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Twogood Kayaks Hawaii

Bob Twogood is the man behind the amazing story of Twogood Kayaks. Bob has been a pioneer in the sport of kayaking on Oahu's windward coasts. His original interest in kayaking led him to be a former national champion kayak racer and in 1982 he brought his considerable skills and kayaking prowess into fruition culminating in the establishment of his burgeoning new enterprise, Twogood Kayaks Hawaii. He devised a tour from Kailua Bay out to the Mokulua Islands that lay just one mile off the coast of nearby Lanikai Beach. He knew the area as being one of the premier snorkeling and kayaking regions in Hawaii with shallow enough waters to be able to see the enormous colorful coral heads that lie below the surface. The trip out to the Moku'lua's was reasonably short and the islands were ideal to land on as they had beautiful white sand beaches and a surf break excellent for kayak surfing for those that had an interest. The islands were also bird sanctuaries so from an ecological standpoint they were an amazing place to visit. On the way back to Kailua there were great places to snorkel so all in all he devised the prefect kayak tour ideal for both beginner and accomplished kayakers alike.

Interview with BobTwogood, owner of Twogood Kayaks

Tom Barefoot: Okay. I believe we're live now on Facebook. Read Full Transcript

Video Transcript

Tom Barefoot: Okay. I believe we're live now on Facebook.

Tom Barefoot: This is Tom Barefoot talking from Tom Barefoot's Tours. Today, we're doing another one in one of our series of what we're referring to as "Tom Barefoot's Tours Live" in which we interview various vendors that we have throughout the state and get to know a little bit more about them, a little bit more in depth, kind of put a face with the activity itself.

Today, we're going to the island of Oahu on the eastern coast off the Kailua shore, and we're with a company called Twogood Kayaks. The owner of the company is Bob Twogood. He's here with us today. He's actually out on a place called Popoia Island, also known as Flat Island, and he's looking back toward Kailua Beach. Bob, are you with me?

Bob Twogood: I'm with you, Tom.

Tom Barefoot: Good. Can I kind of take a look at your face for a second here?

Bob Twogood: Yes, very good.

Tom Barefoot: There he is.

Bob Twogood: I think Kailua Beach is probably much better, but I'm happy to be here.

Tom Barefoot: Okay, Bob. We've got a little bit of a problem with the camera today. We're not going to have it totally focused on Bob the entire time. It'll be more panning of the area that we're looking at, but he can hear all the questions, and he'll be doing the answers and so on.

First of all, Bob, one of the things I'd like to make clear to people is that, yes, you've got a company, you do kayak tours and all sorts of things to do with kayaks and snorkeling in the area off Kailua on Oahu, but you've got a serious, serious background with regard to all things kayak to begin with. I believe this all started as a former national champion and kayak racer. So what's that about? How did that come about?

Bob Twogood: Yeah, Tom. I started kayaking back in, jeez, I think it was 1979, and I started because I saw a kayaker paddle by Kailua Beach, and I thought, "Wow, how cool. Wouldn't that be fun?" So I chased him down the beach, and when he came in I found out where to get one. Enjoyed the recreational paddling for several months.

I heard about kayak racing, and I thought, "Wow, that'd be cool" and started racing. Loved the sport. It's a fun thing to do. It's a great way to get in shape. So I got involved in racing, pursued it. I did, I think, seven or eight Molokai Channel World Championships, placed second twice.

Then I heard about flatwater kayak racing on the mainland, which is an Olympic sport. Started pursuing that [inaudible 00:03:11] national champion in '81 [inaudible 00:03:16] very close [inaudible 00:03:17] Olympic team in '84, and I've been kayaking ever since.

We started our company in 1981 also, and we've been building kayaks, providing kayak tours and rentals, and just making sure everybody has a good time safely when they get out with us.

Tom Barefoot: Okay. You mentioned that, was it 1981 that you started your actual business? Was that initially building paddles and surf skis? Was that the initial intent of it before you actually started doing tours? Also, by the way, what is a surf ski exactly?

Bob Twogood: Yes, it was. When we started in '81, the only thing we were doing when we first started, we were building paddles out of our garage. Then we recognized that, jeez, there's a market for surf skis. A surf ski is a kayak that you sit on top of, and it's built for ocean racing.

Sometimes people confuse surf skis with wave skis. Actually, they're misnamed because wave skis are for surfing waves and surf skis are not really for surfing. They're for doing long-distance paddling downwind. So we started building paddles, recognized there is a market for surf skis here in Hawaii, and we started building surf skis shortly after that.

