A Gotham Sunset turned Patchwork.
Magic hour on the East River
I’m Nora Walsh, the founder of Patchwork Compass. My greatest passion in life is traveling to new destinations, experiencing foreign cultures and connecting with all walks of life.
I started Patchwork Compass to provide inspiring content and practical travel information to help others navigate their journeys.
Corner of 14th Street and 1st Avenue, NYC.
A couple weekends ago I went to Rockaway Beach. Last summer my husband and I visited the 96th Street beach, lured by the burgeoning boardwalk culinary scene.
This time I stayed on the E train heading towards Far Rocakawy (not Lefferts Blvd!) and got off at 67th Street. It was much less crowded, more peaceful and not as developed as the 90s beaches, which suited me just fine.
When I walked to the shoreline I looked out to the horizon and saw a handful of surfers waiting to catch waves.
Having grown up on the Manasquan Inlet, I was used to sharing the ocean with surfers, but there was one distinction between the surfers I was used to and this crowd in the water.
They seemed to be terribly awkward on their boards and a whole lot of face planting was going on. The below snapshot captures one of the more elegant face plants compared to some other flailing bloopers we saw.
I started to walk down the coast and saw 18 more surfers on the next beach. This seemed like an extraordinary amount of surfers for a relatively calm ocean.
Then I discovered this tent, and the gaggle of blundering surfers made sense, they were all new to the sport. Sixty-seventh Ave was apparently the place to test your surfing chops.
A seemingly successful Locals Surf School offers private lessons for 100 per hour with a surfboard and wetsuit included. Semi-private and group packages are also available.
We skipped the surfing and partook in another seaside past time: paddle ball.
…And fawning over puppies, which women do anywhere in the world without prejudice.
It’s mesmerizing to watch airplanes take off from JFK Airport. They are quiet and imposing, rousing a sense of freedom as they float overhead into the clouds.
The sun set on a fun summer beach day in Rockaway, and I decided next time I may have to attempt some dexterous face planting myself.
My mother gifted me a bikini bag before I went to Hawaii, and it turned out to be a very practical item to have.
While at the beach I stored my iphone, camera and sunglasses in the plastic-lined zipper bag, which kept it safe from sand and surf.
After the beach I would use it to store my wet bikini so I could comfortably enjoy appetizers and Mai Tais over an idyllic sunset.
Kauai’s adventures do not stop at the Wailua River. The Waimea Canyon lookouts rival those of Arizona’s Grand Canyon, there are surfing lessons in Princeville, snorkeling at Lehua rock, road trips to Wailua Falls, hiking the Hanakapi’ai Trail and exploring Mahaulepu State Park.
When its time to refuel, fresh poke and pork Laulau can be found all over the island, but my personal favorite is Kapa’a’s Pono Market.
For a night out on the island, Smith’s Family Garden was recommended for the most authentic Lu’au experience, and the Beach House restaurant in Po’ipu has a dreamy sunset view. In Kaua’i we found the perfect mix to keep us busy, and more than enough reasons to stop and relax.
Our favorite concierge person at the Grand Hyatt, Christen DuCharme, said she has lived on the island for almost seven years and the landscape seen on the helicopter tours is the most impressive she has experienced yet.
We wanted to get out on the water rather than up in the air, so we opted for a sunset dinner cruise on a luxury catamaran along the Na Pali coast.
As we sailed out to sea, a massive florescent rainbow illuminated the broad horizon inciting a flurry of camera activity because it was the largest and brightest one any of us had ever seen. It trailed us as we sailed, stretching itself over the green hills of the shoreline.
Na Pali appropriately translates to “the cliffs” in Hawaiian. The stunning geography can only be accessed by helicopter, boat or on foot. The first wave of Polynesian and Tahitian settlers arrived hundreds of years ago by outrigger canoes and built communities in its deep river valleys. It is a wonder how they survived in such an isolated and precipitous landscape.
Capt. Andy’s docked us for dinner service in clear view of Na Pali’s ridged mountains carpeted in a glowing emerald. We dined on fresh shrimp and sirloin and consumed our fair share of the dangerously delicious Sneaky Tiki cocktails.
On the way home, the sails were raised and we glided into the sunset with humpback whales cresting from the ocean to greet us.
It wasn’t the pristine scenery of Hawaii that impressed me most, nor was it the oceanfront hotels, idyllic sunsets, scenic waterfalls or the delicious mai tais; what impressed me most was that you could enjoy the perfect temperatures of Hawaii, both day and night, undisturbed by pesky insects.
There was never an adventurous hike or sublime evening cut short by bothersome mosquitoes, or a day at the beach disrupted by sand flies. As a traveler who loves the outdoors, I found this to be an unexpected and rare luxury. This may seem like a small detail in the face of so much beauty, but it actually creates an environment that allows you to deeply relax while enjoying the gifts Mother Nature has bestowed this Polynesian paradise.
After eating airport food for a full day I was yearning for something healthy and preferably vegetarian. With a little help from the Lonely Planet we found Ruffage Natural Foods. The service left much to be desired but the food was exactly what I was hoping for: a wholesome smoothie, a Vegan Tofu Scrambler and a mushroom sandwich.
Pauli’s Power Drink: banana, pineapple, protein, granola, oatmeal and soy milk ($5.99) + tofu scrambled eggs, brown rice as veggie sausage. ($8.99)
Mushroom Mary: whole wheat bread, fresh mushroom, carrots, tomato and melted cheese. ($6.39)
It was raining on and off so we snuck back up to our room for a leisurely siesta. My body is still recuperating from long trip and even more so from the lack of sleep and stress endured over months of fast paced New York City living.
Three hours later we awoke to sunshine and blue skies. We walked the crowded beachfront until we found a nice plot of sand that had an unobstructed view of Diamond Head.
It also happened to be right next to the Sheraton Waikiki, whose acoustic guitar entertainer could be heard from our sandy perch. Sunset came quickly and we retired to The Edge, the hotel’s beach bar to sip our first Hawaiian Mai Tai and watch the sunset.
On our way home we walked along Kalakaua Avenue, which is one large interconnected shopping village with hotels sprouting from the bustling commercial centers that occupy their base.
It’s very clean, pleasant and fabricated, much like the resort villages of Disney World. An easy breezy destination for a family holiday. Not the sort of travel destination I usually find myself, but we are certainly relaxing.
Sunset on the beach in Belmar, New Jersey. And they say Jersey is the armpit of America. Little do they know…
After long hours of summer storms, the rain passed and left a cool, sleepy evening in its wake.