We left at 6 am from Fresno and arrived in Lihue at 2:15 pm. Walking off the plane and being hit with the humidity was a surprising remembrance of the five previous times I’ve been to Hawaii.
We were picked up at the airport and greeted with lei’s and baseball caps that had the state fish, Humuhumunukunukuapua embroidered on the front. Our hosts took us to dine at Keoki’s Paradise in Koloa. It would turn out to be my favorite restaurant and we would eat there three times during our stay.
Our suite was very nice. We had two bedrooms, walk in closet, two bathrooms, full kitchen, dining room, living room, washer and dryer, and a lanai that spanned the living room and the master bedroom. We were on the top floor (4th) with an unobstructed view of the ocean. We left the patio drapes and windows opened the entire time. It was decadent waking up each morning to that view and having coffee on the lanai.
March 8, 2019
I ran four miles to start my day. There is something about the climate here that lets me run as long as I wish without feeling tired. As I was running, it rained off and on. I was treated with a beautiful full arched rainbow. I would see several more rainbows while on the island.
We drove to Waimea Canyon State Park. It’s often cloudy or raining on this part of the island, but the day we went it was sunny. From the lookouts, and we stopped at every single one, you could see the dynamics of the canyon including the many waterfalls, a multitude of colors from the foliage and the soil. We were told that there are wild boars and goats, but saw neither. This area is called the Grand Canyon of Hawaii.
On the way back, we stopped by a papaya grove. Being from an agricultural area, I was surprised that there was a tree that I did not recognize. I had tasted papaya the day before and was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked it.
We wanted to purchase fruit from the small stand in the midst of the grove but their prices were crazy high, $8 for an avocado for example.
For lunch, we ate at the Wrangler’s Steakhouse in Waimea. Being that it is a steakhouse, we assumed that the steak would be good, but it was just ok.
On the way back to our suite, we visited Hanapepe for their Friday Night Festival & Art Walk. We got there early and found a place to park. While we were getting out of the car, two women came up and said we would have to move the vehicle in 45 minutes so that a tent could be set up. Because the festival is so popular, parking becomes difficult. We found a spot on a side road so that we could stay longer if desired.
Tucked behind the main road is the Swinging Bridge. It does sway and seems rickety, but looking down to the Hanapepe River below, I calculated that if the bridge did fail, I would survive the fall. It’s only wide enough for one person at a time. Bridge etiquette suggests waiting for others going in the opposite direction as yourself to cross before embarking. The walk was enhanced by keeping my arms up in the air while crossing.
Our final stop in Hanapepe was Talk Story Bookstore which boasts to be ‘Westernmost Bookstore of The United States.’ They sell new and used books. My husband asked if they carried any of my books. They did not. However, they offered to provide a table for me during an upcoming Friday Night Festival so that I could promote my books. If we come back to this island, I will definitely do this! As a side note, there is a cat who lives in the store. Her name is Celeste and she likes to be petted, but only on the face. Celeste added to the charm of the place.
March 9, 2019
Just down the road from our condominium on the South Shore in Poipu is the Spouting Horn. It’s a blowhole that created by a hole in the lava along the shoreline. The spout can rise to 50 feet. There is a guardrail that prevents people from getting too close. From the lookout you can also see seals and sea turtles. Along the path to the guardrail are several vendors. One said it costs $3,500 per month for the table and $3,000 per month for daily set up/take down service. We marveled at how much they would have to sell to break even. Good thing there is a steady stream of buses bringing cruise ship tourists to visit this place.
For lunch we ate at Savage Shrimp where ‘The best coconut shrimp in the world’ is made. It’s this little, unassuming eatery where you order at the counter and they bring your entrees to your table. There aren’t very many tables. The coconut shrimp was good, but I wouldn’t say best in the world. Fun little vibe though.
