We should’ve treasured the cleanliness of the car seats destined to be encrusted in sand, scorching under us and illuminated to a grey by the Hawaiian sunlight. Swerving across roads sewn into orchards of shady palms and looming coconuts, we went by the occasional soft-pink hibiscus bush or songbird. As the wheels scuttled down the dusty island lanes, the landscape was either wide valleys greened with sugar cane or mountainous rainforest directly above old houses. “We called it the red-dirt beach,” a family friend had told us. Following his directions, we spun down the streets to wherever it was where the ocean caressed the soft sand.
The first time we came, the sun was setting and the orange and pink of dusk was bleeding into the ocean. Our car rolled onto the potholed tar roads, which were permanently enveloped in rusty sand and floral seed pods, unlike the rich-people homes trying to keep their foundations above the dusty soil. My sister and I then quickly opened the doors of the silver rental Jeep after the brief inertial juddering ceased, smelling the briny salt seeping from the sapphire seas but nonetheless retaining excitement to creep into the cold teal.
“We should’ve parked closer,” proclaimed my parents disappointedly when we began to step into the wet soil of the beach, noting that there’d been areas to situate the Jeep conveniently located to the destination. Not that I minded walking; I cared more about the tidepools filled with life that I could observe and the crushed quartz terrain beckoning me. It’s difficult to remember what I did first, but I knew that I quickly rushed in to the ocean, cradled by an austere, browning reef that could support a man once the tide lowered. The waters detested my inhabitation and warned me with the stench of saline, but I did not listen to the forbidding yet placid waves. Rather, I let my hair loose and bathed its russet wisps into the indigo, laughing alongside my little sister.
It was another time this night when I’d forsaken the water and donned my jean shorts once more, and then taken to exploring the jagged, stony tidepools. In every book concerning the science of the marine, they had been painted to appear as havens of creatures, squirming with shining scales and crimson claws. My father and I had taken to peering in the miniscule caves inside the edgeless volcanic boulders, stepping on some and being careful to avoid the shy, corpulent snails resting there. Immediately, we viewed an eel, bowing beneath stone to trap the wide-eyed minnows without a protective school. Quickly after my dad made the slimy being a Snapchat star, it slunk into the soil and its glowing sallow bands skulked away with it.
Later, we found grey, crowing crustaceans that the ocean was too eager to discipline, as well as mossy limpets and clams colored a repugnant lemon. Embossed seashells and holographic mother-of-pearl also surrounded us, running in veins through the mesa-like loam around the stones and pools. The rusty mud was in steps, crawling from the edge of the pines towards the ocean and pointing me towards the wavy part of the water, unprotected by the reef.
Though there were more, I kept one seashell from it all; a large ugly one from the hideous clams, but nonetheless aesthetically fascinating. My shoes, once uniformly toned, were now caked in the ginger silt from the tidepools, and my locks were both wet and hardened by the brackish island wai, as well as my dripping rainbow swimsuit. The sun then was extremely close to falling down the horizon, and we trickled from the sand to the car, at which we were pointlessly dusted to remove the clinging sand. It persisted, however, and the finally settled onto the fuzz of our automobile’s seats and jammed between the threads.
The stars seemed to yawn as they twinkled when my family and I finally reached our “Uncle” Jimmy’s place, the one who’d told us about the specific shore after all. Leaving my sandals to dry from the ocean’s assault, I stepped inside the small side-building we had taken temporary residence in. Already, we’d rode the plane for six hours to Maui, and somehow went to the beach and worked out details for the rental car. Subsequently, all of us were tired and our bags were laced with sand and saltwater.
Although I was also exhausted and regretted dirtying myself back at the Red Dirt Beach, I didn’t feel any guilt for
going. The last time I’d gone to Maui, the shores’ tides had been high and the shells had been eroded to little drops of limestone save for chunks of coral. Unlike the last time too, I was unbound from my fear of poisonous animals, and I’d been brave enough to go even where the tropical creatures lurked. My terror was not my limiter, and the waves of the ocean could not destroy me. When the sky revealed its true murky colors save for the defying starlight, I knew that I had even more to see of the edge of the vast Pacific.