Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Hawaii Honeymoon Part II

When it comes to beaches, Kauai does everything right. Besides the rule that every beach is public property, regardless of which movie star's house abuts the area, There are also picnic pavilions, showers, and reasonably clean bathrooms available at major stopping points. Camping is allowed at several beaches, and because being an island leads to a very high proportion of coastlines, you can usually just roll your car into one of the million little highway shoulder spots and find your own personal stretch of unofficial beachspace.

We went to seven beaches on our honeymoon (because we value methodical research and sitting), and each one was different enough from the others to warrant the visit -- picture the Outer Banks if the scenery changed every half a mile.

Hanakapi'ai Beach:
This pleasant North Shore beach with an unswimmable winter current sat at the mouth of a boulder-strewn river, and was filled mostly with lunch-munching hikers. The fact that it's at the end of an arduous two-mile mountain hike did not stop the gaggle of barefoot teenagers who hauled their surfboards all the way there to catch the waves, or the crazy barefoot runners just out for some exercise.

Hanalei Bay Beach:
This is the beach pictured in this photo -- a giant crescent-shaped bay surrounded by high-end resorts and coconuts on the North Shore. We spent an hour just walking from one end of the crescent to the other, although the dock area had been conquered by a band of mosquitoes.

'Anini Beach:
We looked for the "On this spot on August 4, 2006, Kathy and Kelley tied the knot" sign here, but it must have been defaced by the same locals who erected the "DRIVE SLOW: THINK OF THE CHILDREN" cardboard sign on the road. This beach was protected by a coral reef about five football fields away from the shore, so the water was crystal clear and shallow. We tried our hand at snorkeling here and saw more fish than a viewing of Finding Nemo.

Donkey Beach:
Donkey Beach is small, secluded by a five minute walk, and does not resemble a donkey in the least bit. However, this East Shore beach was completely empty when we visited, so we had the whole thing to ourselves, including an odd assortment of ropes and urns hanging from trees that resembled a chicken playground.

Waipouli Beach:
This was "our" beach at the condo and was divided into three sections: a tidepool filled with all sorts of crabs, a normal beach, and a rock-enclosed pool where ancient Hawaiians fattened up their biggest fish for feasts. On one of our last days, an endangered monk seal rolled up on the northern end of the beach, and the velvet ropes immediately blocked off a twenty yard radius around him while he napped. It's illegal to taunt a monk seal, so they get the royal treatment whenever they come ashore. The downside is that there aren't many chick monk seals left to boink.

Kiahuna Beach:
Sometimes renamed Sheraton Beach, this one was tiny but mere steps away from the resort. The South Shore was in winter mode, so the area was very crowded, but this was balanced out by the little flags you could stick in the sand to get beach-side drinks.

Kekaha Beach:
Kekaha Beach is the only West Shore beach we visited -- it's in the arid region, and there are just miles and miles of soft-sand beaches without any city centers. The entire left shoulder of the main highway is a beach parking lot, so it's easy to find a private spot. We considered driving all the way to the end (another 15 miles), but worried that it would void our warranty if the rental car got stuck on one of the dirt/sand roads where the paving stopped.

To be continued someday...

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