Friday, October 12, 2007

What to do in Kauai when it's flat

In no particular order:

  • Kayak any of the rivers
  • Drive/hike Waimea canyon
  • Eat poi
  • Drink beer while listening to the 20 mph trade winds whistle through your bottle
  • Have sex
  • Watch local team news coverage about the SuperFerry
  • Attend a cheesy luau for the first time (and never have to do that again)
  • Boat ride up the Na Pali Coast
  • Look at all the beautiful breaks that aren't breaking
  • Snorkel
  • Tube through abandoned irrigation shafts
  • Chase a chicken
  • Chase a rooster
  • Contemplate over a mai tai what came first, the chicken or the egg?
  • Wonder why mai tais are so popular
  • Drink more beer
  • Go to bed at 9pm since all the restaurants have closed
  • Buy a ukelele

It was a week in flat paradise. I had reserved a surf lesson for my boyfriend in Hanalei, but we got there early and I made the unfortunate decision to check out the break first. Flat. There were about eight students and teachers on the ten yard swatch of bay that was breaking. It was as if you took ten yards of my home break on a weekend day in summer and plopped it in the middle of a lake and put an invisible forcefield around it. We cancelled the lesson.

The trade winds are amazing, though. It created some spectacular windswell on the East side, but if I wanted to surf sloppy, victory-at-sea conditions, I would have stayed home. But I loved how those tradewinds felt. I wanted to breathe in as much of it as I could.

On one of our trips on the two-lane highway to Waimea Canyon on the south side of the island, I saw silver-haired surfers with giant boards parked along the railing and disappearing into the trees. I made my boyfriend park the car and we followed the red dirt trail through the brush and was greeted with an empty beach as far as the eye could see to the right. To the left was a rock jetty and beyond that were about five stand-up paddlers catching long ankle-high lefts off a reef further off.

Welcome to Infinities. It might have just been the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. What would have been more beautiful would be if there were some size and right-hand waves.

The south swell began to roll in a day before my departure. In anticipation, the night before, I'd rented a beat-up epoxy 9'0" 2+1 longboard which was badly weighted forward (maybe from all the repaired dings). My long-suffering boyfriend and I drove straight to Infinities on Tuesday morning. He sat on the beach while I made the long paddle-out to the reef where I was the only chick in a tanned group of 7 or 8 guys which included one stand-up paddler. The waves were waist-high when they came in. Long lulls. But I smiled at everybody and whooped the best waves and made some friends so the vibe was pleasant and, hey, I wasn't in a wetsuit!

I didn't get the best waves of the day, but it was good enough. Long feathering lefts held up by the tradewinds coming off- and side-shore. Easy vacation waves.