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    by ibobi Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 20, 17 at 01:24 PM
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Roxy goes to Kauai!

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Roxy goes to Kauai! June 1-9, 2004. My boyfriend and I, footloose and fancy free, adventurous and in our mid-twenties. We used the Ultimate Kauai guidebook (referred to herein as UK), which we love. The directions and maps are as accurate and thorough as they were in the Maui book. We also used, although not as much as I thought we might, Kauai Trails, by Kathy Morey. A good book with excellent trail maps.

I?ve broken it up into sections (listed below). I hope that this report, which, criminy, turned out to be way longer than maybe even my Maui trip report, proves most helpful for all those who take their time to give advice here. Once again, it?s LONG because I never feel trip reports are thorough enough; I always see people asking questions like ?What exactly was this detail and that detail like??, so I try to really give a feel for the things we experienced. Key points are in bold. Not-so-key points are also in bold.

May your days be filled with plumeria and liliko?i jelly.

RANDOM FACTS (condo, shoes, weather, coral/fish feeding, chickens/nenes, centipedes, photos, the way paradise ended this time)


We flew Aloha Air again this year. We flew from Oakland with a 1.5 hour layover in Honolulu, which is really cool to see from the air. Honolulu has a nice little tropical garden with a sitting area near the interisland terminals. They?re pretty friendly on Aloha. We had vegetarian meals this time because their wonderful fruit plate was no longer being offered. The first meal was actually quite good (and both included juicy, fresh fruit)--stir-fried noodles and crunchy veggies; on the way back though, it was very strange--a bed of curly pasta, four okay asparagus spears, and a veggie burger folded with some kind of salsa/pasta sauce inside. What? However, the milk n cookie (one guy got two; my boyfriend is still miffed) near the end of the flight was a good treat.

A side note for those of you flying first class (ha, not us): both flights we?ve taken with Aloha have what seems to me pretty lousy first class seats. They?re very wide, but they have exactly the same amount of leg room as coach! I?d be ticked if I shelled out for that.

The flights were on time but the flight from HNL to OAK was delayed by almost three hours, the consequence of which was Stinger Ray?s restaurant and Lappert?s ice cream. Stinger Ray?s was?sufficient. The fries were good, but the food was otherwise pretty greasy-airporty, and the whole overdone ?legend of Stinger Ray? kitsch kind of put us off. Our first Lappert?s experience was expensive and we?re not sure what?s so great about it.

Muchos mahalos to Mona at the Lihue baggage office for helping to swiftly reconnect me (in only a few hours) with the sweater I lost on the jet way in Honolulu!


We stayed in Princeville at the Pali Ke Kua condos, unit #106, a single story one bedroom end unit on the ground floor. We really love this place and would stay there again in a heartbeat.

The place is very clean, with lots of natural light in the living area (the bedroom was darker but not too bad). The full kitchen is well stocked with everything, utensils and tools, cleaning supplies, even paper towels (oh, those little things impress us). There are also beach towels, lots of bath towels, a boogie board, beach mats, and a washer/dryer, which RULES (see ?random facts--condo? section). The bathroom is very pretty, with nice cool tile, a big sink/counter area, and a fairly large tub/shower with a seat. There is a small dining nook surrounded by windows. The living area looks right out to the ocean, absolutely beautiful, and stepping onto the patio gives you views to Hanalei Bay and Bali Hai. The local birds swing through each morning, including the cardinals and nenes who each took the liberty of actually walking into the condo on separate mornings. There is a ceiling fan in the living area and bedroom, but the feature we really like are the screened louvers below the windows, allowing you to keep constant fresh air coming through without worrying about security.

There is private access to the eastern portion of Hideaways Beach on the property. It heads steeply down a paved path, very lush and punctuated by coconut and my all-time favorite, banana trees (love that microphone flower studded with little baby bananitos!). Right before the beach there is a little gazebo/pavilion with picnic tables and two small charcoal grills (these not covered by the pavilion). The beach is wonderfully idyllic, a cove backed by lots of shady trees, with views up and down the coast, and studded in those dramatic lava rocks which also formed some tide pools. The walk back up can be a bit of a puffer, and I couldn?t imagine trying to do it with a sack of charcoal. We were disappointed by this and ended up buying a little $15 hibachi grill and barbecuing on our patio, which ruled. So, while it?s a great shelling and snorkeling beach, it?s COVERED in lava rocks and large sheets of slate-like rock on the sand and in the water and it?s pretty short and not very wide so maybe not the best beach for laying out or frolicking with the kids (plenty of toe-stubbing opportunities and too many obstacles for swimming) , although there?s lots of shade. It?s beautiful, serene, and very private-feeling though.

The property is very pretty, nicely landscaped, with the majority of the buildings sitting on an enormous lawn facing the ocean. From outside our unit we could even look to the west and see waterfall-streaked mountains. We saw several rainbows over the ocean right from our patio and the sunsets were always sponsored by Jesus and Thomas Kinkade. There are some units that do not sit on the cliff but are ?garden views?, on the interior, for cheaper rates. There?s a pool and a restaurant, Sabella?s, onsite. We didn?t use either. Ample parking.

We paid about $1350 for eight nights through Kauai Vacation Rentals. This included: $1085 rent, 11% taxes, $110 cleaning fee, and $35 booking fee. KVR (www.kauaivacationrentals.com) was a great agency. Their website is awesome, very clear and easy to read and navigate, with a base map of the different areas so you can peruse by region as well as an alphabetical listing of rentals, good lengthy descriptions of the units, and LOTS of good photos as well as many having those little 360 degree viewers, often with more than one view to choose from. The only downside was that you can?t check availability online, but they?re very friendly and helpful on the phone and will work with you to find something. And they had our keys waiting at the Alamo car rental so we didn?t have to make an extra stop, very cool (although we did have to stop at their office near the airport before we left to simply drop off the keys).


