The day after our trek to Waimea Canyon we decided to stick close to the North shore. Frankly, we had already done a lot more driving than we had intended, but oftentimes the weather is better on the south shore of Kauai. That proved untrue this trip, but in regular circumstances…
The goal for the morning, since it wasn’t supposed to rain until later in the day, was to find a beach. I had scoured the guide book and online sites the night before and stumbled across Waiakalua beach. The opening sentence had us sold: “Waiakalua Beach doesn’t see all too many visitors, mainly because it is accessible only via a very steep dirt trail.” Doesn’t see too many visitors…music to our ears. We were a bit concerned that the very steep trail might be too slick to traverse, but were willing to give it a shot.
We arrived at the trailhead by 9:30. The trail was indeed steep. Very steep. However, I am happy to report that no one fell down and we soon arrived at a gorgeous course-sand beach…with no one else on it. And, the sun came out. Bliss. We wandered the length of the beach before settling at the far end. Well, semi-settling…the husband pulled up a patch of sand, I wandered the shoreline, camera in hand, looking for treasures.
A few others made their way into our sanctuary, but not many. Rain spattered us on occasion, but we didn’t care. For the most part it was sun and surf and the Kauai that we had dreamed about.
We eventually puffed (and huffed) our way back up the trail and stopped at Kilauea lighthouse on our way back to the house. I hadn’t intended to visit that day, but the sun was out and it seemed a perfect time. It was, as usual, beautiful.
After lunch, we discussed our options for the afternoon. Well, we discussed one option and debated if we should do it or not: visit Hanalei. Remember, just a few nights before Hanalei and the surrounding around endured massive flooding. We had failed to watch the news (we don’t tend to watch tv while on vacation), so what news we had received had been that which I had found online.
On one hand, we wanted to see for ourselves the impact of the flood on Hanalei. On the other hand, we knew that lives had been changed and wanted to be sensitive to that (we like to avoid looking like bumbling idiot tourists). We decided to go. I think both of us needed it. We knew that all of this had happened just down the hill from us…we needed to understand the impact.
We followed other cars down into the valley, crossing the Hanalei bridge. If you didn’t know that water had covered that part of the road…you wouldn’t know. There was some silt alongside the road, but nothing that screamed, “Flood happened here!” As the road curved past Hanalei Dolphin restaurant and seafood market the impact became more obvious. Doors of businesses closest to the river were flung open and clean-up was occurring.
We parked in the lot of the Ching Young shopping center. Right up front. A feat not usually possible, but Hanalei was very quiet. Some businesses open, others closed. From photos I’ve seen, there was water in downtown Hanalei, but mostly on the streets and it didn’t look like too many businesses had been impacted. As I write this I know that most everything is open again and they’re screaming for your tourist dollars. So, don’t cancel your vacation plans to Hanalei.
We walked west along Kuhio Hwy, observing obvious signs of flooding…items stacked outside of buildings, clean-up occurring within. We could see the beautiful Wai’oli Hui’ia Church up ahead, but didn’t go that far as the road was closed at that point, and we knew there had been flooding that occurred within the church. We turned back and headed for Hanalei Bay. We accessed the beach from the park very near Aku Road and Weke Road. Beyond that point, Weke Road was closed as much of it had been washed out.
The park that we walked through was being used as a launching point for supplies headed to those stranded beyond Hanalei (remember that Kuhio Hwy was covered by multiple massive slides and parts of the road were washed out. The good news is that a single lane of that road is now open for local traffic only, which has got to be a huge relief for those with homes and businesses beyond Hanalei). We skirted the operation and headed along the shore line to Hanalei Pier.
The water was definitely muddy. Not water one should or would swim in. As we approached the pier we could see a very different view than that we had seen last time we visited. We first noticed some of the homes lining Hanalei Bay…reportedly multi-million dollar homes…a number of them semi-collapsed into new channels carved by the river as it overflowed.
Then, we realized that the area where we had once took surf lessons, right alongside the pier, was now sand. With minimal wading (which, now that I know what I know, I would not have waded in…hindsight) only to our knees, we were at the ladder that, just a few days before, would have required swimming to reach. So much sediment had washed down the river that it had filled in that part of the bay. We’ll see what happens over the next few months. I suspect that some of the sediment will wash further out into the bay, but in order to restore the pier to it’s former in-the-water-state the area may have to be dredged.
After a few more photos, we started back to the car. We were sobered by what we had seen, but also glad that we had come down. It was a hard hit for that community, and our hearts are definitely with them.
Damn. There were so many restaurants and food trucks in Hanalei that I had intended to eat at while we were there. We talked about going back down the next evening, but another flood watch was posted and I told the husband I wasn’t crossing the Hanalei bridge with a flood watch in effect. Another time….
We headed back up the hill, passing Princeville so that we could do a bit of shopping in Kilauea and pick up some ono from the local fish market. We wisely had a cooler with us so the fish remained chilled while we stopped at Tiki Iniki for yet another mai tai. Delicious.
From there we headed back to the house for additional libations and grilled ono dinner. And a show, put on by happy tweety bird and happy husband (whistling in the foreground is happy tweety bird, whistling in the background is happy husband).
The difference a few days makes: