Much to our sadness, Sweet Maries was closed on Sundays. We had to have coffee at (shhh) Starbucks. We stopped by the Coconut Festival in Kapa’a on our way to the wedding brunch.
–side note: the Hawaiian language uses only 13 letters, five vowels and 8 consonants (one of which is really just a glottal stop). This means all the words look the same to me. There are W words, P words, K words, and H words. Other than that, I’m lost. It was a couple of days before I even tried to say them in my head. They’d just kind of bounce off my brain, not even trying to get in. By the time we left, it was easy, of course they’re all different. But I despaired for a while there.–
The Coconut Festival was every small town festival in the US. There were some 4-H kids with chickens and bunnies, the Lions club was selling sandwiches, various churches had booths. There was a stage set up for performances from various musicians and dancers. Much to our excitement, there were more Taiko drummers! Only these were kids. They went to a school at which the older kids taught the younger. They were really good and utterly adorable.
There were vendors of all sorts of things, most of them decorated with plumeria or hibiscus patterns. I had to wonder, do people in Hawaii just get sick of that? Do they think “All I want is something with a pine tree on it. A daisy, even. A moose.” I was on the lookout for tiki and was not disappointed:
After listening to as much of the “here are all the things you can do with coconuts” spiel as we could stand, we headed up to the brunch at the St. Regis.
We’d been pretty impressed with our Marriott. It seemed pretty grand. The St. Regis is bonkers. This is the view once you make through the huge lobby:
The wedding brunch was down by the pool:
The omni-present zebra doves and chickens were hanging around the pool deck, waiting for us to get sloppy. The moment one guest stood up, the doves hopped onto and into his bowl.
The food was terrific and we tried one of the yummier local dishes–poke (poe-kay), a raw tuna salad. Serious yum, we ate it at every opportunity after that. I’ll worry about the mercury later.
While Steve chatted with his friends, I wandered the grounds. There were all these little coves and nooks along the beach. I couldn’t stop taking photos.
We decided, after lunch and after refusing the groom’s offer for us to go to Tokyo with the honeymoon posse, to go to the house Kevin and Hyun Joo had rented and then head to the beach.
Hyun Joo is a house-finding wizard and had secured them a huge house in Princeville (yay! a word I can pronounce!). It had a backyard pool and hot tub and a different orchid growing on every tree:
The drive through Hanalei to Ke’e beach was ridiculously beautiful. The town of Hanalei has the feel of studied funkiness that reminded me of areas of Nantucket and of Carmel, CA. A look that says “We’re groovy, but you can’t afford to shop here.” But like both of those, it was gorgeous and inviting. The road is very wind-y and each turn afforded a new gasp of “LOOK at that view!” Keep in mind, we have a lovely view. It’s why we live in this attractive nuisance of a house. But it’s just a plain ol’ backyard compared to this.
One road goes around the coast of most of Kauai. It does not, however, go ALL the way around. Ke’e beach is at the end of the northern part of the road. Drive ’til the road runs out, turn around and find a parking place. Easy to find. We had to cross a half dozen one-lane bridges along the way. In Hawaii, the custom is for 5-7 cars to go at once, as opposed to our take-turns policy here. So if you get annoyed by someone slipping in out of turn at a one lane bridge, just assume he or she is Hawaiian and give ‘em “hang loose” hand (they really do that here).
The beach, like all that we visited, was not crowded. In fact, given that it’s often said to be the best beach on Kauai, it was downright deserted. I cannot imagine how these trees at the edge of the beach were not full of children (*I* sure climbed around in them):
Because of an off-shore reef, the water coming in at the beach is gentle and the area is good for snorkling. Kevin and Hana went off looking for sea turtles and bright fish. When they got too far out (easy to do), the lifeguards called them in, a reassurance that they were, in fact, watching from their cute little lifeguard huts. The constant warnings about the rip tide currents were gently brought home to me, too. Hana joined me in water that was waist-deep to me, but up to her neck. As she paddled beside me, chatting, a receding wave just grabbed her and pulled her out. Because we were in this cove, it wasn’t all that strong, and I was easily able to jump behind her and pull her back in, but even there, her paddling was useless and it was clear that the water was, in fact, trying to kill everyone. It was easy to see how you’d develop a belief in nature gods here.
Looks peaceful, though, doesn’t it?
The water was, of course, the perfect temperature, warm but not too warm. Clear. Gently wavy.
Here’s the weird thing, though. No seagulls. Albatross migrate through at some point in the year, but otherwise, no seagulls. So instead of waves and the cries of gulls you get waves and cockadoodle doo. There are chickens on the beach, going up to beach bags and picking through them for snacks.
This guy was hanging out on the beach. The kids were hassling him, kicking sand up on him. I’d tell them to stop, to let him live his life, and then try to shoo him into the water or a hole. But no, he just hung around. So eventually, I left him to his own devices. My interest in your welfare only extends so far, buddy.
Once we were all exhausted and hungry, we headed back into Hanalei for sushi. The kids were bored and tired and whiny, so I got to bust out our friends the Donald’s “What’s missing” game: everyone closes their eyes and one person takes a thing from the table and everyone has to guess what it was. They were reluctant to stop once the food got there, but sushi always wins. We also had more poke and I had my first mai tai of the trip. Mmmm.
Then, shortly after our nightly “Holy crap, it’s only 7? It feels like 9, at least!” followed by “Wow the Coconut Festival was just this morning!” we headed back to Lihue. Maybe my favorite combination of feelings: sun-warmed, sandy, salty, full, and with the buzz of one good cocktail. Perfect.