Well, not really. It was used as the model for the fictional Bali Hai in the movie, “South Pacific,” but here on Kauai, the famous triangular peak is known by its Hawaiian name: Mt. Makana. It serves as the backdrop for what may be my favorite beach in all of Hawaii—Makua (more commonly called Tunnels) Beach on the north shore of Kauai.
Check it out:
Dick and I have been lazing around the north shore for a week now, and on sunny days (not as many as we’d like; it’s winter, after all) we rise at a reasonable time (it’s also vacation) and head north on da beach. Walkng on the rain-softened sand is a workout, lemme tell ya, and we need the workout. When we rech the point on the beach where you can first see Mt. Makana, Dick goes into his mouth trumpet imitation, blowing a dead-on version of “Bali Hai.” (Ask him for it if you see him.)
I’ve heard it a hundred times, and it still cracks me up.
And there, looming in the distance, at the end of a water- and wind-worn ridge of mountains, towers Mt. Makana. I feel a sharp intake of breath, feel my chest tighten every time, as it does when I put my face in the ocean, trustin that I can breathe through a snorkel. I put my feet in the water, even if the ocean is raging, as it has been this week, and I stare at that ridgeline. Or I cruise the waterline looking for interesting shell pieces for the hobby I picked up a couple of years ago on this very beach—making amateurish shell pendants. They’re completely out of my typical skill set. That’s why they’re fun to do. Each necklace is unique—I have no idea what I’m doing—and I give them away to friends and family, some of whom actually wear them. But I have the most fun making them.
It doesn’t matter what I do out there. I could sit or stand on that beach, dig my feet into the warm sand or let the incoming waves give me a friendly slap about the knees. Dick moseys around, taking photos of the mountain he’s shot thousands of times before because he can, because it’s there. Could there be a better reason?
When he’s tired of that, he sits in the shade against the exposed, above-sand roots of an ironwood tree, resting, and waits for me. Awwww…
When we made our way to the beach on sunny Sunday, someone had erected a piece of driftwood on Haena Point. Someone had hung two dreamcatchers made of things found on the beach from the long, angled mast. Each wore a shell dangling from the dreamcatcher. How many dreams did they catch? How many people did what we did—walk up to them, reach up to touch them, perhaps make a wish or voice a dream?
Yesterday we went back and only one dreamcatcher remained. Where had the other gone? Did its creator reclaim it? Did the ocean take it with a big wave? Did someone need to bring it home to help their dreams?
There’s no way to know. And it doesn’t matter. This is a place where dreams are made and where they begin to come true. Whether you think of it as Bali Hai or Mt. Makana, she calls you, saying, as the song goes, “Come away, come away.” I reached up to touch the little shell and whisper a dream to the catcher on our last day on the north shore.
“Mahalo nui loa,” I said. “Thank you very much for this place, this time, everything.”
I have great faith that she hears me.