#Kauai: Hidden in Plain Sight

After hiking most of the shoreline from Hanamaulu Bay to Anahola Bay it dawned on me that an interesting geologic feature that nearly escapes notice was a constant companion most the way. Though discontinuous in places, and often only visible at low tide, a naturally formed limestone shelf, a barrier between reef and shore, surrounds the island of Kaua‘i.

For commercial reasons, the shelf was obliterated at Hanamaulu Bay, to provide a sheltered harbor and pier at Ahukini Landing. By contrast, the limestone formation appears to extend forever northward from the south end of Nukoli‘i Beach. In reality, it vanishes briefly adjacent to the Wailua Municipal Golf Course, and is only visible intermittently near the mouth of Wailua River.

“Baby” Beach exists because of the tidal trough between an extent of the limestone formation and the seawall along Moanakai Road In Kapa‘a Town. Google Maps calls this Fuji Beach, but everyone in town knows it’s Baby Beach.

Fuji Beach, Moanakai Rd, Kapaa 96746

Low tide at Baby Beach

An appreciable portion of the limestone formation rings the second embayment north of Donkey beach. This beach is popular with monk seals because it’s nicely sheltered and the fishing is good, but if you see them on the beach, just move it along because they absolutely need their rest, AND it is against the law to approach or disturb them. You can see an isolated chunk of limestone submerged in the first photo, and the remainder of the formation at water’s edge in the background.

As the old right of way veers inland beyond Donkey Beach, each of the little bays onward to Anahola  Beach State Park are only accessible via dedicated dirt roads and recent motocross trails, or at low tide by rock-hopping along the shore. The next photos show isolated hunks of the bar overlain with younger volcanic debris or thrust up along the shore nearer to Anahola.

Just south of Anahola Bay lies another little ring, tilted up somewhat like the formation at Baby Beach. Coincidentally, that similarity is what awakened me to the fact that I had “seen this somewhere before.”

While this formation certainly is not all there is to see between Nukoli‘i Beach and Anahola Beach, it’s been more of a companion. Running, hiking, and rock-hopping Kauai‘i’s eastern shore is never boring.

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Laura vs. Humidity

Spoiler alert: Humidity is winning.

To say I don’t deal well with humidity would be a gross understatement. In fact, after three-plus years here on Kaua’i, the humidity here has become more of a problem than the cold and wet ever were in Portland. It’s really the one and only thing I truly dislike about living on Kaua’i.

We were expecting to deal with some humidity when we moved here, but all our pre-move sources told us that it wasn’t really that bad, and that the near-constant breeze from the trade winds erased most of the effects of humidity.

What we’ve experienced over the past three summers has been anything but comfortable though; in fact, it’s been downright miserable, mainly because each summer we’ve gone through long spells each day with no trade winds blowing  . . . at all. During the first and second summers here the breezes seemed to stop in the late afternoon, just when it was time to prepare dinner, but pick up again in the evening. This past summer, the breezes have been stopping in the early evening, around 8:00 p.m. The temperature does cool off a bit, but when there’s no air moving slightly cooler temperatures don’t mean all that much. The air still pretty much feels like a warm, moist towel has been laid on your back.

Part of my problem with the humidity here is physical: I am post-menopausal, and my body now operates at a higher temperature than it did when I was younger. Remember the old saying, “Horses sweat, men perspire, and women glow”? Well, I sweat these days . . . a lot. I am perspiring constantly. Even though we have a powerful ceiling fan in our bathroom to mitigate the humidity, when I get out of the shower I start sweating. I haven’t taken a hot shower since we moved here – lukewarm to swimming pool cool is more my style these days. I can break out in a sweat just walking across the room, or washing the dishes, or sweeping the floor. I often feel like I’m drowning when I cook dinner on the stove, and I’m completely drenched after a five-mile ride on my exercise bike, even though I have two fans on high speed blowing directly on me, and I’m sitting right in front of the open garage door. It takes a long time to get my body cooled off as well, even with the help of cool towels or ice packs. I wish I could blame it all on something like my thyroid or some other hormonal issue, but I’ve been completely checked out by my doctor and everything is well within normal ranges. I drink more than enough including at least 64 ounces of water each day as well as other beverages, but I still retain a lot of liquid – during the summer I often feel like an over-wet sponge. I will admit my skin love the moisture – no lotion needed these days, unlike when we lived in Portland and I had to drench myself in it every day.

