Hawaii · Vacation

Beautiful Kauai (Part II)

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.

Spectacular views from the park

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.

Spouting Horn in Poipu

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.

Until next time Hawaii!


Hawaii · Thanksgiving · Vacation

Beautiful Kauai (Part I)

Vacation over…bummer!  Bryan and my first trip to the Hawaiian Islands is already over and I already want to go back, or I at least need to book another trip pronto.  We had a great time sightseeing in Kauai and spending quality time with Lon and Trish.  It was a relaxing and restful week but was spent well with excursions, exercise, food and activities.  I’m impressed that we really did a good amount of stuff in a week’s time, while letting it still rejuvenate us with sleep and peace.

All four of us arrived at the exact same time.  We could spot each other’s planes taxying to the gates.  All bags arrived and we were quickly to Avis for our sweet ride minivan.  Transportation provided we were next heading to Costco to fill our cart full of essentials for the week and then ready to hit the main road to drive the 45 minutes to our rental condo in Princeville, Kauai on the north shore of the island.

Welcome to Kauai

This was the first our eyes had laid on the island and we took it all in on the ride and enjoyed the sights of the greenery, flowers and every once and a while the ocean coastline.  We pulled into Puu Poa condonminuims around 5 pm and were in awe of our views from the room and the huge swell and waves beneath us.

We unloaded, checked out the digs, then piled back in the car to drive the short 10 minutes further west down the road to the cute town of Hanalei for dinner at the highly reviewed and low key Hanalei Gourmet.  We all got their fish tacos of the day (marlin on this night) and were blown away at how good they were.  Trish and I got our first mai tais that were strong and would have been Phil-approved while the boys tried some local brews on draft.  Halfway through our meal a local band duo starting playing that really set the mood for me but we were all pretty wiped from our early wake up calls that morning and the traveling so we headed back to the condo to get some good zzz’s.

Our first full day in the condo was Thanksgiving Day.  This was feeling much like our trip last year at this point.  The sun was in and out that morning and we took advantage of it having our coffee and breakfast outside and taking in those views.  Bryan and I walked to explore Hideaway Beach beneath the condos (which was an adventure in itself walking down the steep path) and the neighboring St. Regis and Hanalei Bay Resort before meeting at Foodland for the nights turkey dinner.  It was a nice relaxing morning and we both got to talk to our families afar.

Afternoon quickly came and Bryan and I decided to go for a run.  We took a 4-mile slow jog to explore the grounds, came back sweaty and hot, and jumped quickly in the pool.

Refreshed, we came back to clean up for our easy (but actually quite good) pre-made Thanksgiving dinner compliments of Foodland grocery store in Princeville.  A 13-lb turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, rolls and our green beans and salad made for a filling traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  To complete the night we had pumpkin and apple pie with ice cream.  A good Thanksgiving celebration indeed.

All seated for turkey day dinner.

After a low key day in the condo we were ready for adventure and sightseeing on Friday.  After a hearty breakfast at home we headed on the road around the island to the southwest corner and Waimea Canyon.  We stopped at a recommended coffee shop that was really delicious and made it to the Canyon Trail trailhead around 1 pm.

Bryan and I left Lon and Trish with the car to complete an 8-mile loop.  This loop started in a light drizzle and the trail was indeed a little slick.  About one mile in we made it to the main overlook of the canyon that many people stop at.  It was gorgeous but we continued on the trail.  We had a river crossing about 2 miles in that soaked our feet but from there on out we never passed another hiked.  About 3 miles in we came to a higher lookout that had absolutely marvelous views of the canyon and this is where Bryan and I stopped to share a turkey sandwich to take in the views.  We continued on to find an even better lookout with a picnic table and took some more photos.  We kept going, bringing us back in the thick of the trees for a definite jungle walk. We decided to hit the road 6 miles in, stopped at the museum and lodge before meeting the parents back at the trailhead.

We tried driving to the end of the road to the lookouts of the Napali Valley but were totally socked in with fog so we turned around and headed back down the road, catching a few other lookouts of the canyon, the sunset, and finally stopping in the town of Hanapepe for their Aloha Friday celebration, getting dinner al fresco at Bobbi’s Hawaiian Grill where there was again a duo playing local music.  We window shopped a bit and then drove back the rest of the way to the condo.

A sightseeing day followed by a rest day is just perfect and that is how Saturday went.  After a loss to Ohio State and breakfast we packed out beach bags and drove to Hanalei to stop at their Saturday morning farmers market for the fresh local fruit I was longing for.  We got three papayas, the largest avocado I have ever seen and sample a variety of other things. We continued west to Tunnels Beach, found a good spot to set up at and enjoyed the sun that was out!  Bryan and I strolled this beach, passing a resting monk seal on the beach and then watching some surfers actually surf real good.  We spent a few hours at this beach until the sky began to look a bit ominous and we left just in the nick of time before it started downpouring.

We drove back to the condo where Bryan and I changed to go for another run.  Rain had stopped but halfway through our two mile run it started to rain, and rain hard.  This run was a bit adventurous and fun and had us running down to the beach at the St. Regis, running on the beach and ducking for trees.  We made an impromptu decision to go swimming, taking off our running shoes and hitting the water.  The rain stopped and we decided to finish the run, which we did.  One of the best runs ever.  We got back to the condo where Trish was finishing up her famous taco salads.  We had a great dinner in and went to bed early knowing we had to wake up early the next morning.

So far so good but there is even more better stuff to come!