Dave Kalama likes big adventure. In particular, he does a lot of
big wave surfing at Maui’s famed surf break, Jaws, where he has
surfed waves as high as 75 feet. In fact, he and his surfing
partner Laird Hamilton, and fellow surfer Derrick Doener, can be
seen defying such monster waves in the opening scene of the James
Bond film “Die Another Day.”
What does performing such an extreme sport mean to Kalama?
“It’s a great symbol to me that humans can relate to the power
of nature, and are able to interact with that power,” he said.
Kalama, who has lived on Maui for 20 years since graduating high
school in Southern California, intended to stay for one year.
“Until I stopped having fun,” he said. “I just haven’t stopped
having fun yet.”
Kalama does not limit his adventures in nature to a surfboard
alone, however. From hiking to paddling, to mountain-boarding or
snowboarding, he seeks out adventures throughout the islands.
Naturally the first thing he recommends is that visitors go
surfing. The safest surf is on the south shore of Maui. He
recommends the coastline between Maalaea Harbor and Lahaina
“There are lots of surf sites,” along the beaches fronting
Highway 30, he said.
Kalama riding the big waves
At another extreme, 10,000 feet above sea level, Kalama likes to
hike through the crater of Haleakala volcano.
“It’s great exercise and a beautiful landscape,” he said.
For Kalama and his equally fit hiking partners, they prefer an
adventurous 11-mile hike descending from Sliding Sands trailhead to
the crater floor and back up the Halemauu trailhead.
“It usually takes us four hours, hustling,” he said.
Non-athletes should estimate at least twice the time, leaving
early and bringing plenty of water, food and rain and sun
On Oahu, visitors should not miss canoe surfing in Waikiki. A
number of concessions offer the activity on the beach there.
“People who can’t surf get the sensation of riding a wave,”
He favors the activity not only because it is a unique
experience, but because it is a part of the Polynesian culture both
the canoe and the surfing.
On Kauai, hands down, adventurers should head to the Na Pali
Coast, whether hiking in or paddling in by kayak.
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” he said.
It’s also absolutely arduous. The roundtrip hike to Kalalau
Valley is 22 miles from the North Shore trailhead at the end of
Highway 560. Shorter hikes, such as the first couple miles into
Hanakapiai Beach, are challenging but rewarding visually along the
narrow, cliffside trails. In addition, visitors can book guided or
independent kayak trips from May to September. For a single-day
outing, you have to be fit enough to endure an eight-hour trip to
complete the 17-mile coastal stretch north-to-south with the
On the Big Island, Kalama would recommend mountain boarding down
“It’s like a skateboard with big rubber tires,” he said.
However, visitors won’t find outfits renting the equipment given
its degree of danger. So instead, in the winter, you can snowboard
or ski from the volcano’s 13,000-foot peak.
Is there any adventure activity Kalama wouldn’t pursue jumping
out of planes, swimming with sharks, maybe?
“Well, nothing comes to mind,” he said. “I’ll have to think
about that one.”