By Diane Ako
For her 80th birthday, my mom requested to do something on her Bucket List: canoe surfing. As a very athletic girl, she used to catch waves with the beachboys in Waikiki, but that was decades ago, and it was always board surfing, not canoe surfing. She's still mentally and physically agile, and most people think she's 70.
We booked an appointment with Hawaiian Ocean Waikiki, the ewa-most beach stand near Canoe's surf break. It's right next to the Waikiki police substation, or, better yet, look for the red and yellow umbrellas. Can't miss it. The place is run by Don Ho's former manager, who knows a thing or two about customer service. We were treated like VIPs.
Her birthday fell on a gorgeously sunny day, so it was perfect. My family of five hopped into the six-man canoe and set out a half mile off shore to catch some waves! We are not paddlers, but it was not hard at all. Captain David steered us into a perfect spot to wait for our one footers.
We caught two waves. When he saw the wave coming, he would yell, "Give me a glide!" As it came closer and he was sure it was going to break under us, he'd say, "Paddle hard! HARD!"
We missed the first few times, so he'd turn us around and start it all over. (That also pretty much sums up my personal board surfing experience since I'm a perpetual amateur.)
When we finally caught the wave, we rode it in for what seemed like a full minute or two. Enough time for me to look back and see a huge, happy grin on my mom's face. And that's her gift to me on her birthday!