The Cliffs of the Windward Side
|There are a myriad of little islands and
islets along this shore, some no larger than a stones throw from one side to the
other, some with beaches, and others with sharp drop-offs that congregate fish. At Makapuu
point, the lighthouse stands as a symbol of paradise found to sailors crossing the mighty
Pacific, yet it looms ominously, warning those same sailors to keep their distance. The
cliffs are sheer and rugged, with three thousand miles of ocean swells crashing into the
rocks with unabated force. It is here that many would-be sailors, fishermen, shorecasters,
lobster hunters and Opihi pickers alike have suffered untimely fates in search of their
fare, despite its inviting appearance. The water is deep, but the wash is powerful, and
anglers should give wide berth while rounding this point. In fact, a little further out is
the Makapuu wave buoy, and a pass or two by it often yields a few predators lurking in the
|After trolling along past the point, the
scenery starts getting good. Hang gliders can often be seen over the bodysurfing beach at
Makapuu, hovering effortlessly like an Iwa bird inspecting the bait below. Turtle and
Rabbit islands stand nearby, possibly as reminders of why the lighthouse is there, adding
to the swirl and wash of the ocean. The cliffs along the Eastern end of the shore are lush
and green, with thick, jungle-like foliage at the base. The white sandy beaches are clean,
pure, and uncrowded. The sky is deep blue and, if seen on the right day, clashes in sharp
contrast with the razorlike peaks of the Pali (cliffs).The Pali, by the way, serves as a
true reminder about peace and freedom. When stared upon from sea its an
awe-inspiring view of steep land formations from the volcanic era, yet when seen up close,
the aura of King Kamehamehas vision to unify the islands speaks loudly of the burial
grounds below for those who resisted him.
|Down the coast is Waimanalo Bay, with its
couple of miles of empty white beaches begging to be footprinted for the first time. Of
course, angling for big game means trolling or baiting a few miles out and the reef serves
as a barrier to any craft even wishing to enter, but the fluid ambient color conjures
images of running and playing on the soft powder like a child seeing snow for the first
If a fish or a few havent hit the lines
by Waimanalo, offshore Lanikai and Kailua usually serve as suitable grounds to harvest
something large and feisty. Closer in is the Ono ledge at about forty fathoms, while a few
miles out at five hundred fathoms and the "T" FAD (Fish Aggregation Device) is
Marlin country. The view is still marvelous along this point, as the cliffs continue along
in their grandeur perpendicular to the winds, rising to some three thousand feet straight
up from the flats below.
The Windward Side and Kaneohe Bay from the Pali Lookout
|Kaneohe Bay, a curious geological anomaly, is
the next landmark of note, which is situated just past the Moku Manu islands off the
Mokapu Peninsula. These two seemingly tiny rocks making up the Moku Manu keep growing and
growing the closer one gets, and also serve as a landmark for many local fishermen working
their way back into shore for the nights refuge. There are two entrances into
Kaneohe bay; the main channel and the Sampan channel. The Sampan channel is closer to the
East end of the windward shore, near the Moku Manu rocks. With depths as shallow as eight
feet in places, this sandy bottom channel can be a problem for deep draft sailboats, but
depth isnt the problem for fishing vessels. More important to note is the channel
markers, because boats straying out of this narrow and questionably marked channel will
need to make use of their radios in short order.
|At the end of the Sampan channel lies a
junction, where vessels can go to the left into the turning basin part of the bay and
visit the Kaneohe Yacht Club, or they can veer right, working carefully between the main
channel and the coral heads, and tie up at the world famous sandbar for an afternoon,
evening, and/or night of relaxation. The water leading up to the sand bar is very deep,
and the bank suddenly rises up out of the water as steeply as the Pali beyond. The
anchoring technique for some is to inch up to the bar until the nose of the boat touches
the sand, then have a crew member jump off the bow holding the anchor and line. The crew
then walks the anchor forward a hundred feet or so, sets the hook into the sand, walks
back to the boat, climbs aboard, then the skipper eases the boat off the bar a few feet.
Flat calm waters and an unspoiled view of natures finest work make this
accessible-by-boat-only playground worthy of a night or two. It also serves as a good
starting and ending point for a second or third days fishing on the Windward side.
High Tide at The Sandbar
|Continuing on along the main channel of
Kaneohe Bay, turns and straights abound as an attempt to navigate out to the open sea is
made. Local knowledge is certainly helpful here, especially at night, but once Mokolii
(Chinamans Hat) is safely abeam of the boat, the fishing can continue. The water
drops off pretty quickly, and once again anglers have the option of staying at forty
fathoms or working out to the deeper waters.
A left turn above the main channel will reveal Kahana Bay with breathtaking Kahana Valley
in behind. More tall, sheer cliffs accumulate rainfall into the valley below, creating a
lush, fertile plain that once was a complete micro community of agriculture and
aquaculture. Ancient Hawaiians were able to completely support themselves in this valley,
and with the abundance of life that can be seen all around, it is easy to understand why.
What is more difficult to understand, however, is why anyone would want to leave.
Beyond Kahana lies Hauula, Laie and Kahuku, which is at the
Northernmost tip of Oahu. Laie is the home of the Polynesian Cultural Center, Brigham
Young University Hawaii, and the Mormon Temple. These can all be seen from the water as
close as a mile or so and the beauty of the Koolau mountains continues along this entire
stretch of coastline. The FAD to fish off Laie is "LL," which is just past the
thousand fathom line about ten miles offshore. Because of its remote proximity and lower
fishing effort, "LL" is one of the more productive FADS on Oahu. The entire
windward shore has only a few boat launches for the trailer fleet, while the boats coming
from the Honolulu side have a long way to go.
Fish the Windward coast of Oahu.
Its breathtaking beauty, great fish production, and a great time all rolled into a
neat ocean-meets-mountain package.
A spearfish for New Year's Day dinner