A long Kauai Trip Report

Old Aug 26th, 2002, 11:11 AM
  #1  
Sarah
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A long Kauai Trip Report

Trip Report Kauai

Great 15 days 1 night at the Hyatt and two weeks in Hanalei, North Shore. Best aspect of trip is that we only had 3 days of gray skies. They were consecutive so I was concerned knowing this was an El Nino summer and could not count on the sunny skies I have enjoyed on the North shore in past Augusts. Hyatt was fun for one night and two days by the pool. We wished we had one more night on the property only to explore nearby hiking trails, maybe enjoy the entertainment offered at night. We saw glimpses of children performing hula and traditional chanting. I did find an interesting walk on the beach to the far right of the pool. It’s a brief walk taking you to cliffs free of vacation homes and dotted with fisherman. I was surprised to see such lovely views on the south side. I have visited this hotel for lunch about 3-4 times over the years but never wandered on the beach or neighborhood. Our most amazing sunset took place at spouting horn on our first night. We had reservations at the beach house but when we noticed about 50 people standing on the lawn blocking the view from the patio we decided to put off dining here another night. Another night just did not come around though always too dirty when we were on that side of the island.. Very stuck on the landscape of north shore. I only make my way over the west side for hiking and on this trip a sunset at Polihale State Park. This year I did the Awa'awapuhi Trail and the Canyon trail. Awaawapuhi was much easier than I anticipated I started at 3:30pm and was done 7pm, minutes before sunset, which we drove up to Kalalau lookout for. Not sure if this trail was easier than I expected because I did it on a relatively gray day cool day. I have been to Kauai probably about 7 –8 times and can’t believe I have never done this trail. The views were so beautiful that they did not look real. Again I came away with the understanding that you miss so much on Kauai if you don’t explore the rivers and trails of the interior. I find something new on every trip. I still have yet to get to any of those gardens many, connecting loops to the trails I have mentioned.

The Canyon trail also beautiful and memorable is as difficult as you can handle as the views are early on in the trail, so when you have had enough you can turn back. On the north shore I did the North View of the pipeline trail, it is only a walk out of maybe 1 mile ( we 4wd most of the trail)opposite of Princeville stables taking you to several waterfalls. We did not continue on this trail, as I believe it extends into the east side of the island and it was a bit too much of hike for the party I was with. I think the most strenuous I hike I did was the Kalalau trail to Hanakape beach and then on to the waterfall. I had beautiful views in the morning starting at 8:30am but was wiped out by the afternoon sun ending my journey at 5:30pm. I am 41 so I think there are many fitter people who did not find themselves in bed at 8:30pm. The falls I did not think were worth the heat or the treck. It was a relatively easy hike (but a hike not a stroll) out to Hanakape beach, a bit daunting at first as you start by climbing stretches of rock in the ground. This ends soon and turns into a manageable trail. Out to the falls I was falling in and out of the trail. The many people you see along this trail come in handy in finding your way back on course. The light on the pacific does different things depending on what time you are there for this reason I would not do this hike in afternoon. Crystal clear green blue water in morning (with a cool breeze), glaring sun in the afternoon. I met people who started at
Still Jet lagged so sorry if this is not making too much sense.
 
Old Aug 26th, 2002, 11:12 AM
  #2  
Sarah
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Cont. I met people who started at 6am, had the trail and falls to themselves and were cool coming and going. I did both Awa'awapuhi Trail and Kalalau trail alone.

Kayaked the Hanalei River for four hours on the last day this was fun and a good way to not only ride under the Hanalei Bridge (fun for kids) but see threatened birds in their habitat on the banks of the Hanalei Wildlife refuge.
About Restaurants I don’t have high hopes for Kauai I am sorry to say. I am a bit critical of restaurants but I love great food and in NYC where I live there is so much competition that finding a great restaurant is not a chore.

On Kauai, We went to Zelos and each of us received menus with food on each of the pages of the menu. I am not talking about what the restaurant was offering but actually crumbs and stains. I found this pretty unacceptable for a restaurant with the catch of the day pricing at $27. They also served me a fully cooked Ahi when the menu read and I requested “seared”. I returned it to have a one side slightly seared. I basically ate a raw ice-cold tuna steak that night. Manager could tell something was still wrong and kept asking me if it was cooked correctly but I was not returning my order a second time. I also use to be a big sushi fan so what I was eating was not much different. My sister loved the opakapaka. The child with us received over cooked spaghetti and could not finish. Returned thinking I just hit them on a bad night, I enjoyed the fresh fish taco, a Kal suggestion I had to try. Child with us ordered pop corn chicken that did not have enough meat to qualify as a nutricous meal more like fried batter with French Fries.
Tried the Dolphin also for lunch, fish and chips that were of the quality you would expect from a beach side truck, not good at all.

