The Beautiful Kauai

After moving from California to Virginia, this year, we decided to take a long flight to go to Kauai for vacation. There just seems to be something keeps bringing us back to the Pacific. This is our second time to Kauai. The first time was in October 1999 for our honeymoon. We stayed at Kauai for only 2 days and then went to Maui for the rest of the week. Although it was only 2 days, we were truly impressed by the unspoiled beauty of this island. This time, we planned to stay for a whole week – May 4 to May 11.

·  May 4, Day 1 - Getting to Lihue, Kauai.

Well, the travel plan had to be changed just slightly. Long story short, we missed our flight and had to be rerouted through Honolulu. By the time we got to Honolulu, the airport had already closed and we had to stay over at Honolulu for a night and flew to Lihue the next morning. This was a $250 mistake but we used money to buy time. It was like paying for a speeding ticket. Well, in this case, we were fined for being too slow.

Today was Wayne's birthday too. It was fun but it was probably his longest birthday, ever.

·  May 5, Day 2 - First Day in Kauai

We arrived Lilue airport around 11:30am, rented a car, and checked into our resort - Kauai Beach villa.  We unloaded our luggage in our room and wondered around the resort just like any fresh of the plane tourists.  We then got back in the car and drove to our first destination - Safeway. Groceries were about 30-50% more expensive on the island. We bought 2 cases of water (24 bottles each), chips, salsa, juices, deserts, and etc.  

After putting our groceries away in our room, we started our exploration of the island. I borrowed a guidebook from my boss Tony - The Ultimate Kaua'i Guidebook. This is the best guidebook I have ever used. It helped making our vacation so much more fun.

The weather really was not that great. It was nice in the morning but turned clouded in the afternoon and it also started to rain. However, the south shore and the west shore are supposed to be more dry. So we decided to drive to Poipu, a town on the south shore.

Well, the weather at Poipu wasn't much better.  We didn’t get into the water to swim but we visited a pretty cool site - The Sprouting Horn.

Our resort was about 5 miles south of Kapa’a.  We went to the Hula Girl Bar & Grill at the Coconut Marketplace for dinner.   We also found out the restaurants here close by 9pm.   We barely just made it.  

·  May 6, Day 3 - A Day on the West Shore

I got up at 7am because of jetlag. I could have got up at 5am if I wanted to. It was a beautiful nice sunny day. We signed up for the island orientation at the resort when we checked in yesterday. The orientation was held at the restaurant in Radisson. They gave a presentation on all the activities available on the island. Basically it was a promotion for all the tours. Nevertheless, the orientation was very informational and they gave you an all-you-can-eat breakfast too. We decided to sign up for a 12:30pm Helicopter Tour with Bali Hai on the same day.

The Bahi Hai office was on the west shore, just a block south of Hanapepe. We got there a little early so we went to Hanapepe, the "Biggest Little Town". Nothing was exciting there but the Swing Bridge was cool.

The Helicopter tour departed from The Port Allen Airport at 12:30pm. We were on the tour with two ladies in their 50th from New York. They were fun people and I think they might even hook up with the Pilot at the end. Anyway, the ride was fun and I would do it again.

We decided to continue to explore the sights on the west shore. We drove all the way to the end of the highway and drove on to a dirt road for about 4 miles to Polihale State Park. Driving on a dirt road in a Nissan Altima was not that fun.  We felt bad even though it was a rental. The weather was not cooperating. It was getting cloudy and started raining on and off. Otherwise watching sunset from the beaches here would have been awesome.

We went to the Gaylord's Restaurant for dinner: nice, romantic, classy, good food, good service. I love it.

·  May 7, Day 4 - Exploring the North Shore I

It rained all night the night before and it was still pouring when I got up. I started to worry this weather might be ruining our vacation. Thank goodness, by 10 o'clock, the rain stopped and we were also ready to head out. Today, we were going to explore the North Shore.

We've been to the North Shore when we came here 3 1/2 years ago; this time, we were going to do something different. Our first stop was the Kilauea Lighthouse. This is one of those postcard perfect landmarks. The sun even came out when we were at the lighthouse, and it lit up everything. It was nice.

We continued on the drive north and stopped at the Zelo’s Beach House at Hanapepe for lunch.    This was a typical American restaurant.  Portions were huge.   Well, we learned that having a big meal for lunch was not such a good idea.    We felt that we really needed to lie down. 

There was no time to rest.  Our next stop was "The Blue Room".  The "Blue Room" is a hidden Phenomenon you can only see in the upper Wet Cave. The lower Wet Cave was like a puddle of dirty water but the upper Wet Cave was way cool.   This was one of the adventures suggested by the guidebook.   It wasn’t that much of an adventure but  it was fun.

