By Kent Coules, Publisher
When Cormac O’Carroll took over Hawaii Water Sports Center 20 years ago, they offered one activity: water skiing. Since then they’ve expanded to parasailing, jet skiing, wakeboarding, snorkel, scuba and banana boat and bumper tube tows.
“The business was already 26 years old when I took it over,” says O’Carroll. “We’ve slowly added more activities so that we’re a one-stop shop for visitors’ recreational water fun. That’s probably why our three ride special is our most popular booking.”
A new activity at Hawaii Sports Center is the Snorkel With Turtles Tour, right off the reef in Maunalua Bay in a spot aptly nicknamed named “Turtle Canyon.”
“The Turtle Tour is popular with everyone,” says O’Carroll. “Turtles, in my opinion, have an amazing effect on people. They appear so relaxed and tranquil, nonchalant almost. They pass that on to the snorkeler. At Turtle Canyon we average about five to six turtle sightings per trip.”
Hawaii Water Sports Center is located in Koko Marina in Hawaii Kai. “It’s perfect for us because we have the bay and the marina here. Guests ride the jet ski and experience the parasail in the bay, and the marina is ideal for water skiing and wakeboarding.”
So what’s the most popular option?
Probably jet skiing,” says O’Carroll, “although the towables—banana boats and bumper tubes—are possibly equal. People really enjoy our three ride special for $99, which takes about two and a half hours.
What’s the most satisfying part of running a water sports business?
Just the fun of making people laugh. I enjoy watching the reaction and excitement. Another thing that is rewarding is seeing people get over their nervousness in the water. Most people are not comfortable in the ocean; seeing them relax gives me great satisfaction.
How grand is the view for the parasail adventurers?
We’ll go as high as 1,000 feet if someone asks, but we usually don’t go higher than 800 feet. That’s high enough! We’ll lengthen or shorten the rope based on the request of our guests. We want them to be happy.
What’s your favorite activity to guide?
Wakeboarding, definitely. I love to teach people how to wakeboard because it’s such an accomplishment.
What’s the most interesting party you’ve hosted?
That would be the Japanese couple that got married while wakeboarding. They were in their tux and wedding gown wakeboarding in the marina. A celebrant performed the wedding rites right before on the boat. Unforgettable!
Any celebrity sightings over the years?
We’ve had a few. The two biggest stars that come to mind first are Robin Williams and Sylvester Stallone. We have also hosted quite a few athletes. Reggie Miller, the Hall of Fame basketball player was here, and Junior Seau, the late, great football player, used to come here almost every year with his family.
There really is something for everybody at Hawaii Water Sports Center. “We’ve had people in their 80’s water skiing. We’re all kids at heart. What’s great about what we do is getting to see everyone in that state of mind.”
And what could be wrong with that?
This article also appears in print the April-June issues of This Week Oahu, on stands now.
[All photos courtesy Hawaii Water Sports Center]
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