Why, yes, we have been on the island of Kauai. And it’s been a great week. So great that it cannot be confined to one post. Or it could, but it would be a very long post, and who wants to read that? No one, that’s who. Whom. Whatever. So let’s start with the exciting stuff and later move on to food.
We arrived late Thursday morning and checked into our condo at the Prince Kuhio Resort in Poipu, on the south shore of the island. This is where we’ve stayed on each of our three Kauai trips; many of the units fit nicely within our budget, and the large studio has a kitchen–meaning we can have bagels and the like on hand for breakfast. But I digress into food.
Friday we drove to the north shore for some snorkeling. Our first stop was at Anini Beach, which had looked promisingly calm two years ago. This time it wasn’t as calm, and the snorkeling wasn’t all that interesting. So we headed a little further west to find ourselves at Ha’ena Beach Park, which has poor snorkeling but quite a bit of parking. Adjacent to Ha’ena Beach Park is Tunnels Beach, where the snorkeling was fantastic. We had a great time splashing around the reef, where I saw what I swear is the girliest fish I’ve ever seen–white near the head, becoming pink toward the tail, and what appeared to be eyeshadow and mascara. In fact, I was struck by how much fish look like cartoons of fish.
Saturday found us renting bikes and heading through Poipu and down a cane road to Mahaulepu Beach, where we found fishermen and several families camping. The sea was rough due to a surge from the south, but I only got scraped up a little on the rocks. This was a repeat outing; we made the same trip two years ago and enjoyed it both times.
On Sunday we had what was, inarguably, The Best Time Ever. And what was that? Why, it was the Waterfall ATV Tour offered by Kipu Ranch Adventures. The guides provided simple instructions and sent everyone in practice loops around the yard, and then we were off, riding across one of the island’s historic land grants. After a stop to talk about the history of the ranch and its appearance in any number of Hollywood blockbusters (Jurassic Park, Outbreak, Six Days and Seven Nights, Mighty Joe Young, etc.), we drove along an earthen dam, between tree-lined berms, and down a steep hill–where we paused again for instruction on descents and how to navigate trenches. Both of us were new to ATVs, and found that the instructions and demonstrations increased our safety and comfort. After any number of scenic views, we found ourselves on the bank of the river where Indiana Jones escaped from the Hovitos via vine and seaplane in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Naturally, we made several of our own leaps into the river. From there it was back to the trails, with stops for lunch and a waterfall swim. The entire thing was a rattling good time, and although my arms and shoulders were sore from steering the ATV, it really was an amazing way to see a fairly secluded part of the island.
Monday meant that it was time to go back to the north shore for kayaking on the Hanalei River. The river winds through taro fields that, as it turns out, you can’t really see from your kayak–but we did see a freshwater turtle and a lot of traps that we can only assume were for fish. Once we reached the most navigable point on our inland journey, we turned around and headed for the point where the river meets the sea. There we beached on a sandbar and splashed around in the warm, calm waters of Hanalei Bay.
We weren’t done with the north shore; the snorkeling at Tunnels was so good that we went back for more on Tuesday. We saw an enormous variety of fish, but the highlights were definitely the leopard eel, and the sea turtle hunting for lunch.
Wednesday meant that it was time for another ATV ride–we went back to Kipu Ranch, this time for the Ranch Tour. This time the trails were a bit more advanced, and we headed up to the pass to Kipu Kai–a secluded set of beaches on the ocean side of the mountain range that divides the ranch. The views were unparalleled–and, due to the seclusion of the locale, rare even for locals.
Alas, all trips must come to an end. With a redeye ahead of us, we spent Thursday driving westward, with a variety of stops, including the Waimea swinging bridge and Kauai Coffee. We learned that a flash-flood warning had closed the road to Hanalei, and decided that we should make our way back to the east shore, where the airport is. Sure enough, we found ourselves in a deluge that cut power to the Internet cafe in which we had taken refuge. That sent us back on the road, where we passed more time in Kapaa before reluctantly turning in our rental car. Let me tell you, Kauai knows how to have a storm. There was so much runoff from the rivers that right now the ocean is coffee-colored almost all the way to the horizon.
Hmm. This is still a ridiculously long post. Good thing I saved the food news for later.