Friday, July 6, 2007

6-July 07

Today was our last full day on the North Shore. We breakfasted at the condo before heading further north. It was a beautiful drive (the one-way bridges reminded us of New Zealand's South Island) and made me want to move here, reside in one of those lovely, lazy green homes built on stilts and capped with a red tin roof, tend my cane-fenced tropical garden, and park my surf-board-laden truck in the carport underneath. (We passed Hanalei Colony Resort, with a motto that says it all: "Unspoiled, Unplugged, Unforgettable.")

Thank goodness for mile markers and blessedly specific guidebooks, as very few beaches and attractions on Kauai are announced by sign. (Incidentally, no matter how full one of the haphazard dirt parking lots might be, there's always more than enough room on the sand and in the water--it never feels even remotely crowded here, and this is peak season! Perhaps it's due to the sheer volume of beach material: Kauai's 90 miles' worth of shoreline boasts more beaches than any other Hawaiian island.) But we had no trouble finding Ke'e Beach, which is literally located at "The End of the Road" (the farthest you can go by car), for a long afternoon of sand-castle-making, water play, and snorkeling. The beach was more picturesque than I imagined with its black rocks, lush cliffs, palm trees, sparkly clear waters, visible reef, fine-grained sand, and, of course, clucky hens with their chirping chicks.

It was the first time snorkeling for everyone but Mike and I, and Ke'e was definitely an ideal spot for an inaugural snorkel: plop your face in (or don't even bother) a foot from shore and say hello to countless fishes! The kids had some trouble keeping their masks free of water, but both got plenty of good swimming and fish-viewing in all the same. Snorkeling is satisfying anywhere--it's incredibly peaceful to put your head under water and hear nothing but the rhythmic sound of your own breathing as you tool around in search of new finned friends--but it was exceptionally rewarding here.

We had the privilege of swimming with spotted boxfishes, gray chubs, goatfishes, crocodile needlefishes, Hawaiian flagtails, yellowfin and orangeband surgeonfishes, convict tangs, reef triggerfishes (including the unofficial Hawaiian state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua'a, otherwise known as the Hawaiian triggerfish), and plenty more we don't know how to identify. (We didn't, however, swim with sea turtles. We're told that hundreds of them hang out just outside the reef at Ke'e, but we didn't take any chances with the current--the waves looked forceful enough to keep us well inside the reef opening. But a guy a few rocks down the beach from us tortured me with his glee at seeing one himself!)

Note to anyone headed this way (or anywhere else there's a reef): please don't walk on the coral like so many ignorant and/or boorish folks did today!

We peeked in at the wet caves on our way back to Hanalei for our last visit (this time, anyway). Tropical Taco and Wishing Well Shave Ice were closed, so we walked around town (where Granddad was recognized as "that outstanding rock-skipper guy" by someone who'd seen him at the beach yesterday morning) and decided on dinner at Bubba Burgers (try the corndog!) followed by dessert at the Princeville Lappert's (macadamia flavor, of course--my, are they ever generous with the nuts!). Tonight, we're popping corn and watching South Pacific for our Bali Hai grand finale.

Sign of the day:

(Why add even an ounce of health?)


At July 7, 2007 4:57 PM , Kim O said...

I'm thrilled to hear you got good snorkeling in Ke'e and found good parking. Without a tide calendar, it's hard to know if the surf will cooperate. The same beach can look entirely different, depending on surf. Aren't the chub fish amazing, even though they're not colorful? They can be huge! I bet you're glad you got that waterproof digital case for the camera.

I like how thorough your travels sound. I could not imagine myself making leis, learning the hula, learning to surf, and taking a ukele class; I'm not that brave and aventuresome. I much prefer to experience the excitement through your blog.

Looks like you're loving the food out there; so many photos of food and food signs.

The more I read about your trip, the more I feel like taking another trip to Kauai; perhaps we'll go during winter. Have you experienced tropical rain yet?

Have fun seeing the East and South Shores.


At July 9, 2007 6:55 AM , lmalone914 said...

I think you need to come back and send this and your AUS/NZ blog to a travel magazine.
I want to go to HI right now based on this blog.
You really should be a travel writer.
Looking forward to the next installment.
PS. You all look so relaxed. The kids look adorable as usual.


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