The high humidity here also affects us in other ways: glasses and bottles start sweating the instant you set them down. Our freezer cakes over with frost in less than a couple of weeks as warm, moist air rushes in every time we open it. Food can lose its crispness quickly, even in sealed jars or plastic bags. Clothes take longer to dry outside, even in the sun. We’ve discovered the humidity also has affected some man-made fabrics. We’ve had a couple of shopping bags disintegrate on us, same with the fabric on the bottom of our chair and sofa.

Yes, we could get an air-conditioner. But, electricity is expensive here – very expensive – and the cost of running even one air-conditioner would mean there would be much, much less left in our budget for other things. We want to travel, we want to be able to afford to bring our children home for the holidays, and so forth. On our income we can either pay to stay cool but stay on Kaua’i, or suffer a bit but go out and see the world and see our college-age children once in a while.

It’s also been suggested that we move to the north side of the island where it’s cooler by a few degrees, but YaYu is still in high school and none of us wants to deal with a daily 40 minute or more commute (each way) to school or her other activities. We like our little house and where we live now.

Most people in Hawai’i live without air-conditioning. And, I know that the humidity has been or could be far worse in other locations either in the U.S. or otherwise. Fall is coming, and then winter, and both will bring cooler temperatures and lower levels of humidity. The sun will continue to shine, and for a few months I will be able to forget my daily battles with humidity and its effects. Still, I know my nemesis will be returning next summer, and I’ve got to figure out ways of better dealing with it.

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Farmers’ Market Finds

Even though we always go to the Kapaa farmers’ market every week with a list, we can’t or won’t always find what we’re looking for or need. For example, the farmer that always has zucchini has not been at the market the past two weeks, and no one else sells zucchini. Yesterday we wanted to buy mung bean sprouts but the “sprout lady” wasn’t there.

Our weekly budget for the market is $20. We used to budget and spend more, but finally figured out we didn’t need so much, and that if we did buy a lot things would often spoil before we could use them. So, we started only bringing $20 with us each week, which has been more than enough. Whatever is leftover each week from the $20 goes into our change/$1 bill jar.

Last week we were able to find everything we wanted, but yesterday we had to get a bit more creative as many farmers were no-shows for some reason. Still, we made some great finds and got some great deals.

Here’s what we bought the past two weeks:

Week 1:

  • 2 bundles bok choy: $4.00
  • 1 bundle Japanese eggplants: $2.00
  • 1 dragonfruit: $2.00
  • 1 papaya: $1.50
  • 2 cucumbers: $2.00
  • 1 bag of small tomatoes: $3.00
  • 1 bundle winged beans: Free, a gift from the farmer
  • 1 bunch carrots: $2.00

Total: $16.50

This is a pretty typical shop for us. We bought most of it from one farmer, who gave us the winged beans as a thank you. The dragonfruit and papaya were purchased from other farmers – we always check around to find the best price when we buy fruit because it’s pretty much all the same.

Week 2:

  • Giant bunch of fresh edamame: $5.00
  • 1 small kabocha pumpkin: $4.00
  • 1 papaya: $1.00
  • 2 bunches apple bananas (9 total):$3.50

Total: $13.50

The old woman at the stand where we bought the pumpkin tried to charge $5 for it, but her son walked over and told us it was just $4.00 (like it said on the sign). The fresh edamame was a surprise – very few farmers grow it here. The farmer yesterday told us her friend had given her some seeds a few years ago and now the edamame was growing like crazy! Five dollars for as much as we got was a steal. We’ll have some along with the grilled teriyaki chicken and simmered pumpkin this week, and the rest will be for snacks. We were disappointed that the “sprout lady” wasn’t there because we need mung beans for Sunday’s dinner, but we will stop by Big Save on Saturday and pick some up there. They’re the same price, but we like buying directly from the farmer.

