Snug in bed I smile back at the smiling majesty of Whangamata Beach stretched out languid below me. Patrolled by the sleeping giant of the Coromandel ranges the roar of fickle waves surge in snatching pockets of once crunchy-dry sand-grains.
In bed I sit in awe as the entire ocean front retreats on the horizon leaving nothing but wave print rivulets on the sand.
Ruled by a circadian rhythm that ebbs and swells with the moon, the beachfront at Whangamata is tidal theatre.
As the waves depart the sand holds its breath, knowing the wet embrace of a never ending repeated return.
Fickle the waves are and best you remember this at Whangamata.
Whangamata all crunchy white sand and pumping waves is home to one of the world’s most legendary surf breaks.
And there’s one other incredible challenge at home off this beach. Perched offshore there beckons a local, an island – vigilant and wild, a temptress mocking your bravado. ‘How brave are you? She sings, a siren daring you to run the gauntlet of an empty tidal beach, ‘jump in, she says, just do it’.
Offshore dejected waves rumble and collude with her ‘go on, jump in, just do it!’
Non locals beware, an emptied tidal beach looks placid and calm shimmering like a hypnotic giant ice skating rink made of sand, but the dangers in the return.
The danger as all locals know is getting caught unawares by the turn of the tide.
Off the emptied shore the island beckons, run to me, you can make it, touch me, snap a bough from my cover and run back to shore, before the tide returns, run back to shore a hero.
Did I run the gauntlet, of course I did. As a kid.
Terrified – all high lifted knees and jerked elbows – adrenalin pumped full of joy. My head armed with pre-race real life stories, by heroes who reached the island and returned.
The fact that the ocean was bursting to return was a given- Of course we knew we had to beat the ocean, and not one of us thought drowning an option. Not yet anyway.
Will I do it again?
As a kid barefoot-nimble ignorance is bliss.
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