Late afternoon we went to Sunshine Helicopters where we had a 55 minute tour of the island. From the air we saw Waimea Canyon, many waterfalls including Manawaiopuna which is the iconic one shown in the Jurassic Park movies, and the Na Pali Coast which can only be reached by sea. It is good to get this aerial perspective of the island early in your trip. Especially because much of the beauty can only be seen from this vantage. There is a military base on the east side of the island. The helicopters and water vessels must steer clear of it. It’s called Pacific Missile Range Facility and apparently monitors activity far and wide. We were told that the equipment there is so powerful that it has affected pacemakers recently. It’s said that you can’t see anything at the facility but that you can occasionally hear things.
From the air we could see the results of torrential rain nearly a year ago. Kauai now holds the record for the most rainfall in a 24-hour period, 49.69 inches. It washed out roads, caused massive flooding and left an entire community stranded. While they continue to repair the roads, people have to caravan in and out of the area at prescribed times.
The pilot said they had recently found an illegal commune and removed about 100 people from the jungle.
March 10, 2019
The property has an activity orientation on Saturday and Sunday mornings. They have a raffle each time for free things, the incentive works well at getting guests to attend the gathering. One speaker from a nearby diving company had taken third place in the National Geographic Great White Shark Photography Contest. He had taken his picture off the coast in Africa.
We went to church at Kauai Christian Fellowship in Koloa. It was one of the highlights of our trip. The band played rock music, most of it written by members of the band. The sermon was the story of David, Nabal and Abigail. I hadn’t remembered much about this story, but the message was how important it is to have self-control. It was delivered well and impactfully. When we left, I was surprised that we had been there two hours. The time went so fast.
We snorkeled off the beach in front of our condominium, lounged in the pool and spa and had dinner in. A very relaxing day, which I needed as I was extraordinarily tired. Maybe it was the 6 mile run this morning combined with the two glasses of wine at lunch at Keoki’s Paradise Restaurant.
March 11, 2019
We left at 5:30 am for the Holo Holo Niihau & Napali Coast Tour. It’s a 7 ½ hour excursion. They take you to the coast lines that can only be accessed by boat. Our boat is too big to stop along the shoreline, but we can get close enough to see the undisturbed beauty. It’s the end of whale season and we saw baby and adult whales. There were otters and dolphins as well. In the summer, you can get permits to camp in this area. You have to transport all your equipment, etc. via boat. I would like to do that next time we’re here.
After seeing the coastline, the catamaran headed to Niihau’s North Shore where we snorkeled at Lehua Crater. There are no others boats to be seen from this secluded place. The fish look like most of the ones in the Finding Nemo movie. There are many and they’re all so unique and colorful. My husband saw a Monk Seal under water swimming toward him. It startled him.
At one point, a school of Spinner Dolphins swims alongside our catamaran. They can keep pace with the boat. The Captain likens them to unsupervised teenagers. They do have big personalities and like to thrust themselves into the air while spinning up to seven times before plunging back into the ocean.
On the way back, I asked if I could sit with the Captain. He is on a perch at the top of the catamaran and there is an empty seat next to him. He allows me to join him once he reaches the coastline heading home.
March 12, 2019
We started our day with a tour of the Lydgate Farms Hawaiian Chocolate Tour in Kapa’a. The farm itself is quite extensive in the variety of foliage along the path.
It begins with the tasting of fruits grown on the island. Most I had not seen nor heard about before. Most notably was the dragon eyeball fruit. It got its name because it resembles an eyeball and the black seed shows through the translucent flesh like a pupil. While the texture and name gave me pause, it was my favorite.
We then made our way to the cacao grove which proved that chocolate does grow on trees. The entire process for making the fruit into a chocolate bar is described. The last part of the tour is a chocolate tasting blind test. Chocolate will taste different depending on a number of factors including where the fruit was grown, how it was processed and what ingredients are added (herbs, cherries, flowers, etc.). There were nine chocolates tasted, both my husband and I each correctly guessed five
That night we went to the Luau Kalamaku in Lihue. There is a craft fair section and my husband and I both got jaguar temporary tattoo. We both chose sea turtles. It’s interesting because it needs a few hours to dry, you then wash off the ink and there’s nothing on your skin. In a few more hours it reappears and lasts for about a week.
