Wednesday, August 4, 2010

August 2, 2010, 20:00 HST

N 22°12.658’, W 159°30.097’
Hanalei Bay, Kaua’i…Nearing the end…

It’s the night before our last night in Hanalei Bay and I am definitely sad to have to be leaving. Granted, Hanalei Bay isn’t perfect; just near perfect. The natural beauty is spectacular with the near two mile long crescent of golden sand beach fringed by palm trees, backed by lush green mountains. And remember all the rain I blogged about? Well, all that rain fed a number of waterfalls that cascaded down the faces of the ridge that reached out towards the ocean. And the rain always came with the sun so you had rainbows nearly every day. The bay itself was also amazing. The colors of the water, from deep true blue to aqua to turquoise to cerulean, it never ceased to amaze me that the water could take on so many different hues. The sunrises and sunsets against the mountains and over the ocean, dolphins swimming in and out of the bay, and the sea life teaming below the surface, all added to the experience.

The Hanalei River is also beautiful and Richard and I got to experience that firsthand when we kayaked as far up the river as we could before running out of depth to proceed further. Lined with coconut palms and banana trees, narrowing to just a few meters wide at spots, the Hanalei River was both peaceful and full of wild life. We saw numerous species of birds, fish and a few painted box turtles along the way. Where the river meets the bay, a spit of sand juts out protecting the peaceful little cove at the river’s end from the surf created by the endless ocean swells.

The town of Hanalei is both sleepy and vibrant. It’s simple in its presentation and doesn’t offer too many choices as to be seen as overwhelming while at the same time providing just the right amount of diversity to please a variety of palates. The laid back shop keepers and restaurant workers extend “aloha” genuinely and really seem happy to meet you, even if your time in Hanalei is brief. I could really see myself settling down here for a while and liking it. I mean how could you not like it? You could surf, hike, paddle, snorkel, swim, sail, pedal, eat, drink and be merry in the most perfect surroundings; you might have to work a bit here and there but let’s be realistic, even perfection has its logical limits.

But like I said, Hanalei is not perfect. Hanalei Bay’s northern exposure to the ocean allows swells to enter the bay and while the day time winds help keep the boat fairly steady, from sunset to sunrise you are a rockin’ and a rollin’! Believe me, after a while, even in paradise, this tends to get on your nerves. Breakfast is a comedy of watching your juice glass and tea cup slide back and forth on the table while you try to keep the butter, sugar, maple syrup, cereal bowls, plates, etc. from sliding off as well.

But from a cruiser’s perspective, the holding is firm in sand, there’s plenty of room for lots of boats (currently 20+ sailing vessels with just as many motor boats of various sizes), not to mention the oodles of kayakers, paddlers, and surfers you have to dodge when taking your dinghy to shore; and the shore is easily accessible by dinghy where there’s fresh water and outdoor showers. In addition, you can rent kayaks, paddle boards, and surf boards right on shore, and bikes and mopeds in town which is just a 15-20 minute walk from shore. The grocery store is actually more provisioned that most of the guide books give it credit (the one we used said that it stocked “basics”, but we found it to have just about everything a cruising boat could want, including ice!). Propane is a bit of an adventure to procure as you have to go to the nearest gas station which is in Princeville and without a car, a taxi is the only way to get this done as you cannot take flammable liquids on the buses. Speaking of the buses, while we didn’t take the buses anywhere, the system runs clockwise from the North Shore to the West side of the island and allows you to access most of what the island has to offer. If Kaua’i were a clock, basically between 8:00 and 11:00 is not accessible or served by any roads. This is the Na Pali coast and the lack of easy access is probably the only thing that has saved this incredible natural area from over exposure.

So yea, let’s just say that I really liked Hanalei Bay, even if it wasn’t perfect. I can’t wait to come back.

And here comes the rain again.

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