Sunday, November 9, 2014

As Beyoncé Once Said, "Surfboardt!"

My last full day in Hawaii was the cherry on top of my entire vacation. The wake-up was not like most as I casually rolled out of bed, in no rush to be anywhere. I got ready and had our coffee at the breakfast buffet we spent most mornings.

We strolled off the boat, beating the rush of tourists to Kalapaki Beach. My scheduled surfing lesson wasn’t until 11 a.m., so we enjoyed the Marriot hotel grounds once more. We were lucky enough to arrive right on time for the feeding of the Koi fish. Their pond contains one of the largest amounts of Koi fishes, with prices ranging from hundreds to thousands for each fish. It is truly an experience that I never expected to be as amused as much as I was. The staff of the hotel handed out small cups filled with the fish food. They started off the daily ritual by tossing the fish pellets above the calm waters. And suddenly, as those pellets hit the water, the Koi fish went crazy. They wanted more. We were invited to toss our share of the food or, for a much more unique experience, place some in our hand right above the water. That way, the Koi fish would splash up and attempt to reach the food. If your hand is near enough, they will suck onto your fingers. It was such a weird feeling. I couldn’t handle the slimy, fishies swimming past my hands. The children around me held a much better composure with the Koi feeding than I did.

After my weird excitement had died down a little, we found a spot on the beach to roll out our towels. I admired our surroundings – underneath the palm trees, surrounded by sand, with a direct view of the water. It was the most perfect beach day without a cloud in the sky.

Time soon came to walk over to Kauai Beach Boys (owned by the Live Da Life Company, whom I was taking my surf lessons with). I scheduled a group lesson and luckily for me there was only one other person joining. It was practically a private session, which are typically much more expensive. The other lady was older but surfed quite a bit when she was younger; only taking the lesson for the supervision in case her rustiness of the waters took over. We stretched and learned the basics of balance and standing up on the board on shore. I’ll admit, I was nervous I would injure myself by doing everything wrong. But after a few runs, I was feeling confident. My only complaint was my lack of upper body strength which I needed to paddle myself back and forth. By the end of it all, I was extremely sore. But nonetheless, It was amazing. I wish I had the opportunity to do it when I was younger and wished I lived in an area where it could actually be a hobby.

The lesson felt quite short due to the amount of fun I was having. I talked for a bit with the locals who ran the Kauai Beach Boys and felt much envy that the beach life was their reality and not just a vacation. As much as I love the history and beauty of many European countries, I started to reconsider that love for living somewhere tropical with a beach nearby. I said my ‘mahalos’ to my new friends and went back to my spot on the beach to darken my colour. I spent a little more time in the water before we had to head back to the boat. Instead of taking the shuttle, we opted for walking. It was short and conveniently close to the dock.

Our stay in Kauai was not as long as the other ports, but to make up for it, an hour after sailing, we passed by the Nā Pali Coast. It’s on the northwest side of the island and extends about 25 km. Nā Pali stands for high cliffs, which is exactly what they were at about 4,000 ft. high. The beautiful shoreline is not accessible by vehicles. I was only able to see a few people who boated the distance to take advantage of the absolute privacy. Besides boats and helicopters, there’s a trail accessible by car but the distance from that point to the shoreline is an 18 km hike proven to be quite difficult. And aside from all these journeys, you must also acquire a camping permit to hike further into the Nā Pali coast.

I remember being so impressed with Waimea Canyon, but sailing passed the Nā Pali Coastline left me speechless. It was a scene of a movie, a clipping from a magazine, a painting created purely out of imagination. Shows like Lost and movies like The Perfect Getaway and Pirates of the Caribbean are filmed at these exact locations as well. It felt so unreal to see something of that kind of nature.

For size comparisons: along the beach coast is a boat and that tiny spec around the centre is a helicopter!

After the unfortunate sailing away from the Nā Pali Coast, it began to feel much more like the end of our tropical adventure. We packed our things from our short-lived, floating home, and back into our luggage to take us back to our version of reality. Which, is quite obvious, was far more different to the lifestyle we were introduced to that week. But, all good things must come to an end so our last evening was spent at one of the specialty restaurants and watching a live show. Before bed, we prepared our things for our early departure back to Canada. It was bittersweet as always, but travelling to this new destination left me with 2 things: several pins I can add to my map and a new found love for the islands.

Aloha isn’t just a hello/goodbye greeting, it’s a way of life. A way of life that matches so beautifully with the island they live on. Next time I visit, I want more exploring, more waterfalls and more surf time!

Hope you enjoyed the series of posts based on my trip to Hawaii. After just returning from New York City a few days ago and Dubai around the corner. I have plenty of stories up my sleeve and ready to share. It’s all going to be uphill from here and now that this quick journey is over, I’m about to embark on yet another, much more real one. Stay tuned because before you know it, the sky will be my office.

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