We rented from Alamo. We got a small SUV (Buick Rendezvous) because we had some rough roads in mind, and it ended up being perfect for this. The backseats folded down which was perfect for laying out wet towels and bathing suits and the rear area had lots of storage space. The rate (without taxes/fees) was $235 for eight days, which is great. Sign up for the major rental places? email updates, and keep checking them for lower rates even after you reserve--Alamo ended up having a special on SUVs after I?d booked with someone else and it?s very easy to cancel and rebook car reservations.

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    Oh those north shore beaches, with their stunning mountain views, the sand backed by jungle n coconut trees. The best snorkeling we did was at Hideaways (described in the condo section), below our condo. The water is beautifully turquoise and clear here, with good swaths of bright white sand at the bottom, lots of fish, and a good variety of colored coral besides just the brown coralline algae, which, although the nibbly fish love it, is not very pretty. We saw several black and white spotted eels on our trip, one of which was here and so freaking cute popping in and out of its hole, posing for the camera. No facilities.

    Tunnels Beach (north shore) is just stunning. The offshore reef forms a very calm, clear blue lagoon area which I much enjoyed floating on my boogie board in, alternately gazing upon the bit of palm-covered beach jutting into the sea and the verdant, waterfall-etched mountains. Oh, decisions. A good amount of shade to be had. The snorkeling was good, and the water calm midmorning, but not as good as Hideaways we thought. We tried parking at one of the little dirt road areas described in UK only to find it packed. We ended up parking at the ample Haena Campgrounds lot and just walking the short way up the beach toward the Tunnels area. The dry cave is right across the road there and is worth a few vacation minutes to see its striations of golds and bronzes. There?s bathrooms and I assume showers.

    Hanalei Bay (north shore) was wonderfully peaceful in the morning when we took a short stroll on the center portion. You see the bay in all its enormous glory, all the way to the Princeville Hotel, and dotted with sailboats.

    The morning we went to Anini Beach (north shore) was on and off and finally on again rainy-dreary. The snorkeling was not so hot. The visibility wasn?t great that day, and we swam out a pretty long way without seeing anything, even coral, and when we finally did, the fish count was pretty low. The water is super calm though, from its 2 mile long fringing reef. There?s bathrooms and showers and picnic tables.

    Moloa?a Bay (north shore) is a very pretty, and empty, little spot in a quiet neighborhood. Sprinkled with lots of lava rocks and backed by palm trees and pretty houses, it?s a picturesque, quiet place. No facilities.

    Queen?s Bath (north shore) was VERY crowded when we were there at around 4pm. There were even people playing in the areas to the left and right of the bath proper. We ended up not going in but everyone else seemed to be enjoying the natural swimming pool. It?s an easy little hike from the parking area, and you pass through lush greenery and follow a stream to the end where its waterfall plunges right into the sea. It was at this area that we sat and watched about a dozen enormous turtles and one MONK SEAL playing the deep blue foamy water. We could even stand on the rocks and say ?Hey, I can see my house (okay, condo) from here!?

    Poipu Beach Park (south shore) was a fun place to be. We found a little shady patch for our mats and went in the water in the ?kids? section, protected by boulders. It was shallow and calm and perfect for frolicking and floating on my board (my favorite new tropical pastime) although I did venture away to catch a few boogie waves. This is where a mouse ran across my butt. There are bathrooms and showers and covered picnic areas.

    We saw Polihale Beach (west coast) thanks to our kayak landing. It was hotter than hell there at 5pm on that burning stretch of wide, wide sand. No shade. It just doesn?t feel like a tropical beach to me. It is cool to see Na Pali rise up dramatically at the end of the beach though. Quite a trip up the cane roads to access the place. There are bathrooms and showers.

    Spent a short time at Salt Pond Beach Park (south shore at the end of Port Allen airstrip) while awaiting my turn on the powered hanglider. The stretch of water in front of the lifeguard is protected by a small breakwater so it is calm and clear turquoise blue, a real natural swimming pool. There?s bathrooms, showers, covered picnic areas, and ample parking.

    Finally, sweet little Ke?e Beach (end of the line, north shore), which we visited twice. Yes, it?s hard to park, but spots open up all the time, you just have to be patient and stealthy. The beach is lined with shade, and the views up Na Pali are wonderful. Also, the chickens. Oh, dear god, the chickens. There were a LOT of them, and they?ll just walk right up to your towel with a trail of chicks, looking for a handout. The lagoon created by the reef is dreamy, the color of a perfect sandy bottomed swimming pool. The snorkeling was good, my boyfriend saw a turtle, a guy we spoke to saw reef sharks (we always miss the good stuff!) and both days we snorkeled with an enormous school of round silvery fish over by the rocks below the cliff. A really beautiful place to spend the day, with the Kalalau Trail above you. You should at least get to the overlook to see that postcard-perfect shot for yourself. There?s bathrooms and showers, which are filled with spiders. Cool spiders, like the tremendous tiger striped one hanging low directly over one of the two ladies? toilets, and the little ones, I forget what they?re called, they have a little pentagon shaped piece of armor on, and the VERY cool neon green spiders? egg casings that look like a mound of spray paint. Finally, beware of centipedes here (they have a painful bite), rustling around in the fallen leaf ground cover that?s everywhere; I saw a beautiful, shiny, rust-colored, solid nine-incher dart from a crack in the shower wall.

