Sunrise over Waipi’o Valley

Posted on March 24, 2015


Early morning wake ups are tough. Three thirty starts every weekend for work are horrendous. But as I was looking forward to my first weekend lie in I ironically found myself agreeing to get up at the crack of dawn on Saturday to drive 2 hours to see the sunrise rise on Waipio Valley.



So here I am sat on a black sand beach watching the waves crash and roll hypnotically before me. We drove through the dark and the rain and arrived just as the light started to change. After negotiating that steep hike down for 30 minutes once more, we made it to the beach, knees twinge free. Before us the sun started to slowly burning through the clouds with a waterfall cascading down the hillside to my left. 



We drank hot coffee en route out of jam jars we’d prepped before leaving the main house and once on the beach scoffed red bananas, carrots, an avocado, longan and some sweet dates.

Initially there were meant to be five of us, but the reality of getting up early in pitch darkness is that most people will inevitably bail. So now we are just three. Me, the charming hero and model from Seattle and his extremely talented and adorable girlfriend, The Artist from New York.



The last time we were here was a few days ago where we all witnessed a near death experience. I’d gone for a dip in the ocean with one of the Bulgarian women, who was not a strong swimmer (I didn’t know this) and an American girl who went off confidently into the sea. The light was fading and the rest of the group was building a fire on the beach. As I entered the cool water the waves started to hit my ankles hard, then my calves and soon my back. It was strong. Fierce even. At one point a large wave pushed me over and under the surface. I came up spluttering. Eyes stinging from the salt water.

“It’s strong out here, I’m gonna get out,” I said to the Bulgarian feeling uneasy.

“Asha it’s fine. The tide is coming in now, it’s ok,” she said trying to convince me to stay as she waded out further smiling.

I wasn’t convinced. I remembered a story a good friend Scotty told me about being pulled under by a current in shallow water. I turned on my heels and waded back. I was literally spat out by the sea back onto the damp sand.

By the time I hit the beach. I could hear her shouting something. I turned around. Her head was bobbing up and down in the waves.

“Shit she is really far out,” I said to myself. Initially I though she wanted me to get a camera to take a photo, but then it dawned on me she was in danger. That was not someone who looked like they were handling the water well.

I later learned what she was screaming at the top of her voice was, “Asha, I can’t get out. Help me!”.

I turned to look at the group and the retreat organiser Mr Paradise by this time seeing me looking concerned and just seeing her head bobbing up and down bolted over to me, blue eyes wide open, somewhat panicked.

“Who’s out there? Why did they go so far out?” he said tersely.

“I think she’s stuck, it’s the current, can you help her?” I replied panicked.

He didn’t even wait for me to finish my sentence. In true Hasslehof style he was running and jumping straight into the waves. Ahead of him was The Model, he started off in the direction of the Bulgarian and our host went for the American girl who hadn’t realised how far out she had been pulled either.

We all watched from the beach, arms folded, lip biting and wondering whether all four would make it out in once piece. It was scary.  It must have been absolutely petrifying to have been trapped in that current for so long swallowing water and not knowing if anyone was coming. She later told me that she couldn’t see anyone or anything because the waves were so high and she honestly thought she was gonna die.

They did all make it out but it was extremely heart wrenching and very emotional. Don’t mess with the ocean when it’s churning up a swell like that, it’s not for novices



I have no intention of getting into the water this morning. The waves are crashing hard and fast once more. We’ve watched the light change, the model is building an epic fire and The Artist is photographing the waves while I write.