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Another Songdoc Kauai Trip Report--Doesn't He Ever Stay Home???


Aug 23rd, 2013, 05:31 PM
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Another Songdoc Kauai Trip Report--Doesn't He Ever Stay Home???

Sorry for the delay in posting this. I’ve been busy, busy, busy—and just returned from an amazing trip “glamping” (glamorous camping) and whitewater rafting in the Canadian wilderness. It was a work trip--but I had plenty of time to enjoy a very different kind of paradise.

As my faithful readers know, I’m a hopeless Kauai addict and have done countless trips there since falling under the Garden Island's spell eight years ago. I figure I’ve spent more than a total of eighteen months in paradise, so I’ve already seen most of the beaches, sights, hikes, gardens, and activities that interested me. This trip was more about relaxing. DP and I needed to relax after six weeks of work (and sightseeing) in Australia and New Zealand. With horrible layovers (including seven hours in the Sydney airport) it took twenty-five hours to fly from Christchurch, NZ to Kauai. AGGHHH! It would have been much faster if I could have flown from Auckland.

As always, I stayed at a Sealodge condo in Princeville booked from Ahh Aloha (www.kauai-vacations-ahh.com). It’s an amazing value with awesome views.

We spent a week recouping by going for long walks and swimming at nearby beaches. My faves are Hanalei Bay, Lumahai, Haena, Tunnels, and Ke’e. But wait ... I like Anini and Kealia, too! Love that walking/bike path that goes along the ocean past Kealia Beach. It's a great way to walk off some of those massive Kountry Kitchen macadamia/banana pancakes.

Actually, we don’t go to many restaurants. We prefer eating on the balcony, enjoying better views and healthier food than we can get in any restaurant. But course, I had to indulge my addiction to Hamura’s Saimin (with BBQ chicken stix) several times. Also enjoyed a meal at Neide’s. Love sitting outside there.

After about a week of walking at Hanalei Bay and soaking in the sea we were ready to venture out further. We had gorgeous weather when we arrived at Waimea Canyon and Kok’ee State Park. The sky was crystal clear and there were hydrangeas and brilliant red trees blooming at the Kalalau Lookout. To me, this is quite possibly the most beautiful spot on this Earth.

We continued on to the Pihea Lookout and walked the beginning part of the trail. The beauty of that undulating brown dirt path makes me think I’ve landed on another planet. We’ve done this path before and enjoyed it, but this time we had something else in mind.

We love this area and Koke’e State Park, and would typically hike the Canyon Trail. It’s relatively easy and the views along the rim of the canyon and at the end of the trail (past the waterfall) are truly spectacular. But we had decided to try the Awa`awapuhi Trail this time. The Nuolo Trail that it would typically connect to had been closed for quite a while, so we couldn’t do it as a loop. It was a long walk to the end, but those views of the Napali Cliffs were worth every step. IMO, most of the trail doesn’t provide great views; it’s all about the end--and it was fantastic. Unfortunately, what goes down must come back up … and the return trip sure was steep! I’m glad I did it before my achy, old knees got any older.

On several evenings I walked to the lookout just before the St. Regis hotel to join the crowd of sunset worshippers who gather to marvel at the sunset against a Bali Hai background. One evening I went down to Hideaways (Pali ke Kua) Beach. Nice, but too much work to get down there. I felt like a chimpanzee holding onto the swinging ropes to get up and down the very steep path. With there being so many exquisite beaches that are easily accessed, I no longer feel the need to hike down steep or slippery paths to see them all.

A few times I parked on the road at the first one-lane bridge heading north toward Hanalei for an exquisite sunset walk through the Hanalei Wildlife Preserve to the start of the Okolehao Trail. The taro fields were teeming with waterfowl and the light on the mountains made everything look like a painting. I took some of the most beautiful photos of this trip there.

I’ve done the Okolehao Trail before and was rewarded with stunning views of Hanalei Bay far below—but my knees were complaining, and it’s pretty steep, so I decided to pass on it this time.

To be continued …
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Aug 23rd, 2013, 07:27 PM
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Yeah, I'm the first to respond to Songdoc!! Make that NURSES BEACH, sir, and I consider it my home away from RNCheryl home. Just thinking about it makes me smile.

What happened with the horrible connections flying home?
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Aug 26th, 2013, 07:59 AM
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Songdoc...I was just thinking of you this past weekend! I was going to post a message to get a reply from you. I was wondering where you have been.

