure resonance to today's music in his medley of Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World. This song is even more popular today than when it was released in 1993.

Several artists have elevated the ukulele's sound to new heights and brought it to wider audiences. Contemporary Hawaiian performers such as Jake Shimabukuro and Ryan Imamura, along with Raiatea Helm and Taimane Gardner have transcended the original ukulele songs and adapted the music to other styles. From rock ‘n roll to reggae, back to traditional Hawaiian folk songs to concert music, the versatile ukulele can do it all.

Jake Shimabukuro, Raiatea Helm and Taimane Gardner

Ukulele virtuoso and teacher Roy Sakuma and his wife have established the Ukulele Festival Hawaii, which happens each year in July, to honor our islands' ultimate instrument. Many of the world's finest players come to share their art with islanders and visitors alike.

Hawaii's last monarch, Queen Lili'uokalani, described the ukulele best: she said that the word ukulele came from the Hawaiian words uku (gift) and lele (to come) --the gift that came here. This tiny instrument that was developed by Portuguese immigrant craftsmen in the late 1800s has been a rich part of Hawaii's musical heritage and will continue to have the premier place in our hearts as the symbol of all things Hawaiian.


Aloha Beach Services, perpetuating the legacy of Waikiki’s beach boys for over 50 years, the place to learn how to surf and feel “aloha”

My blog assignment for this month was a very general one, to write about something that may interest young people during their stay in Hawaii. We have been getting more and more high school students and college students coming to Hawaii each year to participate in the Honolulu Festival. And these students come from both the east and the west, mainly from Japan and the U.S. mainland. (Please read about Richard Tagawa and Hawaii Music Festivals at the very end of this article.)

This assignment is not as easy as it may seem because both my children are in their twenties therefore I am clueless as to what would interest high school and college students. Besides, I prefer writing human interest stories rather than an article about “things to do in Hawaii.” So my goal is to accomplish both.

I picked up this magazine at the airport called “101 Things to Do.” It is a complimentary magazine that is published every six months. The magazine literally talks about 101 things that visitors and even kama’aina can do in Oahu. Looking through the magazine I came to the conclusion that young people, no matter where they come from, want to experience Hawaii’s beautiful beaches. And on Oahu, a surfing experience in Waikiki is a must. But it’s not just about taking a surfing lesson on Waikiki Beach. It’s about interacting with the knowledgeable “Waikiki beach boys” and feeling their “aloha.” I am sure that there are many beach service companies in Waikiki that offer wonderful programs for our visitors. Let me introduce the pioneer of these companies, Aloha Beach Services. This reputable company has been in business in front of the Westin Moana Surfrider for over 50 years catering to the needs of our visitors.

The view of Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach in front of Aloha Beach Services.

Surfboards are all lined up, ready for rental. Nice Hawaiian grass shack reminiscent of old Waikiki.

That’s right, Aloha Beach Services, run by Didi Robello and his staff, go back many, many years. I will eventually get into the details of the surfing lessons that Aloha Beach Services has to offer. I’ll even talk a bit about how they cater to the Japanese visitor. But before I do, let me “talk story” about how Aloha Beach Services came to be and some interesting stories about the Robello Family.

As many of you may know, Hawaiian history refers to surfing as the Sport of Kings because long ago it was Hawaiian royalty that had access to the best beaches and the best boards. Eventually surfing became popular with the common folk but then was oppressed by the Europeans who came to live in Hawaii in the 1800s. Surfing was considered frivolous and immoral for a period in Hawaiian history. It was a small group of beach boys led by the likes of Duke Kahanamoku who changed all that at the beginning of the 1900s. Duke was the first Hawaiian Olympic champion. Duke was one of the organizers of the original amateur surfing club in 1908, you know, the very famous Outrigger Canoe and Surfboard Club. By this time the first tourist resorts were being constructed in Waikiki and these beach boys decided to make their living by teaching tourists how to surf and giving outrigger canoe rides. Pretty soon, surfing with the beach boys became one of Hawaii’s major attractions.

