My Kauai Heaven--longish trip report!

Old Sep 29th, 2004, 02:05 PM
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My Kauai Heaven--longish trip report!

First of all, mahalo to all those who answered my big and small questions about this wonderful island. You helped to make our first trip to Hawaii unforgettable!

Day 1: Tuesday, Sept. 19:

We got a great deal on flights from Aloha Airlines. Oakland-Honolulu-Lihue for $396/pp. My husband and I both agreed this was the best airline we've ever been on-great service and great cookies and milk! The flights to Kauai were a breeze. No trouble picking up the Budget rental car (sent DH ahead while I waited for the luggage to beat the lines!) We arrived at 11:45am, and our Pono Kai condo in Kapa'a wouldn't be ready until 2pm, so we parked the car at the condos and walked to downtown Kapa'a. Had a good, casual lunch at Olympic café (DH had fish tacos and I had a yummy chicken/avocado/bacon sandwich). We stocked up on drinks and snack supplies at the ABC store and headed back to the condo to check in. The condo (booked through VRBO.com for $95/night!) was B-304, and we had a spectacular oceanfront suite. Every night we kicked back on the lanai to catch a cool breeze with my husband's specialty-rum punch. The condo was immaculate and a great location for us. Wonderful to hear the ocean as we slept and to catch the sunrise in the mornings. After checking in, we headed to nearby Lydgate Park for a few hours of some shallow, fun snorkeling to reacquaint ourselves with our snorkel gear. After cleaning up back at the condo, we headed out to one of our favorite meals of the trip--Coconuts in Kapa'a. DH had the sesami-crusted ahi w. wasabi rice and I took a chance on the tempura-battered ono. I'm not a seafood lover, but this was a delicious choice. We ate on their breezy patio with snails on the wall and a kitten chasing a big bull frog for company.

Day 2: Wednesday, Sept. 20:
Woke up early, still on California time, and headed south to Poipu. Stopped at the Dali Deli for a toasted bagel and the "best banana bread of his life" according to my husband (hot out of the oven!). We drove to check out the Spouting Horn--very cool, and checked out Shipwreck beach while waiting for our 10am surf lesson. Took a 2-hr surf lesson with Marg Oberg's surf school ($48 pp)at the beach near the Sheraton in Poipu. Our instructor, Alvin, gave us 15min of on-land instruction, then we headed out to the water for an hour of being pushed off through the waves by Alvin. He would shout instructions, and DH and I both stood up several times (big, heavy boards that are easy for beginners to manage!). My crowning glory was catching my own wave (no push by Alvin), and riding it straight in to shore! Note to any beginning surfers--your bikini WILL ride up your butt while surfing, so make sure to put sunscreen way up there--I ended the day with nice red halfmoons on my tush!
After the surf lesson, we picked up lunch at Brennecke's Deli, and ate it across the street at the park. Sandwiches were just OK, but tasted good after all our wipe-outs that morning. After lunch we snorkeled at nearby Koloa landing and Lawa'I Beach, both of which were pretty good.
We rinsed off at the Poipu Beach showers, and changed to dry clothes to head back toward Kapa'a. We drove up to the Wailua falls (spectacular!), then back down for some window shopping at the Coconut Marketplace. We grabbed some yummy Lappert's ice cream there to watch the free Hula show at the Coconut Marketplace courtyard. The local girls' dance hula club put on a spectacular little show, and got me hooked on the art of hula--so much that we decided to book a luau for later in the week (although we hadn?t originally planned to do so!)
For dinner we walked to Norberto's in downtown Kapa'a for some GREAT Mexican food (spicy salsa, homemade guac, beef and fish tacos!) all set to some nice country music in the background in this cozy restaurant. We were pleasantly surprised by this restaurant because living in Tucson for so many years made us a bit of "self-proclaimed" Mexican food snobs.

Day 3: Thursday, September 23:
Up with the sun again and drove to downtown Waimea, grabbing breakfast (spam and eggs!) at the Waimea Bakery and Deli. We drove up toward Waimea canyon, stopping for several photos of the amazing canyon along the way. We parked at the Ko Ke'e State Park museum, then walked 2miles up the road to the Awa'awa puhi Trailhead. Hiked from there, to the Nu'alolo Cliff Trail, then out to Loma Vista for lunch (exhilarating, spectacular and stomach twisting views of the NaPali coast!) I could barely stand up while eating our packed lunch because the dropoffs were way too scary for me, but my husband walked all around the cliff top taking some great photos. We finished the loop by hiking back up Nu'alolo Trail back to our car, for a total of 10.5miles roundtrip.
Refreshed with a soda from the museum store, we drove up to the Kalalau Valley lookout spot, for view of a beautiful rainbow. We had rain everyday on our trip, at least a few times--each lasting for only a few minutes, but enough to get us wet, cool us off, and make some spectacular rainbows.
We drove back to Waimea, stopping at Waimea Plantation Cottages, which I wanted to check out, since we almost stayed there. To our disappointment at the bar, their boiler was broken, so no local beers to taste, however, their Wele Wele hot wings were divine and really, really hot (even my DH admitted they were hot!). Stopped at Port Allen at the Kauai chocolate shop to meet the owners (very friendly) and to sample their chocolate. Brought home a mixed assortment of tropical flavored truffles, some fudge for our trip and sampled my new favorite--Kauai caramels with red salt on top (red from the algae in the salt ponds on southern Kauai.)
Back at the condo, I took a nice soak in the Jacuzzi, met some nice people and cooled off my tired heels! We walked to dinner at the Bull Shed (just OK, and not worth going back to in our opinion.)

Day 4: Friday, September 24
We had a leisurely morning packing up our stuff (ready to move to our next locale on the north shore), and checked out of our condo. Then we headed into Lihue for breakfast at Ma's Family, Inc. Ma was our server, and we couldn't believe she's still running that place at her age! Very spry and sweet though. Filling breakfast for really cheap--next time I would try the Hawaiian specialties like tripe soup instead of the tame pancakes that I did.
We checked out the Kauai museum. Just the perfect size for an hour or two of viewing, and very informative about the history of Kauai. Interesting to see where all the unique cultures fit in, and how they came to Hawaii--a true "melting pot" of people. Then we stopped at Hilo Hattie's and the Red Dirt Shirt outlet for some window shopping on our way out of town. Stopped at the Coconut Marketplace again in Kapa'a to buy a "Chicks who Rip" T-shirt, now that I'm a surf diva (ha, ha...more like a wipe-out diva!)
We then drove to Hanalei and stopped for a slice of wholewheat pizza at Pizza Hanalei. We stopped at our next lodging--Aloha Sweet Seclusion (Treetop studio) in Wainiha (outskirts of Hanalei toward the end of the road.) What a beautiful jungle retreat..luxury in the middle of the jungle. All open air (but with screens to keep out the 'squitos), and immaculate. This place was perfect for us...they had boogie boards for us to use, beach towels, mats, chairs and purified water for us to fill our hiking bottles. Great to wake to the sounds of birds and to fall asleep with little gecko friends on the walls.
Cleaned up a bit, then headed back out toward Kilauea to see the very pretty lighthouse. Stopped at the Kong Lung Village to buy some wonderfully-scented sweet grass candles. Headed back toward Kapa'a, stopping at the Kauai products fair, where DH picked out a pretty plumeria necklace for me. Then we headed to our big splurge--the Smith Family Luau. I initially didn't think we would go on a luau because I thought it might feel too "touristy", even though this was our first visit to Hawaii, but we thoroughly enjoyed our evening there. We walked around the botanical gardens for about an hour, watched the imu ceremony, enjoyed a delicious meal, and thoroughly enjoyed the show after dinner. There were dances from several cultures, including Hawaii, Japan, China, Samoa, Tahiti and New Zealand. All in all, a very good deal for $52pp.

To be continued...




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Old Sep 29th, 2004, 02:23 PM
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GREAT trip report,AZWildcat!!! I love all these little details. Excellent tip on burned 'surfing butt.' Just waiting for more here!
 
