The Garden Island
Trip Start May 09, 2012
11Trip End May 19, 2012
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This blog is late because we enjoyed a long but wonderful day on Thursday. We were so tired last night all I did was download the photos. Oh well, better late than never!
Our arrival in Kauai was right on time at 7:00 AM (0700). This little port is comfortably snuggled into lovely green mountains. The sail in was beautiful as was the weather.
Our tour departed the ship at 8:00 AM (0800). We had another excellent tour guide, Auntie Alicea from, of all places, El Paso, Texas. We had a Mexican tour guide in Hawaii
Kauai is geologically the oldest of the inhabited Hawaiian Islands. The two volcanoes here are long extinct. It is also the wettest island. The highest peak is Mt. Kawaikini, considered one of the wettest locations in the world. It rains on the summit virtually every day of the year. Their record annual rainfall is something like 655 inches (1664 cm), an amount that simply staggers the mind. The water all runs downhill, resulting in erosion creating amazing geologic features unlike any other Hawaiian Island. Kauai is also the only island with rivers. This island is nicknamed "the garden island" for good reason. All the islands are beautiful, but to me this is the most beautiful.
It’s also the island most struck by hurricanes. The most recent major hit was a devastating category 5 in 1992. The damage was still evident as we made the one hour trip to Waimea Canyon. Trees were stripped bare by the hurricane wind and stand as stark reminders of the storm’s violence. Natives have vivid memories of the storm not only for the 200 mph + wind but the long 10 hour duration as the storm crawled across the island
The ride up to Waimea Canyon was full of twists and turns and a challenge for a 50 passenger bus. We slowly climbed to the lookout at 3400 feet (1037 m). The canyon is nicknamed “The Grand Canyon of Hawaii” for good reason. It is stunningly beautiful. The volcanic rock has been eroding for millennium and has resulted in deep cuts and ridges. The exposed rock is a kaleidoscope of colors as streams cascade down from the ridges above. Waimea is a fraction of the size of the Grand Canyon but in its own way it is equally as beautiful. Our brief visit to the view point was woefully inadequate.
Driving back down the driver told us about an island off of Kauai that is the home of the last colony of true Hawaiian people. Many races made their way to the island after the original Polynesian settlers, mostly for labor to work on the sugar cane and pineapple plantations. They intermarried and the residents today are a polyglot of races. The island off of Kauai, whose name escapes me, has zealously protected true Hawaiian people. It is owned by a very wealthy family that allows visitors only if they know one of the residents
We drove southeast to the beautiful resort town of Poipu. We enjoyed a wonderful buffet lunch in a tropical paradise. This town has the best weather on the island as it is in the shadow of the volcanoes. We then visited a wonderful local landmark known as the Spouting Horn blowhole. The coast is of course volcanic, and at this point there is a lava tube right on the coast. The surf enters on one end and is forced though a narrower second end, resulting in a “blowhole” like a huge whale. There was not much surf today so we only saw and heard a minor effect. The coast here is breathtaking, and our guide was happy to point out the $5 million small homes lining the coast here. You need to be both rich and a risk taker to own one of these homes. The risk from hurricanes and Tsunamis here is very high.
We headed east then north to our next stop, beautiful Opaekaa Falls (my spell checker is learning many new words on this trip!) This triple fall drops some 80 feet (24.4 m) into the Wailua River. Also accessible at this stop was an awesome view up the Wailua River Valley. It’s a truly lush tropical scene.
Our next and last stop of this tour was a boat ride up the Wailua River to the famous fern grotto. The flat bottom boat made for a very comfortable ride up the river. We passed scored of kayakers and people standing up on surf boards paddling them down the river. Our wake was not much fun for either group. Large homes stood sentinel above the river, some of which had been owned by Hollywood celebrities who had both money and good taste
Speaking of chickens, wild chickens are everywhere here. They escaped centuries ago and have no enemies in the ecosystem, so they breed unabated. Thousands run wild all over the island. The local people use the eggs and the chickens for food, but there are so many it doesn’t make a dent.
We returned to the ship around 4:00 PM (1600). We made a mad dash to our cabin after the overzealous security checks and quickly changed for our next event. About ½ of the ship’s passengers (about 1000) joined us for Luau Kalamaku held at the Kilohana Plantation located about 15 minutes from the ship. This event is more than a luau; it is a full production event telling the story of the original settlement of Kauai by Polynesian explorerswww.luaukalamaku.com.
The highlight of the luau was the incredible fire dancers. Those guys are amazing. The dancers were outstanding too. I would mention that the women were incredibly beautiful and their dances were quite erotic, but I am a happily married man so I did not notice them at all. It really was a fun show and is a must see if you are here.
After a very long wait for a bus we returned back to the ship. There were a few raindrops while we waited for the bus. Overnight I awoke to the first rain we have had on this trip. It had ended by the time we got up this morning and is beautiful today. More on that later!