Friday, July 30, 2010

July 28-30, 2010, 17:06 HST

N 22°12.658’, W 159°30.097’
Hanalei Bay, Kaua’i…Paradise re-defined…

Kaua’i has been nothing short of amazing and I'm not sure I ever want to leave. Those of you who say, "Oh, you'll get 'island fever' and want to leave soon enough," must be going about it the wrong way, that's all I can say and I'll drink to that!

Richard and I were here in 2004 as land-based tourists and it’s a completely different ballgame from the perspective of boaters. As land-based tourists, your focus is on activities, souvenirs and postcards. As a boater, you’re still interested in activities, but activities that are accessible from your boat. In addition, you have to substitute procuring fresh water and propane for souvenirs and postcards. As described earlier, provisioning, something you don’t have to do as a land-based tourist, is something that requires a fair amount of forethought, good walking shoes, a backpack, and preferably, a day when the temperature isn’t hitting a record high.

On Wednesday the 28th we did absolutely nothing. Nada. We basically sat around the boat all day trying to get motivated to do something but nothing materialized. Okay, so we did swim around the boat a bit and watch dolphins swimming in the distance, but nothing really substantial. The one thing we did do was figure out that we didn’t have to drag the dinghy up the beach if we anchored it in the Hanalei River. Later, we dinghied to shore and went to dinner at a place called Postcards Café…if you’re ever in Hanalei, or have a car and are on the island of Kaua’i, I would recommend going to this restaurant. The fish is fresh, the menu is small but robust, and the service is attentive (not overly, just right).

Yesterday we rented kayaks and kayaked up the Hanalei River. The round trip took us just under three hours and the scenery was incredible. At first, you have the Namolokama Mountains in the background which gives way to fields of banana and coconut trees as the river gets narrower and the banks of the river close in on you and your kayak.

Eventually, we reached a narrow section where the water was less than a foot deep and we would have had to carry our kayaks over the rocky riverbed to a deeper section if we had wanted to continue upstream. We decided to turn around and head back downstream. I thought this would have been easier than going upstream, as the wind had been on our nose going upstream; but, wouldn’t you know it, the wind changed direction and for part of the way back, the wind was on our nose again! Oh well, the scenery was beautiful and we saw lots of fish and a couple of fresh water painted turtles.

By the time we got back to the boat we were both a little tired from this upper-body workout. I decided to balance this activity out by snorkeling around the boat and Hanalei Bay. Didn’t see much in terms of reef fish as there is only a small coral reef in the bay proper; but it was a good lower-body workout which I’m sure my personal trainer would have approved of if he were around to comment on my lack of commitment to fitness on this trip.

We went back into town and ate at a Brazilian restaurant which was kind of bland and nothing special in my book. When we got to the dinghy, conveniently anchored in the river, there were lots of people lined up along the shore to watch the sunset. Just as Richard was turning the dinghy around to face it towards the river for us to head out, I heard someone behind me comment on the “green flash.” Remembering something about a “green flash” from one of the tour books, I instinctively looked towards the sunset just in time to see this natural phenomenon. If you’ve never seen it before, it really is a flash of green light just as the sun dips below the horizon. Richard missed it and I told him that we couldn’t leave Kaua’i until he has seen it. I plan to be VERY distracting for a while, especially around sunset!

This morning I had to call my new manager from work to enlist her help in locating a missing paycheck and while I was on the phone with her a sea turtle surfaced off the boat’s stern. It looked to be pretty big but was not close enough for a photo op. I guess that means we have to stay in Hawai’i until I get a close up photo. If you want to see a good photo of a sea turtle, visit S/V Mist. Susan and Elba snapped a great picture of a sea turtle swimming beside their boat (I've got turtle envy!).

After breakfast we dinghied to shore and rented paddle boards. I don’t remember this being such a fad the last time we were in Hawai’i, but apparently it is now. Paddle boarding involves a slightly larger surfboard that you stand on and, as the name implies, paddle with a long-handled oar. We practiced in the river where the water was relatively calm, although the wind had picked up some making it a bit difficult, and then headed out into the bay. As you can imagine, the portion of the bay where the river empties into it is often a bit turbulent with the river flowing out and the open ocean waves opposing the river’s flow. We made it out and paddled around the bay some before the wind really picked up making it even harder to maneuver. I tried to surf with my paddle board, but instead of laying flat on the board and paddling with my hands, I stood and tried to paddle my way up the face of the waves with the oar. Let’s just leave it at I was not successful.

As this was another upper-body workout, I again went out snorkeling after lunch to balance out my “gym routine.” This time I swam over to where the river flows into the bay as there is a rocky point that juts out some and it looked to me like there was also a reef in this area. For the most part, it was coral this, coral that, small little fish like Nemo's cousin or something, rocks, waves, opps! watch out for that boat! and then I struck gold! In an outcropping of coral, lurking near a small opening in the coral, I spotted the Hawaiian state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua'a, not once, but twice! I’m pretty sure it was the same fish that I saw going in and coming out of the reef. The common name for this fish is the Picasso Triggerfish and the Hawaiian name means something like "nesting fish with the nose of a pig." It apparently grunts like a pig when taken out of the water; a fact I learned not by doing but by reading in my Pocket Guide to Hawaiian Fish. BTW…spell-check is having a field day with the fish name! I do not take credit for this photo; Google image Internet search result.

Richard grilled steaks on the boat tonight as we attempt to curb both our dining out expenses and caloric intake.

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