Saturday, January 31, 2009

Ascent on Hihimanu

The splendid Okolehao Trail rises to the best vantage point of the Hanalei coast and valley. Footing along the trail was precarious and downright dangerous due to the downpour the night before. "End of the Trail" marker was at an elevation of 1,300 ft with a satisfying 360 degree view of the Hanalei region. Hihimanu summit's Batman profile up close and personal was worth the death-defying jaunt. To forge ahead would have taken a Tarzan swing down a rope suspended down a slippery cliff. We backed off at that point. The two miles back required fancy stepping through steep snotty roots. Bring hiking poles on this one.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Reef action at Anahola

The time-honored tradition of net fishing is alive and well in Hawaii—and impervious to a bad tourist economy. These guys can spot fish from the shore and then let fly with their lead-laden nets. About a mile of sand and reef stretches from the Anahola Stream to the black rocks of Kahala Point, and then to Aliomanu Bay. On calm days this is an above average snorkeling area with clear pools stretched out along the coral reef.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Valley of the Lost People

At times the trail to the Valley of the Lost People, a.k.a. Honopu Valley, is swallowed up by tangles of tropical flora. Some of last Mehehunes (ancient Hawaiians from the Marquesas rather than Tahiti) lived in this lush cove reachable only by sea on the Napali Coast; hence the mysterious name. But, since this is an unmarked trail maintained only by the graces of Kauai's outdoor types, the name can also refer to hikers who stray from the path even a little. Ferns large and small tickle your sides as you penetrate a green tunnel of native ohia and koa. You contour on steep edges diguised by greenery before punching out to big time Napali vistas. But don't forget to think micro and take opportunities to stop and appreciate the botanical details of our ferny friends. Coordinates for you GPSers: N22 0.8.814 W159 39.263, elev 3950. Driving directions are on page 168 of the Kauai Trailblazer.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Gooney Bird

A silly nickname for a magnificent specimen probably derived from the way they gawkily walk. This Moli, or Laysan Albatross, was photographed along the shore of Moloa'a Bay. They also hang out at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge and Barking Sands Beach, Kauai. With a wingspan of 80 inches and body 31 to 32 inches long, their graceful glide is a fantastic site to behold.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Grand Canyon of the Pacific

Wild goats lead the way for hikers down the 2,000-foot red walls of Waimea Canyon on trails right up there with the best of the American Southwest. But wait. There's more. Get to the top of this canyon and look seaward, down 3,000 feet or more, as Kauai's Napali (The Cliffs) radiate out like spokes of a giant wheel. Adventure hikers can go nuts.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Old Hanapepe Town

The charming old town of Hanapepe was founded by Chinese immigrants who worked in the sugar plantations. This suspended wooden foot bridge was originally built in 1911 and renovated after Hurricane Iniki in 1992. The bridge swings, sways, and creaks as you single file from one side to the other. After crossing, go to the left, or downriver, and walk about a half mile along the levee to the 1911 cement highway bridge where it enters Hanapepe Bay.

Take a stroll through town to see that dilapidation and gentrification have balanced out resulting in a quiet, old-style hamlet sprinkled with island art galleries and restaurants. To see the place come alive, catch an art night, normally held every Friday starting at 6.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Blue Hawaii

Along the Mahaulepu Coast are some outstanding beaches. Some require fancy footing to reach but the solitude it provides is well worth it. Along the trail, waves often pound the cliffs and when conditions are right you may hear a resultant moaning of air coming up through the old lava tubes. Haula Beach is the only access to Haupa State Forest Reserve which rises above it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

End to a perfect day

Tunnels Beach on the North Shore of Kauai. Rainbows and big expanses of sand to walk. Red flags are up as are the posted "no swimming signs". A good day for kahelelani shell gathering.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Inner Kauai

With a dreary name like "Powerline Trail," you'd never guess that this 13-mile jaunt through the green ridges of interior Kauai is an adventure-hikers' dream. Yes, the trans-island powerline is in the picture at times, but definitely obscured by tropical greenery and razor ridges that ooze waterfalls.

It's a long haul from Kapa'a on the east side to Princeville on the north shore, but the trail does not pose the hazards of some of Hawaii's other ridge trails that are made for pigs, goats, and Spiderman. A hiking pole helps, and you'll need to plan for mud, sun, and rain on this full-fledged day hike.