    I also want to note how clean I found all the beach bathrooms I used with the exception of Ke?e (covered in bugs, yes, but also stinky and quite dirty). Several of the bathrooms actually smelled like cleaning product and all were well-stocked with toilet paper!

    We rented gear again this year from Snorkel Bob, in large part because of their 24 hour gear return drop box, as I was unsure of what our departure situation was going to be. They have several different levels of gear quality, I think we got the midrange and it suited us fine. The guy working was helpful. They also rent those flotater snorkel vests, a thin thing that straps on like a life vest but that you can inflate to your preference. I clung to it on Maui last year but am proud to say that this year I went without! Excellent though for those that are nervous in the water. Plus they have those cool Snorkel Cat postcards.


    Oh wow. Hold me. This was quite an adventure. A long, tough, beautiful, exhilarating day, AND there were taro chips. We went with Kayak Kauai, $185 each, booked directly through them. They take twelve people in tandem kayaks, with two guides (Doug and Melissa; Doug was young and very funny and into punk rock, he ruled; Melissa was more subdued, but an able young guide). They use rudder kayaks, which we?d never had and which my boyfriend had trouble dealing with; he found it easier just to steer with the paddle. The kayaks have little seats with backs, and a big storage hatch and several little nooks for storage, as well as one big dry bag. My one real complaint about the kayaks is that the paddles weren?t attached to the boat with a cord; they tell you that if you flip the kayak, the first thing you have to do is grab the paddles, a problem we ended up having and which is just so easily avoided.

    We got to their Hanalei shop at 6am and were off to the launch site at Haena Beach Park at around 6:45. We did orientation on the beach and were off around 8:00, paddling toward Ke?e and into a misty rainbow (which lasted so long that as we continued paddling toward it, we actually saw it flatten and SET?whoa). First of all, the color of the water out there is unreal. It is the color of turquoise Kool Aid, lusciously vivid, and has this bizarre quality of being clear enough to see to the bottom near the shore while at the same time having this thick, almost jello-like quality, like it looked like if you stuck your hand in it that it might be thick. Hard to explain, but we both agreed on this quality.

    The sights up Na Pali are just stunning. The vivid green spires surrounding lush mist-shrouded valleys fronted by long golden beaches and waterfalls that plunge right into the sea are forever etched in my memory. We would occasionally see turtles but unfortunately never saw one dolphin (our guide even did dolphin calls!). We stopped mid-ocean fairly frequently to rest, snack, drink water, and listen to the guides tell us a little about the places we were seeing. We went into three sea caves. One we entered through a waterfall that soaked me but was blown by the wind just in time to keep my boyfriend dry! It was kind of like the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Disneyland. The cave was massive and dark, echoing with our chatter. Even more awesome was the open ceiling cave, circular with a single entrance and totally open to the blue sky above, punctuated by a large center boulder. The water seemed even more vivid here, if that?s possible.

    We paddled the bulk of the trip (six hours) and landed for lunch at Miloli?i Beach. The beach is backed by an enormous cliff face, carved with slender ledges occupied by freakin? mountain goats. Which ruled. They packed a good lunch (Kayak Kauai, not the goats): sandwiches on purple taro bread, cold drinks and water, luscious pineapples sliced on the spot, and our first taste of delicious taro chips. We spent about 1.5 hours there. There is a hike to a small falls/pool, which most people went to and which I had to give up a ways up the ?trail? for frustration with the fact that it was totally overgrown with tall spiky dry grass, and very rough n tumbly in spots. It looked pretty in the picture my boyfriend took, a nice, small falls to cool off in. I ended up just laying in the shade on the beach, in direct line of sight of a monk seal napping at the shore!

    The last two hours to Polihale Beach. So close, yet sooo far. We could basically see the beach almost the whole time but distances are deceiving out on the ocean. It was very hot at around 3pm, and our exhaustion from heat and hard paddling coupled with the deceptive siren?s call of Polihale had me beginning to hallucinate. Really. The last half hour I was seeing flashes of people overboard, people sitting in my kayak, and other strange strange images out on the open ocean. We were delighted to finally land, around 4:30. The van was waiting for us with backpacks full of dry clean clothes, and we showered and changed and began the long drive home (I passed out immediately upon strapping in, and slept all the way home in an uncomfortable van with no neck support and over those bumpy Polihale cane roads), stopping first at a market in Waimea, which was nice.

    A note about conditions on the water. I spoke to Gerry, the trike pilot, about the trip. I told him how HUGE the water was beginning about midmorning. I mean, scary big, almost-tip-us-over big, pick-us-up-and-slap-us-down-three-strokes-back big, swells so big they?d block out the horizon and the kayaks ahead of us?yes, it was windy. But the same wind that makes the water nightmarish would also give us a big push, sometimes so quick we couldn?t paddle fast enough to keep up. Herein lies the rub: Gerry said that he?s seen people paddling all day over an ocean like glass, which finally spits them out, exhausted, at Polihale at 7:00 PM--we got in at 4:30 PM! If there?s no wind, which on Na Pali is almost always at your back, there?s nothing helping push you down the coast. Glassy seas might be inviting, but not when it?s just you and your Popeye arm muscles pushing that little boat and finally arriving half-dead on the beach at 7pm. The moral is: even if it?s a beautiful day, ie, not stormy or anything, you might hit VERY high seas; it was, frankly, pretty scary at times, especially with the thought that if we flipped, we?d have to grab our quickly-moving paddles, right the kayak, and hoist ourselves back in, all in ENORMOUS waves! (And I was doubly scared because I discovered that I had great difficulty getting back in the kayak for lack of upper body strength--another consideration, albeit a lame one.) It?s a fantastic trip, an exciting way to see Na Pali, but you have to judge for yourself if you can deal with the big waters.

