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Kauai trip report 12/23-1/6 - a soggy holiday

Old Jan 8th, 2005, 03:05 PM
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Kauai trip report 12/23-1/6 - a soggy holiday



This was our fifth visit to Kauai, all over the same holiday period, but this time our luck ran out weather-wise -- it was pretty rainy much of the time, and the rain covered the whole island. We were staying in a rented house on Anini Beach, which is one of our favorite places in the world, and we knew that we were tempting fate each time we stayed there during the rainy season, but we’d really lucked out before this year. Here and there this time, we had a morning, or a few hours, in which the sky cleared somewhat, and toward the end we had a few days in which we could head down to Kapa’a and Lydgate beach for sun.

The weather was more important to our grown kids, who converged on the house from Philadelphia and LA to join us for the holidays, and we were disappointed more for them than for us. That said, we all made the best of it and did a lot of hanging out together which was -- actually -- quite nice.

When the weather was good we swam and snorkled happily right across the road from our house. The first day we strolled the beach we noticed a pair of large eyes peering at us from about ten feet out, then up came the head. It was a young curious monk seal who watched us a while before he ducked back down under the surface. These are supposed to be rather rare on Kauai, but the following day, while our son-in-law snorkled off the same beach, this seal (or a near relative!) circled quite close to him and then pretty much went nose to nose with him for a bit before taking off, all while the rest of us watched in wonderment from the beach. Some neighbors further down the road mentioned that they had a group of frisky monk seals in the water in front of their house, and my older daughter saw a quite large one sunning itself on the beach at Kapa’a. Maybe it was the strange weather pattern that brought them in, but what a treat it was.

When weather and surf permitted, the snorkeling was pretty good at Anini, and the sea turtles especially charmed the kids. (The taco truck showed up there from time to time and we had our first ever fish tacos, which were great.) The hiking and kayaking plans our kids had made were, however, literally washed out, along with the helicopter tour and mandatory luau. Just means they all have to come back again, right?

We took a lot of drives and reacquainted ourselves with the wonderful mountain views. They were often shrouded in clouds, but on one a clear morning after a particularly heavy rain we were in Hanalei and saw seven or eight incredible waterfalls coming down the whole length of these mountains, where we’d hardly ever seen any at all before. (That was one heck of a lot of rain!)

The lighthouse in Kilauea remains a great place to visit, for the fabulous views. People often see whales there, though the best I have ever done is just a humpback tail descending into the water. The cliffs are a bird sanctuary and thousands of shore birds nest there. This time around a curious albatross coasted back and forth near us as we strolled.

The bakery in the Kong Lung store complex in Kilauea is every bit as good as everybody says it is and it was far too accessible for our own good. They make great sandwiches and soups too, and we were told that the pizza was excellent, though we never got to try it. The Kong Lung store itself, which I think has been there for something like 100 years, is to my mind the best shop on the North Shore for imaginative gifts. Everything from interesting clothing and finely crafted jewelry to purple chopsticks and contemporary porcelain. It has grown over the years since I’ve come to know it and added a hip women’sclothing shop and a shop offering, among other things, Hawaiian-motif tiles, pottery and attractive glazed serving pieces featuring charming gecko and sea turtle designs. There’s an Asian jewelry and antique gallery in the complex that offered fascinating browsing (actually buying anything there was way beyond my budget) and a soap and candle shop.

Of course, most people were talking about the tsunami that had just devastated Southeast Asia and I suspect that everyone on Anini Road was feeling somewhat vulnerable, since it is directly on the beach and backed by high bluffs and the only way out is up a long, winding road to the Kuhio Hwy. After a prolonged period of heavy rain we lost our electricity after dark and were not able for a few hours to know exactly what was going on outside. Not one of the high moments of our visit, needless to say.. However, electricity was restored faster there than it often is back home in suburban Philadelphia during a storm, and we were really impressed with the efficiency (and toughness!) of the linemen.

After a couple of days of monsoon rains, the polo grounds on Anini Road became a lake and there were easily a hundred egrets having the time of their lives there. And, while I’m thinking about birds, I can’t leave out the wild chickens. My younger daughter, who is an animal whisperer and can charm the fur or feathers off any critter she encounters, was not only enchanted by them but discovered several mothers with broods who bonded with her and came to visit regularly. We inherited them after she returned home, and I daresay now that we’re gone our landlord will be wondering what he did to deserve them.

