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Kauai Trip Report- From One Extreme to the Other

Kauai Trip Report- From One Extreme to the Other

Old Apr 28th, 2009, 01:01 PM
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Kauai Trip Report- From One Extreme to the Other

From a funky old cottage on the far west side of the island to a fancy condo on the north shore, this trip with my sister was a varied treat.

A bit of background: I started my tropical trips 15+ years ago when my job took me to Honolulu once or twice a year. That job has long since ended, but not my habit of travel to the islands. I am not loyal to any one island, or any one area on an island. My usual length of stay is 6 or 7 nights. I scour the Internet for condo bargains that allow me to have the features I want at an affordable price. The more money I save, the more frequently I can visit! After some unpleasant surprises, I now rent from owners or small agencies that show pictures of their units, including the lanai and grounds. I never hop from island to island, but often move from one part of an island to another. Long day trips are torture for me; I'd rather just travel one-way and then experience a different area in more depth. I double-book the "moving day" to avoid driving around with a car full of luggage waiting for check-in time.

On previous trips to Kauai my lodging has ranged from a house in Hanalei to a condo in Poipu, and places-in-between. The one area that was virgin territory was the west side. I decided to sample it by starting this trip with a short 2 night visit. The original plan was to stay at Waimea Plantation Cottages, however mixed reviews on TripAdviser made me uneasy. They will not allow you to reserve a specific cottage, and I was leery of getting one of the rusty sink/peeling floor units. Instead, I found just what I was looking for on the website of a small agency in Kekaha. I hope this link works:
www.kekahaoceansidekauai.com. It is the cottage called HALE ALAULA.
Hale Alaula was on the border of Waimea and Kekaha, just beyond the small boat harbor. The cottage was a delightful mixture of vintage decor and modern amenities.
There were 2 large bedrooms with comfortable beds and two full bathrooms. We had cable TV, and even a washer and dryer in an outside closet. The kitchen was small, but sufficient for our needs; we loved the cheerful red and white decor. There were 4 sets of French doors leading out to 2 lanais. We spent most of our time on the large covered lanai, enjoying the tropical foliage, listening to the birds, and watching the chicken families strut across the large lawn. The property has an interesting history. It was originally the estate of the general manager of the Kekaha sugar mill. The present owners live in the large, lovely plantation home and share the pool and oceanfront seating area with guests of the cottage and another newer, larger rental house.
The ocean is not very attractive in this area; rough seas and dark sand.

Our favorite meal of the entire trip was on our first night. We had kalua pork nachos at Waimea Brewing Company, washed down with local beer. Huge portions, with lots of cheese and pork. The atmosphere and the service were both excellent. The server just laughed when we moved tables 3 times before finding one with the perfect view and breeze. This place is on the grounds of Waimea Plantation Cottages. We took a tour around and were glad we had chosen our little cottage down the road. It felt like the cottages here were very close together; I would not have been able to enjoy my first cup of morning coffee out on the lanai in my nightgown!

One of the things I like about this part of the island is the older tin-roof buildings in Waimea and Hanapepe. Most of the shops seem to be local one-of-a-kind. One favorite was a coffee shop/art gallery in Waimea called Aloha N Paradise. The owner told us many interesting stories about the lcoal artists, including one who paints on dried banana peels. (or was it banana leaves?) It didn't feel like a sales job...just enthusiasm from someone who loved her job. I also liked Banana Patch Studio in Hanapepe, where you can watch the artists at work. I liked their colorful pottery items. My travel momentos (for myself) are coffee mugs; I bought a nice one with a painted chicken family.

All too soon it was time to leave our cozy cottage for the condo we had reserved in Princeville. I loved my taste of the west side, however, and am already planning to return for a longer stay so I can explore Waimea Canyon, try a steak at Wrangler's Steak House, , and enjoy the sunny weather.

to be continued....
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Old Apr 28th, 2009, 01:50 PM
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Oh joy! rapture! another trip report on the hellhole! Mahalo for sharing!
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Old Apr 28th, 2009, 01:54 PM
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Please drop everything immediately and continue your trip report! Thanks.
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Old Apr 28th, 2009, 06:14 PM
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What a great start! I like the looks of your cozy little cottage. Also, I'm a mug collector as well - for my use, not for display. ....and then....and then?
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Old Apr 28th, 2009, 06:25 PM
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We loved the Waimea Brewing Company too. The food was good, the beer was great and my favorite Tshirt came from there too.

