Mesmerized by Kauai

I haven’t blogged in forever. There are 16 drafts on my wordpress, but nothing is completed (most of these are just scribbles or reminders that I thought would make it into a post).

Travel posts always flow easier, any since this trip is shaping up to be pretty epic, I will finally use it as an opportunity to write again.

I am on Kauai, the Garden Island, one of the 8 main islands of the state of Hawaii – an official state of the USA only since 1959. Tomorrow I will venture on to Big Island (or Hawaii).

Hawaii is also known as the Aloha State. That’s basically what they put under their number plate.

Compare that to New Hampshire, where I went to business school. New Hampshire’s state motto – written on every number plate – is Live Free or Die. Look it up. Huh…guess that gives you an idea how relaxed people are there versus here. (don’t get me wrong, I loved NH)

Why am I here?

I attended my b-school friend and roommate John’s wedding in San Francisco and thought that if I am halfway around the world, I might as well make it a vacation. And since an ex of mine told me about her adventures in Hawaii last year, I figured this is where I need to go to.

And it is. In fact, I may just not be able to go anywhere else from now on. It feels that in terms of sheer beauty, there is not much that can top Kauai – at least not above earth – I have yet to dive here (coming soon). Looking at these pictures, you would think these are rendered by a computer. There is a reason they shot dozens of movies here (including – of course – Jurassic Park, Avatar, King Kong and Pirates of the Carribean). Case in point:

Waimea Canyon, Kauai, HI, USA

Kauai has an unreal amount of micro-climates. Yesterday I literally hiked the tropical rainforest-like Nu’alolo trail in the morning at 4000 feet,

had this view when it cleared up…

Nu’alolo trail – view at trail end

…then drove down the mountain through dryland and stopped for this:

and then jumped into the ocean at Kekaha Beach.

Kauai throws these different climates at you in wild succession. When hiking Kokee state park, you can experience short rainfalls, fog, heavy wind and then again intense sun.

Despite being a tourist-destination with millions of visitors a year, you can find many spots of complete solitude. All it takes is a little bit of hiking and you will have left behind 98% of American and 96% of all other tourists. On my hike yesterday, I didn’t see anyone for 30 minutes or so, and was almost relieved when finally someone came my way. The mountains have no cell phone coverage, so if you hike by yourself and get lost – well – its back to Jurassic Park.

These past 6 days were very much focused on hiking, but Kauai seems to offer pretty much any sport anyone would want to do: surfing, biking, diving, old people sports such as golf, tennis, stand-up paddle boarding etc. 🙂

This place is not cheap, and its not getting cheaper. The Zuck has bought a mansion here for a mere $100 million in blood money in 2015 (just listened to Kara Swisher’s interview with Roger McNamee on Recode Decode – a fellow, slightly more successful Tuckie about his new book in which he describes how Facebook is ruining us all – definitely on my to-read list), and so have several other stars. Which of course raises prices for everyone else.

But you can drown sorrows about money in surprisingly good beer:

Kona Brewing Company makes a great range of Ale. My favorite is the Big Wave Golden Ale, also known as „Liquid Aloha“ 🙂

Alternatively, you can always go for a Shaved Ice. Shaved Ice is basically ice cream encased in a bowl of regular „shaved“ ice and topped with syrup and coconut or other flakes. Comes in a crazy variety of colors and flavors and looks like this:

What about surfing? Well, I haven’t been so focused on it and the conditions were relatively bad the last few days – although today it must have pummeled Hanalei Bay and will do so tomorrow as well. Hanalei by the way is where Andy Irons grew up and learned to surf.

Hanalei Bay

By the way, surfer friends, I mean braaahs, did you how the shaka (hang loose) sign came to be?

This is what PADI researched:

While there is debate over where the shaka originated, legends point to Hamana Kalili of Laie who lost the three middle fingers of his right hand while working at the Kahuku Sugar Mill. As he was a guard of the sugar train, his all-clear wave evolved into the shaka and was emulated by children.

More importantly, what does it actually mean beyond „hey“ and „take it easy“?

Just like “aloha” means much more than just “hello” or “goodbye,” the shaka is more than just a simple greeting or gesture of thanks. Saying “aloha” means that there is a mutual regard and affection for the other person. It is acknowledging the importance of each and every individual in collective existence. This same core value is reflected in the shaka. The simple gesture symbolizes a reverence, solidarity, compassion and friendship. It is a sign of respect and mutual understanding for the recipient.

So ALOHA and shaka, my friends!

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