It’s 3:10 in the morning local time.
A short distance outside my sliding glass doors lights from below illuminate the green palm leaves that sway in the breeze on the clusters of trees lining the shore. Two bright lights from across the bay streak reflections across the water. Although I can’t see the lighthouse from this position, the sweeping beam regularly moves through the trees. A handful of other bright lights across the water are visible. Densely scattered tiny lights of varying brightness twinkle throughout the sky. Otherwise all is black—the sound of the relentless waves breaking against the shore filling the night.
On Tuesday we drove from Lihue on the southeast side of the island Kaua’i north until the road comes to an end past Hanalei. The volcano that created the island and stands always visible, dominating and formidable, in the center of the island prohibits passage across or around the island.
The people of Kaua’i live, and the tourists play, in the small stretch of land between the beating waves of the endless sea and the steep and hostile black walls of the mountains. Along the road through Hanalei elegant homes are built on pillars or stilts, particularly on the beachfront properties.
The other side of the road is scattered with modest little single-story homes, some of them shacks, really. Any high water that passes below the stilted homes will certainly wreck havoc on these smaller ones huddled on the ground—a visual reminder of the haves and have-nots and of their respective vulnerabilities.
Along this road we passed several cavelike rock formations sheltering small bodies of water that looked like something a pirate’s treasure or Excaliber could be submerged in. These caves, along with the sweeping white beaches, the brilliant teal color of the water, the vigorous surf splashing up in white sprays, the dense and lush green foliage lining and shading the road like a botanical tunnel, all create a magical, mystical mood in the land called Hanalei.