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Sea sports and safety

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The nation that invented surfing remains its greatest arena. The sport was popularized early in the twentieth century by Olympic swimmer Duke Kahanamoku, using a 20ft board; these days most are around six feet. As a rule, the best surfing beaches are on the north shore of each island. Windsurfing and kitesurfing, too, are hugely popular, in similar locations, while smaller boogie boards make an exhilarating initiation. Snorkelling and diving are top-quality, although Hawaii’s coral has fewer brilliant hues than those seen in warmer equatorial waters.

Bear in mind, however, that drownings in Hawaii are all too common. Waves can sweep in from two thousand miles of open ocean onto beaches that are unprotected by any reef. Not all beaches have lifeguards and warning flags, and unattended beaches are not necessarily safe. Watch the sea carefully before going in, and never take your eyes off it thereafter. If you get swept out, don’t fight the big waves; allow yourself to be carried out of the danger zone, then when the current dies down swim back to shore.

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