Between guiding in Alaska, skiing in Switzerland, and paddleboarding in Baja, Eddie Bauer guide Lel Tone has ticked a ton of active, adventure travel miles. But until a few months back—when she joined fishing guides Andrew Bennett and Adrienne Comeau on a bonefishing and paddleboarding mission to an undisclosed location—she had never experienced the Hawaiian Islands. The culture, the vistas, the bonefishing and the chill, infectious aloha vibe she experienced set the hook and made the islands one of her new favorite destinations. —LYA Editor
Words by Lel Tone, Images by Jeremiah Watt and Adrienne Comeau
It’s pretty amazing to me that despite living on the West Coast of the United States for almost the last two decades, it wasn’t until recently that I found my way to the Hawaiian Islands. That’s not to say that I haven’t done my fair share of traveling in my lifetime. I feel incredibly fortunate to have been able to travel and visit so many beautiful and exotic places, either for work or for play, but I have been drawn to places like Africa, Europe, Asia, Central America, and South America—faraway places that challenge my perspective and dazzle me with their cultural differences and diversity. I was completely unprepared for the startling beauty and lushness of the archipelago that is the island chain of Hawaii, a mere five-hour nonstop flight from most West Coast cities.
Last fall, I had the good fortune to join fishing guides Adrienne Comeau and Andrew Bennett in an undisclosed location for some bonefishing and paddleboarding on one of the quieter and “off the beaten path” islands in the chain. An island spelled out with lots of vowels and with lots of palm trees on it. These islands, tucked away by themselves out there in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, make up the collective that is the 50th state of the Union. Despite being considered part of the good ol’ US of A, the Hawaiian Islands have managed to retain much of the beauty and values of the indigenous Hawaiian culture that originally inhabited this incredible place on the planet. The traditions of the luau, poi, the sense of “aloha” and welcome, the respect for and love of the land and the sea—I felt this immediately upon setting foot on the rich volcanic soil. There is a certain power and magic to this place.
We arrived at this undisclosed location in the wee hours of the morning after taking a small prop plane from one of the larger islands. This afforded us amazing views of secluded beaches, lush mountainsides and cascading waterfalls falling hundreds of feet to the ocean. After stocking up on groceries, fresh fish and tons of fresh fruit, we made our way to the place we would call home for the rest of the week. Our house, 100 feet from a small private beach and protected by a barrier reef, was the perfect habitat for bonefish. We would spend the next week there, doing yoga on the beach under the palm trees, paddling up quiet and rarely visited rivers, and trail running on empty country roads.
At night after dinner while lying on the beach, we would watch meteor showers and the stars shine while listening to the sound of waves. We spent days exploring cool nooks and crannies of the island, and evenings cooking amazing meals of fresh fish, fresh fruits and fresh veggies from the farmers’ market and local fish market.. Dinner always gave way to heated and hilarious games of Cards Against Humanity. My favorite time, however, was our predawn and sunset fishing missions casting in the “front yard flats.” I am indebted to Adrienne and Andrew for their incredible patience and tutelage, as I tried to work on my casting skills while flogging the water with my fishing line in 15- to 20-mile-per-hour winds. Needless to say, the “bones” were ever-elusive to me as I plunged along in the salt flats, beating the water like a “bull in a china shop.” The hours spent at sunset as the colors in the sky faded to a paradise perfection before darkness set in, and being waist-deep in the incredibly warm and tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean, is unquantifiable. With wind in my hair, watching Adrienne and Andrew casting beautifully, each in their own zone, each infused with the joy and contentment of doing what they love, is a vision I will never forget.
I am a mountain girl. I have spent most of my adult life working and playing in the cold and the snow. It is an environment that I love and thrive in. I have spent a lifetime learning from the mountains and the weather and the elements. It has taught me great humility and also great flexibility to drop the ego and go with the flow to roll with what Mother Nature gives you. A few years ago, I made a New Year’s resolution to myself to try and spend more time by the ocean and to learn what it has to teach me. I have committed to learning how to surf and to kiteboard. Both sports being humbling and frustrating at times, but very “stoke” inducing.
My first visit to Hawaii for “bones” was the perfect way to “set the hook.” I am happy to report that I have just returned from my second visit to this paradise in the Pacific. Although a different island this time, I got to explore more beautiful red muddy trails, magnificent cascading waterfalls, and paddle-boarded some of the warmest tropical waters. With some of my most amazing friends, we surfed beautiful waves and ate the most delicious fresh ahi and pineapple. Yes, the hook is in deep for sure now. Mahalo, Hawaii.
Learn more about Eddie Bauer guide Lel Tone and her impressive resume of outdoor achievement at team.eddiebauer.com.
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