When one hears the word "polo" in Hawaii, it usually refers to water polo. But polo in the traditional sense with horses and helmets has gained popularity in the Aloha State.
Every Sunday, the Hawaii Polo Club hosts a match on a field bordering the beach in Mokuleia on the north shore of Oahu. The best polo ponies and players hail from all over the state to strut their stuff on this far-flung field. Corporate-sponsored teams battle it out in four seven-minute innings called "chukkers." Spectators range from babies to grandparents and surfers to southern ladies in big hats. There is no dress code, but most choose to wear a swimsuit under their clothes. The festivities begin with a pony parade and the national anthem. The first of two matches begins at 2 pm, but many people arrive early to tailgate on the beach and go for a dip in the ocean.
Situated down the street from Dillingham Air Field, the half-time show between games usually consists of professional skydivers flipping through the air and landing right in front of picnickers and tailgaters. Even those like myself with no desire to jump out of an airplane will stare in amazement at these daredevils. If polo fans are inspired to skydive, they can tell the tour company, Skydive Hawaii, that they heard about them from Hawaii Polo Club and get a $100 discount, totaling $125 for a tandem dive with a pro.
Local food merchants flock to the field to sell sweet and savory crepes, hot dogs, hamburgers, and more. An open bar selling mai tais and bloody marys await the of-age crowd. Picnics dot the sidelines, many of which include wine and beer from home.
When the polo ends and the band starts to play, the real party ensues. Players mingle with the crowd, and the patch of grass in front of the stage fills up with dancers. It is little wonder how an isolated field in the country is able to draw so many people from all over the island. The music, dancing, and socializing don't stop until the sun sinks behind the Waianae mountain range. Polo fans and partiers saunter to their cars and realize they have to work in the morning.
Directly across the street from the polo field sits Dillingham Farm, where the horses are kept and polo enthusiasts vacation. Trail rides along the deserted Mokuleia coast are offered here, as well as riding and polo lessons. For more information, see the link below.
Mokuleia Polo Field is located at:
68-585 Farrington Highway
Waialua, Hawaii 96791
$5 with student ID
$10 regular admission