Right now while you are reading this I am hiking the famous Na Pali coast cliffside trail in Kauai, Hawaii. The 11-mile trail is famously rugged and steep and, I’m told, offers some of the world’s most dazzling views.
My brother Shanti, sister Margaret and I are hiking the trail together. We’re camping and enjoying the coast, water, views and beach. Then we’ll hike out again this Tuesday, arriving back in Princeville, where we’re staying, Tuesday night.
I strongly suspect, from all I’ve seen in photographs and all I’ve heard about the trail, that the Na Pali coast will rank amongst my “greatest moments spent in nature.”
For this week’s blog post, while I’m away hiking and snapping pictures of the stunning Kauai coastline, I thought I’d share some of my other spectacular moments in nature that are some of the most memorable moments of my lifetime so far.
And, I’d invite you to share with everyone here more some of the most beautiful, inspiring, peaceful and magical moments you have spent in nature.
My top 5 All-Time Greatest Moments In Nature:
1. Bioluminescent Bay, Vieques, Puerto Rico:
Skinny-dipping at night in the Bio Bay in Vieques, Puerto Rico was, hands-down, the most miraculous moment I’ve spent in nature in this lifetime so far. This bioluminescent bay is filled with “dinoflagellates,” up to 720,000 per gallon of bay water, which are single-celled organisms that are essentially like underwater fireflies.
They are half-plant, half-animal, and they emit a bluish flash of light when agitated at night. So, when you swim at night, you leave a neon butterfly in your wake. You can pour a handful of water over your head and it is as if stars are pouring down over you.It is like swimming in a field of stars!
I was so entranced when I traveled there in 2005 with graduate school friends that I ended up skinny-dipping, removing my bikini while underwater, just so that the experience would feel as intimate as possible, and so that I could feel totally connected, at one with nature.
I remember feeling an extraordinary sense of peace, a knowingness that all is well in the world and that I am perfect, as I am. I’d never before felt such a total and complete, deep sense of peace. It was a miraculous night for me.
2. Double Rainbow And “Moon Rocks” in Nosara, Costa Rica:
In 2009, my brothers, sisters, parents, and I all traveled to Nosara, Costa Rica for a family beach and surfing vacation. My niece, Luna, was just under one-year-old. We were staying in a little house with a swimming pool that was located walking distance from one of Nosara’s best surfing beaches.
I surfed for the first time, riding the white water, and we all reveled in the beauty of the beach. The most memorable moment was one day after a light rain shower when a double rainbow formed on the beach, with my whole family sitting right underneath it.
I decided to play “intrepid nature photographer,” and ran backwards on the beach, in my bikini, snapping as I ran, in order to try to capture this mini-miracle.I kept running and running until I ran onto lava “moon rocks” with pools of water in-between that were glowing from the sun shining down.
The whole experience was completely exhilarating, felt like a lucky omen for my family, and was one of the most staggeringly beautiful things I have ever witnessed.
3. Via Dell’Amore, Cinque Terre, Italy:
In 2006, I spent two months traveling alone through the Middle East and Mediterranean Europe. One of the highlights for me was Cinque Terre, five charming little villages with breath-taking cliffside views, colorful mini-houses and overflowing bougainvillea flowers on the steep hillsides.
“Lover’s Walk,” which connects the five tiny villages, takes several hours to hike, and is more treacherous in some spots than others.It offers plenty of vista-points with water and rocks where you can snap pictures, meditate, or of course smooch your lover.
I was as charmed by the houses on the hillside, painted in bright pastel colors, as I was by the cliff-walk itself. The whole experience was spectacular.
4. Swimming in a waterfall in La Cumbrecita, Argentina:
This little historic German alpine village, in the middle of the Cordoba province of Argentina, is located 1,450 meters above sea level.
There are charming chalets, great German brews and waterfalls, found by hiking through winding paths in the woods.
We jumped into a chilly pool at the foot of a waterfall in the middle of the forest and I let out a blood-curdling scream that I think was probably heard back in New York. We swam at the foot of the waterfall for as long as we could stand the cold before drying off and warming up, and warming up our insides later with more good German beers.
5. Horseback-riding through tobacco fields at the foot of limestone cliffs in Vinales, Cuba:
In 2000 I traveled to Cuba with my ex-husband to study Cuban salsa dancing for one month. His parents joined us for a few weeks, and we all traveled together to the small artsy village of Vinales, located at the foot of limestone cliffs.
We were staying in a tiny beautiful house with abundant gardens in front and a chicken shack, pineapple trees, coffee beans, and avocados growing in the back. One day we went horse-back riding in the tobacco fields, with red earth, located at the foot of the limestone cliffs behind our little house.
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a more spectacular combination of views, and we got to “bond with nature” further by riding horses through the fields. Our dinners at this house were cooked by the “abuela” or grandmother who had studied cooking with her grandparents, who were master chefs from Spain, and she grew all the food for our meals in the backyard gardens.
Live chickens ran under our feet as we ate dinner at a table in the backyard. I’d never had a more amazing “garden to table” dining experience, in addition to my enchantment with the cliffs.
I’m sure that the Na Pali coast will rank right up there with these memorable moments. I’ve had the privilege in this lifetime to walk through the redwood forests, swim in oceans and seas around the world, soak in hot sulfur springs at the foot of a volcano, swim in waterfalls, climb high peaks in the Adirondacks, hike through trails in various parts of the world, and sleep under the stars in the desert with the Bedouins in Jordan.
I never ceased to be amazed at what a magical, beautiful world it is, and by the wonders of nature.
Now, Your Turn!
What are the greatest wonders you have experienced in nature so far? How did those experiences make you feel?
Love to hear more about your top adventures in nature while I am away on my latest dventure this week!
Love to all from Kauai, Hawaii!