Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Hawaii 2019: Kauai Part 3

Oahu | Kauai Part One Part Two Maui Posts | Maui Oceanfront Marathon Report

We had two more full days in Kauai before heading off to Oahu.  We decided our last day would be a beach day at the resort leaving us one more full day of island touring.  We’d start this day heading east and north with the island’s north side as our goal.   Our morning started at Little Fish Coffee Bar near the hotel.  The line was extremely long but we figured out they offered online ordering and saved ourselves around ten minutes.  Dave tried his first açaí bowl that was filled with granola, bananas, chocolate chips, berries, peanut butter, etc.   This dish legalized ice cream for breakfast.  Photo of the cafe below is stolen from the internet.

We started our tour by chasing waterfalls.  The GyPSy Guide App was a great help navigating to some of the locations that were a little stray from the main road.   Wailua Falls were first.  These are the waterfalls from the Fantasy Island TV show opening.   They were pretty, but the alignment of the overlook didn’t really allow for great photos, especially with the lighting at this time of the day.  Opaeka’a Falls was our next stop.  By this time it was a bit overcast and drizzling.

We enjoyed our ride through the town of Kapa’a and made mental notes of where to stop for snacks on the way back.  The drive up the east side was very nice with lots of lush vegetation and well-maintained properties hidden behind that lush vegetation.   The Kileau National Nature Reserve was next on our list.  The government shutdown had just ended which allowed us to buy a National Park Annual Pass vs. the individual entrance fees.  We needed a new pass for later in the year so win-win.  The refuge is small but still worth seeing.   The cliffs with the crashing waves were pretty, the lighthouse was cool, and the bird activity at the nearby island was fun the watch.  

Now for the fun part. GyPSy told us about an area in Princeville called Queen’s Bath. It was supposed to be a pretty place to see waves crashing on lava rocks. The guide did say the path could be challenging. We arrived at the area to find the parking spaces all taken.  We waited for a space that happened to be in front of a locked gate on the fencing surrounding the forest.   Somehow we were oblivious to the fact the gate was locked for a reason.  Other tourists directed us to the gap in the fence and we proceeded down the path.   Much of the path was full of ankle-breaking roots exposed by heavy rain wash.   On the plus side we got to see a waterfall.   The bath itself was nice to look at but we could tell it would be dangerous to go too far out.   After snapping some pictures we went back up.   Near the cars we finally found the handwritten danger sign tallying the deaths in the area.  

It was time for a drink.

We found Tiki Iniki in an upscale Princeville shopping center. We fell in love immediately.  The retro vibe was all over the menu artwork, the bar was full of interesting artifacts (including some Disney World Polynesian Village Hotel items), and the right mix of exotica and surf music playing.  Since we still had a lot of driving to do Dave stuck to a beer instead of an umbrella drink.  We did go home with a souvenir for the mug collection.

Our next stop was the town of Hanalei and a visit to its famous bay.   One thing Dave enjoyed about traveling around Hawaii was he better understood the artwork and names on Kona Brewing beer labels.   The town of Hanalei was really cute, but a bit crowded.  The beach on the bay was not as impressive as we expected, maybe it was the lighting and slight overcast impacting our impression.   We had lunch at Tahiti Nui, another tiki bar of sorts.   This was Home to Holly’s favorite Mai Tai of the trip.  Dave picked up a fun swim suit at Billabong.

On the way back we needed a bathroom break and stopped in Kapa’a.   We had a very difficult time finding restrooms and ended up buying a beer in a dive bar so we could be “customers”.   We made a shave ice stop at Hee Fat General Store.  JoJo’s was still our favorite. 

There was one more activity we were hoping to participate in before heading back to the Sheraton.   The Koloa Rum Company's tasting room had its last sampling at 4pm.   We walked into the store a minute beforehand and were told we were out of luck.   We lingered for a few minutes and they decided they could squeeze us in.   The free tasting offered several tiny tastings of their different products and offered a snack.  The tour guide told us a bit about the rum and how the Hawaiian language almost disappeared a few decades ago.  We didn't enjoy any of the products enough to fill the luggage, but they were good quality products and the store is worth a visit.

Dinner that night was at Eating House 1849 from Roy Yamaguchi in the nearby shopping center.  The Sheraton was nicely situated to give easy access to the shopping center and restaurants at the other resorts.  Holly really enjoyed the ramen noodle dish.


The next day was our designated beach day.  We took a quick trip in the morning into the town of Koloa to fill up the gas tank and browse a few of the shops.  There aren't too many stores in Koloa, but there's enough to entertain you for about an hour. 

We spent the afternoon on the beach and in the pool.   We talked with a couple that "borrowed" a dog from the local humane society.  It's a great program where tourists can borrow a dog for a few hours and take it on hikes or spend time at the beach.

Dinner tonight was at Red Salt in the Ko'a Kea Resort.   This is where Dave got some bourbon-based drink with the addition of gold flakes.  Pinkies up!    They gave us a nice window table away from the big groups and we were able to enjoy a great meal of mahi over black rice.  Red Salt was a great place to have our final Kauai meal.   

We enjoyed our time on Kauai.   The island had a lot of diverse activities to choose from and we are sure we could find more to do on a return trip.  At this point in the trip we were feeling Maui was more to our liking vs. Kauai.  Friends had really built up our expectations of Kauai to be so tranquil and laid-back.  We seemed to have had that feeling more on Maui.  People also told us we were likely not to enjoy our next destination, Oahu, as much as the others.   We were actually quite surprised at how much we enjoyed Oahu.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Hawaii 2019: Kauai Part 2

Oahu | Kauai | Maui Posts | Maui Oceanfront Marathon 

Time for another action-packed day.  We grabbed breakfast from the hotel market before driving a few short miles to the Spouting Horn Beach Park that was home to the Spouting Horn Blow Hole.   Since we arrived early we didn't get a chance to browse all the souvenir/craft vendors that were setting up shop for the day.   The park is on a pretty little stretch of land with some interesting volcanic rock outcroppings.   Plenty of Kauai chickens to watch at this location.

