At 2,300+ miles, the eight main Islands of Hawaii are considered the most isolated in the world; when distance from the nearest continent is the measure. However, distance from another continent or landmass creates a whole platform for measurement debates that border on the arcane.
Another measure of isolation is genetic. On this one, Hawaii is the runaway winner. Hawaii has the highest percentage of species that exist nowhere else on Earth. Unfortunately, this fact makes the islands the extinction capital of the world. In short, what dies in Hawaii was only [sic., in Hawaii] in the first place.
A measure for me is the exotic nature of the terrain. On Kauai, you can experience seven different climate zones, and a difference of almost 5,000 feet of vertical in under 20 miles.
As an example, this photo-shoot took place in a space less than 10 air miles apart. Yet the terrain, and visual appearance are remarkably – almost incomprehensibly – different.
The canyon shots are of Waipo’o Falls in the Waimea Canyon. It is located less than 10 air miles from the photo location on the coast. Writer Mark Twain called the Waimea drainage the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” The name stuck. Having frequented both locations, I agree with Twain’s designation.
Waimea Canyon is 3,600 feet deep in certain spots. Waipo’o Falls drops over 1,000 vertical feet in two stages (3,200 to 2,200), The first stage is 200 vertical feet and the second is 800 vertical feet.
To capture these images requires a willingness to travel off trail, conduct some route finding, and traverse a canyon rim where a wrong step could lead to a fall that yields a less than desirable outcome. To obtain these shots specifically, requires sitting through rain and mist – offering no view of the opposite side of the canyon – for about an hour before the clouds break apart as predicted by previously analyzing the possible weather patterns.
The shot of sunset with isolated thunder clap rain clouds hovering over them are the islands of Ni’ihau (left) and Lehua (right). Ni’ihau is named the forbidden island, it has a fascinating recent history. The story is [here].
The shot of the coast-line is from the last spot I could perch myself, my pack, and my tripod on Makaha Ridge on the Na Pali Coast. The camera, the Kyle Lubeck designed MESH Art Camera Bag, and I stand at 1,240 feet above sea-level, The narrow ledge on which I am standing is about 25 feet below the top of the cliff. The next step from the ledge is effectively 0 feet above sea-level. From my Toyota rig parked on Makaha Ridge Road, it takes 1.42 miles, and a bit of bush-whacking on a non-designated trail to reach the cliff. I found the trail by snooping around on two prior trips to the area looking for a route to a possible photo-point. The final route was determined by trial and error. Five other possibilities (with the same starting point) led to dead-ends.
For this trip the MESH Art Camera Bag weighs in at 41.7 lbs. It includes all the possible camera gear I think I might use, a tri-pod, binoculars, first-aid kit, extra cloths, emergency blanket, food, water, energy drink, headlamp, flashlight, and a SPOT GPS tracking device. I always bring the spot device and send signals of status of the shoot.
The beach in the forefront is named Makole. The beach in the middle distance is named Polihale. Moving south is Barking Sands with Nohili Point jutting out. The body of water slightly inland is the Mana reservoir. Upon close inspection you might be able to discern a military base, and airport runways.
Polihale Beach State Park is open to the public. However, it is isolated and slightly difficult to reach. Access is via a dirt road best travelled in a four wheel drive with moderate clearance. The route to Polihale from Waimea is paved for the first ten miles. The dirt road is about 5 miles in length. There are a variety of access points to the ocean starting at Queens Beach. Polihale Beach State Park stretches’ five miles without interruption. The sand dunes vary from 15-100 feet in height. The beach is as wide as 300 feet at certain points. A visit to Polihale State Park Beach should not be missed.
Barking Sands Beach is the next section in the the shot of the coast-line. It is accessible to the public. However there are some limitations. Barking Sands Beach wraps around the Pacific Missile Range Military Installation. It is used and supported by all branches of the military. I could not possibly explain the operation – but to the average citizen this place seems wild. Some information about the operation is located [here].