We also liked being able to walk to our cottage afterwards. Our cottage was pretty private. Would love to go back one day.

Looking forward to the rest of your report
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Old Apr 28th, 2009, 06:35 PM
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Did it rain a lot on the north shore?

Carry on!
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Old Apr 28th, 2009, 06:48 PM
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Nui Nachoooooooooos
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Old Apr 29th, 2009, 06:06 AM
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Our first Kauai morning we had donned our swimsuits and headed early to Salt Pond Beach Park. I enjoyed swimming here on a previous trip and thought my sister might like it. Being timid swimmers, we prefer a beach with lifeguards. Alas, no one was in the water so we couldn't really judge the conditions. It looked a bit choppy. I hadn't remembered the huge expanse of sloping sand to get to the water, either. Had it changed, or was I just older and lazier? We stood on the edge and looked for awhile. Still no one in the ocean so we turned around and headed back to the gentle pool across the lawn from our cottage.

Now it was our third day and we had yet to step foot in the ocean. We decided to bid a fond farewell to West Kauai and zip early to the condo awaiting our arrival on the North Shore. We timed it so we could stop by Duane's Ono Burger in Anahola when they opened at 10:30. Alas, the name "Duane"
was gone from the sign, and the burgers were not as "Ono" as our tastebuds had recalled. Another of my favorite resturants, Camp House Grill, appeared to be out of business when we drove through Kalaheo.

After dumping our suitcases and taking a quick look around the condo we dashed out the door to Anini Beach. This is the one beach we trusted to be gentle and welcoming to our salt-water starved mainland bodies. It did not disappoint! A perfect beach day! Skies were blue, water was calm, parking was easy, and there was a nice picnic table sitting empty. The only thing missing was the breeze; no windsurfers or kite boarders zipping out along the reef.

We returned to this beach for several hours each of the next 3 days, until the weather turned nasty. For us, it is the single biggest attraction of the north shore. I particularly enjoy it on weekends when there always seems to be a birthday party or other festive family celebration taking place.
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Old Apr 29th, 2009, 06:30 AM
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Ahhhhhhhh....blood pressure down a few points after reading.

A lot of restaurants closing on Kauai of late and I believe Camp House was one. (No more lobster ravs at "Coconuts" either).

I understand Ono Burgers changed hands a few years ago and some of our local friends told us about the slip in quality.

I hope you were able to hit Tropical Dreams Ice Cream in Kilauea.

More pleaseeeeee
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Old Apr 29th, 2009, 09:28 AM
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Looking forward to more! Please give us the website for your north-shore condo! Thanks!
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Old Apr 29th, 2009, 10:22 AM
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This was my third time renting a place on the north shore. Both previous times I swore I would never return. I remember the first Princeville condo (many years ago) as a drab, dreary place. The interior was rough, dark wood, the view was of the parking lot, and there was not ONE stick of furniture on the wrap-around lanai. Not even a folding lawn chair! That was one of the unpleasant surprises I mentioned earlier in my report; to me, Hawaii is all about outdoor living.

The second time (May, about 5 years ago), I rented a lovely house on Weke Rd. in Hanalei. I found, however, that I missed having access to a pool. It rained, day and night, every day. One of my objections to this side of Kauai is that there is really not much to do if the weather is bad. "Been there..done that" to the slack key concerts at the community center, lighthouse tour, and visit to the mission house. Shopping doesn't hold much appeal. Yawn! And I don't want to drive for 1-2 hours to go someplace else. Fortunately, I like to read.

Nevertheless, here I was again in Princeville. This time I had the help of the Internet to find a much better condo. It seemed that bargains galore existed. One of the plushest complexes in Princeville is Puu Poa. I was drawn to the oceanfront location, and the spacious lanais. Although some units (with empty occupany calendars) were holding out for $350+ per night, others were offering fantastic deals. My personal criteria was: minimal stairs to climb, great view, convenient to pool, and a large TV on which to watch the Merrie Monarch Festival. I chose #203 as being the best match.
Photos and info: www.vrbo.com/37831
We paid a weekly rate of $1250, including tax. I also offered previous references and was able to get the security deposit reduced from $500 to $300.

