Welcome back to our Kauai trip. Picking up where we left off, our big excursion day on Sunday…
And alarm clocks were going off at 3:45 am to be in the car by 4 am and on the road. We had about an 1.5 hour drive to the port for Holo Holo Charters for our Napali Coast boat tour and snorkeling adventure. We arrived with plenty of time and were warned of high winds and rough waters and the possibility for a “fun” day on sea. We all decided to continue on with our mission. For a 50′ catamaran that could hold about 50 passengers, we had only about 14 other people on board with us. We set out with the sun just beginning to rise, enjoying coffee, pastries and fruit on board. For four hours we motored around the whole west coast of Kauai. We saw cute and playful spinner dolphins, larger bottlenose dolphins, and even my first ever whale; a humpback whale.
We fought winds and some crazy fun waves once we were on the northwest corner of the island and along the Napali coast. The coast was definitely something beautiful to take in. Steep dramatic cliffs and lush greenery, dropping down into the sea. Especially with the weather we were having I was reminded of our day trip to Milford Sound in New Zealand.
We boated back to a place to snorkel, detouring a bit from the main itinerary. While we were snorkeling we saw a few schools of fish, some amazing coral and a few sea turtles which were very cool to see. After snorkeling we filled up on an elaborate spread for lunch and some tasty beverages while we headed back to the harbor. We got back on land around 1 pm with already a full day behind us. The sun was out on the south shore and we took the opportunity to do a little sightseeing. We stopped at the Kukuiolono Park and Golf Course for a walk around the grounds and 270 degree water views.
We stopped at the spouting horn geyser in Poipo and drove through the south shore beach towns. After that we headed home. After a long day we wanted to eat in so Bryan and I drove to the Hanalei Dolphin fish market to pick out something to cook in the condo. We picked out a beautiful firm fillet of hebi, a local fish that is something like a swordfish or mahi mahi. It was delicious, especially with a tequila butter sauce, potato pancakes and green beans. Long day and fresh air and we were mighty tired.
So again, after a day of adventure brings a day of rest. The only thing planned for the next day was our luau reservation in the evening. Bryan and I tried to swim and snorkel at Hideaway Beach beneath our condos but the waves and current were a bit too strong. After trying we hiked back up the hill and decided to explore the St. Regis and Hanalei Bay Resort. We took in the views from the St. Regis and then found the hot tub at the Hanalei Bay Resort. This was peaceful and relaxing and then we headed back to the condo for lunch and then went on our last run. However, this run was miserable. It was hotter and humid out and two miles in we stopped and walked which was much better. We finished the last mile running and decided that was our last run of the week and we only did it for feasting at the luau.
We cleaned up and dressed up and headed out to the east shore for the Smiths Garden Luau. We arrived right after they opened their gates and got a wonderful and informative tram tour of the expansive grounds with the different varieties of plants. We then got to explore the grounds on foot while we waited for the imu. We were welcomed by the luau owner who explained the unveiling of the pig from the imu, an underground pit used to cook the pig in banana leaves and hot rocks. At this point the smells were amazing and the bar was open. The mai tais here were weak so I quickly settled on a vodka with pineapple and guava juice, light on the juice, thus I became known as the “light on the juice girl” by the female bartender who loved that as I continued to order them for the table. Music started for dinner and then we were invited into line. I wanted to try a little bit of everything…and I was hungry! Thus I tried salad with homemade papaya seed and guava dressing, kahlua pork, sweet and sour mahi mahi, lomi lomi salmon, poi, fried rice, purple sweet potato, cucumber salad, and teriyaki beef. And then I went back for more of my favorites. At this point I was stuffed but wanted to try all of the coconut desserts and really enjoyed the coconut jelly called Haupia that I had before and loved. All the guests moved to the amphitheater for the show which lasted about an hour and featured dances from several different Hawaiian and parent cultures. It was interesting and enjoyable and we all left in a good mood.
Last full day, no, no, no. It can’t be already. We had high hopes that we were going to get lots of sun but it didn’t really work out that way. Bryan and I still had a good time exploring Hanalei Bay. We walked the beach, shopped at the cute gift shops, got a large Hawaiian plate lunch at a food truck while waiting out a downpour of rain, and then decided on renting paddle boards to paddle the river…in the rain.
The first 30 minutes in it was raining pretty good and I was starting to lose it but then it let up, the skies cleared and this was just such a cool experience. We thoroughly enjoyed how serene and romantic this was and the last mile was completely in a wildlife refuge area that was quiet and beautiful. We floated back a good ways and then paddled back, rounding out the trip at about 3 miles and just under 2 hours. Once back we picked up some more fish at the Dolphin fish market, this time getting the monchung filet which is described as flaky, moist and sweet. We cooked this to have along with salad and the leftover stuffing and again really enjoyed the local fish. The rest of the night we packed to prepare for leaving in the morning.
Wednesday morning we left the condo around 6:30 in the morning, saying goodbye to Princeville and heading to Lihue to drop the parents off at the airport. It was turning into a beautiful day and Bryan and I still had a few hours to kill, luckily. We parked in Kapa’a and got two coffees (a Kona and a Kauai blend) at Java Kai, along with a shared kahlua pork breakfast burrito before walking along the beach.
We returned to rent a tandem bike for two hours. The east shore has a new pedestrian and bike path that stretches for at least 8.5 miles along the coast. We took this path 4 miles north to Donkey Beach where we locked up the bike and enjoyed the sandy beach and sun for a while. We biked south a good ways before returning the bike to the shop. We both really enjoyed this mini adventure and would definitely do it again. The tandem bike was pretty fun.
We drove in the car to Konohiki Seafoods very close to the airport to get one last meal in Hawaii to fill us up before our long flight. We got the spicy ahi poke over sushi rice and a plate with kahlua pork, hot rice, cucumber salad, and salmon poke and some ginger chicken. We finished all of this on the banks of another beach, stuffed and with a dosage of sun we headed to the airport to return the ride and check in for our flight. Our flight home was shorter than our way there and fortunately went quicker than expected. We got back to our house around 10:30 pm Seattle time and unpacked all of our sand from the week-long vacation.
We had a really exceptional first experience in Hawaii. I have the Hawaii bug now and want to go back, especially if it can be even better with more sun and warmer temps. We’ll be back sooner rather than later.