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The Waves at Waimea

by Brandi Noelle 27 days ago in solo travel

A Hawaiian Story

The thunderous waves beat on the shore with such intensity you would've thought they were trying to cause physical harm to the sand. The shore break was intimidating to even those who could swim really well, with it waves that reached up as if to try and grab the clouds before crashing back down again. I stood as the foamy waterline, as wave after wave rushed across the sand and covered my feet. Looking out past the waves on the shoreline the ocean seemed so calm, still almost with only slight bubbling ripples to disturb that stillness. It made me question where the force behind the waves was coming from. It was as if some invisible giant were out standing in the water trying to splash everyone on the dry beach, just as a little child would in a pool trying to splash his siblings. Very few people were out swimming around past the waves' deadly yet inviting grip. It took a lot of focus and even more exertion to get out there; I had never done it yet, but was a fair swimmer and intended to try one of these trips.

As I looked out to my left I watched people jump off the huge pile of rocks that stuck out over the ocean. One by one they would climb up the narrow, natural staircase the rocks made, starting at the beach and working its way up and out until the people on top were a few feet from the shoreline, just behind where the waves were starting to form. I was just close enough to the jumpers to be able to distinguish whether they were male or female and faintly tell the color of their swimwear. One girl in a bright yellow bikini gave a loud shriek and leapt from the edge into the water waiting impatiently below. It wasn't a far fall but people still gave loud bellows and screams when they jumped. Seconds later her head popped back out of the water, she rode the next wave to shore doggy paddling to stay upright and then began the climb to the top again when she had reached dry sand. Warning signs jutted out from the sand for swimmers and jumpers to heed caution, but the rocks were beckoning with its persuasive, easily accessible formation.

I always liked to stand at the edge of the ocean on Waimea Bay, and slowly take in all the beauty it had. Hawaii is a gorgeous place as a whole; mountains rose up in jagged lines to the sky, completely covered in a frosting of green trees and vegetation and waterfalls that sprinkled the sides and top. Completely surrounded by white sandy beaches on all sides and water so clear you would think you could see one thousand feet down. Waimea instantly felt special to me because me first real friends on the island took me to that beach to hang out, we would go often. Waimea was especially good for skim boarding because of the high, yet treacherous, waves right on the shore. As I looked back to the waves and over to right, I could see skim boarders dotting the waves like flecks of pepper all the way down the beach. It wasn't a particularly huge beach but just long enough to make those in the distance look like ants running around on the hot sand. My friends were among them, much closer to me, running out to meet the next assault of waves the giant was shoving at them, colliding in a breathtaking display of flips and tricks and then riding back onto the sand shortly after. That's about how it went down too, run, slide, flip, land, repeat; that was a skim boarders paradise and my friends were professionals.

I felt a sense of longing as I watched them out on the water. They slid across it easier than a hot knife moves through soft butter, or at least they made it look that simple. I don't know how to skim board at all, even in a still shallow pool of water away from the slightest waves. If I just stood on the skim board in that shallow pool, a fly could land in the water beside me and the ripple it would create could topple me over. It was much too dangerous for me to learn how to here, not with the waves presenting itself as a horde of Sirens waiting to strike anyone who made a big enough mistake. Many gave into her song though, swimming out and riding waves. I guess they just got lucky. So I was content for now just watching, as I would dip my feet in the pleasantly warm Hawaiian sea or sitting on a towel under the hot sun.

I turned from the water to go assume my second post on the worn, sun bleached and sand-covered towel. You could barely it on the sand here without getting roasted and I'm pretty certain I don't taste like chicken and had no intentions of cooking myself by way of sand to find out, so towels for sitting were a must-bring item. As I made my way up to it, ascending the tiny slope away from the water, I admired the dense row of trees that encompassed the bay. I could see the small parking lot off to the side of the trees and could hear the cars on the winding road above them. You could barely make them out over the signing of the sea, demanding it be heard, but they were definitely there. It was one of the skim boarder's birthdays, but we got here early for him to catch a few waves before everyone else arrived. So it was on that towel that I declared to myself, to sit and wait for the rest of the party crew to arrive.

A curly black-haired girl plopped down on the towel next to me, "Tory!" Her hair was bigger than a lion's mane. The rest of the group filed into our section of the beach after her. "Hellos" were spoken and very soon various different activities broke out. The sun gently kissed our skin as we sat on the beach slowly turning us from white to red and as soon as Tory and I thought the sun's love was just a little too much, was when we decided to take a dip in the sea. She suggested we go in as if it were as simple as taking a bath or using a toothbrush, but apprehension showed clearly on her face as one by one the words of her suggestion fell from her mouth.

The task seemed simple enough; wait for one wave to come in, when that settles go out into the water and start swimming before the next comes, and then dive under that next one until you are in the clear. I agreed as the sun's love was beginning to turn into a smother, and made my way confidently to the water. As we drew closer, Tory started to falter saying she wanted to go, but was now even more unsure. I told her I was going, having already made my stubborn mind up once the suggestion had been made, and if wanted to come to stick close by me and I would guide her in what to do. I watched the crest of the first wave start to curve in and get ready to slap the shore, creating a menacing smile of white when it connected with sand. I started to run out into the water after the collision, the former wave was trying to reach the top of the slope, when I heard Tory yell out that she just couldn't do it. Distracted by her yell I turned and ran out of the water before the fierce undertow could latch onto me and drag me under. I went back up to a safe distance already feeling the tug trying to prevent me from reaching dry sand. I told Tory if she felt that unsure to stay up where it was guaranteed safety and only stick her feet in when the water came rushing forward.

I turned back to face the looming task ahead of me, bouncing up and down like a jittery runner before their race, I waited. The wave slapped down signally me like a gun to take off into the water. I swam out fast and hard, ducked successfully under the next wave, but upon resurfacing heard yelling from behind me. Blindly abandoning my task I turned to see Tory, who had decided to try and follow at the last minute, coughing and crawling back onto the beach. Those few seconds of having my back turned was all it took for the waves to catch their prey. I was forcefully shoved under water as the waves stood on top of me and the undertow's powerful grip pulled me further out. Simple directions like, up, down, left, right were lost and senses became useless. My lungs never completely filled with air whenever I resurfaced, as I was soon forced back under water again. I felt how a seal must have felt being played with by the Orcas before they finally finished it off. I fought for what felt like a small eternity, as my body physically grew weaker, when miraculously my fingers caught sand. I gripped deep and crawled as the undertow still held on with a tight fist and tried to drag me back again. The waves roared even louder in my ears the further away I got, angry and cold at the thought of losing a meal. With black spots in my eyes, I kept to hands and knees until I felt the sand under me get hot. Salty spit up hit the sand and I went wheezing up to the towel to lie down. Blurry friends came up and asked if I were okay, and went away, going to and from me.

I go back often still, each showing a humble respect to the other. The waves still reach as tall as ever and threaten those who come too close, giving me memories that will last a lifetime. I cannot say we will ever get along, but am glad we can remain impartial.

solo travel
Brandi Noelle
Brandi Noelle
Read next: Camping > Hotels
Brandi Noelle
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