Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Lanikai Beach and Windward Oahu

Lanikai. In the Hawaiian language it means "royal sea" or "heavenly sea." And a royally, heavenly beach it is. The Mokulua Islands offshore are protected nesting sites for sea birds. Kayakers can visit the larger island on day trips.
Lanikai is one of the best beaches for swimming on Oahu with clear, calm water and some good spots for snorkelling. It's also quiet and off the beaten path. Everybody loves it.
This is Kailua Beach, which is just up the road from Lanikai and another fabulous windward Oahu beach popular with kiteboarders, windsurfers and kayakers.
This little island is further north, still off the windward coast. It is called Chinaman's Hat.
And the beautiful Pali cliffs overlooking the windward coast.
Aloha and Mahalo Oahu.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

North Shore Oahu: Keep the Country Country!

A drive along the North Shore of Oahu this past Monday revealed a strip of idyllic, palm tree-lined coastline overlooking calm, turquoise seas. The moana (ocean) was standing down with only baby waves lapping up on the wide, white sand beaches at Sunset, Waimea Bay and Rocky Point. Toddlers frolicked at the water’s edge while snorkellers and swimmers traversed across the ocean easily. In the distance, the green Wai’ane Mountains gave a stunning backdrop to the beach scene.

But don’t be fooled by this gentle June setting. For in the winter months, the North Shore is the sight of some of the most monumental waves on the planet. Mecca of the surfing world, its shore breaks are legendary: Banzai Pipeline, Backyards, Pupukea - waves up to 50 ft and more. The seven mile miracle. It is entirely fitting that the birthplace of surfing, Hawaii, is also the place where the waves demand the most respect from those courageous and skilled enough to ride them.
The North Shore consists of one long two-lane highway with beach houses and the quaint little surfing town of Hale’iwa with clapboard storefronts. There are no hotels in the town, no Waikiki-style high-rises and no runaway development going on along the coast. It is so refreshing and wonderful that it has been able to hang on to its country, relaxed ambiance.
If only. Regrettably, my musing can only be short-lived. The threat of development is out there. The one resort in the area – the large 880 acre Turtle Bay resort with over 400 rooms, which is located on the eastern point where the North Shore meets the Windward coast, is planning to develop 5 more hotels on its grounds. Another 3,500 rooms. Oh, say it isn’t so!
An impressive alliance of 26 citizen and environmental NGOs’ have come together to stage an opposition effort to what would ultimately change (ruin?) the feeling and ambiance of the North Shore. See the Ko’olauloa North Shore Alliance website. An expanded four-lane highway and 5 new hotels would bring a heavy footprint to this strip of pristine coastline. The Defend Oahu Coalition is one of the groups acting to protect the North Shore. Their slogan is Keep the Country Country!

Runaway tourism developments are a blight on the environment of places like Hawaii and countries in the Caribbean. Aren’t there enough of them out there already? Isn’t one Waikiki enough? Please watch the video on the Defend Oahu Coalition website for terrific surfing footage and hear the people who live on the North Shore speak about their concerns and opposition about turning the North Shore into another Waikiki. Keep the Country Country! Aloha and Mahalo! Copyright©Kathy Stanley.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Labrish receives a welcome. . . and The Paradox of Stingray City, Grand Cayman

I would be re-miss if I didn’t acknowledge and thank Rick MacPherson of the blog Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice, & Sunsets for his recent favorable review of this blog site. Rick’s blog is dedicated to ocean biodiversity and is a true treasure trove of the latest news in marine science for those of us passionate about oceans and marine life. About Labrish, Rick said: “I didn't just learn coral reef ecology during my field work in Jamaica. If memory serves, "Labrish" is Jamaican Creole for "gossip" or "chitchat". What we call "the Coconut Wireless" in the Pacific. All I can say is Labrish is speaking my language!” Thank you Rick! See his review of Labrish .

While checking out his site, read his post titled “Feeding stingrays makes for lazy fat stingrays” which is a report on the latest research conducted on the stingrays at Stingray City in Grand Cayman. I have long thought that Stingray City and the flock of tourists to the site (many of them cruise ship tourists) could not possibly be good for this population of stingrays. Suspicions confirmed.

Yet another so-called “eco-tourism” activity that provides thrills for humans and threats for a marine species. I hope the Cayman government will come to their senses and wake up and pay attention to this. They need to cease the senseless exploitation of stingrays in their waters. Rick pointed out that other Caribbean countries are now embarking on these stingray cities as well. What a tragedy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Surfing South Swell Oahu

South shore of Oahu has seen good surfing the last two weeks. Some shots from Waikiki, Diamond Head and body surfers at Sandy's follows. Grainy video of the bodysurfers - great watching them.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Valley of the Temples, Windward Oahu

An afternoon drive through Valley of the Temples Memorial Park meanders through hills dotted with graves adorned with bouquets of ginger lilies, heliconia and birds of paradise. Everyone is represented here; each religion with its own small chapel and traditional grave markers and decorators. Hawaiians, Chinese, Catholics, Japanese and more.

Nestled against the deep green sculpted pali (cliffs) and framed with tall pine tress is the magnificent Byodo-In Temple, astonishingly built without the use of nails. It was built to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. “It is a scale replica of a temple at Uji Japan that was constructed 900 years ago. The Byodo-in is built to represent the mythical phoenix, its wings upheld by pillars of stone. Folklore tells of the phoenix arising from the ashes to reflect the promises of hope and renewal.”

The name Byodo-in means “Temple of equality – not to discriminate.” On entering the temple grounds, visitors strike a giant three ton brass bon-sho bell, cleansing the mind and creating an atmosphere of serenity that resonates throughout the temple site.

Inside the temple sits the 18 ft. Buddha, Amida, “thought to be the largest figure carved since ancient times, an original work of art carved by the famous Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui.”

Coppery madrone trees surround the temple along with ponds and zen rock gardens representing the universe. Wild peacocks and peahens with chicks, spotted doves, myna birds and red-crested cardinals flit about while black swans swim amongst pools of giant 40 lb orange and white koi. Maholo Byodo-In Temple. Copyright©Kathy Stanley. More to come.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Aloha O'ahu

Surrounded by 50 ft palm trees swaying in the gentle trade winds, 25ft high red hibiscus plants, fragrant red and purple frangipani, red flowering Poinciana trees and an abundance of fuchsia and orange bougainvillea. Kailua Beach on the windward side of O’ahu is a serene little beach town, far from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. More to come over the next few days. Aloha and Maholo from Kailua.Copyright©Kathy Stanley

Friday, June 5, 2009

City of Roses

They have names like Sweet Surrender, White Lightnin' and What A Peach; Silver Jubilee, What A Climber and Sheila's Perfume. Rainbow's End, Red Rascal and Crimson Bouquet. 500 varieties to feast your eyes upon. It's Rose Festival time in the City of Roses (Portland, Oregon). With the stunning backdrop of luminous Mt. Hood hovering over the downtown skyline, the International Rose Test Garden at Washington Park is the place to view these exotic roses and hybrids. From the website for the gardens: "Founded in 1917, Portland’s International Rose Test Garden is the oldest official, continuously operated public rose test garden in the United States. In the beginning, even though World War I was raging in Europe, hybridists sent roses from around the world to Portland’s garden for testing and to keep the new hybrids safe from being destroyed by the bombing in Europe."Rose Garden Website

Copyright©Kathy Stanley 2009.