Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘surfing’

Image

Brutus rests after surfing Hawaii’s North Shore. Photo/copyright: Lori Knowles

Sigh. My Surf Bus story has just appeared in the Toronto Sun’s Travel section. I’m now genuinely missing Oahu’s North Shore.

See story:

http://www.torontosun.com/2013/05/02/surfing-on-oahus-north-shore

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Aloha once again from Waikiki, where I’ve just hopped off The Surf Bus.

The Surf Bus?

Sounds fabulous, right? The Surf Bus is a daily tour that transports travellers from highrise-happy Honolulu, to the roughness and wildness of Oahu’s North Shore, home of the big surf. Iconic surf spots–Pipeline, Sunset Beach–they’re all there, on the North Shore, along with the pretty little surf town of Haleiwa (pronounced Hally-EVA).

20121108-065658.jpg

The Surf Bus picked us up in the bus port of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Sam, our driver, said “Aloha” and invited us aboard. Sam is a descendent of generations of Hawaiians–his great great grandmother arrived from New Zealand ages ago on a whaling ship. Sam’s family has been here ever since.

Filled with passengers from Australia, South America, the US, the UK and fellow Canucks from Brandon, Manitoba, our enthusiastic little bus plunged onto the Honolulu freeway–a surprisingly busy, multi-lane system. According to Sam, Honolulu has the greatest number of highrises in NA after New York and Chicago. The city has 2.5 million cars–enough that if they lined up, they’d wrap eight times around the island of Oahu.

Despite the density and congestion, it takes us only 40 minutes to reach Oahu’s North Shore. Once past Pearl Harbor, the pineapple fields and the Dole factory, the freeway turns to an inland country road.

The Surf Bus passes through Haleiwa first before it drops us at our first point: The North Shore Surf Shop across the road from Shark Cove. There are surfers everywhere–on bikes, on mopeds, in trucks, on foot. They carry their boards under one arm and steer with the other.

20121108-070604.jpg

As part of the tour, we’re given bicycles of our own and pedal along a beachside bike path that snakes past several of the world’s most famous surf breaks.

And so we spend our morning, pedalling, pausing, snapping photos. It’s November, the month of The North Shore’s biggest surf; pro surfing competitions are underway. It’s US Election Day–the surfers are taking a break. But they’re practicing on the breaks–massive wave after thundering wave.

Back at The North Shore Surf Shop, we’re fitted with snorkelling gear–also part of the tour. We cross the road to a natural tide pool next to Shark Cove. The pool is protected (mostly) from the gigantic waves crashing against its rocks. The snorkelling is a mix of rough and wonderful–we skim over jagged black rock, spotting prickly sea urchins and yellow-striped fish.

Then it was back on The Surf Bus for a short trip to Haleiwa. On the way we stop to visit Brutus, one of the sea turtles that hangs out on a North Shore Beach:

20121108-070030.jpg

The pretty little town of Haleiwa is inland from the surf. A river runs through it. The Surf Bus kits us out with stand-up paddle boards and we paddle the quiet, jungle-like waterway, skimming over giant sea turtles.

We don’t have much time to tour the town. Too bad. Every store is shop- and photo-worthy. We pause quickly to watch kids slurping shave ice:

20121108-070152.jpg

And we grab spectacularly delicious shrimp-and-rice takeout from this blue food truck:

20121108-070253.jpg

Then its back to Honolulu. We say so long to Sam. My son and I really liked The Surf Bus.

Read Full Post »

20121105-062746.jpg

Sun rising over Waikiki. Photo: Lori Knowles

Hello again from Hawaii, where Day 1 on Waikiki was near perfect.

Our day began with breakfast with Jimmy Buffet. I should say, at Jimmy Buffet’s. His restaurant inside the Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber houses the Honolulu Surf Museum, our first stop of the day. And our first stop in an family adventure focused on surfing… finding that iconic Hawaiiain wave.

Curator Mark Fragale offered up a tour… something you can book yourself by contacting the restaurant (see website). Grab a beer from the bar and take a walk with Mark. He’ll track Hawaii’s surfing culture from waaay back, when Hawaii’s royals rode long boards carved out of single trees, Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic swim champ, popularized Hawaiian surfing, and Gidget did her bubbly best to make every teen in North America want to ‘hang ten.’

The museum is the baby of Jimmy Buffet, who began simply by needing a place to display one of his favourite gifts: the surf board that appeared in that ’70s iconic flick, Apocalypse Now. Here’s a pic of the board, signed by Robert Duvall, and hanging now above Jimmy Buffet’s bar:

20121105-063254.jpg

Let’s Go Surfing Now

Next came our first family foray into surfing. We signed up for a group surfing lesson at Waikiki’s Hilton Hawaiian Village.