Our best meal was had at “A Pacific Café” very similar to Roy’s and no dirty menus. WE WERE AMAIZED at what a $23 entree bought us here. Actually my sister had the Mahi-Mahi which GQ magazine voted one of the ten best restaurant entrees in America. What was so incredible is that we pulled in without a reservation after hiking at about 8:30pm on a Monday. This place is not casual but they let us in after some red dirt hiking. We were dying but we just sashayed over to the corner table and chowed down.

Beach pretty much every day mixing snorkeling and swimming days. Rollerblading in Princeville on the paths Kal told me about. I think it was illegal Kal, Hanalei resident told me that the Princeville is making an number of restrictions on children’s activities in order pressure long term families out so that area becomes exclusively vacation rentals. Only one person’s comment and we skated anyway, “gave us the we live here feel”. Of course we pretty much stink at skating an provided more entertainment for others than ourselves.

Well I hope someone found something helpful here.
 
Old Aug 26th, 2002, 01:10 PM
  #3  
DanB
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Thanks Sarah, hope you had a great time.

I'm off to Kauai North Shore Sept 3 through Sept 13.

Anything else you can share about the North Shore -- eats, sights to see, etc.?
 
Old Aug 26th, 2002, 02:22 PM
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sss
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When you go to Ke a (Sp) (end of the road beach) be sure to walk down the beach towards the opposite end. A lot of people miss the trail of Mountains seen in the distance viewable from this beach. Everybody congregates at the water closer to the base of the mountain and leave sometimes after snorkeling is over .

Oh you also want to take a very short trail right on this beach following the behind the black lava rocks on the beach, it leads you to a sacred hula sight. Certain, Young children were selected in the community and brought here to learn hula here hundreds of years ago. It just looks like a bunch of rocks and grass but it has been left this way on purpose. Once the area was cleared of over growth and groomed, this exposed at deity shaped rock structure that was very old. The elements got to it and it disintegrated. I was watching a documentary on this, apparently ancient chants advised the Hawaiians not to clear this area of natural overgrowth.

The walk up is nice and this sight is about 1000+ plus years old, hula by master teachers is still practiced here. Not to bore you but so much of Hawaiian history has been past on orally and through the Mele hula (chanting hula), so this makes this hula sight a very special place. Not just because some creative steps were made but history was past on.
So much of old Hawaii feels gone from the North Shore, you just so rarely even see local faces. This place kind of brings to mind what has passed before.

 
Old Aug 26th, 2002, 02:23 PM
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sss
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I would also make sure you do the tour that the lighthouse offers. You must book a head for this. They give you up close, informative looks at the birds and take you to very scenic locations on the grounds that you cannot get to any other way. Most memorable spot on this tour was crater beach. Giant crater like wedge in the coast line, very striking. Something else I had not seen on earlier trips. If you are up at the lighthouse early the Kilauea bakery is good to stop buy. The surrounding shops are nice also. Anini, Secrets, Hideaways, Tunnels, Hanalei, Kalihiwa are all different and special beach experiences in their own right. This was my first trip to Secrets, Kalihiwa and Anini. I toured on other trips just thought I already found the special beaches, Tunnels, Hanalei, Ke a, Hideaways. I don’ care for Queen Emma’s bath too hot and too many people for the space at least on my visits.

On this trip we did our major shopping first in Kapaa after so many on this board urged. I like Princeville Foodland better. The variety is greater and similar to what I would find in NYC. Try both if you are having trouble finding something or buy your standard staples down at Safeway and come up to Foodland for choice Ahi, Lomi salmon, breads. Would be a shame to leave Hawaii without sampling Taro leaves; you have the largest taro fields in Hawaii in Hanalei. I just don’t know where to get a good taste of it on Kauai.

Ben I forget what part of the country you are coming from. If it is the east coast you certainly want to try out Lapperts Ice Cream next to foodland. This is fresh made Ice Cream and very creamy.

If memory serves you are in Haena?

I like waking up in Hanalei walking into Java Joes for coffee and the Hanalei Snack shop EARLY (BY 7:30) for some Malasada. Best when lightly fried donut ball. Hanalei Bay Resort is a nice view for breakfast and not the price that you would pay at the Princeville.

