Off the Beaten Path

October 1, 2012 | By Allison Schaefers

Photo: Dennis Oda

Stand-up paddling through Waikiki just after dawn is about as close to walking on water as it gets.

Just ask Quiksilver’s George Kam, who never misses an opportunity to see the sunrise and sunset from Mamala, Waikiki—the playground of famous waterman, Duke Kahanamoku.

“The key is to leave everything on the beach and bring your best aloha to the water and she’ll caress you,” says Kam, whose business card honestly reads, “Ambassador of Aloha.”

“There’s Diamond Head to the right and a sunrise to the left,” he says. “This is as magical as it gets.”

My eyes take in the wonders and I temporarily lose my footing.

“Try to be one with nature, she’ll take care of you,” Kam says. “You’ll find your piko (the Hawaiian word for navel or center) in Waikiki.”

Slowly, I unlock my monkey-like grip on the board and inch my back foot forward until I find a more stable stance. Strangely, the waves seem to support me while I falter. When the current comes, I don’t get dunked.

“Look there, Alli, it’s a honu (turtle),” Kam says. “There are plenty of creatures in Waikiki. When you are in your purest state and have pure aloha, they’ll come to you.”

Just a few moments later, Kam points out the outline of another honu’s shell.

“She’s just beautiful,” I say as she lifts her head out of the water to greet me.

I have lived in Hawai‘i for a decade, but here in the water with this honu and a real-life “Ambassador of Aloha” by my side, I am discovering Waikiki anew.

Today, I am a tourist, and it feels good.

A three-time national award winning reporter, Allison Schaefers serves as the Waikiki Bureau Chief for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Based in Waikiki, she covers Hawaii tourism and Waikiki issues. Contact her at