YAH YAPS! Travel Blog - YAHGLOBAL.com
The View From KailuaOctober 29, 2010
“That's my home right there.” says Bill in a raspy weathered voice, pointing across the turquoise expanse to the gold sanded shoreline where multi-million dollar villas nestle inconspicuously in between rows of palm trees. He withdraws his reach and once again rests both arms, hands and fingers intertwined and resting on his oak, correction, koa tree sized thighs as he sits hunched over on a ledge made of sand and volcanic rock. His permanently tanned, leathery face and white coifs peaking out from under his “North Shore” baseball cap give him away to be in his mid to late seventies although logic would normally dictate that there was no way that anyone born before 1940 could have kayaked alone to this ocean protrusion called Mokulua. The same rules don't apply to those that live on any of the eight islands that make up Hawaii. “I've lived everywhere...visited Tahiti, Bora Bora, Bali, the Mediterranean, seen it all. THIS is the best stretch of beach in the world, hands down.” Bill gave me the answer I came to Oahu looking for. All I did to instigate it was walk by and say “nice boat”.
Over a week ago I set out to test a widely popular claim that Kailua Beach on the windward side of Oahu was the best beach in the world. The submission to this claim was that no such title could truly exist as the topic alone is completely subjective to one's own experience and preferences. However I “needed” an excuse to take a trip to Hawaii and this was as good as any, if not better.
First of all, it's really Lanikai Beach that everyone is raving about, but due to the fact that Kailua shares the same stunning shoreline and is the one with the shops, eateries and serves as the doorway to it all, Kailua Beach gets most of the credit from the visiting public. However, Lanikai is more secluded with more abundant tropical flora, provides sanctuary to the most laid back sun worshipers on the island, and most importantly, stares directly at the mysterious twin Mokulua islands found under a mile and a half across gentle (depending on the wind that day) rolling waves and sharp coral reef. They are recognized in photographs frequently without knowledge of their name and/or location. The images are almost always taken from a camera person with toes dipped in the warm lapping ankle high shore break of Lanikai.
It was my first time ever stepping foot in a kayak, an embarrassment for someone who considers themselves a travel writer. I lied to the nice folks at Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks because the sign outside said that the trek to Mokulua was for intermediates. The personal safety waiver strangely made me feel better when I read the paragraph stating that if I had not returned by day's end, Kailua Search & Rescue would send out a boat and helicopter. Some would have been taken aback by this and possibly opted out of the journey, but I figured that at the very least my body would be retrieved and loved ones would not have been left wondering what ever happened. Not knowing is the worst part, right? Suffice to say I found myself to be a (self proclaimed) natural on a kayak, making it through the shore break that I was sure would tip me over (based on the 7 minute safety video I had to watch before the trek) and into the azure accented ocean. No turning back now. My adventure was blessed immediately as a large moss green and brown sea turtle popped up next to me in an almost startling manner. I fumbled to focus my waterproof camera and capture the perfect “cover” shot but nature, and dexterity, rarely cooperates in these moments. Either way, it's appearance was more uplifting than finding a $20 bill on the sidewalk at the start of the day.
While the other kayakers in the area were combing the shoreline reef and taking their time, I was on B line straight to an island that was sure to be the key to an answer to...something. An approximate hour later a tiny wave pushed the kayak onto the small sandy strip that made up Mokulua's “beach”. With other water crafts on the shore and their owners sprinkled about the immediate area, it seemed safe enough to leave my belongings tied up to the boat. One quick look at the terrain of Mokulua evidenced the fact that one best not be encumbered by too many accessories on the hike. "Waterproof camera, check!". Post apocalyptic black volcanic rock nested the off limits bird sanctuary that made up the whole body of the island, requiring hikers to navigate it's sharp edged circumference, a ludicrous attempt for anyone wearing flip flops, present company included. Green tide pools served as mini makeshift aquariums for a variety of species indigenous to the area and warranted inspection as each one was passed. I came upon one pool, deep enough to consider a bath, without an apparent bottom. Off came the sling pack and t-shirt and in I went, cautiously, as no one was in sight should I sink to my demise. The shaded water was cool and refreshing compared to the warm South Pacific that fed this pool and in solitude I floated on my back and looked up at the clear sky. Paradise.
The next point of interest was heard before seen. A deep, continuous and echoing splash beckoned me to explore further. I overheard stories of an underwater cavern on Mokulua and this was most likely it. Apparently tide conditions must be exact for even an intermediate cave explorer to venture in and it didn't seem to my untrained eye that these were such conditions. The crevice walls had a fleshy appearance from the inanimate sea life clinging to the sides while the incoming ocean swirled around and eventually inside into the dark in an ominous manner. Search and Rescue would not find my remains here. Forget it. After another five minutes or so you begin to think its time to turn back. The sun appears to have run its course well over the high point in the sky, telling you that time is no longer on your side (I had no watch). But around the corner I spied what appeared to be a tour group, a disappointing sight at first for someone that planned on telling a tale of solitude in a barren wasteland in the middle of the ocean. My ears perked up when I heard the dark skinned Hawaiian guide exclaim to his followers “Are you guys ready to see what's next? Are you sure? Good, let's go!”. I scurried as fast as my loose fit flip flops would allow. How close can you get to a tour group without having to pay a fee? I kept about 10 meters behind.