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    Opaeka?a Falls

    We came, we saw, we hiked to the bottom. So did about three other couples and a team of three ?independent filmmakers?. You park right where UK tells you to, a little dirt turnout right at the trailhead. Be careful crossing the stream, it was not quite knee-high when we crossed it, and the rocks below are very slippery, although it really only takes two big steps to cross. It?s a fairly obvious route after the stream, per the book?s instructions. Once you come to the ?barren-looking plateau?, there are two ways that we found to get to the bottom. One is more to the left and up a bit through the trees and is the way we went down, the other more to the right like where you first come onto the plateau and is the way we came up. We didn?t do this on purpose. There are, however, ropes strung partway on both trails, and the first trail I mentioned is better for the descent, not as steep. Going down wasn?t too bad at all, it?s fairly straightforward and not the worst trail I?ve ever seen. Going up the way we ended up going seemed more difficult, and this is where the ropes really helped; it was steeper this way which is why I think it might be easier for the ascent--or, even eaiser, just skip it altogether; you look down from the top and you think ?this can?t be the way down, I ain?t going down there?, which is why it was funny when our heads popped over the steep ridge to greet some people trying to figure out how to get down. However, once you?re at the bottom it?s difficult to know or explain which is which because until we reached a certain point we didn?t know we?d gone a different way. Anyway, the bottom really is lovely, an enchanting falls in an oasis of greenery with a strong mist on your face. Definitely worth it, even though we didn?t go in the pool.

    Kukui Trail to the bottom of Waimea Canyon

    The Kukui Trail. Before photos: smiling, bright-eyed, bushy tailed. After photos: fuming and unavailable for comment. Oh. My. God. This trail sucks, and we didn?t even make it to the bottom as a payoff. It?s 2.5 miles of sheer hot, dry, rocky torture. The view? Yeah, great, you can see it from a very short way into the trail. Unless you absolutely MUST see Wiliwili Camp at the bottom, don?t bother. The trail disappears in MANY places, seemingly washed out and covered in big red boulders and gravel, sometimes on the way down it looked like both options were actually ascents; this is unnerving. There?s vertiginous spots, spots to take a tumble on, and not a lot of shade, kind of like hiking through a steep rocky desert. It?s NOT an easy descent by any means, which can only mean one thing: the ascent was just awful. Mile markers are few, but about 1.5 hours in, after I thought ?sweet Jesus we must be getting close? even though I could clearly not see the bottom, we came to the freakin? 1.25 mile marker. I thought I was going to die, nay, hoped I would. We turned around at that point, and I cannot imagine in my worst nightmare having to ascend the entire 2.5 miles. I was ragged at the end. My boyfriend, not as much, but he ticks me off in that way. Hiking in shorts, that big smile that says ?What are you so afraid of, it?s just some bees?.

    Yes, Waimea Canyon is gorgeous. It completely fills your line of sight from left to right, it?s so massive it almost seems like a backdrop sometimes. Intense striations of color, reds and oranges streaked in jagged black. But this you can see from the overlooks on the road, or near the beginning of Hell Trail. Bring water. Ha!

    Kalalau Trail

    We only did a small portion of the trail, just to a point several minutes past the classic Ke?e Beach lookout (looking down on the dreamy beach just made me want to be back in the water, it makes me want to be there now). It?s a very pretty trail, with LOTS of people on it. The views of Na Pali are wonderful, especially of that turquoise jello water. It?s wonderfully jungly and backed by some awesome green spires, so don?t forget to look behind you too. It seemed like a bit of a muddy haul for the people who?d hiked the 2 miles to Hanakapiai Beach. We?d seen it from the kayak anyway already and checked it off our Tourist To Do List, along with fish-feeding and coral-standing.

    Alakai Swamp

    UK says this is the highlight of some peoples? trip. It wasn?t that, but it was very cool. Rather than have to hike and hike and hike (someone felt like beaching herself this trip), I decided we should take the dirt road to the Alakai Swamp trailhead (avoiding the Pihea Trail). It was a rough go of things, but the UK map is EXCELLENT here. The road is very poor, all gouged up, and slick enough in places to cause the car to slide. We were rolling along, slowly, very slowly, thinking This Isn?t Too Bad, wondering if maybe we couldn?t go past the part of the UK map that says ?4WD only past here?. Ha! Right where it says that on the map we reach an enormous hole in the road, totally impassible. Ever made an eight-point turn on a slick potholed mountain road right next to a gully? We did! We parked a quarter mile back and walked. My boyfriend was miffed that beyond that little hole in the road, geez, the road was totally passable. So we hiked the last 1.5 miles to the Alakai trailhead. It?s a nice hike, very muddy in parts, with some waterfalls (inaccessible) and nice views of the stream below and vistas in the distance, along with wild passion fruit and even a fuschia plant way up there! The plateau up at the trailhead is surreal itself, blanketed in mist with a real feeling of how high up you are. There?s a grassy knoll, a covered picnic area, and an outhouse, which was surprisingly clean. Also, the view into Waimea Canyon is awesome here, very high up and totally shrouded in mist. You can STILL hear roosters, and sometimes, a goat.