Almost every night in Hanalei there is a couple that plays guitar (slack key(Hawaiian Style) near the life guard stand in front of the pavilion. ...Nice way to watch the sunset.

What else what else what else???? We were very happy to have low-rise beach chairs we picked up in Wal-Mart sure Kmart has them to. If your Condo does not provide I strongly recommend, so comfortable we buy each year and give away before we leave. .... a world of difference for hours of beach time.

Not sure how sun sensitive you are I came upon a long sleeve rash guard that probably staved off skin cancer for me this trip as I was constantly in the sun. I get a little sick of constantly applying sunscreen so this made it easy.

I would visit one of the local markets. I missed it but my sister went and said there were so many flowers, foods and things you would not expect. Not the bargain produce basement she expected, bumped into Pierce Bronson there and came home with home made fudge, Sweet smelling Ginger flowers, Gifts blah blah blah. I think that was the Friday Market in Hanalei there is a Tuesday Market in Haena. People wait in line for the Hanalei market to open the best items go quickly.

If you are going with a girlfriend or wife be sure to buy a Pikaki or Ginger Lei they are so fragrant and likely to be memorable.
 
Old Aug 26th, 2002, 03:15 PM
  #6  
joan
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Sarah, thanks so much for your trip report...it was much fun to read. Especially the last part - although we aren't the hiker that you are, we'll be sure to try the lighthouse tour, the market at Hanalei, and definitely will kayak. Where do you "put in" for the Hanalei River? We are staying on Anini at a cottage, what was your impresssion here? And will get my husband a ginger lei hee hee.
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 05:19 AM
  #7  
Iza
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Sarah, welcome back. I think the 3 days of cloudy weather with some rain you are talking about were the first 3 days of our 2nd week of vacation ;-) By the end of our first week I was rather sunburnt and enjoyed some cooler and cloudy weather for a change. We did the first 2 miles of Kalalau trail one of those gray days and I cannot believe how muddy that trail was! And people hiking in flip flops!!
Too bad you had such an experience at Zelo's. We dined there one night and the food was very good (our daughter had the fish and chips - nice big chunks of real fresh fish). I agree with you regarding the Princeville Foodland - definitely the best selection and the prices were not that outrageous.
With one week on the south shore and one week on the north, we ended up not eating much in the east shore restaurants which I now regret somewhat reading the rave reviews of a lot of places. But 2 weeks was definitely not enough to sample all the good eats...
We bought some fresh fruit and veggies at local farmers' markets - definitely worth visiting. The one in Hanalei was excellent and the prices extremely reasonable.
I posted a short trip report too if you are interested.
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 05:33 AM
  #8  
Sarah
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Glad it was helpful Joan I was sorry to be so long winded but I was very jet lagged when I wrote this. Well I am not kidding anyone I am always long winded when it comes to Kauai.

This was my first time to Anini and I liked it very much. It's very expansive, when we were there, there seem to be some debris in the water not sure if this is a regular thing. But Joan whatever beach you decide to be near you will find yourself wanting to explore other beaches. Hanalei beach use to be a favorite of mine, as was hideaways and Ke a. Favorites beaches seem to change each year with my guests and me. The only real concern I would have with Anini or Haena (both locations I would love to stay in) would be the proximity any rental would have to campers. I also would not want to be too isolated; we had neighborhood watch signs posted in Hanalei so I suspect that burglary is an issue. We felt very safe though and our condo was unlocked with the key inside when we arrived.

Haena seems to host long-term campers we observed to be alcoholic and or substance abusers. My sister was concerned about the camping hippies (she just has not been exposed to them before) we found at different locations thinking anyone homeless will be in need of money. But I think the hippies are the least of anyone's worries they are often from well off families sporting trust funds and western union checks.

For Hanalei River Kayaks there are two locations. We went with Kauai Kayak near the Dolphin restaurant $52 for a double for 24 hours. We were told by our guide at the Lighthouse that they have the longest rep on the island for kayaking. They also can advise on the best rivers. They also will put you right on the Hanalei river. Finally they have the largest fleet of kayaks so you don't have to worry about them running out. If you do rent here be sure to get a shave ice out front at the wishing well. We think they use lapperts ice cream, YUM! ...on the combo shave ices.

Further in town there is a place called Kauai Paddlers (I think) just next to the video shop in Hanalei they only charge $35 if memory serves but you need to find your own transport to a river. I did not inquire about this I am just guessing by it's inland location.
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 05:58 AM
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Sarah
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Hi IZA I saw your report. You know I was thinking I absolutely love Kauai but could never afford a home there. Kept thinking I need to explore Costa Rica perhaps an older version of Kauai? Thing is I am so attached to Hawaii.

