A paradise of green
Hanalei grows on you. A quaint, small town along the north shore of Kauai, it feels like the real Hawaii that Honolulu, in a strange but certain way, does not. Hanalei is a surf and beach town, with it's share of sun-bronzed bodies, matted hairs, surfboards; gentle rolling waves near the shore, and humongous ones farther out near the edge of the reef; budget Hawaiian ber-b-que and a sprinkling of upscale eateries; enchanting art galleries; vendors selling green coconuts from the back of pickup trucks; families on the beach enjoying a life everyday that the average city-dweller Joe can only dream of.
You get the picture.
We were on our way along the north shore of Kauai. Passed through the fake facades of Princeville, with its designer golf courses, its entry fountain and its manicured lawns; a place as foreign to Hawaii as the people who live there. As you drive past Princeville on Highway 96 and stop at the lookout point, Hanalei unfolds before you. And what a difference! As if you have arrived at the real pyramid after passing through Luxor, Las Vegas. Bye golf courses! Hello Taro fields!
Its an amazing vista of green, this Hanalei. Surrounded by lofty hills, its a scene that seems to be straight out of some picture postcard; and why not, you have possibly seen the Taro fields of Hanalei in some picture postcard after all. You may have seen it in some movies too, for it has been Hollywood's darling ever since 'South Pacific'.
We drive down Highway 960 (as it is now called) into Hanalei and onto its famous one-lane bridge, which the local residents fought successfully to keep and ensure that their hamlet is spared from Princevillization by the big land developers. Past the bridge is a rhapsody of green, a sea of Taros growing in water-logged fields shimmering in the late afternoon sunlight. The endangered bird Nenes were in attendance, and one of them actually threatened to run me down as I was taking a picture of her! I succeded in outmanuevering the Nene, and lived to tell you this tale. It was not easy, but we parted amicably.
The sun was setting over the Hanalei bay pier as we came to the beach. It was amazing just to sit there, soak in the peaceful vibe of the place. You could hear the roar of the big waves at the distance as darkness settled in all around. The surfers were coming home.