Wednesday, April 18, 2018

April showers on the Garden Isle

Dan and I finally made it to Kauai. I've wanted to go for years, but our Hawaii trips were fare sales (Big Island 2010 and Maui 2013) and a work trip extension (Big Island 2016). And there are no fare sales to Kauai, or work meetings. So last year I decided it was time, and planned a 10-day trip for June 2017...but Dan broke 12 bones in a bicycle accident two weeks before departure day, and we had to cancel. But we went for spring break, and although it wasn't the sunny, beach-y vacation I had envisioned, we made the best of it. Kauai is beautiful. We hope to return in sunnier weather, when Hanalei and the North Shore recover from the recent flooding.

Saturday, April 7
Our morning flight out of rainy San Francisco waited on the runway for too long, but somehow we were seated in Extra Comfort, so I didn't complain very much. Enough time for our connection in Honolulu, where we were seated in the exit row for the short hop to Lihue. Overcast when we arrived, and so crowded at the car rental shuttle stop, where we saw our first roosters. Long and slow-moving line at Budget, but the lady who helped us embodied the aloha spirit, pointing out her recommendations on the map. And we were off! First stop was Foodland for groceries (discount card included on our rental car key), where we spent quite a bit of time exploring the variety of local specialties. We got taro chips, three kinds of hurricane popcorn, a pack of lilikoi passion fruit drinks, laulau from the freezer section, taro bread from the bakery, three types of poke and smoked fish from the deli counter, and a couple bottles of wine. Then I checked out the Kapaa Art Walk and got my first Spam musubi...and it started to rain. We continued north, and the rain increased. The windshield wipers could barely keep up, and I was worried. Finally, we arrived at our home for the next five days. The cottage on Hanalei Bay was perfect, and I loved the view even in the rain.

Looking out from Old Style
Old Style view

After settling in, we took a walk on the beach. It was rainy, and Dan wore his rain poncho, which smelled horrible. He had poke for dinner, and I went to bed early, hoping for sunshine.

Sunday, April 8
Woke up to gray skies. We could see surfers and paddleboarders on the water, and saw lots of birds on the lawn. Since rain was in the forecast, I thought we could check out the dry and wet caves. Caves in the rain, right? So we drove west, passing beautiful Lumahai Beach, and many roosters on the road. Parked at Haena Beach, and peeked in the dry cave, which was like a big auditorium. Kind of underwhelming. Nothing like the long lava tubes on the Big Island. So we set off in search of the wet caves, which took us to the end of the road. There was caution tape around the cave, and it wasn't raining, so we decided to try the Kalalau Trail.

Kalalau Trail
Kalalau Trail

Ke'e Beach view from Kalalau Trail
Ke'e Beach

We had hiked about a mile, when it started to POUR. My "water resistant" rainjacket was soaked, and I could wring out my shirt. Dan was using my umbrella since I banned the stinky poncho. We could barely make out the horizon line where the ocean meets the sky, so we turned back.

At Haena Beach, the stream we crossed earlier on the highway had turned into a river, and crowds were gathering. Someone told us the Mustang that had driven through the river was no longer functioning - a cautionary tale! So we decided to wait - me in the car, Dan asking around the parking lot. We saw a couple of ladies riding horses - bareback! The river didn't seem to be reducing, so we headed west again toward Ke'e Beach, but another growing stream on the road was worrying. We didn't want to be stranded so far west. So we turned back (again), and this time there were several cars ahead of us ready to cross the river, so we followed them and made it through - hooray! What an adventure. Time for lunch at Hanalei Dolphin. The river looked high and brown.

Hanalei Dolphin
Hanalei River

Dan at lunch
Lunch at the Dolphin

It was still raining after lunch, so we browsed in some shops, got kulolo on sale for $1 at Hanalei Taro Truck (where they recommended having it with ice cream), tried a couple of confections at Chocolat Hanalei, and were the last to get shave ice at JoJo's. They was closing because the river was rising, and the bridge might be closed. Since we didn't want to be stranded if the bridge closed, we decided to stay in Hanalei for the slack key concert at the community center, but the show was canceled, also due to possible bridge closure. But we saw our first nene on the island by the side of the road! Went to Big Save for dinner fixings and Roselani's macadamia nut ice cream, and an umbrella for Dan, then headed back to the cottage for relaxing. Dinner was hapa rice (mix of brown and white) with poke, furikake, nori, and avocado. Kulolo with ice cream for dessert, as recommended.

First shave ice of the trip
First shave ice

Chickens hiding from the rain
Chickens escaping the rain

Nene!
Nene!

Monday, April 9
Woke up to gray skies and no (less) rain in the forecast. Watched the surfers and paddleboarders on the water again, and more birds on the lawn during breakfast. I could get used to this. Dan said we should try the Kalalau Trail since the weather was better, but I wanted to try something different. So we drove east toward the Hanalei Bridge to the Okolehao Trail, passing workers in the taro fields. We could actually see the mountains, and it was so beautiful. A small bridge marks the trail, which did seem extremely muddy. Dan was hesitant, so I conceded and we headed west again toward the end of the road. We saw so many nene along the river!