You know the sunsets were not as spectacular this year on Kauai as I have seen. I don't know what that was about because they usually are incredible when the volcano is erupting. The dust from the ash is what helps with the color.

I will probably patronize Zelos again I just won't do it before Roy's in Poipu or Pacific Cafe (Better restaurants similar prices when looking at Zelos top dishes) or maybe some other choices in Hanalei. Our poor quality Fish and chips came from the Dolphin house. We did enjoy the mile high grasshopper pie at zelos. Kal if you are out there also loved the hula pie and Keokis paradise. Sister was saying who is Kal, is he married?of course I told her about Mrs.Kal which gave us more laughter.

IZA did you try any Tuna or salmon from the grocery stores? We had incredible salmon twice. I usually get the Ahi but to date I only know how to sear it, no great sauce recipes.

I loved walking in the Princeville Foodland in beach clothes with wet uncombed hair from swimming. Never let myself go that far on any mainland beach shop, not a standout in Princeville.

P.S We started the Kalalau trail last year on a muddy day and turned back. I could not get my sister to let me take my 9 year old niece this year as a result. Trick is to do that trail after a few dry days and not in the mid day sun, it was a completely different experience for me this year and this was my THIRD! attempt to complete.
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 06:39 AM
  #10  
Iza
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Sarah, we actually completed the 2 miles to the first beach with our 8 year old daughter. She is a real trooper! By the end of the hike our boots/sneakers were a disgrace. I still cannot get over all the people hiking in the most inappropriate footwear, though. We decided to hike it after some heavy rain at night (I was afraid the weather would be bad all week and did not want to risk not doing it all). We had good hiking boots/sneakers so the trail actually was not that difficult to negotiate. It was just that we were muddy to our knees when we got back ;-)
We tried the tuna (ahi) and one other fish from the Princeville Foodland and you are right, it was very fresh good quality fish. Too bad the grill at the place were we stayed was not up to par or we would have grilled every night.
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 07:01 AM
  #11  
kal
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Alooohaaa Sarah and friends,
What timing! Been whooping it up in Chicago for the past 8 days or so and have been trying to dig my way out of the swampland of paper known as my desk for the past 2!
Brought back one heck of a head cold to assist.

Ahhh...the joys of taking a vacation.
Chicago trip report to follow.

I can smell Kauai from your trip report.
And taste the fish tacos.
What was up with Anini? We had all sorts of trash wash up on Lydgate around 5 yrs ago. Appeared Japanese fishing boats were dumping their trash right in a current a few hundred miles away and it was washing up there.

I've never really had any luck at restaurants in Hanalei or Princeville.
Strange.
HULA PIE !!!!! grrrrOWllll! One of the few times I eat ice cream is on Kauai for hula pie and vanilla bean Lapperts!

The Hanalei River trip is still on our agenda and hopefully after the lovely Mrs Kal reads your TR, she won't be a scaredy cat and do it. Looks like a pretty darn calm paddle, yah?

Speaking of a Chicago/Kauai connection, Mrs Kal and I had the distinct pleasure of having lunch again in Chicago with a very buff, yet always sultry Margot from Jersey, a fellow Fodor's/Kauai lover and meeting for the first time over cocktails the delightfully entertaining and as pretty as a Kauaian Sunrise, Alex-hulagirl2187.
Another joy of taking a vacation-meeting new people!
We need a Fodor's GTG in NoCal soon!
Maybe on Kauai?
Mahalo and 124 mo' days.
Kal
ps...In Nov. we'll be celebrating 18yrs of wedded bliss...
been married 23 tho. ;-)
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 10:19 AM
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Sarah
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Hi Kal wrote a funny reply to you about married comment but it was deleted. Just was that family says this about every male I mention sight unseen. I don't live near them it is usually more on a humerous note especially if they get a name like "Mrs. Kal". Sister did do a sweeping snap of her fingers when I told her about this. I mentioned the time you recalled looking at whales on the south shore.

Kayak Tour. If memory serves "you guys" don't swim. Niece complained about how uncomfortble the life jacket was with seat, she could not get comfortable. I don't think you should do tour without jacket. It is a very easy roar perhaps they can adjust the jackets to a more comfortable seat. It is a very calm, quite (early morning) row. Definately try it out if you can get comfortable.

