Too often, the trip from Honolulu to Kahuku is a well-beaten path from downtown to the comforts of a single resort.
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This is a community where football is like religion. Every home game is so packed that it’s rumored that Kahuku football supports the entire league with their gate money. So when Kahuku’s high school football team was disqualified from last year’s state championships for having a fifth-year senior, the team’s reaction was simple: “It broke the seniors’ hearts,” says head coach Reggie Torres. He tries not to dwell on it, instead focusing on his packed summer training camps and next year’s team. “Last year we weren’t big but we could move. This year we’ll have size, but we’re trying to work on getting them to move.” Players to watch are junior running back Aofaga Wily, who rushed 1,100 yards as a sophomore, and senior linebacker Benneton Fonua. “This sport is about the kids. It’s about being a role model,” Torres says. And the entire community, it seems, agrees.
How much would you pay to play a par-35, 9-hole golf course, beachfront with ocean views? If you bid under $15, you are ready to splurge on a game at Kahuku Municipal Golf Course, where kamaaina pay $10, and even tourists get a deal, at $12. The super frugal can use their municipal golf card and pay $6. Open all week, the only days you’ll need a tee time are Saturday and Sunday, seven days in advance for card holders, three days in advance for anyone else. But country club golfers beware: Amenities are limited to two soda machines, a practice area with putting green and a couple of flags. Getting there’s easy, but the directions are country: At the high school traffic light, turn makai into the side street. The road dead-ends at the golf course.
For a Turtle Bay beach without the parking fees, try the resort’s undeveloped, public beach along Kamehameha Highway across from the Kahuku Land Farms produce stand. Look for the sign that says “warning” in bold, all caps—but don’t stop reading; It just says to “enter at your own risk.”
Wind Some, Lose Some
Big toys call for big batteries. Kahuku Wind’s array of 12 giant, white windmills contains the largest battery storage system of any wind farm in North America. Besides just being big, the batteries help smooth out the trade winds’ notorious fluctuations by absorbing and releasing energy. To give you a sense of what is being generated, the wind farm can provide 30 MW of power. On high-demand days the island of Oahu uses 1,200 MW.
This is the second wind farm attempted in Kahuku. In 1986, Hawaiian Electric Industries (HECO’s parent company) built a nine-megawatt, 15-turbine farm. The designers had a “terrible experience,” says HECO spokesman Peter Rosegg. “The winds were more volatile than they expected.” He says the initial testing of the location consisted of UH students using balloons to watch how the wind pushed them, and recording results. And then there was the raw material. “The blades were made out of plywood. The salt air rusted everything else,” Rosegg said. The price of oil dropped to $20 a barrel, delivering the wind farm’s coup de grace. It was sold to a private company, but the turbines at the former facility stopped spinning for good in 1997.