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#Kauai: The Powerline Trail

In my previous post, I touched on the state of the Powerline Trail without revealing all that makes it worthwhile. That is, while it may not be possible to hike through, what you can see is breathtaking. Powerline Trail has all the elements of a worthy hike: hills, vistas, minor obstacles, flora & fauna, and even a waterfall (nearby but not directly accessible from the trail). Additionally, some volunteers have established and continue to maintain BMX/Mountain Bike trails parallel to the main route at the north end of the route.

Of course there is the actual powerline to consider—without which there would be no trail.

Every trail has hills, some knee-crawling, and although the straight and level is rare on this trail its hills gently rise and fall. In the first two miles the most significant grade is a 19-minute incline that weaves back and forth slightly, just a wiggly course around the side of a mountain rather than switchbacks. Most run up a little, then down a little through cuts,, while most of the level ground is atop fills.

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, much of this hike is through cuts, so the sights to see come up suddenly and change throughout the day. Pictured below, clockwise from upper left: Hanalei Valley; Kekōiki 2,814 feet (858 meters); Wai‘ale‘al 5,148 feet (1,569 meters); and Kawakini, highest point on Kauai at 5,243 feet (1,598 meters).

All of the obstacles on the northern end are water hazards; that is, there is no overgrown brush, no fallen boulders or trees, and no thickets of interlacing hau trees.

Although I did see one Bufo toad (Bufo marinis), and a half-dozen or so birds moving too swiftly to be digitized, the surprise here was tree frogs—two species, hopping about near the waterholes and like the birds, mimicking Monte Python’s “How Not to Be Seen.”

By contrast, flowers and forest were most cooperative as well as lovely to see. These flowers are common to most trails on Kauai, although this is the first time I’ve seen Foxglove outside of someone’s garden. Clockwise, from upper left: Philippine Ground Orchid (Spathoglottis plicata), Shampoo Ginger (Zingiber zerumbe), White Ginger (Hedychium coronarium), and Foxglove (Digitalis grandiflora)—absolutely, positively introduced here.

Similarly, the trees are all varieties one might encounter anywhere on the island. Nevertheless, they are welcome for their beauty and shade. Clockwise, from upper left: Ohia, Guava, someone’s notion of a Christmas tree, assorted jungle, Hala (Pandanus tectorius), and a variety of plants—mosses, ferns, and a young Casuarina—nursing on a Eucalyptus bough.

Many of the same sights glimpsed along the main trail are enhanced, and new perspectives emerge from the cycling trails. These trails are meticulously well maintained on either side of the main trail although they do not extend continuously due to challenging terrain. That is, the cycling trails run along both sides in some places, on one side or the other at times, and simply share the main trail in between the rough spots. One word of caution, keep your ears open and your head on a swivel because cyclists appear quite suddenly in both directions.

As soon as my shins heal, I hope to attempt an assault on this northern end to see how far I can go and what wonders lay ahead.

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#Kauai: Changes

“You cannot step into the same river twice,” [Heraclitus according to Plato]. That’s obviously because the flowing waters mix and mingle, and even a second after you step out it has become a different river. After revisiting some of my favorite sights, I found that some have fared better than others, with a few places ravaged by changing weather patterns while others seemed totally immutable.

Just north of Donkey Beach is an unnamed stream that has slowly dried up since the turn of this century. However, it was still making its way to sea when we arrived in 2014, dropping quietly into the ocean at a small inlet, a tidal pool, a little beyond the completed portion of The Path that Goes by the Coast.

