It is a strange and unsettling time living with social distancing on Kauai. After all, being social is what small-town living is all about. I miss the hugs that have become our welcome greeting since moving to the Garden Island. I miss the barbeques, the dinner parties, the fundraisers. I miss having friends over to play cards. I miss playing pickleball.
Even though the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus on Kauai has remained at 21 since last weekend, with 17 recovering, the state and county orders are still in place as Oahu battles to lower the curve. Our night curfew is in place, most businesses are closed, very few people are working, and face masks are required when in public. Fortunately though, Governor Ige and Mayor Kawakami understand the need for residents to exercise. Outdoor activities are a huge part of life in an area of the world where weather is pretty perfect year round.
So, surfing, swimming and hiking are still doable as long as social distancing is practiced. With this in mind, on Sunday Tom and I decided to leave Bandit, our cat, and the hens behind for an afternoon of adventure. We drove to Honu Point, our vacation rental (now closed for business), parked, and hiked down the hill to Sea Lodge Beach. The last guests who stayed at the house told us about a waterfall they discovered. We were determined to find it.
As we approached the ocean, instead of going left to Sea Lodge Beach, we turned right. After climbing across some rocks and walking down the coast for a few hundred yards, we found what a lot of people want to see when coming to Hawaii, a beautiful waterfall.
Did you know that the Garden Island has more sand beaches per mile of shoreline than any other major Hawaiian island? Kauai north shore beaches are so plentiful that you could be on the “Beach a Day” program for over a week and never leave the area. Some of these gems take effort to get to, but others are footsteps from where you park. Some offer a reef bottom environment for fabulous snorkeling, while others are best for swimming and/or catching waves. Starting with the far north end of the island, here are my top ten picks.
Weather and surf reports vary tremendously depending on the time of year and your location on Kauai. During your tropical vacation you may find yourself in an area where it is raining or the surf is not to your liking. You wonder what it is like on the other shores of Kauai’s coast. Following is a list of websites and phone numbers that may help you determine the best place to spend your day.
If you want to see exactly what an area is like, at any given time, the best way is to check out the various live web cams that are around the island. Currently there are six on the north shore, five on the south shore and two on the east shore. When clicking the link to each camera, you will be taken to the website which hosts the web cam. The map at the bottom of the page shows the specific locations of each camera. This allows you to see the current weather at thirteen spots around Kauai.
When traveling to Kauai, or any other Hawaiian island, be sure to pack some reef safe sunscreens in your checked luggage. In July, 2018, Hawaii became the first state in the United States to ban the sale of sunscreen containing the coral-harming chemicals oxybenzone and octinoxate. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2021, but many residents and visitors alike are already doing their best to be environmentally conscience.
Oxybenzone and octinoxate are not the only ingredients deemed to be potentially harmful to aquatic life, but according to several studies, they do contribute to coral bleaching. When coral bleaches, it is not dead, but under significant stress and subject to increased mortality levels. According to the National Park Service, 14,000 tons of sunscreen enter coral reefs every year. These two chemicals are believed to be one of the contributing factors to the coral reef destruction.
So, what does this mean to visitors?
As of now, the ban affects only the sell and distribution of sunscreens with these ingredients within the state but does not ban visitors from bringing them into the state. Given the reasons behind the law, however, please consider buying some reef safe sunscreens at home to bring with you or wait until you reach the islands to purchase one of these products. Some of the major sunscreen brands are making adjustments to their ingredients list in order to meet the restrictions of the new law. In fact, I was at Walmart the other day and many of the popular sunscreen brands already have “reef safe” on the label.
Anini Beach, on the north shore of Kauai, is one of my favorite beaches. It is a long stretch of coastline protected from the breaking waves by a shallow lagoon, perfect for snorkeling. The trade winds blow directly onshore making the environment very comfortable for sunbathing. Choose from the boat launch and wind surfing beach where there are public bathrooms and picnic tables
When I woke up this morning and saw clear skies and sunshine I knew I needed to step away from the computer for awhile and go on a much needed walk. What better place than Hanalei Bay; where the lush, green mountains meet the sea!
Arriving at the bay around 9:00, or so, I found a few people who had the same idea. There was a soft breeze and the sun was slightly veiled by the clouds – perfect for sun bathing. Warning: Don’t let the clouds fool you. I got my worst sunburn on a day just like this.
I felt rather conspicuous carrying my iPhone with me but I wanted to take photos so you could vicariously walk with me. Enjoy.