On my first trip to Hawaii my Mom bought a children' book that told of the story of Chinaman' Hat. It went something like this...
There once was a young Chinese boy who was very small. From early on he forged a deep friendship with a young girl in the village who loved to weave [Chinaman-style] hats, she even wove a very special one for him. As they grew older, the boy wanted to impress the girl but felt he couldn't because he was too small to do handstands or reach out and pick flowers from the trees like the other boys. Resolving that making himself bigger was the only option, he found himself asking a wise man in the village for help. The wise man offered to give him the leaves of a certain tree which grew and grew over thousands of years. He told the boy that if he made a tiny bit of those leaves into tea, he would grow just the right amount. He cautioned the boy not to use more than a tiny bit. The boy made his tea, but then he decided to add a little more leaf because, after all, he was very small. He added a bit more and more until he had used all the leaves. Then he drank the tea and immediately he started to grow. The problem was he didn't stop! He grew and grew until he was taller than all the tree's surrounding the village. like the ancient trees he grew older too, he even grew a long beard, sadly, frightened and unsure he ran. As he ran he looked down and saw the tiny hat his friend had woven for him, he tied it safely to his beard. He ran and ran until he reached the ocean and then somehow he reached the faraway shores of Hawaii. There he met a village-full of new people including a great chief. The people helped him and in return he gave him the little hat his friend had woven. Soon afterward the chief and the people wove him a hat just like the little one, but much much bigger to fit! Soon afterward, the Chinaman grew sleepy ( just like those ancient old trees) and drifted down to the bottom of the ocean, where he will remain until Father time comes to wake up all the ancient things once more.
I love impressing my friends with this little story whenever we drive past Chinaman's Hat...I'm pretty sure it annoys them. Anyway, more about the adventure part... Despite having been to Chinaman's Hat several times before, our last trip was as fun as ever. The little island is about 3/4 mile ( I am totally guessing here) off-shore and how you get there depends on the tide. If the tide is low, you can totally walk right out there as it won't be more than knee-deep at the deepest points. Just be sure to wear water shoes ( I use a pair of old tennies) because there is coral all the way out and it is SHARP! If the tide is medium-high you can paddle out on surfboards ( probably not advisable to use surfboards in low tide as their bottoms will get scraped up on the coral). Either way you can use a kayak ( so long as you aren't super anal about the possibility of a small scratch or two) and I have to say that kayaking is my favorite, the paddling is an ab workout for people like me who tend to focus more on aerobic excercise, and the water is usually clear so you can see little fishes swimmin' while you paddle. I would not suggest paddling around the island , it gets pretty wavy and sharp-rocky, just paddle into the little stretch of beach sand that faces the shore.
Here is some video footage of our trip ( please excuse our goofiness...actually don't--that's who we are!)
Rock Climbing at Mokuleia--
On the other end of the North Shore you can indulge in another adventurous part of Hawaii, the Mokuleia rock climbing routes. There are a bunch of routes at varying skill levels, and it is a blast! I am no rock climber but I must say I thouroughly enjoyed letting our friend Zach (acting as my belayer) pull me up the mountain. Justin brought his r.c. plane up there and hit some "sweet thermals" ( translation sea breeze+hot air = shutting off the motor riding the wind with your plane) To get to Mokuleia from Laie we drove up the North Shore , past Haleiwa , took a right turn somewhere and ended up near Camp Erdman where we took the steep hike up from Farrington highway. Here's us having an awesom time climbing!
Matt (one of my BFF Lacee's hubby) learned to belay that day...notice that he and I both fit into the same harness...the pink,girl one.
I found a blog called Aloha from 808 that describes a Mokuleia adventure, as well as plenty of other outdoor adventures on Oahu:http://www.alohafrom808.com/2011/08/mokuleia-crag-rock-climbing-august-7-2011/