Although the photo at left was taken in early May 2017, it is representative of the state of the stream these past three years. The photo at right, taken last week, reveals a completely desiccated sandstone embankment where the little cascade once glimmered. Notice that another Casuarina tree has taken root to the right of the channel, and the shadow of the older seedlings from the earlier photo extends up the left edge of the latter.

Meanwhile, I revisited Ho’opi’i Falls on Kapa’a Stream recently, and found them gloriously rushing on in spite of slightly diminished flow—the little stream-side trail above the upper falls is now fully accessible.

The seldom-used stream-side trail between upper and lower falls was a little more hazardous than I recalled from previous hikes, as well as densely overgrown immediately below the upper falls.

Since I hadn’t visited over the summer, I also headed up Kawaihau Road toward Makaleha Falls. Everything looked familiar from the trailhead, but then I was unable to locate the first stream crossing. Initially it appeared that there might be a new crossing downstream. However, when that didn’t pan out, I returned to the trail and ventured too far upstream to a dead end. Retracing my steps, I found a place that surely must have been it, but I could not find any remnants of the old dam and the long pool that had once been key landmarks.

Looking across the stream I finally recognized the path up into the bamboo forest (but don’t all paths into bamboo forests look the same?). Eventually  some other hikers came along, and I followed them across the stream. Almost immediately after crossing, I was able to return their favor by guiding them to a shortcut along the stream which was even easier than ever because spring flooding had shifted the mainstream channel away from the near bank leaving behind a nice, dry, rock-strewn pathway.

On this hike, I only went about an hour upstream rather than all the way to the falls. Returning to the trailhead I encountered one of my favorite landmarks, this massive boulder, seemingly unchanged by time and floods, though an earthquake might be another story. I cannot imagine being on this island when this boulder moves.

Watchful boulder on Makaleha Stream

Next stop was the Powerline Trail at the end of Kuamo’o Road. When I reached the end of the road, I saw that the county had erected a one-lane bridge across the stream, so I proceeded across and parked in the nice new parking lot. The trailhead is about a twelve-minute trek up the Forest Service Road and the trail rises steeply from there.

Unfortunately, this trail is not maintained and I found that the jungle and downed trees closed it off a little more than half a mile from the trailhead. Still, it was worth a look since I had only read about it.

…But nearly 11 miles farther north, one can start from the other end! So I did, and witnessed the striking contrast between the spartan south trailhead markings—little more than a poke in the eye with a burnt stick—and the north trailhead station, more or less fully appointed, including all that graffiti.

While the news was discouraging at both ends, I was able to trek in a little over two miles, including a 20-minute ascent up a steep grade and over two water hazards. However, my adventure was finally thwarted by the third pond in the trail because it continued to widen any way I went. Being ill-equipped to trudge through with nothing more than lightweight running shoes (one of which had a hole in the toe).

Mean stretch of road

Although it doesn’t look so bad from here, consider that it’s more than twice as wide when it reaches that big tree on the right, and the ground gets softer and softer as it goes. I stuck my hiking pole in to gauge the depth and I hit bottom at about 10 inches depth; then leaned on the stick and it sunk another seven or so inches—that is a lot of mud, and not to be broached with open wounds (from earlier hikes/runs) on the shins and ankles.

So many streams have run dry or radically changed course over time while isolated pools deter hikers in the mountains, and the jungle overtakes disused trails with the passage of time. One truly cannot step in the same river twice simply because it’s no longer there.

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#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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#Kaua’i: Kaua’i Mini Golf

Set inside a beautiful botanical garden on Kaua’i north shore, inside the Anaina Hou Community Park, is the challenging but fun 18-hole Kaua’i Mini-Golf Course. Playing a round there can also be a learning experience because as you play you move through not only different types of garden areas, but also different eras of Hawaiian and Kaua’i history.

There were many cool and shady areas throughout the course . . .

. . . and the landscaping was gorgeous.

