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KAUAI FIRST TIMER NEEDS HELP!

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Jun 23rd, 2013, 07:16 PM
  #1
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KAUAI FIRST TIMER NEEDS HELP!

Heading to the St. Regis in Princeville in early August for only a week. I have a few questions for those of you who are knowledgeable about the island:

1. I am shocked to have read how many drownings occur on Kauai from just standing on the lava rocks overlooking the water, snorkeling in shallow water, or walking on a beach. Stories of tourists being washed out to sea by monster waves. I had no idea the ocean here was so dangerous! My husband and I were really looking forward to swimming and snorkeling in the ocean in Hanalei Bay, Tunnels Beach, and Hideaway Beach. Should I be concerned? Is it necessary to wear a life jacket when you snorkel? Will we need wet suits?

2. I have a non-life-threatening heart condition and a herniated disk in my back (I know it sounds like I'm 80, but I am only 40). I really want to see the Na Pali coast but my husband and I get sea sick so the boat tours are out. Instead, I would REALLY like to hike a moderate trail at a slow pace- something not too difficult cardio-wise.. Distance is not so much a problem for me, but climbing steep hills can be a problem. Is it possible to do the first 2 miles (or maybe 1 mile) of the Kalalau Trail at a slow pace and still get decent views? I was also looking at the Pihea Trail in Waimea Canyon. Which is more strenuous and which has better views of the Na Pali coast?

3. My husband wants to find some local restaurants not too far from the St. Regis that are off the beaten path- local flavor and ambiance, etc. Looking for casual. Any suggestions? (We have a rental car).

Many thanks for any advice!
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Jun 23rd, 2013, 07:54 PM
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Water safety is very important here. We visit in the summer months and like you will be doing, stay on the north shore just down the road from the St. Regis in Hanalei. I am there right now as a matter of fact.

Check the daily surf reports.

All the places you mentioned SHOULD be fine for swimming and snorkeling (Tunnels and Hideaways) in August, but it is always a good idea to look at the water conditions before you get in. There is always a bit of a right to left current inside Tunnels reef. Sometimes it is stronger than other times. it depends. In the summer it has never been a problem. It just something to be aware of.

We have been here a week and Hanalei Bay has been like a lake. Lovely for swimming and "bobbing and shmoozing" in the water. We haven't been up to Tunnels or to any of our usual snorkeling spots this trip yet, so I can't give any first hand accounts of that loaction.

We were at Secrets Beach the other day and the surf was up. The "Secret Lava Pools" that are mentioned in some guidebooks are off to the left as you get down the trail. I believe this is where at least two people were swept off the rocks in April or March. The surf is generally higher and more active on the north shore in the winter and spring and therefore more dangerous USUALLY than in the summer. There were however pretty good rollers crashing over that area when we were there.

You are right to be concerned, but you will have a great trip and be safe because of that concern.

Good eats that we like in the area are:
Postcards
Mediterranean Gourmet
We happened upon a new experience detailed here you might want to check out. Hopefully he will still be doing it in August.
http://www.kauaiono.com/#!farmfishforage/c12wr

We also like to get tacos and burritos at Pat's truck by the pier in Hanalei.

Hanalei Dolphin can be very good and is often a great experience, but we were there a couple of days ago and my Ono was dry and overcooked as was my husband's fish. We are going back tomorrow night and give it another try as we do like it.

Hanalei Pizza is very good.

We like the Tavern at the Princeville Golf Course too. Nice sunset views from there.


Have a great trip.
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Jun 23rd, 2013, 10:03 PM
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Re the trail, as I recall the first approx half mile is uphill at a fairly good grade. You probably want to consult a detialed trail guide and/or a topographic map to get specific info on the elevation of different parts of the trail.

Another option to see NaPali coast would be a helicopter tour, or I beleive there are small plane tours also.

Another stunning view is from the Kalalau lookout....drive all the way around the island, past Waimea Canyon into Koke'e and you can see Kalalau valley, the other end of Na Pali.
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Jun 23rd, 2013, 11:02 PM
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Pihea Trail is less strenuous. It skirts the top edge of the Kalalau Valley and is accessed from the last Waimea/Koke'e lookout...one past the Kalalau lookout. The trail goes up and down a little and can be slippery depending on the weather, but it is fairly flat. The road dead ends and the lookout is there. If it is clear, you can see the entire valley spread out below you. A real stunner.
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Jun 24th, 2013, 07:30 AM
  #5
 
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<<>>

Ha ha - and if it's not (like the last time we were there), you might see absolutely NOTHING Go early before the fog rolls in.
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Jun 24th, 2013, 08:36 AM
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Kal
 
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And if it is too cloudy stop by the Kauai Island Brewing Co in Port Allen on your way back for some good brews and excellent nachos. You can "hike" upstairs and get a view of the Port and a sunset if it's not crowded.

Kauai Chocolate Co is right across the street.

