#Kauai: Beach Gear

I can never get enough of this view.

Going to the beach – it’s what you do in Hawai’i. Whether you were born and raised here, are a transplant, or just visiting, going to the beach is how most people spend their free time. And why not? The beaches here are gorgeous, with clear blue water topped with just as blue skies, warm, inviting water, wonderful cooling breezes, large expanses of sand where you can relax, and a horizon view without compare.

As an inveterate people water though, I’ve been fascinated by what people bring with them to the beach, or in some cases, don’t bring.

Some people come with nothing more than a towel (and some don’t even bring that – they just sit in the sand). Others step it up a bit and bring along a towel and a chair, maybe a book. And of course surfers bring their boards, but they’re not up on the beach all that much. They come to the beach to surf, not sunbathe, so you rarely catch them and their boards up on the sand.

Our beach set-up: chairs, umbrella, towels and big cooler bag. Mine is the chair fully in the shade.

Brett and I always joke that we look like tourists when we arrive at the beach: we’ve each got our arms full with two chairs, beach towels, a beach mat for Brett to lay out on, an umbrella, and a big insulated bag with drinks and snacks. We also bring our phones and Kindles, loads of SPF70 sunscreen, and if the girls are along we may bring the boogie board or one of our tube floats. I absolutely have to have the umbrella – I don’t tan, and my fair skin can not be out in the direct sunlight for more than a few moments. We usually see a few other umbrellas up and down the beach, but there aren’t as many as you might expect.

Joy’s well-used chaise longue at Anini Beach.

My good friend Joy and her husband Les live up on the north shore, and within walking distance of Anini Beach. Anini has a shallower stretch of sand than Kealia Beach, where we usually go, and has trees where Les can hang a hammock. They also sometimes pitch a tent to protect themselves from the wind. Joy doesn’t mess around when it comes to her beach chair – she keeps it simple with a lightweight folding chaise longue so she can stretch out and relax. As the water at Anini is inside a protected reef, Joy and Les also keep a kayak in the back of their truck, and often bring that down to the beach so they can paddle around and check out the sea life, which often includes giant sea turtles.

Les gets the hammock set up – Anini has trees near the beach that make this work.

Locals often kick it up several notches when they go to the beach. They don’t just drop by for a couple of hours, they set up housekeeping! Cars are parked at the very end of the parking area, or even right on the beach, so they can tailgate. Especially on the weekends you can often see several large 10′ x 10′ shade canopies set up in a row on the beach, covering folding tables with cookers, coolers, chairs and other accoutrement needed for a long day’s stay where extended families and friends gather. When the sun goes down, the tents go down as well and bonfires are lit. It’s very impressive!

Locals gather for a bonfire and tailgate party on the beach in Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii.

I’ve heard a few times of people’s things being stolen at the beach, especially when they leave their gear on the sand and head down into the water, but I’ve personally never seen it happen, or even seen strangers go near someone else’s stuff. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but I haven’t seen it here. I know cars get broken into, but that’s when people leave expensive items or luggage in full view in their cars, marking them immediately at tourists. A little care goes a long way.

I sometimes wonder if anyone has ever done an anthropological study of what people bring with them to the beach here. I personally find it fascinating, how some can do with so little and others bring so much. It just goes to show there’s no “right way” or “cool way” to do the beach in Hawai’i. It’s there for anyone to enjoy, however they want.

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#Kauai: Secret Beach

To new arrivals the official name of this beach, Kauapea (“the fair rain”), is certainly more secret than what most call it, Secret Beach. That’s because it’s located at the end of a dirt road, coincidentally named Secret Beach Road, which is to the right off the first Kalihiwai Road (which was split into two parts by a bridge outage back in 1957) just north of Kilauea off Kuhio Highway. One should proceed slowly onto the dirt road as it is usually washboarded at the start (by cars and trucks operated by people afflicted with the hurry sickness), and occasionally deeply rutted toward the end by heavy rains.

Secret Beach Road Parking Lot

Parking lot and trailhead (between the stone gateposts)

Parking may be crowded on any sunny afternoon as it’s only adequate for about a dozen vehicles, and there are several driveways not to be blocked. Between the stone gateposts, by the bamboo, is the trail to the beach, a little over a quarter-mile and mostly STEEP and very slippery when it’s raining.

At the bottom of the trail lies the most beautiful stretch of sand I’ve seen on Kauai, and the sand stretches eastward all the way to Kilauea Point. To the west, alternating expanses of lava rock and sandy beach.

Secret Beach to the west

By the way, that small island off Kilauea Point is called Moku‘ae‘ae, Hawaiian for “small island.”

Obviously, the greatest extent of Secret Beach lies between the bottom of the trail and Kilauea Point. Nevertheless, the expanse of sandy beach beyond the first lava ‘finger’ is difficult to appreciate in the panoramic shot, so here’s a better glimpse of that western extent of Secret Beach, viewed from atop the rocks.

Western expanse of Secret Beach

Perhaps this view is inaccurate in the opposite extreme, appearing more vast than it really is, but suffice it to say, it is not crowded. …and give a listen to the surf on this side of the rocks.

Breakers at Secret Beach

Rumors abound concerning both the location and the activities and sights at this beach, often touted as a nude beach. Admittedly, the location is obscured from view, but easily located via Google Maps, and the only sights I’ve seen are pictured in this post, so evidence that hedonist scofflaws are cavorting anywhere on Kauai is thin. In fact I’ve rarely seen more than a handful of people here—students doing beach cleanup, families large and small hiking up/down the trail, one or two modestly dressed couples, and half a dozen surfers.

Since this post is more about the destination than the journey, I’ll throw up some farewell shots from the beach, along with a few from the climb.

Finally, as a hiker, I rather enjoy the trail more than the beach, so here are a few shots heading out to the car.

As a reminder, if it was raining or had just rained this would be an extremely slippery, if not outright dangerous trek. On the other hand, why go to the beach when it’s raining?

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