    We ended up hiking about one mile up the trail. The rain was soaking through our windbreakers and it was COLD. I had sprayed my boyfriend?s bare legs with repellant right before we started the trail and about a minute in he was covered in huge mosquitoes. The boardwalk comes along at just the right time, it really is very boggy in places. It?s a strange place to be, just the two of us, quiet, misty and constantly rainy, and none of the trees very tall. We saw some fantastic dragonflies, a few birds, and mushrooms on a log. I can?t imagine how fortunate you would have to be if you made it to the Kilohana Lookout and it was actually clear. Looking ahead, the terrain didn?t seem to change too much; we quit early because there didn?t seem to be a big payoff for being soaked and cold. I?m glad we did it though.

    Side note: the Kalalau Lookout was socked in with fog when we got up there, so don?t be disappointed, just try again later.

    Dirt road past arboretum up to Wailua River with views into the crater

    The views into the crater here are magnificent. We drove a looong way back, crossing the streams, slowly, up a very potholed dirt road and finally parked at the Jurassic Park gate. Walking up the road, we stepped off onto a little overlook that had fantastic views into the crater. We kept going and came to a pretty little section of the Wailua River, with a diversion ditch on the left. There were actually people there, and a guy told us we could take a funky trail that starts right there up to ?Blue Hole?, a big waterfall on the Wailua. We started the trail, which is on a very muddy bamboo slope along the river, fairly difficult. It was getting late in the day and the clouds were rolling in, so we turned back; we hadn?t gotten very far. But on the hanglider we did get to see ?Blue Hole?, it was a very pretty large waterfall area that looked like it was worth trekking to.



    Seeking both adventure and to avoid the plague of helicopters on Kauai (and glad we did; staring into the crater one day we saw five helicopters at once), we took a powered hangliding flight with Birds in Paradise. It's so cool, you really do come off foaming at the mouth. We got the first flights at 8am, which Gerry, the pilot, seemed to indicate is usually the best way to go in terms of flight conditions. Take off is from Port Allen on the south shore. You don a heavy flight suit to keep you warm at 5000ft, along with the warm clothes you better be wearing because it's COLD up there. The craft is a hanglider with an engine at back. Gerry sits at front and you're strapped in behind him, outfitted with a helmet with headphones and a microphone.

    Take off is awesome, it's like being on a motorcycle but then it lifts off. The views are gorgeous...the views of the reefs, the farmland crisscrossed with vibrant red dirt roads, the ribbons of golden beaches...and the mountains! We flew really close to Makaleha, streaked in waterfalls and got a fantastic view into Waialeale crater, which is just breathtaking in its enormity, and the start of the Wailua River below, an area we had hiked a few days before--very cool to see from up above what you'd hiked below. We flew through clouds and got to see the shadow of the craft on a cloud, encircled in a rainbow! We got going very fast toward the end (ground speed of 114 mph) and the banking and occasional drops are exciting and made my stomach drop like a good roller coaster. My boyfriend got to see a little bit of Na Pali but they had to turn around because it was too windy. So we stayed around Port Allen to the west, flew over the south shore, to the interior toward the crater/Makaleha, and toward the airport on the east coast; we got to see quite a bit of the island. Gerry handles the craft superbly, and I never felt unsafe. The strangest thing was that when we ran out of things to say for the moment he would start playing music: I got some IZ, a cover of the Gilligan's Island theme song, some Stones, and a country tune; pretty odd, and I kept asking him questions so he'd shut it off. It's noisy up there with the engine, but silent compared to The Professor and Mary Ann in your ears.

    The pictures are so freaking cool, many of them look like shots of the globe from space. I am working on getting them online this week. He mounts a very wide angle camera to the wing and uses a cable release. A roll of 24 is $25 and he charged us $30 to split one roll, which he gives you at the end to develop yourself ("Sweetie, watch where I am putting this roll of film so I don't say to you later 'Omigawd, WHERE is the trike film??'"). It's $190/hour each and SO worth it, the feeling is unreal and Gerry's a real character.

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    Wishing Well, JoJo?s (shave ice)

    I'll start with dessert, as is our wont (okay, we only did it once at Polynesia Café). We had the Hanalei Sunset shave ice with ice cream on the bottom at Wishing Well (Hanalei). It ruled, what else can I say? JoJo's (Waimea) used a LOT more syrup so it was very sweet, but the combo of pineapple and passion fruit was stellar.

    Polynesia Café (Ching Young Center, Hanalei)

    A funky little place where you sit on a patio outside and order at the counter and there's loads of dreamy desserts in a glass case. That's how we ended up with a slab of pie each before dinner arrived, famished as we were from our kayak trip. Both our meals were good, fresh tasting, and the fries were good.

    Tropical Taco (Hanalei)

    We spent over $20 for what we thought would be a quick cheap little lunch stop. The chips n salsa were tasty, and admittedly the portions were big--a massive, almost burrito-sized fish taco for me and a burrito for him. It's nice to sit at their outdoor counter and we'd return, just don't think of this as a place for a few slim cheapo tacos on the way back from the beach.

    Duke?s (Marriott in Lihue on Kalapaki Bay)

    A pretty, open-sided, tropical-feeling place with a pleasant atmosphere that wasn't kitschy Hawaiian. We had a great little corner table overlooking the beach. Our waiter was attentive. The salad bar was fresh, and our Thai sugar cane shrimp appetizer was quite good. Both our fish entrees were good, though not as juicy or to-die-for tasty as Beach House, and the mashed potatoes were fine. My trio of sorbets was MOUTH-WATERING and sooo refreshing: pineapple, guava, passion fruit. I still think of them fondly today. Overall, a fun place to go.

    Beach House (south shore)

    Now THIS is the meal memories/dreams are made of. Got there right at 6pm and had reserved a sunset view table (although the row of booths right behind us also had views, you're just literally a step away from the lawn and ocean and breeze with the SV table) which was awesome, bathed in the cool air and the sky painted dramatically in technicolor. They have these enormous floor-to-ceiling sliding glass type doors that open all the way so there's no walls between you and the outside. You step out onto a very pretty green lawn area with the ocean lapping at the shore and lots of tiki torches.

    Giant tasty mai tais and every morsel we had was delicious. Crabcake appetizers with fresh ginger that I portioned off to myself for utmost savoring, mashed potatoes with dried seaweed that didn't overwhelm but somehow managed to actually enhance the natural potato taste (kind of like MSG??), and both of our fish entrees were heavenly, well-prepared and juicy, with good veggies and awesome sauces. And the chocolate souffle was scary good. Although we got a kick out of our server (who was very attentive and helpful) telling us about the desserts and asking if we'd heard of souffles before.

    Groceries/fruit stands

    Yeah, stuff?s expensive, but whaddya gonna do? We shopped at Foodland and Safeway in Kapaa and Foodland in Princeville. The selection seemed pretty good in all three, and you can also find tourist-items, like beach towels, coolers, reef shoes, etc. We stopped at several various roadside fruit stands, which I recommend even if you?re not in the market for too much good fruit, if only to smell the smells and see the variety of delightful tropical produce. And to load up your little girl-arms with too many passion fruit when you FINALLY find it (it was literally nowhere to be found, someone told me it was just barely in season) for superb morning slurping with your rainbow on the patio.


    CONDO: Having a condo is great for several reasons. You can cook your own meals and store lots of stuff, which saves you tons of money and you don?t get sick of eating out. Plus you can sit and gaze at the sunset over a tropical drink and grilled chicken n pineapple. We also love having a washer/dryer in the unit. If you can wash your clothes each night, you hardly have to pack anything! We took too much on Maui last year, so we just brought carry-ons this year, and next time, with a washer/dryer right there, we?re going to pack even less. We also used those space saver bags that require no vacuum--you put your clothes in stacks in the bag and roll it up and the air gets pushed out the bottom--it?s incredible how much they compress big stacks of clothes, and they weren?t as wrinkled as I thought they might be.

    WATER SHOES: I bought these awesome shoes made by Salomon. They?re wet/dry, with a rugged hiking sole but ridiculously lightweight (about the weight of a pair of reef shoes, really), the sides made of heavy mesh, and no laces, just a pulley tie thing, AND adjustable heel straps! The water just flows right through the mesh and they dry out fast and don?t get waterlogged so they?re perfect for going back and forth between water and dry land without having to change shoes or worry about wearing a heavy shoe in the water, like for kayaking and hikes where you have to ford streams. Very comfy AND stylin?.

    WEATHER: The weather on the north shore was stunning the first five days--gorgeous blue sky with puffy white clouds. The last few days were rainy in the early morning but would clear up and then have some passing showers (helping to breed rainbows and get the waterfalls flowing). It did rain a lot at night though. Sitting on Ke?e we really witnessed the fleeting nature of Kauai?s weather. It would be sunny, and you?d look to the east, into the wind, and you could see rain clouds coming, literally see the clouds rolling in. It would rain for a few minutes but all the while you could look to the east and see the next piece of sunshine coming in!

    CORAL, FISH FEEDING: YES, it looks like mossy rocks, but that IS the coral you?re standing on at Ke?e Beach and wherever else you do it. PLEASE don?t stand on the reef, it is alive, feeds and protects the fish, and is slow to repair itself when you abuse it standing out there, yukkin? it up and trouncing it with your fins.

    Don?t feed the fish (except, apparently, at Lydgate because they?ve been fed for SO long). It introduces unnatural behavior to the reef and encourages larger more aggressive species to flourish, thus diminishing not the number but the variety of reef fish. Fish can feed themselves and CANNOT digest FROZEN PEAS (whoever thought of that) and can be enjoyed, by you, without you creating a feeding frenzy around you, yourself. Sheesh.

    CHICKENS, NENES: Yes, Kauai really is covered in chickens and yes, the roosters do crow all day long. From down at Ke?e beach and up to Koke?e Lodge, which was extra covered in them.

    Nenes rule, they?re so funny and such smart little beggars--you make a downward hand motion like you might feed them and they?re all over you; someone makes clanking breakfast sounds in their kitchen and all their heads perk up; you leave your screen door open which is obviously an open invitation for them to wipe their webbed feet and come on in. Honk if you love nenes.

    CENTIPEDES: Like I mentioned before, I saw that monster one at Ke?e. I also saw one in the dry scrubby ground cover on the side of the road at Port Allen airstrip. Their bite is allegedly VERY painful, so just be careful of being barefoot or of where you stick your little paw. They?re very shiny, the two I saw were six and nine inches long, bright rusty red, and moving very quickly.

    PHOTOS: I think it?s a good idea to develop your photos on Kauai because as UK says, they?re familiar with Hawaiian colors. It makes sense, I really don?t think anyone on the mainland would believe what color the water was along Na Pali. We went to Hanalei Photo in the Ching Young center; it took them about half a day and the prints are well done. It was about $15 for a roll of 24 with double prints.

    THE WAY PARADISE ENDED THIS TIME: Last year on Maui, as you know, paradise ended at the Kau Kau food court. But this time?we stopped to get gas on the way to the airport to leave and I looked at our front tire and noticed we had lost a wheel cover, that cheap snap-on thing. We decided to run over to the nearby auto parts store we?d noticed the day before and try to find one that matched it close enough so they wouldn?t notice and charge us an arm and a leg for the stupid thing. Unfortunately, they didn?t have one that fit. When we dropped off the car they didn?t notice and they haven?t contacted us yet. So this time, paradise ended at the auto parts store. Sweet.

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    Sorry about the stupid question marks, I even went through and fixed them in the Fodor's window and they still aren't right. Why can't everything be perfect, like in paradise??


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    Oh and I left off the part about the wet caves on the north shore. The one that is NOT the "Blue Room" was covered in this, like, oil slick. It was pretty, I guess, streaked in gold and silver on the cave walls.

    The one that IS the "Blue Room" though...we were there at around 4pm, and this hippie girl told us that the effect is best at around 10am...she told us this AFTER my boyfriend took a flashlight and a swim. He did swim toward the back but it was very dark and obviously, no blue room effect. So, the point is, the water was clean and clear and not tooo cold he said, so go at around 10am for the best effect.


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    Ah, now this is the fix I need on a boring Tuesday at work!! Couple of questions:

    1. Do you remember if the Beach House had anything on their menu that was not seafood? (I know this seems like a freakish question to ask about a seafood restaurant that is located on an island)

    2. Did you get your reef shoes there or somewhere here? I am still looking for the perfect pair!

    3. How rough was the water in Queens Bath? We are there in winter so it is INSANE to swim in--it would be instant death. Just curious as to what it looks like when calm....

    You did an hour with Gerry? That is fantastic. Last time I just did 30 minutes (counting my $$), but this year I am going to do the longer trip. Does he still have the little crazy dogs?

    Great report!!! You do great trip reports and I LOVE all the attention to detail!!

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    (sitting here at the computer at home, sick...)

    ALSO, furthermore, and so on, I also left out the small but strange and delightful detail of Hanapepe and the swinging bridge. The swinging bridge was pretty cool, it swings and creaks over the river and is a good place to get out and stretch your legs. The town of Hanapepe though...UK says you'll either love it or hate it. It was...strange. Very old, rundown feeling, like dusty general stores in the old west. We liked the dorky, unfashionable little clothing store that advertised something like "The Fashion Capital!" in the window. Of what, Hanapepe?


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    1. Do you remember if the Beach House had anything on their menu that was not seafood?

    Yes! http://www.the-beach-house.com/menus.html
    I'm making myself hungry!

    2. Did you get your reef shoes there or somewhere here? I am still looking for the perfect pair!

    I got the Salomon shoes at home in L.A. at an REI outdoors store. They weren't cheap though, around $75. Which is why I continue to wear them around. For my money's worth. I do like wearing them like in the wet grass for instance because you can feel stuff through the mesh.

    3. How rough was the water in Queens Bath? We are there in winter so it is INSANE to swim in--it would be instant death. Just curious as to what it looks like when calm....

    It was pretty calm, there were a LOT of people out there enjoying it with no problem. It was calm enough to clearly see it for the idyllic little pool that it is.

    4. You did an hour with Gerry? That is fantastic. Last time I just did 30 minutes (counting my $, but this year I am going to do the longer trip. Does he still have the little crazy dogs?

    I contemplated a half hour, but knew that we'd be ready to land as soon as we got up there and I'd be disappointed and cursing myself. Yes, he still has the little dogs. I also liked that he was experimenting with a big ol' piece of light blue carpet that he pulled out from under his house that morning, trying to use it as a place to land instead of straight onto the dirt. He hit the target pretty well. He's such a character.


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    She's reading this not being able to eat or drink right now and you're talking about Stinger Ray's..Mai Tai Special "extra shot for a dollar"...beef and chick teri-strips and a large Ali'i ale!!!!

    Duke's...Beach House!!! ARRGHH!!

    Does sound like there just MIGHT be some stuff to do on Kauai? :-"

    We have had the Birds in Paradise on our "to do list" the past 2 yrs. That and the Big Red Plane.

    188 is not close enuff! Hell, this Sunday is not close enuff!

    All kidding aside, this is just what the doctor ordered for us.

    Mucho Mahalos and how many days until you go back? ;)

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    What is it about airport establishments that foster the "extra shot for a dollah" policy? I've seen it all over.

    I just pulled up the Beach House menu and haven't had lunch yet and now I don't know what to do because I'm just depressed.

    Big Red Plane?

    How many days 'til I go back?? I just bought a Cook Islands book--so much cheaper than Tahiti--once you get there...I've seen airfare as high as $1500 for various dates. Now, talk about a place with nothing to do!

    Glad Dr. Roxy could deliver a big frosty glass of Kauai to you!


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    Most excellent, very informative TR!!!

    Interesting to hear about wavy conditions on your kayak tour, I had assumed we always got wavy conditions along NaPali coast because go in winter. :?

    Mucho Mahalo!!!

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    Hi Roxy,
    Thanks for the great trip report. It was so detailed and full of helpful observation.

    I am glad we didn't do Alakai Swamp Trail. Loved Moloa'a bay, especially the tide pools at the end of the beach.


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    Wow Roxy!

    That silly little island with nothing to do is calling me more than ever after your ono report. Some of the magic just isn't the same in the winter. Imagine my dread to not float in the Northshore beaches. So thank you thank you, and so glad you went flying.

    GoTravel turned me onto the DVD Winged Migration, which I ran out and bought. I think you really should, haven flown and all! Why waste the rental. Between the movie, the making of and all the other stuff, it will keep you dreaming about ultralights for along time! Oh, and you definately want to rent Step Into Liquid if you havent' a most ono surfing movie/doc.

    Mahalo for sharing so much. I will read it thru again tomorrow. And savour the details. Ciao Bella my most ono hawaiin friend.

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    Actually, it's about 8 hours of paddling, with a lunch break inbetween!
    Did you read the part about me hallucinating? It was hard toward the end mostly, the heat really kicked our butts at the end of the day. Up until that point though, we didn't think it was too bad; I would only stop paddling occasionally for a few seconds to rest. There were also plenty of rest stops out on the ocean to drink water and get out of the kayak if you wanted (beware getting back in). Paddling against those huge waves can be quite strenuous but I think our adrenaline just kicked in and forced us to focus.

    We're in our mid twenties so we're young and stupid and willing to do anything. I am definitely in average shape (ice skating several times a week, that's it) but did just fine, except for the part about lacking the upper body strength to hoist my little body back in the kayak. There were other twentysomethings on the trip as well as people maybe in their early forties, and everyone seemed to be really enjoying it, no complaints that I heard.

    I know it sounds difficult but for some reason, even out there in the middle of it, I didn't think it was that bad. It's a FANTASTIC way to see Na Pali.

    Did I leave off the part about the unreal beauty of Honopu Beach?

    Let me know if you have any other questions.


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    Yeah, I think Gerry was trying to sell me a copy of Extreme Kauai. Step into Liquid was pushed a lot in Santa Cruz but we kept seeing something else instead. We keep almost renting Winged Migration, although I know I shouldn't have put off seeing all those birds in the theater. We had a new family of ducks in our driveway the other day though, her low honking reminded me of my nenes!


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    Are your from Santa Cruz? I am from Soquel, next door! I loved your report. My husband and I had a 10 day trip to Kauai last month. Oh, how did you like your condo? We reserved at the Sea Lodge for Sept., did you notice it and what is the difference in the two places? We did first class for our big anniversary, but are not trying to do another trip on a more realistic budget! Thanks for posting!

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    I LOVE your detailed reports! Thanks so much! My family is making plans to visit Kauai next summer. Did you happen to see the Puo'Poa condos while you were there? They must share the same beach as your condo. We are considering staying there and your info on the benefits of a condo are helpful.

    Because my husband and I will be bringing our two children (10 and 7), it will be impossible for both of us to do the kayak trip but I am encouraging my husband to do it anyway. Was there anyone by themselves in a single kayak or would they pair him with another single rider? He wanted to hike the Kalalau trail by himself but I would feel MUCH better if he did the kayak trip with others instead.

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    Thanks Roxy for the great report! Your report is getting me even more PUMPED UP for our visit there in 11 Days! Your description of Tunnels had me drooling! You are so right. Along with some spots in the Sierras it is one of my favorite places to be. I appreciate your comments about Kauai Vacation Rentals as we are probably going to use them for our trip next summer. Your experiences at Hideaways brought back fabulous memories of my glorious day spent there snorkeling and floating watching the ocean undulate up and down. I felt like I was in a trance. Mahalo!

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    I'm from L.A., my boyfriend is in Santa Cruz right now, so I spend some time there, mostly at the Pizza My Heart downtown (supplanted recently by Kianti's pizza as well).

    Sorry, I didn't see the SeaLodge, but it's (hopefully) hard to go wrong staying on the north shore!


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    There was actually one woman who came on the kayak trip by herself; they paired her with one of the guides, so I wouldn't worry about it if he really wants to do it. Be prepared to understand when he's wiped out that night though--no luaus!

    We could see Pu'u Poa from our condo, it's the one to the west; it actually has access between them and the Princeville down to the western part of Hideaways (ours was the eastern). I wish I could tell you more about the place, I only saw it from the outside. It would be helpful for you to go to www.kauaivacationrentals.com because they have a lot of really good pics/360 views of several units (we almost stayed there but it was getting a little expensive for us).

    If you're interested, from what I saw peeking into other units at OUR condo, it wasn't just ours that looked nice, so I will give Pali Ke Kua a good recommendation. Either condo, you will not have "easy" access to the beach for your kids though, both properties require a steep walk down the cliffside, just something to think about. I think condos would be great with kids though, so many conveniences, like being able to wash clothes right away, abundant snacks, cold juice, etc (all the things I love!).


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    Thanks for the wonderful, detailed trip report. I am definitely printing it and taking it with me for our July wedding/ honeymoon. I'm trying to convince my fiance to do the NaPali kayak trip and I think this might convince him.

    Of all the beaches you visited on the North Shore, is there one that stood out to you as beautiful yet somewhat deserted? I'm still trying to decide which beach we should get married on. We're thinking Lumahai beach but I would love your opinion.

    Thanks so much,

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    Okay I just realized this trip report is from about a year ago. But if anyone has an opinion about a gorgeous, secluded beach near Princeville, I would really appreciate it.


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    Hideaways fits the bill! Just before the Princeville Hotel and just after the Pua Poa condo there is a small parking lot with a trail beside it. Follow the trail. It is steep, but the payoff at the end is a gorgeous and secluded beach: Hideaways.

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    Thanks for the awesome, detailed trip reoprt one year later! Very useful comments....... I'm gearing up for my first Kaua'i/Hawaii vacation ever June 14-24. I'm dreaming......

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    I just looked at some pictures of Hideaways Beach and it looks beautiful. Thanks for the advice. The only thing that has kept me sane during all the wedding planning is knowing that in 5 weeks I will be in Kauai for 10 days:)


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