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Lure of Waikiki
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Lure of Waikiki
  Waikiki Travel Tale

by Lorry Patton

waikiki_beach.jpg Will the lure of Waikiki ever wane? Out of ten million or more yearly visitors, 92% say no. Several reasons come to mind: the prices are high, but not outrageous; you can drink the water and not worry about serious repercussions; and the scariest bug you will likely encounter is the colossal cockroach. Furthermore, you can understand the language ( English, Chinese, Japanese, Hawaiian ) and you can trust the government -- no one is going to toss you in jail and throw away the key.

Notwithstanding, the weather is gorgeous (somewhere around the low 80's), the accommodations suit all budgets and the nearest freeway might as well be on the moon.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are constantly spent sprucing up Waikiki -- ten million on Kalakaua Avenue alone, not that long ago. Kalakaua Avenue cuts through the heart of Waikiki: promenade benches, shade trees, tapa-tiled sidewalks, flowering plant pots and bigger street signs give it the look of prosperity and success. High-rise and low-rise resorts with wide-open lobbies that lead to ocean view restaurants and ocean view bars shape the blocks upon blocks of Kalakaua Avenue. However, the biggest attraction in Waikiki does not cost a dime to maintain (expect perhaps the garbage brigade that tidies up after us before the sun comes up.) It is freely and efficiently and methodically reconstructed and rejuvenated and renovated by the eternal tides of the Blue Pacific:

Waikiki Beach is very photogenic. It is an erotic motion picture of glistening bodies in a multitude of shades and shapes and ages languishing on white hot sand. The young bend over hand-built castles that crumble with the rising surf, the old recline on striped canvas chairs under red-checkered umbrellas, the ageless do the hula under an old oak tree, the oil-lathered, just-arrived pale-faces lie absolutely still, working hard at doing nothing.

The canvas spills over into the sea where squealing, jumping children try to outwit the rushing tide that jiggles their bright beach balls and puffed-up air cushions. The powerful surf lifts and carries the laughing youngsters headlong onto the shore while giant bucking waves test the skills of even the most experienced surfing rider. ( Be wise and check weather and beach conditions before surfing. )

Further on the horizon, sailboats, catamarans, outrigger canoes and other floating fun things, nod and bow on the water's surface as if in greeting of one another, while scuba divers and submarines explore the mysterious world beneath the sea. Overhead, in a cloudless sky, feet dangle from silent silky parachutes in search of a birds-eye view of the sunny playground below.

A short distance away Hanauma Bay bobs with backsides of snorkelers examining the intricate coral formations that took many decades to form. We took a hot dog into the water. It was a strange feeling indeed, having a school of startlingly bright yellow fish feed out of my hands.

Come nightfall and practically every hotel on Waikiki Beach has some form of entertainment from the legendary Don Ho to the guitar picker at the Beach Bar. There are also succulent luaus, romantic moonlight cruises, blaring discos, jazz clubs, and headliner shows at the Waikiki Shell Theater.

I like Waikiki. The truth is I love Hawaii. Some say it is too noisy and too commercialized. I say, late at night, after the stars are out, walk to the beach (not alone, of course), flop down on the sand and listen to the ocean's rhythm. The sound is louder than the pounding of the drums drifting from the bars; it is louder than the tinkle of the cash registers; it is louder than the beat of my heart.




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