Sunday, November 6, 2011

Kauai - Bali Hai

October 25
Bali Hai

Wow. For a day that started out AMAZING, it sure turned south in the late afternoon. But let's start at the beginning.

We got up to a beautiful day in Poipu, which, may I say, is usual and customary (so far) in Poipu. We grabbed a quick breakfast of Kashi bars and juice, and off we went (9 a.m.) to the north side of the island.

Hanalei Valley from the Overlook. Stop there!
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
What a gorgeous drive! Sharp-ridged, steep, green mountains inland; blue water, palm trees, expansive beaches at the shore. The farther north we went, the thicker the vegetation and the more flowery the shrubs and trees. And the more coconut palms and vines like Tarzan would have used to get from Point A to Point B. I was a happy camper, traveling through a tropical paradise.

We decided to go snorkeling at Tunnels Beach at Hanalei Bay (by Hanalei, off Highway 560 – Kuhio Highway). No, we did not see Puff, the Magic Dragon. But we did see the cave where he lives. Supposedly.

Back to the snorkeling. Tunnels is a beautiful stretch of beach that's reef protected so that the waves don't crash hugely on the shore; however, the current is pretty strong. But that could have just been the day we were there, to give it the benefit of the doubt. There were lots of families with small children, and everyone seemed to be having a marvelous day playing in the sand and surf. And there's a lifeguard, which is always a comforting sight.

Tunnels Beach. Mount Makana (Bali Ha'i) in background.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
We checked with the lifeguard to see where the best snorkel spot was that morning, and he indicated an area quite a ways down the right-hand side of the beach where there were two orange cones in the sand. The two cones marked the beginning and end of the sweet spot. So, we hauled our gear down the beach. Gear gets heavy when you're also sinking in the sand and trying not to lose your sandals. I found it interesting that the sand didn't pack down for easy walking, even in the wet parts. This was not the case at all the beaches. Different sand, different texture, different properties.

So, we got to the first cone, arranged our stuff (chairs, mats, etc.) on the beach, got our gear on, and battled the current all the way up to where the second cone was on the beach. I thought it was just me having a time of it propelling myself, but it turned out that the others were working hard, too. Silly us! If we'd started at the second cone, we could have just drifted along enjoying the fish instead of working so hard. Note to self: Pay attention to which way the current is flowing and work with it instead of against it.

There were lots of fishes of all colors and sizes. Interestingly, they don't seem to have any problem figuring out which is the easiest way to go. Hmmm. The water was the perfect temperature, and the clarity was medium. All in all, not a bad snorkel at all, and I'd recommend the beach whether you're getting in with a mask and find or whether you must want to splash around with the kids. There was plenty of shade, too, which is a plus if you're trying to not turn into a lobster.

Next, we continued on to Ke'e Beach (very end of the Kuhio Highway, Haena State Park, near Kilauea) to see what that was like, and it was also a reef-protected, relatively calm area. Parking there was a nightmare, though, and we had to park down the road and hoof it for our look-see. So, if you choose Ke'e, get there really early or really late. Here, you can put on your fins without having to park your backside in the sand, which is a definite plus.
Behaving like the tourists we Ke'e Beach
Photo from Chris's camera. All rights reserved.,
Obviously, this cave is wet.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
There's sightseeing to be done, too, besides the beaches (which are worth the trip just by themselves). You can see a large dry cave and a large wet cave right off the road, nicely set off by vines and flowers and bird nests. It all looks very exotic and movie worthy. Oh, wait. It's been in the movies...lots of them. South Pacific, the Thornbirds, etc. You can walk into the dry cave, but you cannot swim in the wet cave, though you'll be sorely tempted to do so!

By now, the weather had turned cloudy and breezy and kind of cool (relatively), and it was threatening to rain, a few drops falling down on us here and there. There is more rain on the north side of the island.

End of the path. Ah, well.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
From Ke'e, there's a trail you can take all the way down the Na'Pali Coast, if you're into rugged hiking and backpacking. We found a path that looked as though someone with a machete had cleared the jungle a bit. We followed it, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Na'Pali Coast from that vantage point, but no dice. It dead-ended in an area that was the thickest vegetation yet. Ah, well. I guess you gotta either be a jungle explorer or else do a catamaran or helicopter adventure to see this elusive coastline.

