MWR helps RIMPAC participants discover, enjoy Hawaii

(Via Ho’okele News)

Surf lessons are a popular activity for visitors.

Reid Tokeshi


Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Morale, Welfare and Recreation

Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises going on now have brought service members from around the Pacific and beyond to Hawaii.

The significance of these exercises is well documented, but for many of the participants the experience goes beyond that. Many of the thousands in attendance are visiting Hawaii for the first time ever.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) scheduled numerous activities every day the ships were in port to help them make the most of their time here.

MWR’s Information, Tickets & Travel (ITT) provided bookings for many of Hawaii’s favorite attractions, including circle island tours, trips to Kualoa Ranch and Sea Life Park and even shark tours. One of the most popular activities was the Hawaiian luau and ITT set up trips on many days to give visitors the flexibility to choose.

Donna Matsushita, community activities director, said some groups even set up their own tours with ITT.

“We set up a lot of individual command luaus. They wanted to do their own, just them,” Matsushita said. The Canadian ship Calgary was among the commands choosing to set up individually, with more than 70 people heading out for a luau, Matsushita said.

The MWR Outdoor Recreation program also set up daily trips for those who wanted to experience the natural side of Hawaii.

Kyle Candilasa, a recreation guide with the MWR Outdoor Adventure Center office, liked the amount of participation this year.

“This is the fourth RIMPAC I’m doing,” said Candilasa. “I like (this year) because we’re always doing something. We’re having good turnouts.”

Candilasa said the most popular tours he has led were the snorkeling and kayaking tours.

“A lot of them haven’t been in water where they can see a lot of fish. When we take them to marine sanctuaries like Shark’s Cove or Hanauma Bay, they have a lot to see out there,” Candilasa said.

Paddling out to Chinaman’s Hat was also fun, according to Candilasa.

“A lot of people liked it because it’s paddling off to a separate island. We take them out to the back side where there are tide pools and a little beach you can swim at,” Candilasa said.

By contrast, Candilasa’s co-worker Eric Ordorica was experiencing his first RIMPAC.

“You’re taking people out and they’re enjoying the trip, and you’re also enjoying the trip. So I thought it was fun, it was good, lot of hard work,” Ordorica said.

Ordorica said feedback overall from customers has been very positive.

“I talked to a lot of people one-on-one while we were doing the hikes, snorkeling and whatnot. Everyone seemed to be impressed. They liked doing the outdoor activities, especially the hiking. A lot of people liked the nature, the forest and the waterfalls,” Ordorica said.

MWR’s Liberty Program also offered activities every day during the in-port period. On-base activities such as themed nights at the centers as well as golf, fishing and bowling were provided for those visitors wanting to stay close by. For those wanting to venture beyond the gates, everything from dinner cruises to go-kart racing, horseback riding to hiking and even a water park visit were available.

The visitors return in about three weeks with a few more days to enjoy Hawaii. Candilasa and Ordorica said they are looking forward to another round of outdoor fun.

“Oh yeah, definitely,” Ordorica said. “We normally only do this on the weekends and now we get to do this every day, which I found out is very tiring, but it’s good.”

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