The Garden Island - Last Stop

Trip Start Mar 20, 2010
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Trip End Aug 25, 2010


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Where I stayed
Hale Maile - 5-5491-B Kuhio Highway

Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Friday, August 13, 2010

Kauai is our last stop before returning home and the final leg of our cross country tour.  As mentioned earlier, Kauai is the oldest of the Hawaiian islands.  It is considered the "Garden Island" for its lush rainforests, sculpted mountain ridges, great beaches and the grandeur of its Waimea Canyon.  The north and east side of the island is very plush and provides the best beaches, the south and east side are dryer, giving us that south west feel with red rock and dirt..and its version of the Grand Canyon, the Waimea Canyon.

We rented this very cute plantation home in North Kauai, about 2 blocks from Hanalei Bay beach, on the mountain side of Kuhio Highway which is considered the north side of Hanalei Bay - where the surfers hang out.  Our home was in a rain-forest setting, down a dirt road which didn't have a name, it was surrounded by banana trees and provided us with mountain views off our back deck.  Given we are in the heart of a rain-forest it means you never know what you are going to get in the morning, rain or shine.  But it doesn't matter, the rain here doesn't last long and it lends itself to good sleeping and chilly weather and amazing rainbows (almost everyday).  The house came with two bike cruisers so we just pedaled our way to and from town, it was great.  Every Saturday there was a farmers market and arts festival in Hanalei Park, so we got a chance to hit that and see some neat things...of course we didn't leave empty handed and chowed down on apple bananas dipped in dark chocolate and coconut!!, fresh goat cheese, Acai smoothies, and purchased some local art work.  One interesting thing to mention is that on the first Saturday morning that we were in Hanalei there was a canoe race from Hanalei to the other side of Kauai, which should take them about 4 hours.  It is an annual relay canoe race where the women begin, while the guys ride alongside them in a neighboring boat, and then at certain points they switch teams, on and off until they reach the finish. Apparently canoe teams from all over the US come to this event, it was huge..unfortunately we didn't have our camera handy to capture the start of the race, but it was fun to watch the commotion.

Kauai is filled to the rim with ferrel roosters..seriously, they are absolutely everywhere, either in your backyard singing their hearts out starting at 6am or along the highway and/or local shopping areas.  At times you need to stop your car to allow a family chickens cross the road. Many of them are just magnificent in color and you can't help appreciate their beauty. No need for alarm clocks in Kauai - it can be assumed that everyone on this island gets up early, whether or not by choice.  We had one rooster in particular that liked to perch itself on the fence that outlined our backyard, and while facing our home, would do his thing at full throttle.  

Our time in Kauai was extremely mellow, we pretty much just wanted to enjoy our home and chill out at Hanalei Bay Beach.  We did so much driving and exploring on Kona and Maui that we basked in not doing much for our last leg of the trip.  Aside from hitting the beaches and getting some hikes in, we did do some exploring and visited the Kilauea Lighthouse and neighboring beaches/sights - Anini Beach, Kalihiwai Bay.  We ventured into the towns of Kapa, Lihue and Waimea as well.

Beaches:
The best beaches in Kauai are found in the North Shore - in actuality, one of the best Hawaiian beaches is the Hanalei Bay Beach, so we didn't have to go far.  Hanalei Bay Beach is really beautiful - it is a 2 mile horseshoe bay, the north side is home to the local surfers and the south side is calmer and home to kids (and Christina).  We tended to hit the beach in the later afternoon and got a chance to watch the surfers do their thing.  It was rumored that Matt Damon was in town and surfing at the Grand Pa section of Hanalei Bay..but of course we didn't see him. (that would have been a great finale to our trip).  We also spent time at Tunnels Beach, Lumaha'i Beach,  Ke e Beach and the Princeville Beach at the St. Regis Resort.  All of these locations provided great snorkeling opportunities, but we were snorkeled out and just watched everyone else..we even saw this group of kids dragging out an octopus - which they proceeded to torture.  

Hikes:  
Napali Coast  - Kalalau Valley trail to Hanakapi' ai Beach.  This trail actually goes 11 miles out to Kalalua Valley, but we just did the first bit of it to Hanakapi' ai Beach - which was plenty. This trail begins at the most north end of Kauai, off of Ke' e' Beach in Ha' Ena State Park.  This trek was spectacular and a lot of fun.  It provided varied terrain and amazing views of the Napali Coast.  We hiked all the way down to Hanakapi' ai Beach, where you can only get to by hiking, but unfortunately the beach is too rough to swim.  One of the funniest things was that during the hike Brian was mentioning that of all the things we saw during our time in Hawaii we had yet to see any dolphins up close..literally as soon as he said that, we turned a corner of the trail and these two guys were walking up in the opposite direction towards us, one of them was wearing a Miami Dolphins visor..so Brian said, "oh..here is a Dolphin".  We laughed, but the guy didn't get it.

Waimea Canyon State Park - Referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific (mile-wide, 3000 ft deep gorge).  Located at northern west side Kauai this canyon provides numerous trails.  We ended up taking a trek that ran along the canyon rim and down into waterfall.  Really pretty views.  Unfortunately our camera died so the shots we took are not available - hopefully we will be able to salvage them and upload them later.  After that hike, we drove up to the end of Waimea Canyon road which led to Koke'e State Park and the Pu' uokila Lookout (5000 ft above sea level) which offered the most amazing shots of the Kalalau Valley (mentioned above)...we have these shots (keep in mind we used our iphone at this point, imagine what the photos would have looked like had we had a regular camera!).  

Restaurants worth noting that we enjoyed
Bar Acuda - Excellent wine and tapas bar - gave us a taste for home
Tiki Nui - The absolute best pizza we ever had. We also got to meet the Maui Roller Derby team that happened to be in town hanging out that night.
Dolphin Sushi - excellent
Postcard Cafe - great organic food
Kalypso - We went here a few times, once for brunch and had Banana Foster / Macadamia Nut pancakes..yum!
Tropical Tacos - amazing fish tacos

Kauai was a wonderful chance for us to do a final recharge before returning to NYC.  We really enjoyed our time in Hanalei.  The town itself is very warm and welcoming and we look forward to returning.

Aug 13 - Aug 24
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Comments

Joe, aka Dad on

Did you see Puff the Magic Dragon in the land called Hanalei?

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