We started back down the highway (By the way, when I say “highway,” I mean only that the road has been designated and numbered as such. We are not talking about freeways with four lanes on each side. Or even two.) at a leisurely pace, stopping to check out Anini Beach on our way. The road to Anini takes you through an area of incredibly beautiful homes with hibiscus hedges, gates, and lovely grounds. Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. International House Hunters. That kind of thing. Upscale neighborhood, for sure. And, yet, they allowed us to drive through. Isn't that nice? And the beach itself looks like a good snorkel spot. More on that later.

By the way, many of the homes on the north end are up on very tall pilings. Reaching the top requires climbing a flight or two of stairs. We surmised that this was to prevent damage from high water during storms, but it could also have been to improve the view or to catch a breeze. Or all three.

So, we left Anini to make our way back to Poipu, thinking we would stop at Coconut Marketplace (on the main road in Kapa'a) for a bite to eat. We had stopped there for a farmer's market earlier in the day and had noticed some interesting small shops and food kiosks.

We got on the road, feeling awesome because we were having such an excellent day. And then the other shoe dropped. Or, for those of you who don't speak American, a terrible thing happened.

We're driving along on the highway, minding our own business, following traffic. Suddenly, we hear a very loud “BAM” that sounded just like the time when someone shot (a gun) at our car when Harry and I were leaving the Cow Palace (Daly City, south of San Francisco) after an event there. We had gone down a side street in order to avoid a traffic jam. Big mistake. But I digress. Back to Kauai.

It was a really loud noise like that, like someone had thrown something heavy at the side of the car. But we didn't see anything bouncing around behind or beside us, which was puzzling. As we weren't someplace where the vehicle could easily stop, we continued on our way.

When we arrived at the Coconut Marketplace, we saw what we really didn't want to see. Someone must have thrown a large rock or something at us (an “unidentified missile”), a nd there was a (surprisingly small, considering the loudness of the impact) dent in the door. And the paint was scratched up. And the clear coat was scuffed. What a definite downer!

Though we'd all pretty much lost our appetites, we managed to eat something at one of the kiosks (I had ono with rice, and a salad with papaya seed dressing. And a guava juice drink. It was all quite good!)

Harry's glasses had come apart at the beach. The screw loosened, which loosened the frame, which made the lens come out. He kind of needs those in order to see well. No, he did not bring an extra pair. Happily, we had both of the lenses as well as the loose screw. Come to think of it, that's the first thing that went wrong as we were leaving Tunnels. If you don't count the fact that Karen's mask (rented from Snorkel Bob's in Koloa) was leaking like a sieve, her own excellent dive mask having unfortunately been left behind at home by accident.

In case you thought I was kidding about Costco. Here it is.
Photo by Chris. All rights reserved.
So, we stopped at Costco to get some supplies and to get the glasses fixed at the optical shop. The good news is that the prices were all exactly the same as back home! The bad news is that the glass lens was not in the baggie with the screw. I could have sworn they were both in there when I zipped up the bag. Sigh. We (figuratively) tore the car apart, emptied all the bags, and so forth. Nothing.

It was pretty quiet in the car for the rest of the way back to Poipu, partly because we were trying to find our way in the dark. And partly just because. The street signs are not reflective, and there are no street lights when you need them. So, you slow way, way down as you approach intersections to check the signs, and somebody honks long and loud while swerving around you. I'm sure it's other tourists or residents from the mainland behaving so inhospitably, though, rather than natives. That's not the aloha way.

Once at the condo, we emptied everything again. There it was, the lens, hiding in one of the snorkel vests. How it got there, nobody knows. Bad, bad lens!

And here we are. A margarita and a diary entry have greatly improved my mood, especially since Harry was able to fix the glasses himself (once all the parts were retrieved). And so ends another day in paradise. Whatever adventures await us tomorrow, let's hope they are wonderful ones!

No comments:

Post a Comment

I read all messages and would love to hear from you.