At the end of the Highway was the Ke’e Beach. This is where Na Pali Coast begins from the east side of the island. Last time we got here, we went hiking at the Kalalau Trail, one of the most famous hiking trails on Kauai. This time, we decided to go snorkeling instead. The reefs here are very shallow. I couldn't believe it. I got road rashes on my stomach from swimming.  Snorkeling was fun.  We saw a huge sea turtle.  He swam up to within a couple feet from us. We followed it for a while and Wayne even touched it.

By the time we got back to Kapa’a, it was almost 8pm and we were covered in salt and dirt.  So dinner was McDonald for Wayne and Pho for me.

·  May 8, Day 5 - Exploring the North Shore II

It rained all night again but by the morning, it was bright and sunny. It looked like it was good day to go to the beaches. We put on our bathing suits and pointed our car north. The first beach we went to was the Secret Beach. Also known as Kauapea Beach. It's a nude beach without nudists. Well there were a few.  One of which was very well tanned naked man.  I didn’t notice when he got there but he only had a leaf covering himself up when he left.

Our next stop was the Queen's Bath. This is one of the coolest site I have seen on the island. It is a large natural pool carved into a lava shelf with an inlet from the ocean for fresh seawater to flow. Big waves were smashing against the lava rocks all around the pool but it's nice and calm inside. Every now and then a big wave came in, bringing in beautiful fish and fresh seawater. 

We wanted to find a place to snorkel so we went the Hideaway Beach in Princeville. It's a small beach with big reefs. Wish we had been there earlier.   We only had an hour to snorkel.

We went to dinner at the JJ's Broiler at Nawiliwil. They brought a whole salad bar onto our table. That was pretty cool. The meals were average.

·  May 9, Day 6 - Hiking on the East Shore

Our luck with the weather has definitely turned better. It's another nice sunny day. Wayne got really sunburn yesterday. He never listened when I told him to put sunscreen on. Today the plan was hiking and looking for waterfalls.

We started by driving to the Opaeka'a Falls lookout. At this time of the year, there was lots of rain so the waterfalls were awesome. Across from the Opaeka'a Falls lookout, was the Wailua River lookout. It was definitely a Kodak moment.

Hiking to the Ho'opi'i Falls was another adventure suggested by the guidebook. Well, this one turned out to be a much bigger adventure than we anticipated.   Long story. Click the link if you want to hear about it.

The last but not least, the Wailua Falls, was another awesome beauty.

We went to Cafe CoCo for dinner. It was tucked away behinds some brushes. It has a very relaxing and supposedly romantic ambiance with tables on gravel under umbrellas and so on. The atmosphere might be somewhat interesting; the meals were definitely overpriced.   Dinners were mostly in the $20 - $35 per entrée range in all restaurants we’ve been to in Kauai.  The only restaurant could justify the price was, in my opinion, Gaylord.

·  May 10, Day 7 - Exploring the North Shore III

Time flies when you have a good time. I couldn't believe this was the last full day we were going to have on the island.  We wanted to do more snorkeling.  The best place to snorkel on the island is the Tunnel Beach on the north shore.

We stopped at Eggbert's at the Coconut Marketplace for breakfast and then headed north again. We saw some cool waterfalls in the mountains near Hanalei.

The reef at Tunnel Beach was very wide. According to the guidebook, this wide-fringing reef is so large that it can be seen from space. The water was very calm. With the nice, bright sun shining, it was a perfect day for snorkeling. Too bad we left our cameras in the car so we didn't have any pictures. We saw a Hawaiian Monk Seal, an endangered specie, sunbathing on the beach. We also saw another sea turtle when we were snorkeling. We also saw a naked man. He had oil all over his body, doing stretches, walking around. Weird.

Dinner was simple.  I had left-over in the fridge.  Wayne had McDonald for the second time.

There were washer and dryer in our suite so we also did laundry.   Our clothes were sweaty, muddy, and salty. 

·  May 11, Day 8 - Last Day on Kauai

We checked out from our resort at 10am. The flight was at 9pm so we still had a whole day to drive around.  We had to keep ourselves relatively clean because we didn’t have a place to shower anymore and we were going to on the plane for about 13 hours.

The plan was to drive to the Waimea Canyon - The Grand Canyon of the Pacific. I actually had considered not going there because we had seen it from the Helicopter. Well, we were glad we did.  It was totally rewarding.

Just when I thought I have seen nearly everything on Kauai, when I got the end of Waimea Canyon Drive, the view of the Kalalau Valley completely blew me away. Man, I couldn't believe how much this island has to offer. It was incredible.

Our last meal was at Oki Dinner. It was not a fancy restaurant but we finally had our favor local food - Kalua Pig. Yum!

A week flew by just like that.  We have seen a lot more of Kauai this time but I would love to come back again.  I even know what I am going to do when I come back next time.  I will drive to the Kalalau Valley lookout and hike the 5-mile Alakaa'i Swamp Trail.  I will hike to the Kipu Falls and jump into the pool via a rope swing.   I will take a kayak tour along the Wailua River.   I am sure I will another week of good fun.