Tom Barefoot: These surf skis, let me get it right, to me it's like a kayak but very long and thin, maybe in the teens of feet. Long, and you just sit on the top. It's real sleek and really designed to go fast. Is that correct?

Bob Twogood: Exactly right. The racing surf skis are about 21 feet long. They're only just barely wide enough to get your hips into, and they are extremely tippy, so I would make sure that everybody that's trying surf skis for the first time does not try a racing surf ski because they are very tippy.

But there are also surf skis that are recreational surf skis, and they're far more stable. They're still long, about 17 to 20 feet, but they're wider and radically more stable. But they're still tons of fun because you can do the open ocean, you can surf downwind, you can surf breaking waves by the beach like a surfboard does. So just make sure if anybody's going to try it, then try a recreational surf ski rather than a racing model for the first time.

Tom Barefoot: Just to set the record straight, for people that are coming out to see you, they're more on a traditional-type kayak that you sit on top, certainly easy enough to sit on for a couple people, so we're not talking surf ski. We're just talking about your past and what you used to do, right?

Bob Twogood: Yes, exactly right. The racing surf skis are the tippy ones, but the ones we use for tours and rentals and so forth, they're totally recreational kayaks. So anyone that has never paddled a kayak before will have no trouble at all with boats that we use for our rentals and tours.

Tom Barefoot: Okay. You also are involved and have been involved in teaching kayak skills and safety courses in colleges in the area, yeah?

Bob Twogood: Correct. For about, I think it was 18 years, I taught a course up at the University of Hawaii for kayaking basics. That's where people that were interested would come to the class, we'd teach them how to do different strokes to control the boat, how to launch and land through breaking waves, how to make judgments on the ocean to keep yourself safe, where you could go out to the open ocean and the area you shouldn't go, when you can and when you can't, and so forth. That was a very successful class for almost 20 years.

Tom Barefoot: Wow. There's a lot of reach over from that to the classes that you offer and the tours that you give. Really a lot of background in safety and just understanding what going on with the ocean. Which leads me to my next question because I had read somewhere, and I was impressed by this, Bob, and I'm assuming it's true. You just tell me about it. You've actually circumnavigated via kayak the entire island of Oahu about 20 times? Is that right?

Bob Twogood: Yes, that's right. One of my University of Hawaii classes, the classes were beginner courses, and shortly after I started teaching them, one of the groups of students said, "Okay, now where do we go?" I told them, "Well, gee, go anywhere you want. You know how to do it safely now." They said, "Yeah, but we're not real confident. We want you to go with us." So I said, "Okay, I'll go on the first couple of paddles." And that was 28 years ago.

What that ended up being was a paddling club, and we do a route every month. We'll do one six- to eight-mile section of Oahu. We'll start at one point, go down the beach six or eight miles. Next month, we start there and go another six or eight miles. If people go on all of these outings, they will circumnavigate the entire island in about a year. I lead all the paddles and so that means I've circumnavigated Oahu about 28 times in the past [crosstalk 00:09:00] years.

Tom Barefoot: Wow. Just for the sake of knowing, if you were to circumnavigate in a kayak but, say, pull over each night and camp on the beach and then go, how long do you think it would take you to get around the island of Oahu?

Bob Twogood: If you wanted to do it at a relaxed pace, it's about 110 miles, and if you do, let's say if you do 10 miles a day, then it would take you about 10 days roughly.

Tom Barefoot: Okay. All right. That's certainly a lot of kayaking in your past there, I must say. Let's get into the actual tours that you do now with Twogood Kayaks. You've got a number of them that you do, but I want to start with what I consider to be the prominent one, the one that you're really, I think, the most famous for, the one that we have the most interest in here at Tom Barefoot's Tours from our clients. That's referred to as the Guided Hawaiian Wildlife Tour. It's about a five-hour tour, I believe. It leaves from Kailua Beach and heads out to the Mokulua Islands. Can you show us the Mokuluas out there?

Bob Twogood: The view [inaudible 00:10:17] back to the Mokulua [crosstalk 00:10:19].

Tom Barefoot: There they are. There they are right there. Beautiful. Bob, why don't you go through that day for us? Explain what would happen. I think you actually start off, you pick people up in Waikiki if needed, and then deliver them back. But explain the process of the day. Just go through it.

Bob Twogood: Yeah, sure. When you sign up for the Guided Hawaiian Wildlife Tour, we pick you up at your hotel in Waikiki, bring you over across the island to Kailua to our store. It's about a 30-minute drive over the Pali Highway. You have a gorgeous view coming over the mountains on the way to the side.

You get to our store, we take care of paperwork, do kayaking instruction. We show you how to paddle the boat, how to get in at the beach and so forth. We give you your lunch and snorkeling gear and a dry bag so you can take things with you and keep them dry.