We were met casually by the hotel’s ‘surf stand’ by a laid back team of surfing pros in bright green shirts. Our motley crew included: a Japanese family speaking little English; a Brazilian woman with a broad, happy grin; my nine-year-old, goggle-wearing son; and me… keen, but definitely feeling forty-something.

Kudos to that team for making it all work.

Elijah, our lead pro, taught us how to lie on the board, paddle, pop up on our knees, stand up Ninja-style sideways on the board. It all seemed pretty easy on sand. I was doubtful about how all this ‘ease’ would translate on the Pacific.

But you know what? It did.

Our entire motely little crew stood up on our first wave. Amazing. Those Japanese kids, that Brazilian woman, my goggle-wearing son, even me, the forty-something. We rode those breaks — as small as they were — just like we were Gidget. Golden.

I’d offer a photo, but it was just too wet to take any. I’ll buy some from the pro photographer we took Kelly-Slater-style along with us (!), and post them as soon as possible.

In the meantime, I’ll sign off with this… My reason the day, as I said at the top, was only “near” perfect:

On my first Hawaiian surfing lesson, I got seasick.

There, I said it. I GOT SEASICK! Evidently, I forgot to keep an eye on the horzion.

But don’t let my admission stop you folks. Every person should try to hang ten at least once in their lives… even if they get seasick. And even if they’re forty-somthing.

A note about LoriExploring: Lori Knowles is the Family Fare columnist for the travel section of the Toronto Sun. Follow Lori on Twitter @LoriExploring

Read Full Post »

Today I discovered two things:

1) I love to surf.

2) I’m terrible at surfing.

I’m a 40-plus woman on a girlfriend-getaway in Tofino, British Columbia… capital of Canada’s cold-water surfing culture. Capital, I should say, of Canada’s female cold-water surfing culture–I’m told there are more women than men surfing Tofino waves.

Why?

Tofino is home of Surf Sister, an all-female surfing school that offers all-women (and co-ed) surfing camps. You can learn in an hour, a day, a week… whatever. Surf Sister’s founder, Krissy Montgomery, has a band of pros under her wing who break down “the break,” making learning to surf Tofino waves really, really simple.

20121022-064459.jpg

Simple, that is, in theory… not necessarily in practice. Today I learned ‘popping up’ and ‘paddling out’ and ‘reading’ the waves are all more exhausting than simple.

Exhausting! After my 14th wave, just as I figured out where to place my feet and hold my hands and bend my knees… my body turned to jello. Simply walking out into the surf became a trial.

But surfing is thrilling, nonetheless. Very, very thrilling, especially when experienced alongside a group of like-minded women. Like I said, I learned to love it. Now, if only I wasn’t so terrible…

Stay tuned… humiliating surf photos to come!

In the meantime, some added suggestions for a girlfriend getatway in Tofino:

1) Consider a helicopter ride along this wild wet coast courtesy of Atleo Air. Jason Bertin’s new Tofino service offers sightseeing trips to glaciers, private islands, remote coastal locations…. head’s up, guys: it’s a good way to propose! Astounding and terrific.

20121022-070643.jpg

2) Tofino’s Wildside Grill cooks the best BC salmon and spotted prawn I’ve ever tasted. Wildside’s Jeff Mikus is a commercial fisherman bringing BC’s sea delicacies straight to your picnic table. Chef Jesse Blake certainly knows how to BBQ them.

20121022-070718.jpg

3) Order take-out (or hire a personal chef) from Tofino’s RedCan Gourmet. Chef Tim May makes a mean granola bar, brownie… and braises lamb to absolute perfection.

20121022-071559.jpg

4) Stay at Tofino’s Pacific Sands hotel. Rent a beach house. Mine is No.35… and it’s glorious, especially in the chair from which I’m writing this:

20121022-070905.jpg

Adios (rested) from Tofino.
Lori. www.loriknowles.com
Twitter: @LoriExploring

Read Full Post »

20121020-062956.jpg

Good morning from Tofino, where the sun hasn’t yet risen, but I’m waiting… waiting for this view to appear.

What a peaceful night it was here at the Pacific Sands. Our beach villas are perched at the very edge of Vancouver Island, where the waves thunder to the shore. On and on. Relentless.

I left my balcony door open just a little last night so I could stay in touch with the roar. At 2 am a cayote’s call woke me up. At 3 am, a crash of thunder. I’m told that happens a lot here on the edge of this voluminous country.