I get to work this Monday morning and to my surprise a new Songdoc trip report! More, more, more...make me !

I was dreaming of Kauai over the weekend, which isn't different from any other day, trying to scheme how I could get back asap! DH & I will be going to England with my dad next May. My brother & K want to go back to Kauai for my brother's 30th bday which is next July. I'm saving for both trips so I will have to wait until next July.

July 26-August 2...334 days......how am I going to make it?
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Aug 26th, 2013, 03:41 PM
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you always make me drool reading about Kauai. Paradise for me and DH Going next March so your postings keep my heart racing. Might try some of the trails you mentioned. Love reading your reports.
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Aug 27th, 2013, 04:56 AM
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Nice of you to report to us already, SD, I'm waiting for more!
Looks like you'll have to do double duty, to get your TR done on that Canadian wilderness canoe trip. I am expecting to be impressed by that one, too!
It's great that you make traveling to these places a priority, and also great that you share it with us. Thank you.
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Aug 28th, 2013, 04:58 PM
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Thanks for all the nice comments.

louistraveler5: Hang in there. Somehow you'll make it till July--especially with England to plan for. I surprised my father with a trip to England for his 80th birthday. He passed away almost 11 years ago, and I still treasure those memories.

Now ... back to my trip report!
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Aug 28th, 2013, 05:34 PM
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Is the Nu'ololo Trail closed or the Cliffs Trail that connects it to the Awa'awapuhi? We did that circuit when we were in Kauai a few years ago and it still remains one of our favorite all time trails.

I do remember thinking the Cliffs Trail was extremely dangerous--parts of the trail were washed away. It was a long way down if you started to slide. Once we crossed the Cliffs, I was not going back. It would have been helpful to have our trekking poles.

We hiked this loop it on a beautiful, sunny day. The view at the end of the Nu'ololo--Lolo Vista was amazing.

You are lucky to get to Kauai so often.
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Aug 28th, 2013, 05:46 PM
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After watching countless sunsets I finally got to see … THE GREEN FLASH!!! We were near the pavilion at Hanalei Bay when we saw it, and a collective gasp went through the crowd. It was incredible—bright neon green for that instant before the sun sank below the horizon.

It was fun meeting frequent Fodor’s contributor wekewoody and partner on Hanalei Bay. It’s always fun to put a face to a name. But it did feel a bit bizarre going up to a total stranger and asking, "Excuse me. Are you wekewoody?"

Now for my adventure …
A friend who is native Hawaiian told me about a “secret” trail to a special, ancient, very sacred place on top of a cliff. His directions were a bit vague and he said that at one point I would have to follow my mind’s eye. Hmmm …

He promised that it was a quick, easy walk that anyone could do—so I left my water bottle in the car. It starts at Ke’e Beach and veers off to the left at the abandoned house. Then you cross a fallen palm tree and head up a hill … He said that if it seemed like I was on the “obvious” path then it was wrong. By now I had already gone beyond the “Keep Out” signs. He hadn’t mentioned that!

When I passed the house there were two paths—a fork. They both seemed like “obvious”—well-defined paths, so I guessed neither of them could be the one. So I followed my mind’s eye, basically blazing my own trail through thick jungle where it seemed possible (but unlikely) that there might have once been a trail. I could have used a machete, and I started thinking, “This can’t be right. It could never be described as a quick, easy walk.” It was getting really hot and I’d already been walking 30 – 40 minutes in the blazing sun – without water.

But wait! What’s that ahead??? An actual trail. It led me to a beautiful hidden beach with beautiful views of the Napali cliffs. There were several other people there. It was a little scary walking over the jagged rocks, but the views sure were pretty. The only problem was that I knew I couldn’t be in the right place because I was looking for a spot atop a cliff—not at ocean level!!! My mind's eye was not doing too well. I think it needs glasses ;-). I asked the other adventurers if they knew about the place I was seeking—and one of them did.

It was a steep climb—but at least now I was on an actual trail. I was getting shaky from the heat and exertion, and was probably dehydrated, but I’d come this far and I was not about to turn back!!! And then I found it.

The knoll was delineated with rows of stones that had been laid centuries ago, and the moment I stepped onto it I had the most profound sense of indeed being on sacred ground. But I also had a strong feeling that I did not belong there. I wondered if I was getting delirious from the heat, exertion, and lack of water. I had the sense that it had been a place of human sacrifice.

