Happy Father’s Day

Prompted by a story on Hawaii Insider and in honor of Father’s day, here is the image of Hawaii that my father gave me as I was growing up.

My parents visited Hawaii in 1971, the year before I was born. Even though I got to travel a lot as a child (when we lived in France and toured Europe), I was always secretly disappointed that my older brother got to see these far-flung islands. A case of sibling jealousy more than rivalry, it meant that he had travelled significantly further west than I, nevermind that he was just a toddler and didn’t even remember it.

My parents lived near Washington DC at the time, and so it was a big trip for them. I don’t know if this was common at the time, but they spent nearly a month in Hawaii and toured all the islands. Of all the things they saw, here is the story that my Dad always told about Hawaii:

On one of the islands, I’m not sure he told us the name of it or perhaps didn’t even remember it himself, there is a beautiful beach at the end of the road. Behind the beach are towering walls of black volcanic mountains, covered in lush green forest, and full of wild orchids. Dad has always loved flowers of all sort, and what could be more exotic to a native of Ohio than orchids blooming in the wild. He had heard or read that there is another beach over the cliffs, but the only way to get there is a steep trail. So my mother stayed at the end of the road with my infant brother, and my father tackled the trail in search of orchids and the other beach.

After some time on the difficult trail, my dad finally reached the other beach. His story didn’t say whether he saw any orchids, chances are slim right along the trail. But, probably even better, what he saw at the beach were naked women. He called it a nudist beach, but I’m sure they were hippies that he saw there, on their peregrinations between Taylor Camp and Kalalau. He clearly remembers the sea cave to the right of the stream, because that’s where they were hanging out.

Then he learned that the trail continued, up over the ridge to another beach, then another, and another, and every one of them a “nudist beach,” like paradise on earth. But he had to turn around and go back to the beach at the end of the road. I’m not sure what my Mom’s reaction to this story was, or whether he even told her at first, but when he told the story later, he often said he wanted to go back and see all those other beaches.

It would be another 20 years until I saw Honolulu for myself, and another 10 more until I saw Kaua’i, where I hiked the entire Kalalau trail on my first visit. I can’t really say I was following my Dad’s vision, because I was following my girlfriend, now wife, who knew the trail and its inhabitants—and we were part of the naked crowd in Kalalau. A year later, we moved there, my parents came to visit, and my Dad finally got his wish: my Mom dropped us off at Ke’e trailhead, and we hiked the trail together, all the way to Kalalau. And you know what? He was half right. The trail between Hanakapi’ai and Kalalau has absolutely no beach access for 9 miles, but the naked hippie-chicks are still there. Not so much in Hanakapi’ai anymore, but definitely in Kalalau and sometimes along the trail, walking around like Eve in the Garden of Eden.

So Dad, thanks for the stories about far-off places, thanks for sparking my imagination about Kaua’i, and thanks for sharing your love of hiking and beautiful scenery. And now I realize why I’m always driven to see what’s just over the next ridge.

… And no, I wasn’t conceived in Hawaii, as it later occured to me to ask my mother. Which is too bad because not only would it give me a native connection to the islands, it would’ve given me bragging rights over my globe-trotting brother.

Printed from: http://great-hikes.com/blog/happy-fathers-day/.
© 2024.


  1. Debi says:

    Cool story, Andy, and I’m glad you were able to make it come around full circle for your Dad. Happy Father’s Day to you!

  2. Debi says:

    BTW, aren’t you in the Bay Area now? You might enjoy this…


  3. Debi says:

    Hmmm… I think your blog just “ate” a comment that I put a link in… I’ll try another way…

    If memory serves you’re in the Bay Area now (East Bay, I think), and there’s a monthly kani kapila at Oakland’s Tiki Tom’s on the third Sunday of each month. There’s a great lineup scheduled for Father’s Day.

    fyi, fwiw, etc.

  4. Andy says:

    Hi Debi,

    Thanks for reading, and yes, my spam filter ate the comment with the link, but I fished it out. And thanks for the kanikapila tip, we’ll have to check it out sometime. We missed it this weekend because we went camping, which is why I posted this article early and why the comments, which are moderated, don’t appear until now.

  5. tara says:

    What a great story, I love it. Lived on Kauai for 4 yrs in Kalaheo and Kekaha. When you first described a beautiful beach at the end of the road, with towering cliffs of volcanic rock, I pictured Polihale – my fav beach in the world.

  6. Mary says:

    I’m working on a novel set in Kauai, specifically along the Kalalau Trail, and would greatly appreciate the opportunity to occasionally ask you for commentary on a description of the environment. I lived on Oahu for three years and experienced Hurricane Iniki. The closest I came to the Trail was Ke’e beach, where I noticed Boy Scouts entering the trail head, and on a boat ride that paralleled the Na Pali Coast. Your website has already been helpful in my research, so I extend my gratitude to you for maintaining it.
    Mary (July 15, 2009)

  7. Andy says:

    Hi Mary,

    I’d be glad to answer any questions about Kalalau that I can. I should probably write a post about Kalalau “in print” as I know of several books and movies set there. Thanks for reading.

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