Didi Robello’s grandfather was Bill Kahanamoku, Duke Kahanamoku’s brother. Bill’s daughter, Barbara Kahanamoku, married Didi’s dad Harry ‘Pop’ Robello who was a beach boy in the 1930s. Pop Robello is considered one of the original beach boys. According to Didi, Pop Robello was one of the first ambassadors of aloha and credits him to be a founder of modern tourism in Hawaii. Didi also remembers Pop saying that the original beach boys were in Waikiki before and during World War II. Those beach boys that came after the war when business was booming are not considered original. So Didi is “beach boy royalty,” he is second generation beach boy on his dad’s side and is a third generation Kahanamoku on his mom’s side. Pop Robello started his Moana Hotel concession in 1959 and Didi took it over in 1983. Pop passed away in 2004, bless him.

Didi continues to live up to the standards that Pop believed in. First of all, he tries to keep the area how Pop them had it. Trees and flowers, a very inviting corner right in between the Moana and Outrigger. “He pretty much taught me to be nice to everybody," Didi said. "You can't make everybody happy, but try to make most of them as best as you can. And he said to make sure everything is clean. Keep your beach clean, keep your stand clean, keep your boys clean." This thought hit me when I saw one of his guys cleaning the ashtray in front of Duke’s Restaurant. It’s probably not the responsibility of Aloha Beach Services to do that…but they still do it.

Didi Robello and young staff.

Aloha Beach Services staff cleaning cigarette butts.

Their business has weathered its ups and downs and is still going strong. I think it is amazing that we have living history right in Waikiki and that visitors and kama’aina alike can rub shoulders with those that carry on the beach boy tradition. To me that is something very special. Most of the original beach boys have passed but the tradition lives on. I had a chance to talk to Blue Makua who works for Didi. He is considered one of the original beach boys (he was the youngest of them and his dad was part of the group too). He has so many stories to share about Waikiki long ago. Blue continues to make the visitors happy and also makes sure that the crew has fun working.

Blue Makua keeping the area clean.

Aloha Beach Services staff by their outrigger canoe.

Our son Ryan grew up living at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider during his summer vacations in the 1990s and became part of the Aloha Beach Services Ohana. He was so proud to “go to work” each day wearing his uniform, the Aloha Beach Services baseball cap and T-shirt. Ryan was the young gofer. To this day he loves the ocean. Cute, the day I visited Didi, there was a young man helping out. He must be the latest “Ryan.” Things never change! The Robello Family has shared their aloha with us through the years. Billy Robello (Didi’s brother) and his family threw a graduation party for Ryan when he graduated from HPU a few years back. And this year, we asked for Didi’s help, the services of his outrigger canoe, so that we could scatter my aunt’s ashes (my uncle and his friends came from Japan) into the waters of Waikiki. Thank you Robello Family!

Didi and the youngest staff of ABS.

Veteran ABS beach boys.

I took the liberty of going down to the concession area and check out how Aloha Beach Services conduct their surfing lessons. The first thing I saw was Malu, the instructor, giving basic lessons with the surfboard planted in the sand. They call this the sand demo. Very important safety information was shared by Malu, e.g. fall flat away from the board, go deep, not shallow. Then there were demonstrations of the basic steps to stand up on the board. There was practice of these steps. I would say that the sand demo took about five-ten minutes. Brief, because many won’t remember everything anyway. And always, the students are anxious to go into the water. They learn how to carry the board into the water. As they enter the shallow area they learn how to turn the board’s direction and how to avoid other surfers. The hour lesson does not include time spent on land. A full hour is spent in the water with the instructor.

Malu teaching Jordan.

Last instructions.

Interview with Didi Robello:

Are there any differences between teaching high school/college students how to surf and older customers?
No difference except kids are more gung-ho. Older ones listen better. The kids want to jump on the board and go on their own. Everyone listens carefully to the safety instructions. But when you start doing the sand demo, that’s when the kids go a little wild. They are better if parents are around but if it’s only teenagers....a little wild.

