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This is What It’s Like to Spend 24 Hours at Kaimana Beach

A day in the life of one of Honolulu’s favorite stretches of sand.


(page 2 of 4)

Kaimana beach


8:06 a.m.—Sun appears over Diamond Head. First rays of sunlight fall on the beach near the Natatorium. More joggers.


8:07 a.m.—Light rain begins to fall. A double rainbow appears over the Natatorium shortly thereafter.


8:10 a.m.—The first swimmers are in the water. In the grassy area, a man and a woman stand at a picnic table heaped with scuba gear. The man is Bob Kent, a scuba instructor. The woman is Ursina Hess, a visitor from Switzerland. She says she is learning to dive because, “I heard it’s amazing.”


8:30 a.m.—Kent and Hess stand in chest-deep water. Kent is speaking. Hess has breathing apparatus in her mouth. The tai chi practitioner is no longer present. The sunglasses are still on the wall.


8:35 a.m.—A Caucasian woman carrying juggling clubs and what appears to be a Hula Hoop examines the sunglasses and puts them back on wall. She then begins some sort of exercise routine involving the hoop and clubs. A “hooping” group is known to frequent the area on Sundays around sunset. She is a possible affiliate.


Regular swimmers rack up miles.

9:00 a.m.—The local woman with the surf kayak carries her boat back to her car. She is Karen Tan, a naturopath from Kailua. She kayaks here two or three times a week, and prefers the early morning hours. She says, “Why sleep in when you can have fun on the water?” The lifeguard goes on duty. His name is Kent Brown. He has been a lifeguard here for 16 years. He says the writer Robert Louis Stevenson gave Kaimana Beach its other name, Sans Souci, which means “without worry” in French. At one time, he says, Kaimana was also known as Dig Me Beach, and was frequented by flight attendants, body builders and off-duty strippers. It’s more of a family beach now, he says.


9:13 a.m.—The older local stand-up paddleboarder returns to shore after catching waves at the Sandbar and walks to the shower. He is Freddy Luke, age 62. Luke reports that sea conditions are suboptimal. He states: “It was super windy and not great for stand-up. But it’s always fun, even if you’re just kooking out.”


9:30 a.m.—The sunglasses are no longer on the Natatorium wall. A group of Japanese nationals sits nearby, sunbathing. All wear sunglasses. This observer cannot determine if any wear fake Oakleys. More swimmers in the water.


9:45 a.m.—A woman drags an enormous rake back and forth across the sand in front of the condominium next door to the New Otani Hotel. The woman is of average height and possibly Filipino or Micronesian descent. The rake is taller than she is. It looks very heavy. More sunbathers on the beach.


9:49 a.m.—Two swimmers, Debbie Young and Rick Bernstein, enter the water. They are part of a small group of friends, all in their 60s, who meet regularly for a two-mile open-water swim. They swim roughly 300 days a year, or 600 miles annually. “That’s the distance from L.A. to San Francisco,” Bernstein says. “We swim from L.A. to San Francisco every year.”


10:01 a.m.—Five novice surfers and one surf instructor enter the water with surfboards. They paddle out to very small waves in front of the Natatorium.


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Honolulu Magazine April 2018
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