Performer: Split Enz
Songwriter: Neil Finn
Original Release: Waiata
Definitive Version: None
When I made my Hawaii tapes in 1984, I pulled out Waiata from Jin’s record collection to add this song, much to Jin’s surprise. I thought you didn’t like new wave, she said. Some of it. It might have been the first time I surprised Jin with a song that I liked. It wouldn’t be the last.
When we went to Hawaii, with the exception of when we went to the Big Island, the day’s activities mostly revolved around going to the beach—sometimes more than one. It makes sense, right? (Actually, we did go to the beach on the Big Island one day—the now-gone black-sand beach near Kalapana.)
The first Hawaiian beach we went to was Waikiki downtown. It was fairly basic, which is why it became the first beach overrun by hotels, resorts and tourists. (I understand they all are like that now.)
The family beach was Ewa Beach, which is close to where the Naval vessels come in and out of Pearl Harbor. To the north on the Leeward shore are Nanakuli and Makaha.
Those were my favorite beaches, and we probably went to Nanakuli more than any other beach while we were in Hawaii. First, it wasn’t too far from the homefront. Second, it had the best waves. They were big enough to play in but not so big that you felt overwhelmed. Makaha was like that but a little bigger—and a little farther away from home.
Once while at Nanakuli, I got a different perspective about swimming in the ocean amongst the waves. A teen-age girl—an Islander—came to swim, but before she went in, she genuflected on the beach. Dad saw it, too, and said how it was a show of respect to the power of the ocean. It definitely is something not to be taken for granted.
One day, Dad wanted to take us up to the North Shore for shave ice at Matsumoto’s, which meant a trip to two legendary beaches—Waimea Bay, namechecked in The Beach Boys’ Surfin’ USA; and Sunset Beach, home of the world-famous Banzai Pipeline.
The shave ice was a disappointment—think: snow cone with the ice cut a bit finer (meh)—and the beaches were eye-opening. Both, of course, are known for their huge waves and surfing, but as we learned, that’s a seasonal thing. The Banzai Pipeline was more the Banzai Flatline. I mean it was as flat as Torch Lake when there’s no wind. Forget 60-footers, these were more like 60-millimeterers, at best.
Both beaches made for good swimming, if you like calm waters. At Waimea, people jumped off a big rock near the beach into the ocean. Apparently, in the winter, that rock is inaccessible because of the waves. The next day, we were back at Nanakuli, where we had a lot more action.
Laurie never has been to Hawaii, so at some point, I have to take her there. In all likelihood, we’ll go in the winter when the big waves are rolling in on the North Shore. I doubt I’ll do any swimming that day.