Old Sep 30th, 2004, 07:05 AM
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Day 5: Saturday, September 25:
Woke up to birds in our jungle home, had a lovely toasted blueberry bagel and headed to Ke?e Beach for snorkeling by 8:30am. No crowds when we arrived. This was our favorite snorkeling beach on the island. Warm water and tons of fishes, from small fries to big ?uns. We snorkeled and soaked in some sun, having a great morning. Only slight annoyance was loud people walking on the reef?eek! Don?t they realize that the reef is alive?
Drove to Tunnels around 11am, and by then the parking lot at Ke?e was getting pretty full. We parked near Tunnels and spent an hour or so snorkeling there. Very good snorkeling as well, and kind of fun to wind our way through the sandy bars to deeper water.
Headed into Hanalei for lunch?picked up sandwiches at Hanalei Gourmet deli?delish! Ate outside at one of the picnic tables. Shopped for some postcards and checked out the little stores before heading to Hanalei Bay for some mega boogie-boarding. This was a super fun afternoon catching the waves. Much easier than surfing!
After cleaning up, we went out to Sushi Blues for dinner. We agreed the service seemed kind of rushed (i.e. they bring your main entrée before you?re done with the sushi appetizer or miso soup), but the food was decent. Could have been an ?off? night, but this was not one of our favorite meals of the trip. The location was fun though, and it was fun to sit up overlooking the town of Hanalei, especially as brief downpours would come and go. After dinner we headed over to Tahiti Nui?DH claimed the bartender was one of the best he?s seen in awhile (old-school hubby likes a bartender that remembers your drink, is attentive but not hovering, and pours well for good tips.) We sat down at the end of the bar near George, a native Hawaiian, and after buying each other a few rounds, enjoyed several stories from George about the Kauai of his childhood. I definitely agree with a previous poster that this place ?seems like the Cheers bar of Kauai, where everybody knows your name!?

Day 6: Sunday, September 26:
Up early to arrive at Ke?e Beach by 8am. Hiked the Kalalau Trail to the beach at Hanakapi?ai Valley. Beautiful and almost deserted when we arrived. Loved seeing the little wild kitties climbing over the lava rocks there. We continued on right away toward the falls and about 1.5h later made it to the majestic falls. This experience was my favorite of the entire trip. We were the only ones there. Standing in a deserted valley, surrounded by lush cliff walls that extend a hundered feet over your head, seeing a beautiful, powerful waterfall?was truly surreal. We both swam out to the middle of the freezing-cold pool, then stood up on a rock in the middle for a shivering, unforgettable embrace.
After drying off, we headed back down the trail, greeting some other hikers that had made it all the way. We stopped back at the beach to eat our lunch of cold chicken (my favorite hiking food--yum!), fruit and cookies. By the time we headed back along the Kalalau trail to Ke?e Beach, we encountered lots of hikers, and the trail was made much muddier by all the traffic. It was starting to get pretty warm by the time we finished (took us 6h total including our lunch break), so a jump into the water at Ke?e Beach was very refreshing.
After the hike, we stopped at our Treetop studio to grab some more supplies, then headed off to Pu?u Poa Beach at Princeville for some snorkeling. We found the water to be very murky and the water was so shallow around the reef, that it was tough to snorkel safely, so we only stayed for a bit. Headed to Anini Beach (the far end past the campgrounds) to check out the reef about 75yards out from the shore?past the sandy bottom. I enjoyed this snorkel because the water temperature was very warm, waters calm, and the depth about 6ft the entire way out (you could stand in sandy spots and be 150yards off shore!), but there were very few fish and those that we saw were very timid. That is supposed to be a great fishing beach though, and we talked to a few fishermen there, so maybe that?s why the fish were hiding. Or maybe there?s just a better spot for snorkeling that we didn?t locate.
We cleaned up at the Anini County Beach showers and headed off to Kilauea for a slice of yummy pizza at the Kilauea Bakery & Pau Hana Pizza shop (I liked this place better than Hanalei Pizza, but DH had the reverse opinion).
We then headed to Princeville and enjoyed some froo-froo sunset cocktails on their deck at The Living Room bar (gorgeous view) and my Lava Flow drink (pina colada with strawberry puree) was heavenly! We ordered the beef tataki pu-pu (thought it was tasty, but expensive at $14 for a few little strips of rare beef. Even living in the Bay Area that seems expensive to me.) The sunset was beautiful and it was extremely romantic to be there with my sexy husband of almost 5 years.
For dinner, we headed back to Hanalei and ate at Zelo?s. Despite some mixed reviews of this place recently, we had a GREAT dinner and would definitely recommend this place. Service was good. My burger was yummy, and DH?s ono fish & chips was good too.