Food: Didn’t have a lot of great eating-out experiences (well, we don’t go to Kauai for the food anyhow). As always, dinner at A Pacific Cafe was absolutely spectacular; everyone in our group was blown away by the wonderful creative food and fabulous service, all of it managed without the uptight formality that so often accompanies dining of such high quality. Perhaps we hit Sabella’s on an off night, but we weren’t especially impressed by the food and the service was abysmal. Similarly, lunch at Cafe Hanalei at the Princeville Hotel on New Year’s Day was dreary (well, the day was dreary to begin with) and the service was so bad that the manager comped our meal. From the looks of what the staff was clearing up when we arrived, we would have been far better off going for the buffet breakfast there. We had a couple of nice breakfasts at Country Kitchen in Kapa’a, where the menu is huge, along with the portions, and at the Hanalei Wake-Up Cafe (my personal favorite breakfast place because of the surfer stuff all over the walls). We decided to chance a lunch at Zelo’s despite the warnings on this site about its having deteriorated. Bad move. We didn’t experience the poor service a few other people spoke about, but the burgers we remembered as luscious were, this time, rubbery, and the formerly great waffle fries were ordinary.

So, that’s about it, folks. Not a lot of adventures this time around because of the weather, and we hate the long trip to and from Philadelphia, but of course we will be back again, and again, because this place is magic and we love it.



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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 03:26 PM
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Oops, almost forgot about Sushi Blues in Hanalei. Had dinner there twice, and liked it a lot. Outstanding sashimi both times for me, and everyone else in our group ranged all over the menu. It's noisy, with an eclectic, interesting crowd, very comfortable and with very good service.
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 03:50 PM
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Wonderful report, thanks. We just moved to the mainland after 6 years on Kauai and I always like to read detailed vacation happenings!

How far down on Anini was your house? Yes, I sometimes got a slight shiver while sitting on the beach there and imagining a tsunami, wondering how I would scramble up that hillside.

Agree about A PAcific Cafe, that's where we did all our business entertaining. My husband would call ahead and consult with the owner who would make us a special meal that wasnt on the menu. Husband still travels to Kauai frequently and always entertains there.

Too bad about Cafe Hanalei, but I think it's only worth the price if there is a great view to be seen and on a stormy day it would be blah. Agree about Zelo's: yuck. My teenagers loved Sushi Blues and spent many evenings there with their Kapaa High School pals.

We spent our vacation on the east coast this year, part of it in Philly. I really love big cities after 6 years in "paradise."
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 05:35 PM
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Nice to read you trip report. Too bad about the weather. I am headed to Kauai for the month of February, so can only hope the weather will be fine. I have been going in Feb for the last 15 years and can only remember about 2 years when the weather was bad, and then only for about a week or so. I have lucked out the last 5 years, but one can never be assured of great weather so you do have to make the best of it, which it sounds like you did. I have good friend who lives in Kalaheo, and she said it rained about 7 inches around New Year's and there was flooding everwhere, but says it has been really nice since. I am hoping for the best, but in paradise even the bad weather is ok by me. Hope your next trip will be better weatherwise.
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 06:28 AM
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Vivi: Our house was at 3663, next door to the orange "Victorian," maybe 5 houses down from the park and dead across the road from one of the beach access paths.

I suppose I can understand your liking big cities after 6 years in "paradise," though we don't actually live in Philly -- we're in a town about 20 miles outside, so we've got the best of both worlds.

BrendaM: where do you stay when you're there?



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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 06:45 AM
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HI,I loved your trip report! Kauai is our favorite island.We've been 5 times and are planning another trip.
Would you mind sharing some info on the house you rented?? Is there a website I can go to and look at pictures? Prices?
Exc...exc..
Thanks for any info,
Debbie

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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 10:05 AM
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CKWALD, ARE YOU STILL THERE??
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 04:20 PM
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Debden -- Wish we were still there, but only had 2 weeks. Here's the website for the house we stayed at: [email protected].
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 04:24 PM
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That's not a website -- it's an e-mail address.
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 04:28 PM
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ckwald,

I am always in the Poipu area in February. Love the North shore but trust that weather there is not as reliable as the South shore.
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Old Jan 16th, 2005, 04:35 PM
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Can I expect heat & sunshine on the West Shore in late May/early June?
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 11:06 AM
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ckwald,I looked up www.kauaihouse.com
Is that the right website? House?
Debbie
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 01:59 PM
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Sorry, Debden, I sent you their e-mail address by mistake. Here's the web site: vacationrentals.com/vacation-rentals/17748.html
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Old Jan 17th, 2005, 04:16 PM
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Yes, it'll be sunny but hot in West coast. If you are there in May, don't miss the Kameamea Day parade in the civic center, if they still have it. It's a real local affair.
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