We liked the Lighthouse Bistro in Kilauea.
Wake Up Cafe in Hanalei still open?
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Jun 24th, 2013, 08:38 AM
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Kal
 
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Oh...and while it does look like paradise, Kauai's beaches must always be treated with respect and caution.
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Jun 26th, 2013, 07:18 PM
  #8
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Thanks so much for all the advice and information!
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Jun 26th, 2013, 08:06 PM
  #9
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Oh, and Wekewoody, I was able to make a reservation at Kauai Ono for the week we are on Kauai... Looks great. Thanks!
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Jun 27th, 2013, 02:06 PM
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I'd agree that the first 1/2 mile of Kalalau trail is a bit of a cardio. You could always try the first couple hundred yards and turn around. Pihea trail is a good suggestion. Either the way watch the weather and be aware of rains coming as that red sand sure can get slippery. The daily gentle rains won't loosen things up too much, but a real torrential downpour will make conditions change quickly.

Being aware that it is important to have concerns about ocean safety is the first step to having a wonderful vacation. Go to guarded beaches, talk to locals and lifeguards and study the wave sets before entering the water If you pay attention to conditions, understand riptides and how wave sets work, and are in a guarded area you should be fine. And likely there will be plenty of calm waters on the north shore. The south shore does pick up in the summer though!

Last time I was there Med Gourmet made one of the all-time best maitais. Keep your eye out for the opening of Todd Rundgrens and his wifes new place Tiki Iniki.

kauai ono sounds like a great hit. And do check out the Tues afternoon or Sunday morning farmers market and ask housekeeping for some vases and fill your room with flowers!
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Jun 27th, 2013, 02:08 PM
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sorry for all the typos, I should have proofread. have a great trip.
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Jun 27th, 2013, 08:26 PM
  #12
 
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Aloha brubenow,

I hope you enjoy KauaiOno as much as I did.

We went to Koke'e today and the did the Pihea Trail. It was beautiful. We left Hanalei at 8:00 and arrived at the end of the road around a little after 10:00. The Kalalau Valley and the pali were clear and visible in all their glory. The mist drifted in and out and came and went the two hours or so we were there. It never got "socked in solid" which can happen. I guess we've lucked out, because that has never happened to us.
The trail is a little steeper and up and down than I remember, but I'd rate it a "moderate" hike. We hiked for only a mile up and then a mile back. One can continue on to the Alakai Swamp, but we did not do the that. The views were stunning. Don't wear slippahs!
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Jun 30th, 2013, 12:50 PM
  #13
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Thanks again to everyone for all of the information. I had no idea it would take 2 hours to get from Hanalei to the Pihea Trail! I guess we need to plan for a long day. We are staying in Princeville, but I assume it would be about the same distance.

Looks like I should head to the Pihea trail instead of Kalalau.

Any other trail suggestions besides Pihea that are mild to moderate but still with great views of the Na Pali coast?

Oh, and I signed up for the helicopter ride since we can't handle the boat tour. Thanks for the suggestion!
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Jul 1st, 2013, 02:29 AM
  #14
 
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Another idea is napali coast kayak, they do 1 day kayak tours of the coast other than the more difficult hiking trails(bring shoes you wont mind throwing away after the trip) the best way to see the coast is by air

(also)From the St Regis Beach, walk towards Hanalei eventually you will get to a rocky point. Look to your left and you will see a trail. Follow the trail till its forks and go to the left(the right just takes you along the river) and you will have a short hike up to a lookout for the Bay that rivals the Makena Terrace view. Speaking of the Makena Terrace, wait till you see the buffets...yum....so also make daily use of the 2 mile trail from the SR to the library, its paved
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Jul 3rd, 2013, 05:28 PM
  #15
 
