Kalalau, Island of Kauai, Hawaii
After spending a week camping on the beach of Kalalau on the island of Kauai, we return to the mainland with the vibrant green cliffs, warm blue waters, and radiant yellow sun still bouncing around in our hearts. The little slice of paradise known as Kalalau, which means wanderer in Hawaiian, has an energy that is palpable. It is only accessible by an 11-mile hike or by kayak which makes it far more secluded than your average Hawaiian beach. For those of you that make your way to this special place it is very likely that its spirit will slowly sink in and split you wide open like a coconut.
We came in to the region with our head still somewhat spinning on the frequencies and pace of our day-to-day routine of work, media, and city life. After a few days of waking up to the crashing waves and tropical birds, and letting the warm and powerful energy of the island sink in, we felt a significant shift.
We had read that some people stay in Kalalau long-term but did not have any expectations about our encounters with people as we were planning our trip. We were expecting the amazing natural beauty of the place to be our biggest encounter. Surprisingly, some of the people we met there had just as big of a role in our “opening up” as did the natural beauty. Through the course of our week there we were offered fresh mango and noni fruit, drinks and other treats, hiking recommendations and directions to beautiful spots, tips on where to get water, a brief history lesson on the island and origins of the Hawaiian people there, information on native and non-native plants, and heard beautiful ukulele and singing in harmony from two Hawaiian descendants. Our stay in Kalalau was already near perfect, and the generosity and openness of some of the people we encountered was icing on the cake.
Kalalau can really be whatever you want it to be. You can have an isolated and quiet experience between just you and the earth. You can also have a somewhat social experience if you want to meet some very unique and interesting people who call the place home. We had a little of both. Our time there was slow, easy and relaxed but it still went too fast and it’s easy to see how some people would get there and decide that they are just not ready to leave. As our week came to an end and we embarked on the 11-mile hike back to catch our flight home it was very hard to say goodbye.
There were many reminders along the hike that we had not fully left Kalalau yet. Halfway through our hike out as we stopped to filter some water from a creek we encountered a local man in a sarong. He offered us freshly toasted coconut that he placed in a big pile on a banana leaf and left near the trail for travelers. We pointed the treats out to a couple of people who were hiking in but they seemed too afraid to try it. Hopefully after a few days time spent in Kalalau they will be opened up enough to take in such gifts from the island.
One local that we talked to said, “…we are helping to get visitors out of their heads and into their hearts. The people living here are just saving space and waiting for the rest of the world to wake up.”
It seems like that awakening might be happening slowly but surely. We are feeling it, and it seems like when we travel and encounter other people in the world we see that many others are right there with us. This feeling in our hearts that we brought back from Kalalau is not going anywhere, but is only growing into a light as bright as the Hawaiian sun itself. I hope that it will guide us back to Kalalau one day. We may even stay for a while next time.
You can see more photos from our trip here.