Trip to Kaena Point

Honolulu, October 20th, 1997.

Last Saturday, two days ago, I decide to go to Makua Beach. The beach has been in the local news lately, because first the marines decided they would hold a practice amphibious landing there, then there was enough of a hullabaloo raised about it that they cancelled their exercise.

Also, I spoke to someone recently who said "and of course there's always dolphins at Makua beach". So it seemed like an interesting place to check out.

Makua is on the Western, or Leeward (pronounced "lee-ward") shore of Oahu -- the least populated part (and the one with the cheapest housing). Some of my maps show a dirt road going from the Leeward Shore, around Kaena point, to the North Shore. At least one of my maps says "foot traffic only". So this is also the least developed part of the island. Straight-line, it's maybe 20-30 miles from downtown Honolulu, but there's mountains in the way, so the road distance is somewhat greater.

The other challenge for me (since I don't have a car right now) is getting there -- the bus only goes most of the way up the Leeward Shore, stopping at a place called Makaha. Fortunately, Honolulu has been putting bike racks on their buses, so I can take put my bicycle on the bus to Makaha and ride on from there.

I needed to do some shopping on Saturday morning, so I didn't get onto the bus until around 12:30. We get there around 2, and there's a nice beach park (near Makaha) so I stop to have lunch. I then ride along the road -- nice road, very little traffic, no houses. The ocean is to my left (I'm going north), but I can't see it because of a tall dune. I pass a ranch ("Paniolo" something -- Paniolo is what they called the Mexicans who came to Hawaii to be cowboys, back in the 19th century, short for "Espaniolo" I think) and get to a marker for a sacred spot overlooking a nice, rocky coast and near a cave. (In hindsight, that was probably Makua cave, though I didn't read the marker carefully enough to make sure). I go a little further and get to a beautiful beach -- as most beaches are, around here. The difference is that this one only has maybe a dozen people on it!

I swim in the surf for a while. Everyone else is doing the same, though some of them on boogy-boards (I'm body-surfing). Lots of kids around, what looks like native Hawaiian people (I can't always tell a Hawaiian from a Samoan from a Filipino from a Japanese from a Chinese ...). The sun is low enough that it's hard to look, but I can tell there's no sign of dolphins.

I get out and check my bus schedule -- good, there's buses until late. I decide to go on. But first I ask one of the people, an older lady, which beach this is. She says, with a perfectly straight face: "I don't know, we call it pray-for-sex-beach, but it's also known as Makua beach. And that (and she points to a sign) is the official Hawaiian name". Makes me wonder about how they name beaches around here...

I bike onto another great beach where people have set up tents for overnight camping. I see two mountain-bike riders coming from Kaena Point, and I ask them how far it is. Oh, maybe an hour. It's now about five, and the sun sets around six, so I decide to go. The pavement ends immediately, and I'm on a narrow and very stony dirt road running along cliffs about 20-30 feet above the shore. Very spectacular, especially near sunset.

I pass some fishermen on pickup trucks, then I get to one point where the road has been washed out. There's ways to scramble down and back up, and I suppose a very brave (very foolish?) mountain biker could make it, or I could carry my bike across, but I decide to leave it where it is and continue on foot.

I finally get to Kaena Point -- according to the sign, "one of the finest surviving dune ecosystems in Hawaii, important to nesting birds and green turtles and the Hawaii Monk Seal -- mountain bikers please stay on marked trails, no overnight camping, no open fires". It's almost sunset, and it's very beautiful -- some clouds in the sky. Looking back, I can see some rain on Makua beach, whereas I'm dry. I have enough supplies that I could camp out for tonight, or I could proceed around Kaena point to Mokuleia, on the North shore, but I decide to return home the way I came. So I start walking back, reach my bike, ride back, get to the paved part, and stop for dinner. Eventually I get back on my bike and ride back. The night is very dark and the stars are beautiful -- I can see the milky way very clearly. The moon has not risen yet and the darkness is beautiful.

On the way out here, I saw some mongoose run across the road, so on the way back, since it's so dark, I ring the bell on my bicycle to scare them off. Traffic is again very light, I see maybe 5 cars on the 5-mile ride back.

I get back to civilization in time to catch the 8:00 bus back towards downtown, get there by 9:30 (after which a friend sees me and says hi -- me on my bike, he in his car), and finally ride home.

To a very sound sleep.