I can sum up Kauai in one word. AMAZING.
We loved it there. So much, that I cried when we had to leave. It was wonderful. It was beautiful. The people were friendly. It was, well... amazing.
Since the RHPB and I hadn't been on a honeymoon yet and are coming up on our first anniversary, we decided to take advantage of some "recession airfares" and go somewhere warm for a few days. I love Hawaii and have many fond memories of visiting family on Oahu and the Big Island. My Grandma was raised on Oahu, and my cousin still lives in Lanikai... same 'hood as Kina. I'd never been to Kauai, though. From what everyone had told us we'd love it, so that's where we went. We purchased our airline tickets, arranged for a Jeep, and reserved a vacation home (we don't like doors with numbers on them) all of five days before we left. Talk about a whirlwind plan!
On Wednesday we flew from Redmond to Los Angeles, and had a long layover there. Plenty of time for a couple of drinks and watching the planes land.
Finally we boarded our flight to Lihue, and arrived on Kauai around 8pm. (Note, that's 11pm Pacific Time, and waaaay past my usual bedtime.) We found the rental car agency and got our Jeep. As soon as we pulled out of the rental lot the sides came off (it was a soft top) but we left the top on. It was so late that we just managed to stop for some provisions and drive to our vacation house in Moloa'a Bay before crashing. We were pooped!
The next morning we woke up early! We pretty much agreed to stick to Pacific time so we got up with the chickens (literally). It had rained all night long so the air was a little cool. Went for a morning walk on Moloa'a Beach.
Since it was raining off and on we decided to get the lay of the land. We headed out to the North Shore first. We made a stop at the Kilauea Lighthouse (it wasn't open yet), watched surfers in Hanalei Bay for a while, and still got to Ke'e Beach before the crowd... and even the lifeguards. :-) I did some swimming and we watched the big waves crash against the Na Pali coast line till it started raining.
After stopping back at the house in Moloa'a Bay for lunch (where we watched some geckos fight to the death near our lanai) we continued down the road. Did some sightseeing, the a short hike to Kipu Falls during a break from the rain. The water was really muddy there so we didn't swim. The falls were beautiful and the sun was out, so we just relaxed there for a while and soaked it all in.
The next day we drove back out to Ke'e, which is also the start of the Kalalau Trail through Na Pali State Park. We hiked to Hanakapiai Falls (8 miles roundtrip). The first two miles goes along the coast to Hanakapiai Beach. What no one told me is that once you get there you have to cross the Hanakapiai River to get to the beach. Eek! Being a klutz I decided against skipping merrily over the rocks after the RHPB, and sat down to take my boots off. Holding them high over my head, I waded across. Until I got about halfway... when my foot slipped and became wedged in the riverbed. I was stuck, and starting to get pulled down into the water. I yelled for the RHPB who came running and hauled me out.
But hey, I managed to keep my boots dry! After I sat on the beach and dried out we headed inland along the trail to the Falls. Along this trail you have to cross back and forth over the... you guessed it... Hanakapiai River. I was less than thrilled. Next time I'll wear water shoes! The view and the falls were totally worth it though. I would definitely do it again.
That night we grabbed burgers from Duane's which is apparently legendary. I was so hungry that I probably would have eaten anything... but the burger was really good!
On Saturday we lucked out. Polihale State Park had been closed since December due to storm damage, but we read in the local paper that it was reopening that day. Since we were already planning to head that direction to see Waimea Canyon, we decided to go to Polihale first. Originally we thought we might do more hiking at Waimea but we were both really sore from the previous day's hike... next time!
Along the way we stopped in Kapa'a for breakfast, and in Hanapepe to walk the swinging bridge. It's a LONG drive to the west shore!
In short... I LOVED Polihale. It's paradise. Long beaches, warm sand, blue ocean... I felt like I was in heaven. Walked and waded a bit on Polihale Beach, watched the surfers, then decided to try to find Queens Pond. Stayed there for a couple hours, swimming and sunning, till it got hot and we started to get hungry.
We grabbed lunch and shave ice in Waimea and then headed up the Canyon. We stopped at all the view points and I took lots of pictures. The only drawback to going to Polihale first was that by the time we got to the top of the drive it was totally socked in with clouds. We did get a couple of brief looks at Kalalau Beach when the clouds blew off but mostly we just saw white.
On our last day there were a few things we still wanted to do on the North shore. We started out at Queens Bath. It was too rough to swim, with the waves washing over both the mouth of the pool AND the rocks on the ocean side. And this was at low tide. Still it was a beautiful morning so we enjoyed the views and the sounds of the ocean for a while.
Next we went to Tunnels Beach. This was probably the MOST crowded beach we visited during our stay. But... still lots of room for everyone, not like beaches in Mexico or Waikiki that I have visited in the past. There were a lot of snorkelers (we didn't bother with gear) and some surfers riding off the outer reef. Swimming through the snorkelers was a bit challenging at times as they are so busy trying to spot something they don't pay attention to others so they run into everything including swimmers, other snorkelers, the beach... wow! Otherwise we really liked Tunnels and did a lot a swimming and lounging on da beach.
Finally it was time to pack and start heading for home. After moving out of our vacation rental we headed to Lihue. We had dinner at Duke's Barefoot Bar, where we watched a cruise ship pull out and thanked the tug. (My cousin was a tug operator.) At the airport I sadly handed over the last of our fruit to the friendly Ag inspectors (but ate a couple of apple bananas standing there at the inspection point). We took the red-eye to Los Angeles, and were home around noon on Monday.
We took many pictures during the trip. Here are just a few (cough, 200, cough) of our favorites...
It's now Thursday, and I'm still on island time. It took all of 15 minutes to relax and fall out of the groove when we got to Kauai. I hope it sticks with me for a few more days at least. :-)