Our second day on the island, we headed to a spot that’s been emblazoned on my mind since I laid eyes on it, beautiful Hanalei Bay! Here my 7 year old and I were going to take surf lessons in the waters many professionals catch waves on year-round. My husband took surf lessons in Maui, and my son learned the basics on his own in Oahu, it was definitely my turn in Kauai. The closer to the reality of me surfing made me both exhilarated and anxious while I tried to keep my cool in front of my daughter. I was so nervous inside, yet I really wanted to conquer my fears and mark this adventure off my bucket list!
Our first stop was to Hanalei Beach Boys Surf Shop in Hanalei to sign paperwork and pick up our rash guards. We were surfing with Hawaiian Surfing Adventures, owned and operated by the Alapa family.What makes us stand out from the competition? Our surf instructors are from Kauai and are big wave riders and competitive surfers. They know how to make sure your experience is fun while you accomplish your goal of surfing.
Decked out we headed to the pier at Hanalei Bay. The area was spectacular with a back drop of tall lush mountains contrasting with the blue water and white sand. Just to the the left of the pier and down the beach a bit you’ll find the very house that the George Clooney movie, The Descendants was filmed.
Taking the scenery in and with a huge contemplated breath, I was ready. We met our instructors, grabbed our boards and walked down the beach for our land lesson. First thing I learned is that you must use a huge board to learn on, smaller boards are for the pros and if you want to balance and get up and ride a wave, the board has to be bigger than you.
That said, the board was awkward to handle and heavy even drag through the sand. I was all thumbs, and I felt defeated already and we weren’t even in the water.
Boards in the sand, we spent a half hour learning where to place our bodies on the board, how to get from your stomach-to your knee-to standing, safety tips, and the right way to wipe out. My daughter was picking up the skills just as kids do, where I felt slight panic. Let me just say that I’m a worrier, and a perfectionist, I want to get up and ride that wave the first time and not wipe out. Before I knew it, we were headed into the water, on our bellies on the boards and paddling to our desired spot. Our plan was for an hour water lesson.
Paddling a surfboard exercises muscles in your back and arms not always used by a stay at home writer and mother of 3. I was winded early and my daughter zooms past me with the biggest grin. At our designated spot, Daniel, my sweet instructor would allow me to replay the steps out loud and gave positive and encouraging words before he pushed me off into the rising wave.
That moment when you realize the wave is in control of you and your board and your only job is to get up and ride that baby to the shore is SO thrilling! UNTIL…you realize you aren’t in balance and you feel yourself falling and pray the board doesn’t knock you out! Coming out from underwater, I stand in the shallow water, do my best to grab the board and make my way to the sand. I almost did it. Wow.
I’m super proud of myself and then I see my daughter popping to her knees from her belly and she’s riding the wave! I’m in pure awe of her agility and her smile that has become permanently affixed to her face in Kauai. She gets to the sand and I hug her and she grabs her board and says, “I’m ready to go again!” and paddles back out to Daniel!
Each time we are both getting braver, I wipe out a few more times and then I ride a wave in on my knees and just overjoyed at the experience. My little one wiped out once but got right back out there and tried again and again. She never quite got to her feet, but she still was confident and felt safe with her first time! On my second to last attempt I popped up to my feet from my knees and found my center, eyes on the shore and I stood up and rode that wave for about 5-6 seconds and that was the best feeling I could have imagined. I went back to my knees and the grin on my face was probably huge. Daniel came to the shore to congratulate me!
Due to timing our group was due on our next adventure, but my girl and I were pleasantly exhausted anyhow. Sand in our hair, salt on our tongue we now had bragging rights that we learned to surf in Kauai! After all the anxiety, I owe so much to Daniel for his calming words and encouragement and I’d definitely get out and try it again in warm waters, California waters are just too cold for me! The location was prime for learning, I love the company, and they are really fabulous with kids too! One thing I’d do is have them take your photos, or someone in your party. I WISH I would have gotten a shot of me standing up on the board! Also, get a massage the next day, you’re body is pretty sore if you’d in average shape as I am and I found some bruises from the board bumping me, so a sauna and a cocktail is the perfect after-surf treat!
If you’re looking to take a surf lesson in Kauai, this outfit is fantastic to look up! Find them online at http://www.hawaiiansurfingadventures.com to surf or paddleboard on your vacation!