IZA I got that you hiked the trail just wanted you to know that the mudding conditions aren't constant. Tell me more about Costa Rica what has you going back?
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 11:30 AM
  #13  
sss
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Kal:Meant to say I deleted message by accident

Iza you still out there?
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 11:46 AM
  #14  
Kal
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Ahhhhh..Poipu Beach at sunset...."The wink and the wave"!

"We don't swim" is partially correct.
I swim and some say drink like a fish but after growing up in San Diego (ocean) and in NoCal (granite quarries) I've learned not to swim alone.

I'd hate to see the 5ft nuthin' Mrs Kal (who has a beautiful real name, btw) have to try and lug the 5'16" Mr Kal outta the surf all by herself.

Was Charo's Restaurant open or
re-incarnated into yet another name?
Kal
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 12:00 PM
  #15  
Sarah
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Don't recall seeing Charo's on this trip and forget where I have seen it in the past.

Also meant to say row is easy serene and calm on Hanalei river. Very Very shallow in some spots but over our heads in other places. Kayaking in Hanalei Bay at sunset might also be fun but probably not an option the time of year you travel.
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 12:39 PM
  #16  
Iza
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Sarah, I'm still here. As to Kalalau trail hiking all I was saying was that even with all the mud our 8 year old did fine and enjoyed it. Too bad you couldn't take your niece.
As to Costa Rica, it is definitely less expensive than Hawaii and has an added benefit of a short flight from NY (5 and 1/2 hours). Very lush and tropical and not crowded or overly developed. Some parts of Kauai definitely reminded me of it (like the drive past Hanalei to the end of the road). Very scenic and picturesque. What I really liked about Costa Rica was the abundance of nature: both animals and plants. There are monkeys, sloths, coati mundi, beautiful tropical birds everywhere and you really do not have to make a special effort to see them. Hotels are fairly small and inexpensive, and the local people are very friendly (do not stay in San Jose if you go, that's the only place in CR where I would not recommend going). There are a lot of interesting places to see (they have an active volcano which is really neat) or you can just relax on the beach. You can do hiking, canopy tours, horse back riding, or just do nothing other than relaxing. The sunsets were fabulous, the stars at night awesome. For us, both of our vacations in Costa Rica were very relaxing and laid back. It was a total bliss to be away from the phone, TV and the news for a week or two. Don't get me wrong, we loved Kauai. But we found Kauai a bit too American (and somewhat too familiar with McDonalds and Macy's strewn around the island). Costa Rica was much more exotic and remote feeling (of course if you prefer familiar over foreign and exotic, there is nothing wrong with that, it's just that I felt it was more relaxing to be in such a totally different world). I think Costa Rica in a lot of aspects may be like Hawaii of 40 years ago. There is a poster on the Latin America board - her name is Robbie and she now owns a hotel in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica. She used to live in Hawaii and that's what she says, that Costa Rica is like Hawaii of the past.
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 12:46 PM
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Sarah
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Iza mind telling me your favorite spots? Don't you find it work discovering new places. This is what takes me backt o Kauai again. I have traveled widely in Europe and the middles east but I do significant reading and searching before hand. I find it difficult to stay in one region and explore the country. Have you gone to Costa Rica plopped down in one spot and toured from there? If so where, I only get two weeks a year I some times squeese in another 4 day trip to Europe around the holidays or long ski weekends in winter but beyond this I am stuck and tired by the time my vacation rolls around.

What spots did you stay in in Costa Rica and could I travel alone? I have traveled alone in Turkey and Egypt but always considered Latin America less safe for women alone. Am I wrong?
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 12:50 PM
  #18  
sss
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PS if this does market does not do a significant jump looks like I will have Costa Rico pocket book next year. Maybe some unemployed free time before hand.

If you have posted extensively already don't have to repeat yourself. I just find the Asian and Latin American boards move kind of slowly.
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 01:06 PM
  #19  
Iza
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Sarah, I'll try to post some links here for you. Or best yet, e-mail me at [email protected] and I'll get some info for you.
The first time we went to CR we stayed in one beach town for 6 days and then 2 days in the mountains/coffee plantations area near San Jose. The second time, we went for 2 weeks and travelled to 4 different destinations within the country (rain forest, active volcano, beaches, national parks). Costa Rica is very safe, it is the most stable of Latin American countries and very tourism oriented (but not overdeveloped). I think you would be safe traveling alone there, especially if you speak any Spanish.
Search under the Latin American board for Maui (and select Costa Rica as your country). You'll find a thread entitled "Costa Rica or Maui Honeymoon" - very interesting reading.
 
Old Aug 27th, 2002, 02:05 PM
  #20  
sss
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Thanks Iza I will email you later
 

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