Tuesday, January 15, 2008

More On Kauai

Part I

When I wrote the pre-trip report, I mentioned that we would miss the Waimea Canyon because we were going to the Na Pali Coast. Luke wrote in the comment section that he wanted to see the canyon instead. So as a compromise, we saw both! It was a long day, but Kauai was so pretty that it was well worth the drive.

After we cleaned ourselves from the trail, we hopped into the car and started heading back to where we came from. The thing about Kauai is that there isn't a road that connects the whole island. Think of the road as an "U" shape. The Ke'e Beach and the Kalalau Trail are literally located at one end of the "U" and the Waimea Canyon is at the other end (our cruise ship was at the bottom of the "U"). So simply put, we had a long drive.

Right after we started driving, we noticed a few caves on the side of the road. We stopped at one of them to explore. Really there weren't much to see. The cave was drippy and creepy, in my opinion.

Luke was happy though...:)

After we finished exploring, it was pouring rain outside, so we waited for the rain to pass before running to our car. Luckily, the rain didn't last long at all. Kauai is a very wet island so it rained off and on the whole day. We got to see a couple of rainbows because of it. But on the other hand, it was so foggy that day that we missed a lot of the scenery.

We finally arrived at the Waimea Canyon State Park. Note to my readers - if you find yourself driving to the Waimea Canyon, take Rt 552 (Koke'e Rd) the way up and take Rt 550 (Waimea Canyon Dr) the way down. You won't regret it. We did just that out of dumb luck, and so glad. The Waimea Canyon is nicknamed the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." While it's a lot smaller, it is still grand. The canyon offers colorful gorge and a river (the Waimea, Kauai's longest) flows through it. It was amazing that such a canyon could be tucked inside such a small island.


Sweeping views of the canyon...

As we kept on driving, we saw many scenic lookouts. This one here has a perfect view of the Waipo'o Falls.

At the Pu'u Hinahina Lookout. The air was incredibly cold and fresh. This lookout was the end of Waimea Canyon State Park. As we kept on driving, we entered Koke'e State Park. Koke'e offers a dozen of trails for nature-lovers. Even though we are not nature-lovers, we would've loved to hike a little bit too. However, the condition that day was way too wet, cold, and foggy for us. I guess for others too, since we didn't see anybody hiking either.

Kalalau Lookout at Koke'e State Park. Even with the heavy fog, we saw green valley and the sea. We actually saw a rainbow here too, but wasn't fast enough to capture it. The valley is called Kalalau Valley and the only way there is along the Kalalau Trail (which means, if we had hiked the Kalalau Trail completely, we would have walked in the valley).

Here we are at the END OF THE ROAD!! The Pu'u o Kila Lookout is the last stop in Koke'e State Park. At this point, at such a high elevation, we really couldn't see a thing at all! Too bad we missed what is supposed to be a spectacular view.

We took a video here and the next 3 pictures were captured from a video...so a bit grainy.

See, couldn't see a thing at all.

The Pihea Trail - we would've liked to hike it if the weather was sunny. This trail is the very reason why there isn't a circle-island road.


The sign here points to Mt wai'ale'ale, the wettest spot on earth. Hmmm...I think where we were was wet enough for us, thank you very much.

So remember that dumb luck I mentioned earlier? This was it. Because we took Rt 550 down, we were able to see this stunning view. Actually, it was just a stunning drive overall. We saw views like this all around us. It was here, at this point, that Kauai became my favorite Hawaiian Island. I know as far as things to see and do in Kauai, we hardly made a dent. We drove to all the lookouts and took pictures, but didn't hike anywhere to immerse ourselves. A coworker told me that him and his wife spent 2 weeks in Kauai and just hiked. While I don't believe I would be able to hike every day for 2 weeks, I know that I definitely want to come back and explore more of this island.

Kauai was also the first time we saw a local community on our trip. Once we came back down from the mountains, we passed by the town of Waimea. There were people everywhere! On either side of the road were people with lawn chairs and blankets, just enjoying the evening with their neighbors. They must had been waiting for a parade of some sort (we speculated a Christmas parade because it was 2 days prior to Christmas). We saw native kids running around barefoot and a giant Christmas tree at the town square. It was great to see a local community for us vacationers because often we miss all of that by going to more touristy places. Somehow, for me, it's after seeing these kind of things that make visiting a new place complete.

We didn't want to go back on the boat just yet, but it was close to dinner time. So when we saw this little Chinese restaurant in Hanapepe (they described themselves as "Kauai Biggest Little Town"), we gave them our business! The food was very tasty and cheap!

A line of locals behind Luke

After we finished our meal, we still didn't want to go back yet so we stopped by Po'ipu. Po'ipu is Kauai's main beach resort area. On a tiny stretch of road, it (not even more than a mile) has the luxurious Sheraton, Hyatt, Marriott, and more. I imagine this is where the honeymoon couples stay when they come to Kauai. By then it was dark so we didn't see much of the resorts, we headed straight to the beach.

We sat for a bit and walked along the beach. Next time we come back, I want to stay here too. :)

Unwillingly, we started our trip home. We missed a few turns because Kauai has very poor road lights. Good thing Luke has a good sense of direction, I was totally lost. We got back on the ship safe and sound and had a very good night sleep. I. Heart. Kauai.

1 comment:

  1. Joyce is right, this was a great day. It was very long, but we were able to cram everything we wanted to do into it. Plus we got some really great shots. The canyon pictures look incredible, but in person, man oh man, it was like another world. The ride back down was a blast. It was like sliding down a mountain directly into the ocean. It did suck a bit because of all the fog, but it didn't dampen our spirits one bit.

    I wish we could've played in PoiPu more, but we were lucky to even fit in the small bit of it we did get to. I know we technically had one more day on this island, but really, to me, this was the last day of the cruise. It definitely wore us out, but we wouldn't change a thing!

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