Cruising in Hawaii Did Not Come Easy to this Gay Man

5.21.2014

By Clark Harding

He knows his way around the gents, but world traveler Clark Harding is not good at leisurely sailing around the 50th state.

It’s weird. I’ve traveled to all seven continents on the planet but never been to Hawaii.

With that confession, my travel buddy David Duran promptly booked me on my next adventure: experiencing the islands that make up the 50th state. But like so many places, I didn’t want to just go to one island and say I had been there. I wanted to see the whole thing, experience all Hawaii had to offer. But with only one week to spare…that’s a tall order.

“Great,” David assured “That’s why I booked us on a cruise.”

“Eww, no!” I pouted. “I’m an adventure traveler, remember? I don’t do cruises.”

“Obviously! “ he corrected “I booked us on the ‘Un-Cruise,’ it’s a cruise for nerds like you who don’t like cruising.”

“I mean, I like cruising,” I joked. “Just not cruises.”

“Definitely for nerds like you,” he reiterated, rolling his eyes.

After flying in to Kona on the Big Island, I noticed something while driving through the lava fields toward The Hilton (We had to stay for the night before catching our boat the next day). “Even though I’ve never been here,” I said, gazing out the window, “This road looks really familiar.”

“This is the bike portion of the Kona Ironman,” our cabbie informed. I started bouncing up and down like child. “I’m in the middle of training for another Triathlon,” I said, “how am I supposed to work out when I’m stuck on a boat for a whole week?!”

But as I would learn, the whole idea behind The Un-Cruise is genius. The concept is for travelers who like to see the world by getting dirty during the day, yet have their creature comforts at night. For example, one might spend the day kayaking, snorkeling or hiking off the boat, but return to the luxury of a gourmet, restaurant quality meal and comfy hotel bed. And no matter how much of an adventure snob I am, I will never turn down good food and lots of sleep. And, even though the whole trip takes place primarily on a tricked-out ship, other guests aren’t overweight Midwesterners there to gamble their social security checks away at the buffet. Instead of corny entertainment, the down time is more intellectual. The staff consists of learned biologists who are on-call to blab about the flora and fauna (while pouring you a stiff drink).

“Um, yeah,” agreed David. “You go have fun on the paddle board, I’m gonna get boozy and flirt with the hot mixologist… I mean biologist.”

I kind of assumed it would be a pretty straight crowd. That David and I would be the only gays on the boat. But it turned out to be a remarkably diverse, with folks from all backgrounds. My favorite were the lesbian acupuncturists from Michigan. The moment they started showing pictures of their farm I was like, “Oh yeah, we’re gonna be friends.”

Tags: Hawaii, Features
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