Then we're down to the beach launching from this beach right over here. You can see some kayaks heading out this way right now. So we launch from this beach, paddle along the shoreline over here, Kailua Beach, past Lanikai over here.

Lanikai and Kailua Beach have been named two of the best beaches in the United States by a oceanographer whose nickname is Dr. Beach because his hobby in life is to go around the world rating beaches. He has something like 27 different criteria that he rates them on like the color of the sand, how fine is the sand, the slope of the beach to the water, the slope of the beach after you get into the water, restroom facilities, and all those things. Kailua and Lanikai have been rated two of the best beaches in the United States numerous times.

So we paddle along Lanikai and Kailua beaches outside to this area, and then two of the Mokulua Islands. If the camera picks it up, there's a really nice beach on the front of the Mokulua Islands, the land side of the island, and that's where we land. So you land out there. You learn about the history and geology of the area, the birdlife and the sealife. The guides are all really well trained in that. Our guides are also lifeguard, CPR, and first aid certified, so if anything happens, they're capable of handling it.

After you land there, you learn about these things. You do a walk right around the back of the island, and we're the only tour company that will take people to the cove called Shark Cove on the back of the island. It's an area that's just phenomenal and a really cool place to go. You can jump into the cove off the rocks from one foot high or five or ten feet, and that's a lot of fun. The snorkeling in the cove is really nice.

After we do the cove, we come back to the beach, and then go to another area called the Queen's Bath. That's because it's a tide pool in a rock shelf that's about the size of a big jacuzzi. People get to swim in there and have fun. We have lunch on the island.

Here's something that our guides teach about also that the clients always find immensely interesting. If you look at the Mokulua Islands, and then you look at the Koolau Mountains over here, when you drive from Waikiki over to our side of the island, the mountain slopes up gradually on the way to our side. Then you go through the Pali Tunnels, and the mountains drop off all of a sudden, very sheer vertical cliffs, and they go in kind of an arch like this.

Very few people are aware that that's because Kailua area is the inside of what once was the Koolau Volcano. So this whole area over here was nothing but bubbling lava, and the geologists are aware because of the rock formations on the Mokulua Islands, when you're out there, you'll see that the rocks are going straight up in the air, which is very unusual. That's how the geologists know that those two islands are the lava vents. That was where the lava was pushing up through the earth to form the volcano.

This mountain was once about 10,000 feet high, and about two million years ago, there was a massive landslide, and half of that mountain fell away into the ocean, and it sent a tsunami over to the West Coast of the United States that flooded the entire southern half of California. It went 1,000 feet up the Sierra Nevada Mountains. What a phenomenal thing to happen. Imagine if that happened today, the loss of life and property.

Tom Barefoot: Wow.

Bob Twogood: The backwash from all that water is what created, it's what carved out San Francisco Bay. So these are some of the geological and the historical things that our guides teach the clients when they go out to the Mokulua Islands. So it's not just a really fun day out on the water, but clients get to learn a lot also. I think we're the only company that does teach the geology and history.

Tom Barefoot: That's amazing. Somewhere in the recesses of my memory, I remember that story, but I had forgotten it. Thank you very for that. Sounds like there's just a richness of the geology that you're going to be able to learn about on these tours as well.

I know that you've got in between Lanikai and the Mokulua Islands out there, you've got some beautiful coral heads that you go over, you can look straight down and see. So it's really a full day of kayaking and snorkeling and also sightseeing, if you will, on an island. Of course, it's a bird sanctuary there. Really, looking back from the Mokuluas back at Oahu, you really see the difference between old and new or between populace and non-populated islands. It's really quite a neat thing.

The thing that I recall, too, is that these are really islands in the sense that they have leeward and windward sides. You get the whole thing, and you get a chance to, on your tours at least, walk around and see both aspects. You get to see the sand on the one side, you can see the cliffs on the other just like you would on any larger island.

Bob Twogood: Yes, that's exactly right. The island that we go to, the Mokulua Islands out here, they're partial bird sanctuaries. That means it's legal, and what our tour does is we land on the island, do a walk around the outside edge, we need to stay off the hillside because that's where the birds are nesting. One of the interesting facts about the birds on the island, they're wedge-tailed shearwaters, and they come and nest here every year. Lay their eggs, raise their young, and the adults leave the island some time around December, late November, early December.

The juveniles are left there on the island. The juveniles hang out until about January, then they leave the island. When they leave the island, they live out on the open ocean for three years. That's really interesting. One of the things that allows them to do this is they have gills in their throat. The gills, when they drink the salt water, will filter the salt out of it, and that's how they survive out there.

