The Waikiki Insider: Summer 2012

June 5, 2012 | By Mona Wood-Sword

I’m one of those people who cannot work out in a gym—four walls and a bunch of machines are just not my thing. Which is why Waikiki is one of my favorite areas for exercising in Hawai‘i. It’s safe, there are myriad options such as swimming, surfing, hiking, yoga, Zumba and everything else in between. For those who require more structure, Waikiki is home to great fitness centers that offer day passes or long-term memberships.

Check out the faces and places that consider Waikiki their personal fitness mecca:

One morning in the wee hours, when dawn just barely peeked her sleepy head out behind Diamond Head, I was setting up for a live TV segment and saw a lone figure approaching by foot. As he came forward, I instantly recognized the boyishly handsome face and always-ready smile of “Uncle” Sam Kapu—a popular radio personality and entertainer. The spry 68-year-old has been doing his morning routine around Waikiki for almost 30 years. He started because, as an entertainer, he wanted to keep in shape, and would push his now 30-year-old son around in his stroller. Kapu loves to end his miles-long walks with a swim in the Elks Club pool, followed by a steam. In addition to the physical benefits, Kapu said his walks allow him to think and come up with a lot of creative material.

Businesswoman, philanthropist, world traveler, and VP of Community Affairs for Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, Jean E. Rolles has been an avid tennis player since she was 12. Most mornings she’s at the Diamond Head tennis courts by 6:30 a.m. with other members of the group affectionately known as the “dawn patrol.” The patrol spans age groups from young adults to a 90-plus gentleman who can take on most comers. Rolles said one player even has an artificial leg. And not only are these tennis buffs serious about the game, but they volunteer with the City to clean, maintain and even resurface the courts. When the dawn patrol heads off to work by 8 a.m, another group takes over the courts. Rolles says tennis keeps her physically and mentally fit, allowing her to juggle a busy work and social schedule, as well as other sports like hiking, horseback riding, and white water rafting. Tennis, anyone?

The Waikiki Community Center is on the Diamond Head end of Waikiki, a block mauka (toward the mountain) of the Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. It’s a busy and popular center open to everyone, offering physical activities ranging from hula, yoga, Zumba and aerobics, to various martial arts and even ping pong, for low fees. Check the class schedule at

If you’re looking for a great gym with true club amenities in Waikiki, work out with a view. Pacific Beach Hotel is home to the only 24 Hour Fitness Super Sport facility in Waikiki. A recently completed $3.5 million renovation provides guests and members with complete and convenient access to the latest equipment overlooking beautiful Waikiki Beach. After you’ve had your fill of cardio, take a dip in the Pacific—just across the street! Fees apply. See more at

Hula is a big part of my life, so I would be remiss in not talking about my favorite “exercise class” in Waikiki. The Royal Hawaiian Center presents free hula classes by Kumu Hula Puakeala Mann on Tuesdays, 11 a.m.–12 p.m. and Thursdays 4-5 p.m. I’ve danced hula since I was 3, and I still enjoy these classes, while even beginners look like they are having the time of their lives. No need to be shy—there are hundreds of people in these classes, so you have the option of “hiding” if you’re feeling a little shy. It’s important that authentic Hawaiian cultural traditions are shared, and these classes do it the right way in the gorgeous, historic setting of The Royal Grove at the heart of Royal Hawaiian Center.

Since I was a child, I’ve gone swimming, walking, hiking, paddling, played tennis and danced in Waikiki. My husband plays golf and soccer here, too. And it doesn’t end there—you also can find rugby, cricket, even archery, and so many more ways to keep active and healthy in Waikiki. Just don’t forget the sunscreen and ample water supply!