Do you have any recommendations to young people when learning how to surf for the first time?
Safety first. Being young, there is no fear. You need to pay attention. You think you can block the surfboard with your hand. Don’t go after the board. You can always get a new board but teeth are expensive.

What can they look forward to?
They can look forward to being exhausted and hungry, very tired and thirsty.

What is it like teaching students from Japan?
It’s pretty easy because they tend to listen better. English is hard to understand so they pay more attention. They are shy so they’ll just stand in front of our place. They will wait for us to invite them. So we have to ask them to come closer and then they start to talk about surfing lessons.

How do you compensate for the language difference?
All my guys know enough Japanese to get by. The majority of Japanese now know some English. Our boys know key words in Japanese, like how to say “stand up” and “paddle.” If they really have a hard time communicating, Keiko who works in our photography section can interpret. Nobuko who works on the catamaran helps when necessary. We get many Japanese visitors, lots of young couples and kids with their parents.

How much does it cost to learn how to surf?
Rates range from $30 to $80 depending on whether you want group, semi-private or private lessons. Other companies may take longer for the sand demo because they want to attract a larger crowd before going into the water. This time may eat into water time. At Aloha Beach Services we guarantee an hour in the water with your instructor.

Are students able to catch a wave in just one lesson?
Yes. They all stand up. We guarantee we’ll get you up--whatever it takes. Many of the great longtime watermen have died, but it’s a living and proud profession among the next generation. You’ve got to be licensed--it takes a lot of training and experience.
The first lesson doesn’t make them good enough to go on their own the second time. Repetition of lessons is good. The kids need supervision so that they can be taken care of. After the third or fourth time, they pretty much get it.
A lot of people come down to take the lesson. They probably will never do it again so it’s more like an experience. Before the lesson they’ll say that they want to rent a board after the one hour. But after the lesson most of them are exhausted. The next day, sore this and sore that. At least they did it and had fun.

Any final words of wisdom?
Do the beach activities first. You can do the shopping and stuff at night because you never know with the weather. ... The weather might be nice today and real bad tomorrow. Don't wait until your last day to do all this stuff. Do the beach first.

When the waves get big, I shut down the rentals. It’s not worth the danger. Lifeguards love it that we shut down because it makes their jobs easier. If I feel it’s unsafe, I’m not going to rent boards. Guests may grumble but it’s better for everyone.

I notice many tired Japanese visitors sitting in the hotel lobby on their arrival day. They come to the beach on their last day. They should come to the beach first, make them feel better.

Didi Robello shared his knowledge and aloha one morning in front of Aloha Beach Services, on Waikiki Beach, with a dynamic view of Diamond Head right in front of us.

Thanks Didi for the interview.

Aloha Beach Services also offer outrigger canoe rides. What an experience to ride the waves! The guys will take you out and teach you how to paddle.

Me and my friends on ABS outrigger canoe in January 2010. They are all from Japan but we had no problem taking directions from the crew.

I noticed that several cameras were mounted by their beach service area. Aloha Beach Services offers pictures and CDs of your surfing lessons too. Talk about high tech! I was able to see many digital pictures of the students standing up on their boards and catching waves.

High tech equipment.

That's Jordan standing up!

Incredible! Good teachers make good students!

Honolulu Festival

Aloha Beach Services

Hawaii Music Festivals® organizes student groups to participate in the Honolulu Festival

The student groups from the mainland that participate in the Honolulu Festival come through Richard Tagawa of Hawaii Music Festivals®. Richard organized the Hawaii Band and Choral Festivals at the same time as the 16th Honolulu Festival this year so that the students that came could not only perform with their counterparts in the Hawaiian community but also share in promoting cultural exchange with those from the Pacific Rim. Richard’s program also offers workshops conducted by nationally known clinicians. So his programs are very complete covering the educational aspect of music as well as the “fun” part of exploring Hawaii. Some of the “things to do and places to go” that are highlighted on his website include the Arizona Memorial, Polynesian Cultural Center, Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii, Diamond Head Hike and Circle Island Tour.
For more information about Hawaii Music Festivals please check out their website.

Hawaii Music Festivals