An interesting thing about these birds also is, on the nature shows you see on TV, you always see the seabirds diving into the ocean to catch fish. What you don't see is that these birds, the wedge-tailed shearwaters, can swim 150 feet deep chasing fish.

Tom Barefoot: Amazing.

Bob Twogood: Which is how they're able to survive on the ocean for three years. Then after three years, they return back to their home island where they were hatched, and they select a mate and start their mating process. Another unusual thing about these birds is that when they select a mate, unlike humans they stay with their mate for their entire life. That's rare in the animal world.

Tom Barefoot: Yeah. No. It's rare in any world.

Bob Twogood: [inaudible 00:18:23].

Tom Barefoot: So, Bob, I know that you've got a number of other things. I'd just like to just kind of go through them just a little bit so people know. Mostly, they're dealing with the same areas and the same things, so we don't want to draw it out.

I know you've got what you call a Kauai, excuse me, a Kayak Adventure Package, which is essentially the same thing, but you'll allow people to go off on their own. You pick them up in Waikiki, you'll bring them out there, but it's kind of an unguided situation.

Then you've also got a guided hike, or a guided kayak and a hike I guess you'd call it, that takes you out to Popoia, which is the island that you're on right now, also known as Flat Island. So that's a shorter tour. It's like two and a half hours or so.

Then you've got some packages where you can have a snorkel and be given a snorkel and go out from Kailua Beach, enjoy the beach for the day. I believe you'll also pick people up in the Waikiki area for that. So they'll be able to enjoy that.

Then you also do some kayak rentals. Basically, that's the compacted version of the other things that you do. Anything you want to add regarding those?

Bob Twogood: Yeah. Those are really fun activities. The Adventure Package is the unguided one or self-guided. When people select that, generally it's best if they're experienced paddlers and in relatively good physical condition. We give people that are going without a guide a safety briefing, and we show them where they can paddle safely and the areas they should stay away from. You can go out here on your own and have a great time also.

One activity that you didn't mention that a lot of people have been enjoying immensely is our what we call the Exclusive Guided Tour. On that tour, we'll talk with the client about the different areas that you can go to. Tom, I can e-mail you a list of these areas where you can see actually these islands right off shore out here. I'm going to raise the camera up, and you'll see sea cliffs and an island just off the sea cliff.

Tom Barefoot: Okay.

Bob Twogood: Right out there. Those islands have a massive sea cave in it that we can take people out to that sea cave, and they'll paddle inside. It's just a huge cave. You're in the cave, the water's going up and down. It's just a tons of fun thing to do. We can also discuss other areas of Oahu they might find interesting. They'll choose the tour that they think is most interesting, and we will do that. Each tour has its own price because they all take a different amount of time and so forth.

Tom Barefoot: Right.

Bob Twogood: [crosstalk 00:21:12] Exclusive Guided Tour, and that's an option for clients also.

Tom Barefoot: Fantastic. Actually, I'm glad to know that. I don't think we've ever recommended one of those, but we will in the future here for our clients-

Bob Twogood: Yeah.

Tom Barefoot: Because you obviously know the entire island really well.

Bob Twogood: Yeah, we've not had that on the itinerary until just recently, Tom, so we'll get that information to you.

Tom Barefoot: Okay, that sounds good. As a last question, is there a better time to come and visit Kailua? Kailua Bay and the area out there? Better time of year?

Bob Twogood: If you're looking for nice weather, generally any time between, say April and October or November would be good. November, December it starts getting into winter. Winter here isn't like winter in Minnesota where there's mountains of snow on the ground, but it is a bit windier on some days.

So occasionally, we'll change the tour location to another location where we go to an island called Chinaman's Hat or Mokolii Island and Kahana Bay and paddle up the Kahana River, which is a slow-moving river through a tropical rainforest. So those are options when the weather isn't good out here that a lot of people enjoy immensely also.

Tom Barefoot: Okay, Bob. Thank you very much. I think we should wind it up at this point. So glad that you could spend some time with us this morning, letting us a know a little bit about what you do and a little bit more in depth.

This has been Bob Twogood from Twogood Kayaks. Bob, I want to thank you very much. Let's see your face again there. I want to thank you very much being part of our Tom Barefoot's Tours live broadcast this morning.

Bob Twogood: Good. Well, Tom, I've enjoyed it very much. It's great to get a morning off from the office and come out here and help to show people around with what we do and where we go and how we do it.

Tom Barefoot: Okay, Bob. Thank you so much. Aloha.

Bob Twogood: Thank you, Tom. Aloha.

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