Why am I here? In Tofino, British Columbia?

A girl’s-only weekend. Girlfriend Getaway, I think they call it. It’s my first one. Ever. I’ve left the kids with their capable dad back in Toronto and have come here to surf, hike, eat, sleep. And write.

Our group of five met happily yesterday at the Vancouver Airport… many of us meeting for the first time. Our little posse boarded an eight-seat Cessna at YVR’s South Terminal. Orca Air. Our female captain and male co-pilot told us it was the first time in Orca’s history their passenger list was filled entirely with women.

Our view from the 50-minute flight looked something like this:

20121020-065321.jpg

Next, we were introduced to Tofino’s Pacific Sands by our host, gracious PS GM, Stephen. What a spot! The view from my room is show-stopping, as you’ve seen (first pic). Hell… the room itself is show-stopping:

20121020-064826.jpg

Then came a walk on the wet beach… in my rubber boots and hotel-issue yellow slicker.

And then came dinner. Mmmmm… a spicy, warm-your-bones, I’m-so-starving dinner at a Tofino hangout appropriately called: The Shelter. Its vibe: Cedar. Wood fire. Candle light. Surfers by the bar. Surfing flicks on the massive flatscreens by the bar. Surfing flicks on tiny flatscreens by each toilet (I’m serious). And perfectly spiced, belly-warming food brewed with mussels, oysters, lingcod, salmon and halibut.

20121020-070540.jpg

And finally…. finally… came sleep. In a big, white, feathery bed, with the door cracked open and the waves…. Heaven.

Info: Pacific Sands

The Shelter

Read Full Post »

If you’ve ever experienced a family trip so fun you weren’t sure you wanted it to end… you’ll know exactly what we were feeling at the finish of our family’s summer exploration of Vancouver Island, BC. The tour was so enlightening and the island so well suited to family travel, we wanted the experience to last… almost forever. Here are the highlights (a reprint from the Toronto Sun, Wednesday, August 4)

Family Friendly BC Ferries

BC Ferries

Our journey began with a striking BC Ferries ride aboard the Queen of Oak Bay, from Vancouver’s Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo, BC. Equipped with an indoor playground, television and onboard WiFi, there was plenty to keep the kids occupied for the two-hour journey. But it was the sight of the sun sparkles dancing on the ocean that stopped them in their lively tracks—Mt Baker and the gulf islands looming silently in the background.

Tip: In summer, secure a ferry reservation.

www.bcferries.com

Parksville—Canada’s Riviera

A 36-kilometre drive from Nanaimo delivered us to our first two-day rest stop at Parksville, BC—popularly dubbed Canada’s Riviera. I can see why. A string of Parksville resorts play host to all kinds of tourists, from luxe travellers to kayaking, whale-watching eco adventurers. But it’s the travelling family that wins the daily double here. This Oceanside region—akin to Ontario’s Muskoka—is home to four massive, warm-water beaches:

Rathtrevor Beach

Rathtrevor, Qualicum Beach, Qualicum Bay and Parksville, all of them framed by snow-capped mountains. Parksville Beach wins the prize for owning the best playground my well-travelled family has ever encountered. Parksville’s beachside Ventureland (waterpark included) has every fun slide, swing and monkey bar imaginable. Plus, when the tide is out, the Parksville Beach next door extends outward at least a kilometre, leaving tide pools full of mini crabs and sand dollars. Kid heaven.

Tip: Rent a family-perfect cabin at Oceanside Village Resort, a brief and well-cedared walk to the mountain-ringed Rathtrevor Beach.

www.VisitParksvilleQualicumBeach.com

The Dinosaurs of Comox Valley

Fossil Hunting

Another short shot north led us into Vancouver Island’s gentle Comox Valley, which lies peacefully between the Beaufort Mountains and the Strait of Georgia. But it’s the region’s dinosaurs that caught our imaginations. Yes, dinosaurs. Don’t let the following title bore you: the Courtenay and District Museum and Palaeontology Centre is home to a captivating collection of prehistoric predators—including an 80-million-year-old Elasmosaur discovered nearby. The Centre’s ace-in-the-hole, though, is Pat Trask, a local palaeontologist who leads fossil tours to nearby rivers. Our tour fascinated the children, who slogged Indiana-Jones-like…

For the remainder of the article, please visit the Toronto Sun Travel

Lori Knowles is the Family Fare travel columnist for the Toronto Sun. You can follow her travels on Twitter @LoriExploring

Read Full Post »