Hello Friends and Family,

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Na Pali & "The Forbidden Isle"

And the good news is that Hawaiian Airlines found my suitcase — in San Jose, of all places — and shipped it to me via FedEx — so I now have my power cord and cable for my Epson P-5000. All the photos are intact and have been transferred to my Photoshop computer. I have been burning DVDs — one each for backup (one copy in my safe deposit box), one for my attorney (for copyright) and one for my DVD case (way too many files to keep them all on the computer) — using archival quality (gold) DVD media. So with no further delay, here are some photos from my cruise.

Early morning and the ocean was calm when we encountered a school of Spinner Dolphins. They were resting but they must keep moving and purposely breathing (their breathing is not automatic as is the case with humans) so they shut down half their brain while the other half keeps them alive. They enjoy riding the bow wave of boats which is what this one was doing in this photo.

Since they were resting, we only saw a couple of them jump out of the water spinning on their axis — which is how they got their name. This was not my first encounter with Spinner Dolphins doing their thing — but it is always quite impressive.

The boat left from a harbor on the southwest side of Kauai then the captain took us to the north end then slowly westward and southward along the Na Pali Coast. He said they do it that way because the lighting is better. Thank you Captain! And that better lighting gave us dramatic views of the chiseled peaks that I mentioned last week. Ain't that incredible? If you like the photo, you should see it in person — it will take your breath away.

The coastline here is dotted with only a few small beaches. It was difficult for the ancient Hawaiians to make a living here. Within the space of a few miles of coastline, the annual rainfall ranges from 200 inches per year to 10 inches per year. And those steep cliffs made travel and cultivation quite difficult. Still there was a reasonably sizeable population here — they somehow adapted to the environment.

This particular beach can only be reached by sea — although you can see that a couple brave souls have made it there. One of the crew members is planning a week-long stay this summer for his vacation. I talked to him about the logistics and he has to bring nearly everything he might need — and since he works for the cruise company, their boat will drop him off with his supplies. There is a small freshwater stream so at least he does not have to bring in all his drinking water. And when he is ready to leave, he must take out all his trash — leaving only footprints in the sand.

Also dotting the Na Pali coastline are many waterfalls — some with water and some dry — depends on the weather and time of year. There was even one that ran down and into the opening of a large cave — large enough to get the boat partially into. The captain invited anyone wanting a quick shower to the port bow and he drove the boat in far enough that they got their shower.

There are myriad caves of all sizes in these cliffs. You may recall that I mentioned that the ancient Hawaiians believed that the bones of the ali`i (chiefs) possessed great mana (power). On Kauai, when an ali`i died, his bones were carried by a warrior to one of these caves. However, the location must remain secret otherwise the ali`i's enemies could locate his bones and thus obtain his mana. So after hiding the bones, the warrior then would climb to the top of a nearby cliff and jump off, committing suicide — so that the location would truly remain secret.

A couple of the caves were large and at ocean level so that the captain could actually take the boat partially into the cave. In one such cave, we saw a Zodiac boat with cruisers enjoying their adventure.

Eventually we cruised reached the south end of the Na Pali coast and we turned west toward Ni`ihau — "the Forbidden Isle". As we got closer, we cruised between a small island by the name of Lehua and Ni`ihau. Lehua is actually a small volcanic crater where part of the rim has eroded so that from the air, it resembles a crescent moon — just tell Google Earth to show you "Niihau" (it doesn't recognize Hawaiian diacritical marks) and you can see where we were.

As I mentioned last week, we were not permitted to land but only to anchor in Kaaukuu Bay and snorkel. The small population lives on the far side of the island. But what a magnificent setting this is. The beach here stretches for probably a mile and a half or two miles — which is quite long for any beach in Hawaii. The water is emerald green (due to the sandy bottom) and the snorkeling was excellent.

So on your next trip to Kauai, do consider taking the cruise (the company I used is Holoholo — meaning to walk or travel for fun). If the weather is good (as it was on my trip) and the ocean is relatively calm (they told us it was), it will be a trip you will never forget. Of course, I guess if the weather is bad and the ocean is rough you'll never forget but for a different reason. Good luck!

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com