It was exceptionally beautiful, but interestingly, my photos didn’t seem to capture it. It was more of a feeling than anything concrete. There wasn’t any shade or a breath of a breeze so I climbed down to a nearby area and sat quietly in a shady spot, meditating and resting before attempting to scramble back down.

Getting down was infinitely easier and only took about ten minutes! At that first fork I should have simply taken the well-marked path on the left. It would have been a moderate, ten- or fifteen-minute walk!!!

I rehydrated on the inside and out—drinking lots of water—and soaking in the turquoise surf at Ke’e. I absolutely love that beach, with the palm trees so lush on the cliffs. I felt guilty about having gone where I shouldn’t have gone—but I admit it was a wonderful, very special adventure.

When I told my friend about my feeling of not belonging he said that I should have asked the ancient Gods for permission to enter the space and stated that I came with respect and to honor them. He told me that I had been to the spot where Gods had been worshipped since ancient times, and it is believed that hula was invented there. No human sacrifices ;-).

I waited until sunset and it was absolutely stunning. There was a brief rain shower shortly before dusk and it crowned the mountains with a beautiful rainbow while those on the beach--and the chickens--waited beneath the natural umbrellas of the trees . Ahh, paradise!!!

To be continued …
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Aug 28th, 2013, 06:44 PM
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Wow! What an experience!!!

My husband and I are hoping to visit Kauai next year, and your trip reports really bring it to life!
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Aug 28th, 2013, 11:00 PM
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Good trip report. I made my first trip to Kauai last May. We rented a house for our two week stay in Kaena.

The North Coast of Kauai is incredibly beautiful. One of my favorite beaches was Lumahai. It was surprising that so few people were on the beach.

I would really like to return soon. Do you think that you will retire in Kauai ?
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Aug 29th, 2013, 08:33 AM
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"But it did feel a bit bizarre going up to a total stranger and asking, "Excuse me. Are you ...?"

That is plain creepy. I would have been completely uncomfortable being approached by you. It's one thing to agree to have a gtg. It's a whole other thing to be stalked.
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Aug 29th, 2013, 09:20 AM
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Stalking? Oh, my ...

Lookin_Glass, I hope you're joking. All I did was say, "hello." If he didn't want to be bothered he could have replied, "Nope. That's not me." Instead, we had a nice chat and he said how much he enjoyed meeting me. I didn't exactly stake out his hotel and stand out side the window ;-).

susiedq: I do hope to retire to Kauai. I love Lumahai Beach, too, and it always surprises me how few people are there.

BuffaloGirl: I'm so glad the reports are helpful.

Now ... back to the report.
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Aug 29th, 2013, 11:22 AM
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Here’s some interesting info about the sacred site I visited: http://www.kaimi.org/heiau.htm
I guess it’s not all that secret!

As she does each summer, my sister came to visit me in Kauai. We live thousands of miles apart and it’s the only time we get to spend any concentrated time alone together. DS has physical limitations, so we went to Hanalei Bay every day, because it’s a short, easy walk from the parking lot to the ocean—and because we both love it there. I did my walks and swims while she sat reading beneath a tree.

After a wonderful, relaxing week, we said our sad goodbyes to Sealodge and moved to the Kauai Beach Resort where I’d be working at the annual Kauai Music Festival. The KBR hotel is on the east coast—very close to the airport. It's not the St. Regis or the Grand Hyatt, but it’s fine. The beach is pretty for strolling—but it’s not swimmable. However, Lydgate Beach is only a 5-minute drive, and the pools and spas are nice.

I love the North Shore and can’t imagine staying anywhere else on Kauai, but for someone who wants to explore much of the island in a short period of time, I could see staying at the KBR because of its central location and access to the north, south, and west—with all of their attractions. But it's pretty isolated, and I don’t think it’s one of the prettier areas on Kauai. Before I leave the topic of the KBR I will add that the breakfast buffet and the one dinner I had there were excellent, albeit a little pricey—but probably not any more so than other restaurants.

I hated that so many of the guests and teachers at the music festival came only to participate in the event; had no car; and saw nothing but the Kauai Beach Resort—and thought that was Kauai. Wrong!!! They needed to see paradise. So, on our one day off, I loaded up my car and took a group on the “Songdoc All-Day, Deluxe Kauai tour.”