On the last Sunday of each month the course is free for kamaaina (locals), so in late July Brett, WenYu, YaYu and headed headed north to Kilauea to check it out. I was a bit skeptical about the whole thing, but ended up having a very fun time. Because the course is inside a botanical park, it was a cool way to spend an other wise HOT afternoon. This free day was the long-time policy of the course’s creator as a way of giving back to the community, and the current owners have honored the founder’s wishes that Kamaaina Day continue each month (he passed away a few years ago). Visitors to the island are also allowed to play on the last Sunday, but are asked to wait until spots open up between kamaaina groups.

Brett prepares to tee off – that’s a sand trap on top of the bridge in front, and there’s a hole off to the left that can put the ball into the water underneath.

Another hole that looks easy but wasn’t.

One of the many beautiful water traps – three of the four of us had to retrieve our balls from this pond.

The course looks deceptively simple at first, but it’s actually quite challenging. There are no spinning windmills or dinosaurs to drive your ball through, but besides the lush landscaping there are loads of sand traps and water features. Nets are provided at many holes so that you can retrieve your ball from the water traps (the balls float). We gave up counting after a while how many times our balls went into the water, but took our extra strokes and played on.

Signs detailing aspects of Hawaiian history are placed throughout the course.

One of the many signs with botanical information.

One of the best features in the park are the signs informing guests about the different plants found throughout the course, and there are also signs at several holes about different parts of Hawaiian history, beginning with the earliest arrivals to the islands. We’re those people who stop to read the signs, so we learned a lot!

The snack bar double as the beginning and ending point for the course.

There is a terrific snack bar at the end of the course, and food is cooked to order. The girls proclaimed the loco moco they ordered and shared to be the best on the island.

The waterfall at the 18th hole

YaYu gets ready to tee off at the 18th hole – she was a skilled golfer

Brett sinks his last putt at the 18th hole – he had the lowest score of the day.

Brett and YaYu turned out to be skilled mini-golf players; Wen Yu and I, not so much. But we all agreed it was worth the trip north, and a fun activity we would recommend to any visitor to the island. The Anaina Hou Park, where the course is located, is also home to the Wai’koa Loop Trail, Banana Joe’s market (and those very tasty banana frosties), and the Kaua’i chocolate tour.

Cost for playing the course is $18.50 for adults, $15 for 11-17 year olds, $11 for 5-10 year old. Under four years is free. Seniors, military and Hawaii residents receive a discount with ID, and Kaua’i residents can play for free on the last Sunday of the month.

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#Kaua’i: A Not-So-Pretty Parakeet

The rose-ringed parakeet

After enjoying a bumper crop of lychees two years ago, when farmers were practically giving them away, we thought last year’s crops were anemic. We figured it was just an off year, but this year’s lychee crop was even more pitiful. Same for lilikoi (passionfruit). We’ve learned recently though about an invasive species on Kaua’i that’s been attacking crops all over the island – the pretty little rose-ringed parakeet! These little birds now numbers in the thousands and are causing environmental and economic damage all around the Garden Island.

Normally not considered a nuisance bird, the parakeet population on Kaua’i has exploded in the past few years, becoming more than just a nuisance to farmers, gardeners and others in the neighborhoods where they roost. Kaua’i is not alone either – they’re also causing problems on Oahu.

A flock of parakeets flies over the island at dusk.

The parakeet population is estimated to be around 5,000 on Kaua’i, and is growing exponentially. Believe it or not, the current horde started when two of the pretty birds were imported to the island by the owner of a B&B in Lawai, on the south side of the island, and escaped into the wild in 1968 and started a family. They’ve been a “slow invader,” and up until recently the birds were considered an entertaining novelty, especially when the bright green flocks would swoop into the trees at dusk. In the past couple of years however the population has reached what is called “critical mass” and unless steps are taken the number of parakeets will continue to expand at an increasingly faster and faster rate.

