Teenagers goup, up, and away for a gulls-eye view of Oahu

We stepped off the airplane and into a tropical paradise. I took a breath of the sweet air and closed my eyes. It was as if I were standing in the middle of a field of irises, with lazy bees carrying thick pollen on their yellow backs, while a soft breeze blew through the tall grass and tickled my senses. The smell of Hawaii was incredible!

That was my first impression of this beautiful island. I smiled and thought how much fun the next four days would be: a father-daughter vacation on an exotic island with an incredible schedule of thrilling activities.

To be honest, it was an exhausting four days. We went from one adventure to the next, nonstop.

Even though there was no down time, or any time to just lie on the beautiful white beaches, it was a great vacation that I will never forget.

One of the highlights of the trip was a day of extreme water sports at Maunalua Bay. We arrived early in the morning and did not leave until we had tried almost everything the place had to offer. There were wild banana-boat rides, outrigger-canoe excursions, glass-bottom boats to tame, and many other wet activities.

My friend Alexandra, a 13-year-old thrill-seeker, shared my excitement for parasailing.

That afternoon, she, her mom, my dad, and I, and a 10-year-old girl and her dad ventured out into the bay on a speedboat equipped with a giant winch and parachute.

Alex and I were the first to go up. We were strapped into a harness and then carried almost 300 feet into the sky by the wind. Screaming the whole way up, I didn't realize how peaceful it could be so high up until I finally relaxed and looked around.

The view was gorgeous; with clear, sparkling water beneath, and a wild expanse of lush, green mountains dotted with tiny villages that stretched out to the horizon. Suddenly our parachute plummeted toward the ocean. We screamed bloody murder, thinking we had lost control and were going to drown.

But just as we were dunked into the cool water, our chute shot straight back up again. It was a rush! Alex yelled down to the boat for them to "do it again!" So once again we were lifted up and free-fell to earth with a great splash.

The 10 minutes I spent flying above Oahu were maybe the most exhilarating moments of my trip, if not my life.

Alex agreed. On a scale of 1 to 5, she gave it a "definite 5, man!"

The younger girl, Julie, was terrified to go up at first, but after she landed, she said it was one of the top three things she most enjoyed on her trip. Going to a sea-life park and following wild dolphins in a glass-bottom boat were her other favorites.

Of the variety of activities to choose from at Maunalua Bay, I recommend parasailing, if you are looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Although for my friends and me it fulfilled our need for excitement, many smaller kids would probably not enjoy it as much. It can be a frightening experience.

As a teenager, I found it worth the cost and time. And a lot less work than, say, paddling a surfboard between rides.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.