Fourth of July in Waikīkī attracts thousands to its shore every year, for picnics, barbecues or just a fun day in the sun. Well outside the waves, another kind of party's taking place on a bunch of boats called Flotilla. It's become bigger and bigger each year and now seems like something you'd see on an MTV Spring Break show.
The celebration continues even hundreds of yards out to sea.
My friends and I usually paddle out on surfboards; others make the trek to sea by way of an inflatable floating device, pushing a cooler of food and drinks alongside them. Upon arrival, you'll hear yachts blasting techno music and see revelers dancing on the decks while an amoeba of people on pool toys float below.
This year, however, seemed to get a little out of hand. Not necessarily the level of rowdiness out there but rather, the high surf that made the voyage from shore a lot more dangerous. We dragged out our friends on an inflatable kiddie pool – which would have been harmless on a calm day – but on this day, it was definitely a riskier excursion. As long-time surfers, we knew where the channels were in the reef and how to avoid the chaos, but for those who weren't ocean-savvy, the journey posed some threats. Particularly if they were in alcohol-induced states. Needless-to-say, lifeguards were busy on their jet-ski all day, rescuing people who were in trouble.
VIDEO: Hundreds gather for the Waikīkī Flotilla, a popular Fourth of July celebration.
Flotilla or not, if there's a high-surf warning, it's best to have fun on shore instead. Talk to lifeguards if you have any questions; otherwise, the shoreline is usually a safe option for families with smaller children or inexperienced swimmers.
A definite plus from this year's Flotilla – a reduced amount of trash in the ocean. I was happy to see a bunch of earth-friendly folk paddling around a raft with trash cans and recycling bins; they made their way through the crowd for people to dispose of their bottles, cans and other waste items.
A sustainable raft helped keep the ocean free of trash.
July 7th, 2012