Day 7: Monday, September 27:
Sad this would be our last day, but determined to make it a fun one, we rented surf boards in Hanalei town and headed to Hanalei Bay. The waves were 3 to 5 ft., and larger than when we had learned in Poipu. With no instructor and slightly shorter/thinner/lighter boards, it was definitely tougher than during the lesson. After swallowing a ton of ocean water, I was able to get up a few times (at least up long enough to wipe-out!). DH did better than I did, but I maintain that true surfing is 10% surfing and 90% lying around on the board looking cool (tee-hee).
For a break, we headed over to Princeville to check out Queen?s Bath. I think this is not-to-be-missed on Kauai. Lovely shoreline and so cool to see the bright blue water crash up against the lava rocks. Easy little 10min hike down to the shore, and your reward is seeing giant sea turtles playing in the surf. Lots of warnings to stay away from the water?s edge though, so we were cautious in snapping our photos.
Had lunch at Tropical Taco in Hanalei. SUPER tacos! Highly recommend this place, but be warned, they are very filling! Had to window shop a bit more before our stomachs felt ready to go back out surfing! We surfed (a.k.a. fell a lot) for a few more hours in Hanalei Bay, then returned the boards and cleaned up at our Treetop studio. We packed out bags for our trip home, then headed into Hanalei for some shave ice (grape/lime/pineapple?yum!). DH had the Kona coffee ice-cream, and I was very jealous of his choice too! With icecream in hand, we headed to Hanalei Bay near the pier for another breathtaking sunset.
For our last meal (which also ended up being our unanimous FAVORITE of the trip), we ate at Hanalei Gourmet. Very reasonably priced, mellow atmosphere, great ahi & chips, burger and triple chocolate cake!

Day 8: Tuesday, September 28
Woke up at 4:30am to finish packing and drive to Lihue. Returned rental car and dashed to airport, making it there by 6am for our 6:55am flight. Agent at the desk not too thrilled with our late arrival, but a smile and a "mahalo" seemed to win him over. Another great flight on the way home, and we arrived in the Bay Area early enough to pick up my two babies from the kennel (yellow labs who missed me very much, I can tell!)

Again, thanks to everyone for their insight and genuine opinions about Kauai!




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Old Sep 30th, 2004, 07:21 AM
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Thank you so much for all the great details.........you have me headed to work with an aloha glow on!!!! Mahalo!
 
Old Sep 30th, 2004, 07:39 AM
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AZ,
What a GREAT TR to wake up to!
=D>=D>=D>=D>

Ain't nuthin' better being one of the first cars in the parking area at Kee to get an early start up the Great NaPali, yah!

You hit some of my fave food places, Oly Cafe, Norbertos ("The El")and Coconuts (lobster ravs!), Waimea Brew Co....Bull Shed has been "hit n' miss" the past few years...

"Rain" in Kauai? Who knew?

Mrs. Kal and all of our little nieces, and great nieces are well equipped with
"Chicks Who Rip" gear. Great theme and cool stuff.

I'm glad I wasn't the one who saw those loud tourists on the reef.
It's like seeing someone dropping litter on any trail on Kauai.

Come on....wasn't there a little tear in your eye on the way to the airport? Or were you too hurried?

89 day until we hear the roar of the ocean all night long.
Thx for whetting the Kauai appetite.
Kal

ps...if you're a Nor Cal FFF (Fine Fodor Friend), you guys may consider attending our GTG in Yountville the day after T'giving??? Just a .
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Old Sep 30th, 2004, 07:56 AM
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BTW...has anybody been watching "Lost" on ABC?
Speaking of Kauai??????
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Old Sep 30th, 2004, 08:04 AM
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Thank you, Bruddah Kal!!! "Lost" is set on Kauai? I haven't watched it, but NOW I WILL,if that is so!!!
 
Old Sep 30th, 2004, 08:17 AM
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bb,
If it's not, I wanna go where it IS filmed....without the monsters, of course.

Loud tourists or Monsters? :-?

Maybe the loud tourists were on a day trip from Maui?
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Old Sep 30th, 2004, 08:35 AM
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Kal, read this article. Seems to be Oahu........ which doesn't surprise me. It is one gorgeous island, too!

http://starbulletin.com/2004/03/18/news/story3.html
 
Old Sep 30th, 2004, 08:47 AM
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Kal and Bonniebroad:
I have been watching "Lost" and it is great -- I love it! I was wondering if it was Hawaii, and I would have guessed Kauai, but that article says it was Oahu. Watching it just makes me want to get back to Hawaii asap!
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Old Sep 30th, 2004, 08:49 AM
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Mucho mahalos, bb.
Nice article. Oahu still has some secrets!

Like the series so far but I have to change the channel everytime they show a flashback to the "plane problem"...Especially since Mrs Kal was in the air last night!
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Old Sep 30th, 2004, 09:06 AM
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We were sure it was the Napali coast they were showing on Lost. I didn't see any polar bears when we were there though.
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Old Sep 30th, 2004, 09:18 AM
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Here are some pictures that do resemble the terrain that we see on lost, enjoy!http://www.hawaiiweb.com/oahu/sites_...li_lookout.htm


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Old Sep 30th, 2004, 09:30 AM
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Okay, guys, here's another article done on the series in August, and the fact that it's set on Oahu. This is good, because I think many people travel quickly through Honolulu/Waikiki (which I love), and never realize what the rest of that magnificent island is like!

http://starbulletin.com/2004/08/24/features/story1.html
 
Old Sep 30th, 2004, 03:07 PM
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Thanks for the kind remarks about my trip report--I'm glad to whet your appetites for upcoming trips to Kauai!

No tears in my eyes upon leaving, because it was such a fulfilling, relaxing vacation. But-- now that I'm back at work, I do find myself daydreaming about the beautiful island...already posted a shot of the NaPali coastline as my screensaver!

Kal--thanks for the kind invite for the NorCal Fodorite GTG. I've lived all over the Bay Area and in fact, attended the SF GTG three years ago. Now we live in Oakland. I'll be headed to LA over Thanksgiving though, so I'll have to join you next time.

Funny story about rainy Kauai--we were in a 5&dime shop in Hanalei town and a pleasant tourist woman actually asked the employee there, "Does it always rain this much on Kauai?...nobody told me it rains so much here when I was planning my trip." DH and I had to head outside quickly before laughing at the woman, because she was clearly nice and well-meaning, but just not a Fodors addict like myself. I can't imagine going someplace without researching a ton beforehand with kind Fodorites.


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Old Sep 30th, 2004, 05:59 PM
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The ending credits on "Lost" state that the series is filmed there on Oahu. It goes by pretty quickly, but I had it "taped" on my TIVO and was able to pause it to read.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 01:24 PM
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topping for grasshut! This is a GREAT Kauai trip report...

btw, we drove through the plane crash set for LOST while on O'ahu last year... on the north shore driving out to Kaena Point... very weird to say the least. I think they may have moved over to Kualoa Ranch area for inland scenes as well as Mokuleia for the beach scenes.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2005, 04:06 PM
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wow, makai1, thanks a bunch for topping this one. Don't know how I missed it! Must have been out of town at the time.

AZWildcat, if you see this, I was pulling for your team...but, alas, it didn't happen.

22 more days until
 
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