We started at Wailua Falls, followed by lunch at Hamura’s Saimin. (These were big hits.) Next stop: Opaeka’a Falls and the Wailua River overlook; then on to the Kilauea Lighthouse. Then Princeville, with a potty and photo stop at the St. Regis, and pix at the Hanalei Overlook followed by a walk and a swim at Hanalei Bay. Bliss. Hurry … the tour bus is leaving. We ended at Ke’e for a walk and pix of the Napali Cliffs followed by another quick swim.

On the way back we stopped for pix of the taro fields at the Hanalei Wildlife Preserve, and a brief shower rewarded us with a rainbow. Then back for our evening commitments at the festival. My fellow teachers and performers were completely, utterly, and totally blown away by the beauty of the island, and we had an AMAZING day. It was so fun showing off my paradise!

As usual, the shows at the music festival were absolutely amazing. I’ve seen some of the best performances of my life at those concerts—and FYI, they’re open to the public. (I think tix are $25.) Raiatea Helm truly has the voice of an angel. Imagine Mariah Carey keeping alive old, traditional Hawaiian mele. All the performers were fantastic, but she was this year’s standout for me—along with Haley Reinhart (of American Idol).

I would have loved to show my friends Waimea Canyon, Koke’e Park (with the Kalalau Lookout) and Maha’ulepu Beach—but it was impossible to do it all in one day. Maybe next year.

Thus ends my latest trip report. I hope it’s helpful. Now the countdown is on. Five more weeks until I return to paradise. There will be a big difference this time—and I’m not telling yet!
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Aug 29th, 2013, 12:40 PM
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I really hope that Lookin_Glass is joking as well. I do not think that was creepy nor stalking!

We all frequent this Hawaii board so much and we all feel the same way about Kauai. I would love to put a face to a (screen) name and to meet someone that feels the same as I do for Kauai. I think it would be funny if someone from the Hawaii board walked up to me and asked if I was louistraveler and we happened to be in Kauai at the same exact time! Fancy meeting you here...!

Songdoc, it just hit me...if I'm in Kauai next July then we will finally be there at the same time! We can meet after all this time! How long are you there after the festival?
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Aug 29th, 2013, 05:02 PM
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I was not joking. Mutually agreed upon gtg's are cool.
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Aug 29th, 2013, 05:26 PM
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I'm glad to know there is another Kauai-obsessed person out there. I've been there 3 times this past year and will stay for 4 months in Princeville starting January 2014. The goal is to become a full-fledged snowbird!
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Aug 31st, 2013, 04:10 PM
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Thanks for the great report Songdoc - as always a pleasure to read and full of wonderful places to visit. I love your 'Songdoc All Day, Deluxe Kauai Tour' and will make this a starting resource for our outings when we visit for 8 days in December.I am determined that we will not try to see it all but from your reports I am sure we will pick out a few special places that will embed memories of this slice of heaven forever.I look forward to reading more on your return trips!
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Sep 5th, 2013, 12:57 PM
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Thanks for all the nice comments. I have not disappeared. I've been recovering from some nasty surgery. I should be 110% before my next trip to paradise--in 29 more days.

louistraveler5: It would be great to meet! This year, I had to return the very next day because of a commitment to teach at another annual event. The dates for next year's music festival -- and the other event -- haven't been announced yet. I hope I won't have to rush back.

joy_franks9: I think you have now qualified as an official snowbird--and Kauai addict ;-).

loumike: for me, Kauai's not a place to rush from one place to the next to check everything off the list. But I do think the places I mentioned are among my highlights. Hope you have a great trip.
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Sep 5th, 2013, 06:52 PM
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"Kauai's not a place to rush from one place to the next to check everything off the list."

I definitely agree with this and no fear with this being our final 8 night stop before we head home to Oz + over the Xmas week we will be taking it easy and be as non-scheduled as possible. Just a few special sights will be on the agenda.
How would you spend Xmas day in Kauai?
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Sep 8th, 2013, 09:41 AM
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"How would you spend Xmas day in Kauai?"

I would check to see of Justin of Kauai Ono is doing his "FarmFishForage" dinners in Hanalei. Christmas is on a Wednesday this year and he does his dinners on Wednesday and Thursday evening. It would be an interesting holiday feast I am sure.


If you are church goers, I am sure the folks at the Wai'oli Hui'ia Churh in Hanalei will have something planned beyond Christmas mass. It is the "Little Green Church" in Hanalei.

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