There it was, nirvana. A massive indent into the island formed a jagged vertical rock ledge and significantly higher cliff with the “chunk” that probably broke off some thousand years ago finding itself separated out and into the ocean, too slippery to climb but still reachable by a quick swim across the u-shaped path of turquoise water that wrapped it close, as if to keep it under the loving arms of Mokulua. Someone who appeared to have been there for hours took what was likely their umpteenth leap from the ledge up above and into the crystal clear abyss below. A perfect splash followed by a reassuring reappearance had everyone in the group flinging their appendages off to the sides and climbing up that very ledge to do the same. I placed my flip flops somewhere nondescript (it took about 20 minutes to find them later), handed my waterproof camera to a complete stranger and jumped off the volcanic ledge like a sacrificial virgin. Five more times. Rinse, repeat. I was completely addicted in no time. Less obvious action would be found underneath the outcropped formation, as what appeared to be one solid piece of rock was but a shelf that one could swim 30 feet under and explore, if that someone had thought to bring snorkeling gear or at least goggles. Such is a casualty of spontaneous exploration without preliminary research, but I wouldn't have traded the element of surprise for expectation in this instance, not even for one second.
The trek back was no where near as labored due in part to the euphoric daze that I was feeling. I arrived back at Mokulua's beach to find fewer kayaks, and thus people, than there were when I first came upon this island. I prepared my gear, drank the remnants of lukewarm bottled water left in my wet bag, met, and chatted with the seventy something year old man with the nice boat. I attempted to take my time back across the ocean. The waves had picked up in size which would now work in favor of the direction back to shore as it catapulted the kayak forward from time to time, somewhat forcibly bringing the day to a conclusion at a faster rate than I wanted it to. Once ashore and free of the banana shaped and colored contraption that was my ocean vessel, I shuffled one last time through the golden powdery sands of Lanikai To Kailua, breathed in the air, glanced at the island in the distance that was no longer foreign and ran my hands along the pathway of palm trees that led back out to the main road.
My journey was complete, the investigation logged into my memory banks and contemplated on the ride back to Waikiki. Was this place the best beach in the world? Could I report that as a truth to anyone reading this narration? Let's put it this way, it's been 10 days since my time there and the question is still circulating through my cerebral cortex with no resolution in site, which in a way says something very prolific about the magical corridor of Kailua and Lanikai Beach. Besides, Bill says it is the best beach in the world, and who are we to argue with that?
Wish You Were Here, Editor - YAHglobal.Com
post by : Editor - YAH Yaps
AlohaOctober 16, 2010
Please excuse our lack of updates on "YAH Yaps!". Since our launch back in August at the U.S. Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach, CA, we have been working diligently, expanding the YAHglobal.Com network. Our time in Orange County, California was amazing and we will continue to provide you with even more travel and entertainment information on the area in the near future.
We have spent the last two months in Mexico. Correction, the YAH Travel Team was in Mexico while yours truly was stuck at head office editing the content the team would send over on a daily basis, you know, doing my job. We launched many of your requested favorite cities in the region along with some very interesting articles about items ranging from touring the mysterious Mayan Ruins to discovering the best tequila related activites in the founding home of your favorite or feared shot glass filler.
Ok, so why the "Aloha" as the title to this blog update? Well, we are off to the island of Oahu, HI to "investigate" the continued claim by almost every travel periodical and site out there that Kailua Beach, on the windward side of the island, is one of, if not the best beach in the world. That is a bold statement made by many and it is our duty to put it to the test. I can already tell you that Kailua Beach will not win this title upon our return in 7 days. Before you balk at that statement, thinking that we already have some agenda to fill, some beach along the either a coastal edge of the Galapagos Islands or Bali that we have locked and loaded in our content repertoire, waiting and building your anticipation over the months (kind of like how long its taking to get to the point here) to unleash in dramatic fashion, well, no such luck. The title "Best Beach In The World" is 100% subjective and based upon individual experience. Some might expect scenery to be the number one criteria in selecting the champion. Others will choose activities (snorkeling, etc...) favorable to the site or perhaps something as simple as how many miles the stretch of sand goes, or doesn't go. You get the idea. So off we go to Kailua Beach to do our due diligence, not in order to put a title on one of nature's volcanic creations in the South Pacific, but to gather as much "intel" as we can in order to share it with you, our valued members, and perhaps inspire you to take the trip yourselves and see if it fits your own personal criteria as a "Best".
See you in a week. Mahalo!
Wish You Were Here
post by : Editor - YAH Yaps