The parking lot was packed when we got to Ke'e Beach, and I asked the lifeguard how often he sees monk seals. Everyday! We started the trail again, and this time the horizon was clear, and the reef below was visible...and then, the Na Pali coast! Gorgeous. The trail here was muddy too, and we had to cross the stream, but we made it to Hanakapi'ai Beach, where we had snacks on the rocks, surrounded by hungry cats. And roosters.

Ke'e Beach

We can see the Na Pali Coast!

Hanakapi'ai Beach

Hanakapi'ai Beach, Na Pali Coast

Rooster

We decided to try continuing on to Hanakapi'ai Falls. The trail got muddier, and we passed many bamboo groves and crossed several streams. Also I got a lot of bug bites.

Hanakapi'ai Falls

Hanakapi'ai Falls

On the way back, I fell in the mud. Dan spotted a huge centipede, and then I saw a rat. Yikes! I screamed so loud that Dan thought I had fallen off the rocks. The surf was HUGE, and the sky had cleared. The Na Pali coast is stunning. We heard a lot of helicopters on the hike back. The views must be spectacular from up above, but I am not a fan of the noise pollution (also do not care for drone noise).

Big surf

Ke'e Beach in the afternoon

Back at Ke'e Beach, the lifeguard hadn't seen any monk seals yet. We drove back to Hanalei and picked up spicy langoustine poke, tako poke, and a Dolphin roll at the Hanalei fish market, which we enjoyed for dinner. The tako was much more tender than Foodland's. Went for a walk on the beach and saw several dogs! The mountains behind the cottage were beautiful too.

Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay

Old Style on the left

Kulolo and macadamia nut ice cream for dessert again. It was a lovely day on the North Shore.

Tuesday, April 10
Woke up to gray skies. Continued the morning routine of watching surfers and paddleboarders on the water and birdies on the lawn while drinking my coffee. Dan wanted to go out for breakfast, so we went Village Snack and Bake Shop, where we shared malasadas, tropical pancakes, and Portuguese sausage. The pancakes were scrumptious, moist and chock full of macadamias, bananas, and coconut. Today was stand-up paddleboard day, so we asked at a rental shop. The proprietor seemed dubious about the conditions, and we were disappointed. The window was open at the Hanalei Taro Truck, so I went to ask about the Wednesday tour, which was already full. The river looked clear, so Dan suggested we ask about paddleboarding at Kayak Hanalei, and it was a go! Turned out to be the ideal choice, since their dock is right on the river, and they helped us balance on the boards. We paddled up the river toward the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge, and saw so many nene and other birds, a couple fish, turtles, and even bison! Neither of us fell in the water. Dan said he was expert level, but I was skeptical (I'm definitely still novice). 

Dan paddleboarding on Hanalei River
After plate lunches at the taro truck, we walked to the Hanalei Pier. The view was lovely, but I didn't take any photos. And then! We heard sirens, and saw a fire truck driving down the beach, which stopped right before the pier. Two lifeguards jumped out and ran down the beach with surfboards, one carrying a medical bag. They were SO FAST. Superhumans! Hope everyone was okay. After the excitement, we walked to Wishing Well and shared a shave ice. Then it was off to the farmers' market at Waipa Foundation. So many cars in the parking lot, and more rain. Picked up bananas, guavas, a mango, avocado, and salad fixings. I asked a man selling eggs if they were from the wild chickens, but he ignored me. Was it rude? Seemed like a valid question, but maybe everyone asks the same thing. We have backyard chickens at home, so am not a complete ignoramus.

After a rest at the cottage, the rain was seemed lighter so we drove south to the Kilauea Wildlife Refuge. It was almost closing time when we arrived,  so we didn't go in. But we saw loads of birds on the cliffs from the parking lot. Mostly red-footed boobies, and some white-tailed tropicbirds. There's a good view of the lighthouse from the viewpoint just outside the entrance. On the way back to Hanalei, we picked up a macadamia coconut dark chocolate bar at the Chocolate Shack (tasty but expensive), then drove down Anini Road to see the beach and cottage we had reserved for last June. Then drove through Princeville, as I had read that shearwaters nest at Queen's Bath, but the parking lot was full. Lots of nene on the golf course. Dan spotted an open house sign, so we drove down a bunch of streets to find it, and the realtor remembered me from the beach the previous evening! She had been walking two pooches, one was a 17 year old named Max. Stopped at the Hanalei Valley Lookout on the way back. A mama hen was keeping her chickies warm.

Dan at the Hanalei viewpoint overlook

Beautiful dusk color in the rain. Dinner was laulau (from Foodland) and salad (from the farmers' market). More kulolo and ice cream for dessert!

Wednesday, April 11
Another drizzly morning. But we were determined to paddleboard on the river again, as we could still use our rental from the previous day. So it was back to Kayak Hanalei; we paddled toward the ocean this time, and luckily there was only sprinkles while we were on the river. The guide told us to look for sea turtles after the turn where the river meets the bay, but we didn't see any. More birds: night herons, nene, and a pooch on the way back, who wanted to go jetskiing with its people. