Saturday, March 31, 2007

Our Greatest Adventure Yet

Saturday was our last full day on the island, so we decided to get out there and really explore all that Kauai has to offer.

We somehow managed to secure three spots on the Kipu Falls Ziplining Safari thanks to whoever canceled at the last minute. So at 8:15 we checked in at their office in the Nawiliwili Small Boat Harbor, loaded our stuff into dry bags, and off we went to enjoy nature.

Our first excursion of the day was a 2 mile kayak trip up a jungle stream. It was remarkably fun and easy, and our nervousness was squelched as soon as we found our left, right, left, right groove.

Jennie got paired up with a solo traveler. Casey and I were a team, and even though we worked well together, we were the last boat in the group. One of the tour guides, Spot, hung back with us the whole hour and fed us compliments and encouraging sentiments along the way.

Next we tied our kayaks and met up with Gary - a rather dry Howlie local who narrated our hike through the jungle. He pointed out a lot of the plants and flowers and explained how the native Hawaiians used them in their daily lives.

He led us to a small waterfall with a natural pool and rope swing. We all had an opportunity to take a dip, but only a few of us did. Jennie, Casey, and myself chose to stay dry and loaded up on the bug spray instead.

After our hike ended we hopped on a covered wagon, pulled by a tractor, and got a tour of the Kipu Ranch. They took us to a porta-potty, too, which I was ever so grateful for. We snacked on macadamia nut cookies and chatted with the rest of the people in our group. Surprisingly half of them live in Hawaii. They're not taking their home for granted, that's for sure.

Our ride dropped us off at another trail, and we hiked some more. This time we ended at Kamapua'a Falls where we had a picnic lunch and the opportunity to zipline across the stream.

Being the wuss that I am, I passed. But Jennie and Casey buckled up like it was nothing and off they went. Unfortunately as soon as Devon opened the gates for them it started to pour down rain. It didn't matter to them, though. Check it out ...

We left the ziplining to go on yet another hike. Spot stayed there to help the other groups, so we snapped this picture of him on our way out. He was a lot of fun, and is planning to open his own snorkel tour company, so if you're ever in Kauai, look him up.

Hang Loose Spot!

So where was I? Oh yeah, back to hiking. This time our trail led us to Kipu Falls, a mother of a waterfall. People were swimming, cliffdiving, and jumping off the rope swing.

Casey had fallen at the picnic area and scratched her knee up pretty good, so we couldn't get in the water here, which made us very sad. But it finally stopped raining, so we got to hang out by the waterfall and watch all of the fools try to break their necks before heading back to the tractor for another Kipu Ranch tour.

We saw wild boar

And cows

And of course ...


Our tractor, after almost tipping over a hillside, dropped us off at our last hike of the day, then a motorized canoe carried our tired bodies back to Nawiliwili Harbor and the Outfitter's office.

We were gone for 7.5 hours when it was all over and were dirtier than we have ever been in our adult lives. OH what a day!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Poipu and Poi

Friday was supposed to be another resort day, but this time, our resort was in Poipu.

The Marriott has a time share resort on Poipu Beach and offered me 20,000 points to sit through a presentation. I figured I had nothing to lose, so we headed south for the day. First, though, we stopped at the post office to mail Cassidy's coconut :)

The Waiohai Marriott was no where near as nice as the Beach Club at which we were staying, so turning down their $40,000 2 bedroom condo (for 1 week a year!) was an easy task for me. But we got to spend a little time on Poipu Beach, and Casey and Jennie got to hang at the pool while I sat through all the reasons why the Marriott has the best timeshare program in the world.

When it started to rain we headed back to the resort to get ready for dinner - a Luau at Smith's Garden. We got all dressed up in the Hawaiin garb we bought at Hilo Hatties and were excited about our upcoming taste of Hawaii. It stopped raining the very minute we pulled into the parking lot, so we got to take a tour of their gardens while comfortably seated in their tram.

After that we watched the Imu Ceremony, where they unearthed the pig, and the owner (Mr. Smith) gave us a little tutorial on the Hawaiian cooking method called Kalua.

Next we enjoyed the open bar, and then the feast. They had a great spread and we sampled a little bit of everything - including the poi. I don't think Jennie liked it very much. What do you think?

After dinner we moved over to the Pele Amphitheater for the Rhythm of Aloha Show. It was FABULOUS. Unfortunately none of my pictures do it justice so you'll just have to take our word for it. But they celebrated every culture that has contributed to Kauai people, including, of course, the traditional Hawaiin Hula.

Oh, and lest we forget ... we also saw ...


Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Hat That Wouldn't Die

Today we had reservations on the Blue Dolphin Sunset Tour of the Napali Coast. It was another beautiful day on the island, so we headed south a few hours before our scheduled checkin time of 2:00.

Our first stop of the day was a roadside lunch truck that served garlic shrimp & rice plates. We were a little leery, but ordered anyway. We were glad we did. For $20 we left full and satisfied. Our cheapest meal on the island yet!

Our next stop was the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. We thought this would be a relaxing way to kill a couple of hours. We were wrong. The gardens themselves were only accessible by tram on a guided 2.5 hour tour. We did see lots and lots (and lots) of spiders around the Visitor's Center, though. When we found out that they could jump six feet we decided to head on out.

So we decided to visit the Spouting Horn. There were some cute little shops all around the park, so we picked up a few souvenirs for those of you that we like (if you don't get a gift, you'll know you're not one of them :) ... then walked over to the viewing area to see what all the fuss is about. The waves were pretty calm so it wasn't as big as much as it usually was, but still we saw some neat sprays ...

Oh, and we also saw ...


Our day was starting to get away from us, so we thought we should start making our way to Port Allen. We passed Koloa Landing and the Shrimp Truck and realized eating there might not have been the best idea. Both Casey and Jennie were having gastrointestinal difficulties by now. I must have a rock gut. I was fine (whew!)

The boat tour was great. We secured a spot on the right side of the boat and enjoyed the calm waters up the coast of Napali. The captain was playing relaxing music and the crew was serving pretzels and soda. When we heard the theme song from Titanic, Jennie just couldn't help herself.

We were kicking back looking at the awesome coastline when the captain informed us that there were spinner dolphins at the bow of the boat. And he wasn't kidding! There were a half a dozen at least, playing as we went in reverse and watched them in awe.

Then a catastrophe occurred.

We couldn't believe it.

No matter how hard we tried.

Jennie's hat flew overboard.

The crew must have really wanted tips that day because the rang the bells, stopped the boat, then went back to retrieve it!

It took a few passes before the crew chick, Meredith, was able to hook it and reel it in, but our hat eventually came back to us, from the deep blue pacific ocean. It may be bent and stink of fish now, but it will always have a special place in our hearts.

Now that every hat was accounted for, we continued north, almost to Ke'e beach, where the road ended to the north. We saw waterfalls, and hikers, caves, goats, and deserted villages. This is something we will remember forever.

On the way back we saw whales spouting, and a baby jumping out of the water and breaching over and over again. It's the end of whale season here so we didn't expect to see any left, so we were pleased to experience that. The moments were too fleeting to get pictures of the whales, but we did get a snapshot of us with the sunset (the $40 sweatshirt I bought at the charter office sure came in handy, let me tell you!)

After we docked we drove home and collapsed into bed at 8:00. We only have two days left, so we're off to enjoy the rest of our holiday.


Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A Room With A View

Wednesday we decided to do nothing again. As much fun that exploring can be, lazy days by the beach and pool seem to be our favorite. We don't generally take pictures on days like this, so here's a little video taken from our lanai to tide you over ...

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Exploring The North Shore

Today we decided to head north for the day to see if we could find Puff The Magic Dragon, so we put the top down on the car and off we went.

Our first stop: The Kilauea Lighthouse

We pulled off at a scenic lookout to snap this picture, then we drove down the little driveway, paid our $3, and got to tour our first lighthouse!

To your right you can see the view from the lighthouse.

You can understand why they needed this here, right?

That was fun, but no Puff here, so we got in the car and continued north.

We drove through Princeville, then Hanalei, looking for the Hanalei Mix Plate Lunch place but couldn't find it. Finally we saw a little food truck by a beach so we pulled over there and ate pork sandwiches and hot dogs. Across the beach was this cool cave that we explored. It looks small in this picture, I know. But it was probably 20 feet high in some places! Casey made it pretty much all the way to the back. I was the second most courageous ... I went almost half way, and Jennie stayed about 20 feet closer to the entrance than that :)

So back in the car we went and continued on our search for that rascally dragon. Next thing we know, we came to the end of the road. Literally.

If you've ever seen a map of Kauai there is no road that goes all the way around the island. About 25% is inaccessible by car because of the Napali coastline. So we drove as far as we could heading north.

What a beautiful dead end this turned out to be!

We found ourselves on Ke'e Beach and it was spectacular! This is the beginning of the Napali Coast (which we'll see more of on Thursday). We spent a few hours here swimming, sunbathing, and general chilling out. Well Casey swam, Jennie sunbathed, and I chilled in the shade :)

If you listen carefully you'll hear Jennie's flip-flops :)

We thought we should start heading back around 5 or so since it takes about 1.5 hours to get back to the hotel from where the road ends, but we stopped a couple more times on the way

First stop, another cave that we thought was pretty cool.

Second stop, a Farmer's Market where we chatted with locals
& bought pineapple, papaya, and flowers that were bigger than your head!

We never did find Puff, but we very much enjoyed our day exploring the north side of the island.

Chickens Chickens Everywhere!

The most interesting thing I've discovered on Kauai is the chicken situation. Apparently hurricane Iniki destroyed all the chicken cages in 1992, releasing I don't know how many birds into the wild. Since they have no predators on the island (except for the occasional local) they are now all over the place.

I've developed the habit of yelling CHICKEN every time we seen one. I think Casey and Jennie will be hearing CHICKEN in their dreams long after the sound of the surf has left their memories on the mainland :)

Don't believe me? These guys came up to visit me on Ke'e beach today. Aren't they cute?!

Monday, March 26, 2007

There's life outside the resort?

Monday morning we woke up before dawn. 5 am is sleeping in when it feels like 9 (or 11 for Jennie!) We made our coffee and headed for the lanai to watch our first Kauai sunrise. It was a beautiful way to start our day. We discussed what we wanted to do for the day and decided on nothing. We didn't leave the resort at all. We did walk the grounds & the beach, ate an enormous breakfast buffet, and drank exotic concoctions by the pool (Jennie is a fan of Mai Tais now)

We took a break in the middle of the day to play Hawaiin Bingo. Casey and Jennie won Marriotters and I won a coffee table book about Kauai. For dinner we went to Duke's for fish tacos & thai pizza, then were off to bed by 8pm. I can't think of a better way to have spent our first day in paradise. Tomorrow, though, we're going to explore the island a little bit!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

We made it!

Wow - I'd forgotten how long it takes to get to the islands. We all managed to get to the Kauai airport at about the same time, so that worked for us. All of our luggage made it too, which was an especially nice perk!

Unfortunately it was cloudy and rainy when we landed. But out spirits were lifted when we got to our hotel and saw how beautiful everything was at the resort.

In case you want to check out our digs, here are a few pictures ...

Casey and my room

Jennie's room

The view from our rooms ...

The Kauai Marriott is on the east side of the island, in the middle of Kalapaki Beach. It's a great little beach in Nawiliwili Bay. It's a perfect area for us. The water is calm enough to swim, with sometimes enough waves to boogie board. We've seen lots of surfers in the bay too! I think we found the perfect place to hang our hats.