The first day at the condo I found myself missing the charm and connection to Hawaii's history that I had experienced at the little cottage. So much concrete! So few chickens!
I soon adjusted to the more luxurious lifestyle, however. The weather was perfect for our first few days. We had straight-on views on the ocean from almost every room, and even more amazing views from the two huge lanais. We could see surfers below, and watched cruise ships and kayaks float by. My sister saw dolphins leaping off shore. Although late in the season, we also saw whales. Birds found their way to our lanai railing. We used the pool a bit every day. The water was like silk on the skin; it must be a saline pool.

Overall, things seemed a bit "off" in Princeville. The entry fountain was only flowing one day. Judging by the lights at night, I'd guess that less than 1/3 of the units in our complex were occupied. The golf course we drove by daily was mostly dirt; perhaps it was being re-seeded? The clubhouse by the tennis courts was closed, with peeling paint and grass growing on the roof. The restaurant and Happy Talk Lounge at Hanalei Bay Resort are both closed indefinitely. Work continues on the Princeville Hotel, also closed. It was strangely serene.
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Old Apr 29th, 2009, 10:36 AM
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Starss: I agree about the t-shirts at Waimea Brewing. Which one did you get? I bought my husband the Waialeale Ale shirt, with beautiful picture of waterfalls and hibiscus. I wish he liked to travel more. I wouldn't have to buy him t-shirts every trip. People who know us just laugh when they see him in one and say 'Oh, I see your wife's been to Hawaii again".
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 09:41 AM
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Love your report!!! Thx for posting!!!
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 05:47 PM
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You're not done...are you?
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 06:05 PM
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iamq: one more installment; taking a breather today.
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 07:22 PM
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Barbara thanks so much for posting. I'm so looking forward to my week in Kauai, and your report gives me new ideas.
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Old Apr 30th, 2009, 08:44 PM
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Barbara, the Pakala Porter (with surfer pic) on yellow.
LOVE it!
Will have to go back for another one
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Old May 1st, 2009, 04:03 AM
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Barbara, we are ready for the next installment....pleeeeze or pretty pleeeeeze, hurry!!

i'2
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Old May 1st, 2009, 05:01 AM
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I hope she mentions where she ate on the north shore. Eating is very important on the hell-hole. It is one of the few things to do.

bullybilly
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Old May 1st, 2009, 06:06 AM
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EATING ON THE NORTH SHORE

I'm afraid this will be short, disappointing list for foodies.

My favorite North Shore restaurant this trip was Saffron, the current incarnation at Pali Ke Kua. I liked it because:
1.) Live Hawaiian music from 7pm-9pm 2.) Attentive service by very handsome waiters 3.) Nice atmosphere; pleasant decor with good spacing of tables. Food was OK+; not great.
Prices are moderate (for Hawaii), and the menu is interesting. It is Mediterranean, featuring food from Spain, Italy, and Greece. We ate here twice. I liked the pizza better than the steak. Oh! And I also liked the tropical martinis.

We liked Kalypso in Hanalei just as much as we had previously liked Zellos, in the same location. Casual. Good for lunch. Lots of locals here, which is usually a good sign.

I have always wanted to try Lighthouse Bistro in Kilauea. Alas, we were too early for dinner and too late for lunch.
Instead we ate at the Fish Market, across the street in that old stone building. Eating is on paper plates at tall tables under an outside canopy. I think most people just buy fresh fish here and take it home to cook. Nice selection of fresh fish. We were in Kilauea 2 or 3 times and punctuated each visit with goodies from the excellent bakery.

Our worst meal of this, or ANY trip, was breakfast at Paradise Bar & Grille in Princeville Center. My biscuit was like a rock; sister's pancakes were big and heavy, served without butter. In all fairness, I think they had just recently started serving breakfast and were not prepared for the demand. One cook and one dazed-looking server.

Overall, not too exciting on the culinary front. Lots of snacking at the condo.

I'll be back later with one last report on the wet finale to our north shosre sojourn.
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