We've yet to mention our "third wheel" for our trip - the GyPSy Guide App.    We bought apps for the three islands we were visiting (about $7-$10 each).  As we drove along the guide would start telling us information about where we were based on our GPS position.  We'd get helpful tips such as "...turn left to see X, or continue straight to head to Y".  It helped us to find sites that were not on our radar. Apps are offered for many locations across the country.   We also heard a lot of stories about Hawaiian history, legends, food, culture, geology, and received a language lesson.

We traveled along the south shore west to head to the Waimea Canyon (The Grand Canyon of the Pacific).  On our way we lucked into the seeing the monument commemorating Captain Cook's arrival to Kauai in the town of Waimea.   Along the way through Waimea Canyon State Park we pulled over to see a few sites like a small waterfall flowing through red clay.   Leaving as early as we did allowed us to get to the first canyon view point before the tour buses.  This was the only clear view we had in the park.    As we made our way further up the mountain the clouds and rain got heavier.  The view of Na Pali Coast from Pu'u O Kila Lookout was not in the cards for us today.  This spot is considered one of the wettest places in the world with over 300 inches of rain a year.

We waited it out as long as we could then called it quits.  On our way to our next destination we made a pit stop in Waimea for a snack at JoJo's Shave Ice.  It was the best of the entire trip!  Holly had the Lilo and Stitch (berry flavors) while Dave had the cold brew coffee.

Our next destination was Port Allen for two attractions:  a brewery and the launch point for our dinner cruise.  Kauai Island Brewery and Grill had the best kalua pork of the trip and the lumpia egg rolls were pretty good.  Inside the brewery is a pretty nice mural of the Na Pali Coast.  Beers were good, but Kauai Beer Company in Lihu'e won that contest.

We walked across the street to Captain Andy's office/waiting lounge.   We were signed up for a dinner tour of the Na Pali Coast, but given the seas were very rough on the west side (and would be for the rest of our trip) the cruise would alter course to sail east.   We had the option to bail with a full refund but decided a catamaran ride was going to be better than any alternative we could come up with,   The coastline is not as dramatic on the southern/eastern route but we did get to see our hotel from the water!  Along the way we saw one monk seal on shore, a few whales, and a dolphin pod pretty close to the boat.  Since we missed the Na Pali Coast by boat we now have a reason to come back to Kauai.

We docked after sunset and made our way back to Po'ipu and the Sheraton.   The problem we have with sunset dinner cruises is they feed you way too early.   Dinner at 5:00 is way to early.   Back at the Sheraton we went to Rum Fire to enjoy a few cocktails and the live entertainment for the evening.   Back in the room we enjoyed some of the snack food we had been hoarding.  Tomorrow was going to be another long day of touring.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Hawaii 2019: Kauai Part 1

The last place our group of eight was together was at Maui Airport's Sammy Hagar’s Beach Bar and Grill.  We mention this because Dave likes Sammy Hagar, the bar has an outdoor area within the airport, and they give all their profits to charity. One couple was heading back home, two other couples were off to Oahu, and we were heading to Kauai for five nights.

Kauai is not as developed as Maui and contains many natural wonders, which is why it is called the Garden Island.  We picked up our rental car from the airport in Lihu’e and drove to lunch at Duke’s in the Marriott.  This was our first visit to a Hawaii resort and we liked what we saw.   Our condo in Maui was very nice, but we are hotel people.    After lunch we made our way through the tree tunnel, passed the Koloa plantation, and through the cute little town of Koloa to get to our hotel in Po’ipu.   The Sheraton was a great choice for us.  We could walk to many dining options, our hotel had a great on site restaurant, our end of the beach was less crowded than other sections, and our room had a direct line on sunset (and our first green flash).   Holly picked an ideal room category that put us pretty close to the water.  We enjoyed sunset on our patio, had some craft cocktails at the bar while listening to live entertainment, and enjoyed a great meal on-property at Rum Fire.

The next morning we grabbed breakfast items from the hotel market (reasonably priced considering we were captive and six packs of local beer were only a buck or two more than the grocery store) before heading back to the airport for our island tour on Blue Hawaiian Helicopters.  We had perfect weather that morning for our flight with plenty of sun and no fog.  We had great views of Waimea Canyon, the Na Pali Coast, and we even got to see a whale breach directly below us.   Since it was dry the few waterfalls we saw were low flow, but this also allowed us to go pretty close into the crater walls.

The trip lasted around 50 minutes and gave a great overview of places to visit during our stay.  We would definitely recommend the helicopter tour for the early portion of your trip.   We did not have to think much about where we were eating lunch because there was a brewery in Lihu’e.  The Kauai Beer Company was a great find.  We tried all 8 beers on tap and had some great mac & cheese.  We walked out with some souvenirs. 

We headed back to the resort and spent a little time snorkeling the reef by the Marriott.  We had some good sightings but the water wasn’t too calm and there were a lot of folks doing the same thing we were.  Dinner was going to be early tonight since we were going to the Auli’i Lu’au which happened to take place at our hotel.  We bucked up for the preferred package giving us closer seating, included booze, and first dibs at the food.    We lucked into front-and-center seats!  The food was pretty good.   The entertainment was actually very good with enough historical and cultural facts thrown in to give the show purpose beyond just watching people dance.   After the show is was back up to Rum Fire and discovering the lilikoi martini.

Our next couple of days were pretty packed with canyon touring, sailing, and climbing things with the wrong footwear.   We will cover that and more in the next post.