For his daily school commute, this Radford High teen ditched a car for a kayak

Updated: Jun. 14, 2021 at 5:04 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Jonah Lee made his daily commute to Radford High School, he never got caught in gridlock. Instead of brake lights and morning traffic he saw sunrises and sea turtles.

After I tried it a few times, I thought, ‘Okay! This is actually really cool.’ I was super pumped and excited to tell people, ‘This is what I do. I kayak to school,’” he said.

Every morning rain or shine Jonah paddled a kayak across the Pearl Harbor channel.

It took about ten minutes to cross the half-mile from his home in Ewa Beach to a boat launch at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

“It’s definitely one of the best commute I’ve ever had for sure,” the 18-year-old said.

He had to get military clearance each time he paddled the channel. He’ll never forget the view.

“You see all sorts of things from submarines to ships, aircraft carriers, transport vessels,” he said.

Kayak commuting runs in the Lee family. His father, Navy Capt. Benjamin Lee, kayaks to his job at a military clinic.

“I bike to Iroquois Point and then I kayak over and then bike to my work,” he said.

Jonah kayaked the channel twice a day, on his way to school then back over on his way home.

“Some people ask, ‘What happens if it rains?’ I say, ‘If it rains I get wet,’” he joked.

Jonah started kayak commuting in his junior year and just kept going. In all those trips he only capsized once.

“I was able to get back on my kayak and hobble back to the dock all soaking wet. Luckily I carry a waterproof bag so all my devices and electronics and things were safe,” he said.

Jonah was on the track and swim teams at Radford. The daily kayaking helped his physical fitness. Next year he’ll attend the Coast Guard Academy where he’ll pursue a degree in mechanical engineering.

He’ll miss his kayak rides.

“When we do the, ‘Oh, tell us some interesting fact about yourself. I think, ‘I’m going to drop this on them,” he said.

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