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When Eddie Keliinohomoku was growing up in Kona on Hawaii Island, he would cruise to the beach on a manual three-wheeler called a Trikke.
“I always wished it had a motor so we could get to the beach faster,” Keliinohomoku said. “Then, a few years back, I saw an electric Trikke on the beach in Southern California, and the rest is history.”
Thus, in May 2015, Aloha Trikke was born. The company takes visitors around Waikiki on user-friendly, personal transport vehicles that are fun and easy to maneuver. With solid tires, they provide a stable, stand-up ride — no pedaling or exercise involved.
Recently, I gave the firm’s Magic Island Sunset Trikke Tour a spin. After checking in at its Waikiki headquarters in King’s Village Shopping Center, I joined my guide, Harvey, for a 10-minute training session.
While operating the Trikke looked a bit daunting at first, it turned out to be a snap. I controlled the speed by twisting the throttle on the right handlebar, and I steered like I would on a bike. Since it had three wheels, I felt comfortable and balanced. Whenever we were on the move, Harvey communicated with me using a wireless headset, which let him point out landmarks and share background information.
From the shop, Harvey and I rolled along the Ala Wai Canal, where outrigger canoe teams stroked in tandem. We headed toward Fort DeRussy Park and glided on its beach walk. We circled the edge of Hilton Hawaiian Village’s peaceful lagoon, then whirled to Ala Moana Beach Park. Our final destination was Magic Island, a 30-acre peninsula of trees and grass where we zigzagged away from sidewalks and practiced some carefree loop-de-loops.
Magic Island made a good stopping point for a dip in the ocean and time spent watching surfers, sailors, fishermen and picnickers. It offered a beautiful slice of local life in the late-afternoon light.
During the two-hour outing, our route took us through Oahu’s busiest tourist hub, so we turned more than a few heads. Curious passersby snapped our pictures, and several asked us how to sign up for an excursion. Clearly, Keliinohomoku did his homework when choosing the setting for his Trikke tours.
“We have found a niche with visitors who don't want to jump on a bus and be gone all day,” Keliinohomoku said. “We are centrally located in Waikiki, so our customers can walk five minutes to our store. They can do a fun activity without having to wake up early and leave Waikiki for a large duration of time.”
For me, the tour scored extra points for its views. No matter where we went, we enjoyed vistas of the ocean or Koolau mountain range. Harvey was generous in stopping whenever a photo op called.
Aloha Trikke, which pays commission, gives travel agents a creative new option for Oahu-bound clients. According to Keliinohomoku, it’s particularly popular with families whose kids are 14 and older.
“A lot of visitors don’t realize how many special places they can see just minutes away from their Waikiki hotel,” Keliinohomoku said. “Our Trikkes are a great way to experience those places.”