All these parakeets need to eat, and they have been going after fruit crops around the island with a vengeance, particularly lychee and longan trees. However, no fruit is safe from them. Although the birds are small, a flock of them, armed with their sharp, hooked beaks, can strip a large fruit tree in a day or overnight, whether that’s lychees or tangerines or bananas. They have also gone after the seed corn crops grown on the west side, and have been eating unripe lilikoi on the vine, damaging that crop. They primarily tend to flock at the tops of trees though, and besides eating the best fruit at the top they defecate on fruit below, contaminating it so that it’s unable to be sold or eaten. It’s the same for other fruits and vegetables in any area where they flock. Farmers have reported losing as much as a 30% of their fruit crops last year because of the parakeets.

The birds have also become a nuisance to condo and home owners. Once thought to be pretty, intelligent and interesting, the increasingly larger flocks of parakeets leave a mess in their wake, sometimes covering an entire property in droppings overnight. The flocks can also be incredibly noisy. The parakeets also have the potential to cause disturbing environmental damage. For now they are eating and roosting in the island lowlands, but as their population grows it’s feared they will begin moving to higher elevations, driving out native species of birds and other animals.

Kaua’i farmers are having to cover crops with netting to protect them from the marauding parakeets.

Farmers have tried to protect their crops but their efforts have either been ineffective against the parakeet hoards, or cumbersome and difficult, such as covering trees or plants with netting. Condo owners have butchered palm trees in an effort to keep the parakeet swarms away from their property. The rose-ringed parakeet has been labeled as an invasive species, and farmers and other stakeholders are now collaborating with county, state and federal agencies to try to stop their spread. The fear is that left unchecked, the parakeet population on Kaua’i could reach 10,000 in the next five years, causing widespread crop destruction as well as other economic and environmental disasters.

I first heard about the parakeets from other residents shortly after we arrived, but until recently had never seen them. I’ve now seen flocks roost in the palm trees across the way several times, although they don’t stay for long – they’re apparently on their way to somewhere else. They are pretty to look at, and I hope a solution can be found soon that protects both the birds and farmers.

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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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Our Monthly Big Shop, Part 2 (Big Save, Cost U Less & Walmart)

Brett and I went to Big Save and Cost U Less on Friday and spent $55.24. Brett went to Walmart on Saturday and spent $7.34, for a total of $62.58, so we ended up $1.04 over budget for the month with the Big Shop. We’re in very good shape for the coming month (and beyond) though, except for a fruit run in a couple of weeks, which will put us even more over budget this month, but probably only around $25 or so at the most.

Cost U Less is a funky warehouse store that predates the arrival of Costco. Lots of locals still like to shop there though because there’s no membership fee. They have some of the best produce on the island outside of the farmers’ markets, and also have a huge selection of natural and organic foods, with better prices than the local natural food stores. When we were there we discovered why there was no organic peanut butter at Costco the other day – Cost U Less bought it all and was selling it for $3 more per twin-pack!

Big Save: $31.56

  • 2 boxes rice pilaf: $6.58
  • Salsa: $2.00
  • Chinese chicken salad dressing: $4.98
  • Refried beans: $1.50 (these used to be 88¢ a can back in Portland – sob!)
  • Diced green chilis: $2.00
  • 2 CookDo stir-fry sauce: $7.96 (A big splurge, but we all love it. We bought this in Japan for around $1/box, but have used up all we brought home with us)
  • Onion rings: $4.78 (these will last for 2 meals)

Cost U Less: $23.68

  • 2 cartons roasted red pepper & tomato soup: $7.98
  • 1 carton carrot ginger soup: $3.99
  • 36-oz crunchy peanut butter: $6.98
  • 2-lbs sweet onions: $2.49
  • 1 large green bell pepper: $1.29

Walmart: $7.34

  • 1 gallon bleach (we need to keep bleach in the toilets year round to combat algae): $2.86
  • 16-oz soba tsuyu (soup base for Japanese noodles): $4.48

I’m hoping you can see from the above prices the reason we do most of our shopping at Costco, where prices are the same or only slightly above prices on the mainland. Unfortunately, we can can’t get everything we need there, so we have to shop elsewhere, but we try to keep our purchases at the above three stores to a minimum.

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