Kauai, Hawaii

The “Garden Isle” packs a punch for beautiful sites considering its relatively small size. The Na Pali Coast’s dramatic cliffs and pinnacles were featured in the movies Jurassic Park and Raiders of the Lost Ark as well as the television show, Lost. The Waimea Canyon is referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, there are 100’s of waterfalls and plenty of beautiful beaches. Although you can’t drive around the entire island, you can drive from one end to the other in about two hours.

After getting off the plane alone I rented a jeep, took the top down, and started cruising around getting my barrings and adjusting to island time. The music on the radio in Hawaii makes it difficult to not get reggae mylitis. I passed multiple beaches where people were surfing, kite boarding, and paddle boarding. There were lots of hitch hikers, farmers market type stands, and bright green flora. I decided it would be interesting and good karma to pick some hitch hikers up. One of them was clearly addicted to meth and the other one wanted to give me a “massage”. After not getting a “massage” and dropping them off, it started to rain. Since I traveled alone in the front and back part of the trip, I decided it would be a good idea to trade the jeep in for a convertible. Pushing one button to adjust the top is quick and easy. Seeing how Kauai is one of the wettest places in the world this proved to be essential traveling alone.

The first full day on Kauai I went on a catamaran and snorkeling trip to the Na Pali Coast through Captain Andy’s. The Na Pali coast is fifteen miles of rugged coastline and in my opinion one of the most gorgeous places in the world.The sky was dark and the water was a little choppy. Choppy enough that the snorkeling part of the trip was cancelled. Nonetheless, the boat ride alone was well worth the trip. During the boat ride we saw teams of spinner dolphins as well as humpback whales. Lunch and beverages were provided. Later that night I watched the sunset at Ke’e Beach.

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Day two included more cruising around the island with the top down as well as a hike on a trail in the middle of a residential neighborhood. There were multiple waterfalls on the trail as well as pools of water to swim in. Jumping off of cliffs about 20 feet high was also an option. Afterwards I drove over to Poipu and took pictures and looked at Spouting Horn blowhole. I had a reservation on Captain Andy’s sunset cruise at Poipu. This boat ride is more booze cruise than photo opportunity. The coastline and views are less than spectacular. A group of four people who had a reservation ran late so we waited for them. One of the guys in the group was already hammered and eventually fell into the water during the trip. The crew was in shock and didn’t know what to do so I can’t imagine that ever happens

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Day three was helicopter day. If you ever go to Kauai and have enough money, or credit, or food stamps to trade, you have to go on a helicopter ride. About 70% of the island in not accessible by foot and according to one website its the “most isolated inhabited land mass in the world”. For those who enjoy taking photo’s, Jack Harter offers a doors off option which I opted to do.

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After the helicopter ride was over I picked up a friend from the airport. We cruised north (counter clockwise) and stopped for a drink on the balcony at the St. Regis in Princeville. Neither of us had enough food stamps to trade to stay at this place, but we sat outside sipping cocktails overlooking Hanalei Bay and watching staff open bottles of champagne with a machete. The view and atmosphere are worth stopping in for a drink. Later that night we met some friends of hers at the Treehouse across the parking lot from our hotel. They all met in the Peace Corps and hadn’t seen my friend in years. The Treehouse seemed to be a part local and part tourist bar. There are lots of hotels within a half mile walk so plenty of people get drunk and walk home.

On my fourth day of vacation my friend and I went to Poipu Beach to snorkel and relax. Snorkel equipment was available to rent across the street and was very affordable. We saw multiple turtles under water as well as on the beach. There was also a Hawaiian monk seal taking a nap and soaking up the sun onshore. After spending the day at the beach we grabbed some poke for lunch from a fish shop and ate it at a different beach. Poke’s main ingredients are cubed raw tuna along with sea salt, sesame oil, soy sauce, green onion, and seaweed. There are lots of different variations, but most include those ingredients. It delicious and healthy.

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The fifth day my friends boyfriend flew into town. We went to Pe’e Beach, a cave, and a farmers market. I bought a butter avocado that had a creamy texture and melted in my mouth. The citrus juice was refreshing in the heat.

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Day six my friends started the two day hike at the Kalalou trail. I hiked alone at the Nualolo Cliff Trail and Awaawapuli Trail in Waimea Canyon State Park. This day was predicted to be the end of the world. Before I left the canyon big dark clouds came in and it started to storm. The world didn’t die.

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Day seven I cried. It was time to go home. This was my second trip to Hawaii and I cried at the airport both times I had to leave. Before returning the Ford Mustang I rented, I put the pedal to the metal on the road next to the airport trying to go as fast as I could. There was no traffic and the street was a straight shot. Perfect conditions for speed. Then I cried. Hawaii is a hard place to leave.

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If I find myself in Kauai again there are three things I didn’t get to. Next time I go I would hike the Kalalau Trail, go inland and chase waterfalls, and spend time on secluded Polihale Beach.

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