For more details see page 86 in the Kauai Trailblazer guide.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Polihale CLOSED

Biblical rains in December wiped out the three-mile dirt road to Polihale State Park—just weeks after it had reopened after a months-long closure to make improvements. "Indefinitely," is the word from the government boys, when asked how long it will be closed. There is now no getting to the 12-mile run of sand that is Hawaii's longest. Adjacent access to Majors Beach, which is through a military base (missile launching site), became verbotten after 9-11. The good news for visitors is Kekaha Beach, several miles of sand that is open to beachgoers, located around Mana Point from these other two beaches.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Ahoy paddlers!

Here's an aerial view of Kipu which is situated at the mouth of Nawiliwili Harbor. Experienced kayakers put in at Kawailoa Bay and head to the left around the point to Kipu Kai Beach which is not accessible by land to the public. It is forbidden to trespass past the beach. The ranch is owned by the heirs of William Hyde Rice, son of Protestant missionaries and the last governor of Kauai under Queen Liliuokalani. Towered over by the majestic Haupu Mountain Range (Hoary Head Ridge), the working cattle ranch has been the backdrop for Hollywood films such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Islands in the Stream, The Hawaiians, Mighty Joe Young, Outbreak, Diamond Head the the sequel to Jurassic Park, The Lost World.

You can drive to the ranch entrance to view the Rice Memorial erected by Japanese workers after the plantation owner's death. A stately row of tall Norfolk pines line the road. On the way to the memorial, before the road crosses a one lane bridge, you can take a side-trip to Kipu Falls, a favorite swimming hole among locals. A fifteen-foot high cascade fills the pool and a rope swing challenges the daring-do.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Some Kauai beach factoids

Kauai has the longest sand beach in the islands, as well as the longest coral reef. Many of its dozens of beaches and coves are accessible only by hikes. Generally speaking, in the winter, the north side beaches near Hanalei are pounded by the trade wind's swells and the south beaches of Poipu are relatively calm.

In the summer, the opposite is true, as southerly Kona winds bring bigger surf to the south and the north shore's coves become aquamarine pools. Beaches on the west side and east are variable in terms of water conditions — but beach conditions everywhere can vary greatly from day to day. Tip: Waves are like thugs, don't turn your back on them.

A very hidden beach

It's a half-mile scramble between wave-washed boulders to get to Pila'a Beach but well worth the effort. There's also a gnarly coastal trail that's just as dangerous. To get to this jewel, follow the directions on page 62 of Kauai Trailblazer.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Poi anyone?

This is taro growing in the luscious Hanalei Valley.  If you pound the leaves you get the Hawaiian mainstay poi which looks like purple paste and is not so tasty.  If you attend a luau you'll get a chance to sample it and form your own opinion.  In this valley you will find the Okolehao Trail which provides grand views of the Hanalei Coast.  If you are coming from Princeville, stay on the road to Haena and when you cross the first bridge don't turn right to Hanalei, but take the road that goes straight into the fields.  You will come to a parking lot and signed footbridge that leads up the mountain.  Directions on page 40 of the Kauai Trailblazer guide.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Kaweonui Beach

Drop down through a forest of pandanus trees to find this secluded cove, a.k.a. Sea Lodge Beach. The trail with it's roots, rocks and leaves can be treacherous at times. Detailed directions are on page 45 and 46 of the Kauai Trailblazer  guidebook.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

No 25-footers today

Started out the day on a quest for the 25-foot predicted waves that never manifested. Plan B took us to Hanaleitown for the Farmers Market where we scored a few papayas. Ended the day with sushi on Hanalei Beach, a little birthday celebration. A shot taken yesterday at the Hyatt Poipu.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Seeking Sun

High surf and rain on the North Shore today so headed Poipu way. First stop Wailua Falls to check out the flow and an expedition on a side trail through abandoned cane fields for a photo op of misty Waialeale.  Now that cane fields are history, the old haul roads look wide open for mountain biking.  With permission, of course.

Surf's Up Lumahai

Today 40 foot waves and 60 mph winds were predicted coming from the northwest.  Haena Beach Park surf was wild and wicked,  Ke'e the same with plenty of onlookers.  Surfers caught a few good ones at Lumahai, but first they had to brave the storm surge at the put-in.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Follow me as I explore
and photograph the
heavenly islands 
they call Hawaii.

Get to know Kauai,
Maui, Oahu and
the Big Island of Hawaii.

Today I was intrigued
by the coconut groves
lining the highway
outside Kapa'a.