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aloha from Kauai...Hanakapi'ai is the first beach into the Na Pali trail...doable for anyone on a casual pace with plenty of water, good shoes and snacks. Best in the early morning before the august hordes decent and much cooler. The trail climbs for the first 20 minutes, then you weave into greener cooler valleys and out onto ocean overlooks. First place i take friends and guests... Kalalau beach is an entire day strenuous involved hike... we just did it with a gang of outdoor enthusiast. Camping over night, hiking or arranged boat trip back out(we hiked). Again, its a real hike to Kalalau. 11 miles and gets hotter and drier the farther past Honopu you get...
Plenty of gorgeous trails up Koke'e and Waimea canyon...along the rim of the canyon, into the rain forest, etc. Do a little pre trip research and you'll see.
As stated above, plenty of great eateries in Hanalei, Kilauea, Haena....local style authentic hawaiian plate lunch by the Haraguchis Taro truck, everyday kalua pork, farm to table fresh poi, kulolo(taro and coconut)...authentic local,try it! The Dolphin sushi bar is intimate and great! we don't go to the main restaurant as its always packed. Baracuda is killer with smaller portions of mouth watering food...Med Gourmet is our Haena favorite, on the shoreline with great food and drinks and view!
Justin of "Kauai Ono" puts on a delicious 5 course meal, farm to fork all local organic produce/fish as best he can!BYOB... right out of his stainless steel styling food van...as does AJ Irons, of "Opakapaka" food van by the Hanalei river....we eat there by the rivers edge after a long day on the water...fresh opah/ahi, seared with wasabi buerre blanc on coconut saffron rice as an example...been eating "Pat's" burritos and tacos since he showed up.by the Hanalei pier..straight up good quality every time after surfing...
Kilauea town has the Fish market with ahi wraps; depending on who's cooking, they are either unreal or good. Kilauea bakery and pizza is our once a week not wanting to cook place...home made "pomodoro" with goat cheese, local tomatoes, smoked ono added, artichoke hearts: grab a brew from Kilauea market next door...definite try!
Matt of "Light House Bistro" right next door does a great sit down casual fare menu...Seared ahi with ginger beurre blanc calls me often. So many more around...flow with it
Most important is safety at all times near the ocean...i've been to many drownings throughout my life here as a firefighter/life guard, many at places far from life guard tower and until recently not visited by anyone other than locals. Keep your normal sense of personal responsibility and you will be great...can spend hours dialoguing on what hazards to avoid. The most horrible recent drownings occurred at Ka Pukamoi, a lava rock outcropping now showcased in guide books. Accessed also by walking on the tidepools to the north of kauapea"secrets"beach. AVOID at all cost as well as swimming at Secret beach. May look approachable yet people get into trouble consistently. Summer is fairly calm at most beaches yet trade wind swells can and do cause trouble at other places like Lumahai,Queens bath. "Tunnels" is always a good choice even crowded summer months with plenty of room and clean reef space to savor, and competent lifeguards. have a great time
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Jul 3rd, 2013, 05:38 PM
  #16
 
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aloha from Kauai...Hanakapi'ai is the first beach into the Na Pali trail...doable for anyone on a casual pace with plenty of water, good shoes and snacks.

Best in the early morning before the august hordes decent and much cooler. The trail climbs for the first 20 minutes, then you weave into greener cooler valleys and out onto ocean overlooks. First place i take friends and guests... Kalalau beach is an entire day strenuous involved hike... we just did it with a gang of outdoor enthusiast. Camping over night, hiking or arranged boat trip back out(we hiked). Again, its a real hike to Kalalau. 11 miles and gets hotter and drier the farther past Honopu you get...


Plenty of gorgeous trails up Koke'e and Waimea canyon...along the rim of the canyon, into the rain forest, etc. Do a little pre trip research and you'll see.

As stated above, plenty of great eateries in Hanalei, Kilauea, Haena....local style authentic hawaiian plate lunch by the Haraguchis Taro truck, everyday kalua pork, farm to table fresh poi, kulolo(taro and coconut)...authentic local,try it!

The Dolphin sushi bar is intimate and great! we don't go to the main restaurant as its always packed. Baracuda is killer with smaller portions of mouth watering food...Med Gourmet is our Haena favorite, on the shoreline with great food and drinks and view!

Justin of "Kauai Ono" puts on a delicious 5 course meal, farm to fork all local organic produce/fish as best he can!BYOB... right out of his stainless steel styling food van...as does AJ Irons, of "Opakapaka" food van by the Hanalei river....we eat there by the rivers edge after a long day on the water...fresh opah/ahi, seared with wasabi buerre blanc on coconut saffron rice as an example...been eating "Pat's" burritos and tacos since he showed up.by the Hanalei pier..straight up good quality every time after surfing...

Kilauea town has the Fish market with ahi wraps; depending on who's cooking, they are either unreal or good. Kilauea bakery and pizza is our once a week not wanting to cook place...home made "pomodoro" with goat cheese, local tomatoes, smoked ono added, artichoke hearts: grab a brew from Kilauea market next door...definite try!

Matt of "Light House Bistro" right next door does a great sit down casual fare menu...Seared ahi with ginger beurre blanc calls me often. So many more around...flow with it

Most important is safety at all times near the ocean...i've been to many drownings throughout my life here as a firefighter/life guard, many at places far from life guard tower and until recently not visited by anyone other than locals. Keep your normal sense of personal responsibility and you will be great...can spend hours dialoguing on what hazards to avoid.

The most horrible recent drownings occurred at Ka Pukamoi, a lava rock outcropping now showcased in guide books. Accessed also by walking on the tidepools to the north of kauapea"secrets"beach. AVOID at all cost as well as swimming at Secret beach. May look approachable yet people get into trouble consistently.

Summer is fairly calm at most beaches yet trade wind swells can and do cause trouble at other places like Lumahai,Queens bath. "Tunnels" is always a good choice even crowded summer months with plenty of room and clean reef space to savor, and competent lifeguards. have a great time

(((((sorry brah, but you need to use paragraphs and spaces. you have so much good information to share)))))
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Jul 3rd, 2013, 05:43 PM
  #17
 
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My reposting your post may come across arrogant. Who am I to edit your post? I'm an akahine. But my intention is that you have great information.
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