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Hawai‘i's elder paddlers bring experience and wisdom to the canoe and rip it up on the water
Vol. 10, No. 3
June / July 2007

  >>   La Belle Vie
  >>   After 10
  >>   Love Among the Ruins


story by Christine Hansen
photo by Sergio Goes


Driving past Halona blowhole lookout, a flying behemoth suddenly appears in your windshield. A huge, manta ray-like beast with a long, meandering tail hovers over Sandy Beach. Just when you think you're about to be abducted by aliens, you realize: It's a gigantic kite.

The 1,000-foot-long, handmade kite, named "Romance," is one of several giants at play in the trades over Sandy Beach. But park the car and have a closer look. Meticulously cut pieces of sail cloth appliqued to the kite body create the striking image of a kimono-clad Japanese man and woman in a loving embrace, tugging at the tether that keeps them tied to the ground, as if to imply that their love cannot be bound to the finite earth.

At Sandy's, there's as much action in the air as in the surf. Because of the steady tradewinds, it's one of the best places in Hawai‘i to fly kites. When the winds are right, this strip of Kalaniana‘ole Highway becomes an airborne art gallery. You might see the colossal trilobite kite trawling the air like a prehistoric beast, or the octopus kite waving its myriad tentacles. At the very least, you'll see rainbows of color and motion: vivid box-kites, whirling spin-socks, darting stunt-kites, dragon kites with fiery tails.

If you go, look for kiting's big kahuna, Eddie Tadao Jr., who proudly calls this part of O´ahu's coast "my little airport." Eddie bears the scars of a few hang-gliding accidents. As a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, he received the Air Medal and was shot down—several times. Today, Tadao flies hang gliders, paragliders, ultralights and kites and even tenderly feeds the birds. Eddie's love of all things airborne ties the flying community at Sandy's together.

The sky-show at Sandy's isn't limited to kites. You'll see hang-gliders circling lazily on the thermals, paragliders sailing the updrafts on their colorful canopies. Even the earthbound among us will be enthralled; kites make us feel that there are no boundaries to our lives. As Eddie says, people fly kites because they make us feel free.