The dinner itself was buffet style and included the traditional fire pit cooked pig. The show was reenacting a moment in ancient island times and included hula dancing, fire poi ball twirlers and fire knife dancing.
March 13, 2019
Today we did the Wailua River Kayak & Hiking Tour. We had to leave at 5 am to arrive at their office in Kapaa by 6 am. At check in you are offered a chance to leave your shoes at the office and wear a pair from a large pile on the floor. I’m so glad that I did. The red mud on the hike would have ruined my own shoes. As it was, it seeped into my borrowed shoes and stained my feet.
We were in a group with four others and our guide, Thomas. We drove the short distance to the launching point on the Wailua River. There were two people per kayak. My husband sat behind me and gave paddle directions. The kayak portion of the trip is two miles each way. Then there is one mile each way hike to the Secret Falls which is a 125’ waterfall. We ate lunch at the base. The falls aren’t so secret as there are many people here. You can swim in the pool. Some swam under the falls, but there are warning signs that boulders are loosened and can splash down with the water causing injury or death.
The hike is physically challenging. Because of the constant rainfall, the path is nearly all mud, much of it deep. Because you have to walk with a stick for balance and pull your feet out of inches of thick mud, the path seems much longer than one mile. You also must cross a few tributaries, one that comes up to your hips. My husband and I had no problem, but my uncle and cousin were very challenged.
Kayaking back, my husband wanted a get a coconut from the shoreline trees. He was unsuccessful so our guide grabbed two for him. We already had a coconut from Honolulu that we brought home in 1995. We weren’t sure if we would get them through TSA and the agriculture inspection at the airport, but we did. They’re now here with their Honolulu cousin, drying out. The entire experience is absolutely beautiful with scenic features you won’t find anywhere else. Our concierge suggested going to the early morning tour because there are less people. It was good advice. By the time we left the river and trail were over crowded.
After the excursion, we took a driving tour of this part of the island. We saw Princeville and Kalihiwai. We toured the Kilauea Lighthouse which is in a wildlife refuge that is the home to many creatures including the Ā (Red-footed booby), Mōlī (Laysan albatross), ‘Ua ‘u kani (Wedge-tailed shearwater).
March 14, 2019
Our flight leaves tonight so today we just relaxed at my uncle and cousin’s suite before taking a meandering drive to the airport. We stopped one more time at the Keoki’s Paradise restaurant and closer to the airport we walked around an abandoned port that was used for inter-island trading. There were several feral cats.
- Traffic is heavy here. There are not enough lanes or roads to accommodate the cars.
- There are chickens absolutely everywhere. We were told that the coops blew open in Hurricane Iwa in 1982 and Hurricane Iniki in 1992 allowing them to escape and prolificate in freedom.
- Maybe it is because we did all tourist type things, but I hardly saw any native Hawaiians.
- As we headed home, we reflected on how blessed we were with all aspects of the trip:
- My Uncle had won the week-long stay in the suite that we were in. There was no availability before the voucher expired and yet at the last minute, someone cancelled their stay and we were able to take their reservation.
- The suite was on the top floor with an amazing view and more than enough amenities. It was nicer than the suite my Uncle had.
- On the 5 ½ hour flight to and from Kauai, we had an empty seat between us allowing for more room to stretch out.
- Having clear skies when we drove to Waimea Canyon is apparently unusual. Often tourists can’t see much due to the rain and clouds. The day we went was crystal clear.
- On our helicopter ride, the flights before us were cancelled because of the weather. Yet our trip was not cancelled, and we were able to see multiple rainbows.
- In the helicopter, my husband and I were given the two front row VIP seats. We had not asked for the seats nor were we expecting them.
- Being in Kauai at the very end of whale season and seeing adults and babies.
- Having a large school of Spinner Dolphins swim alongside our catamaran for a lengthy amount of time, seemingly performing for us.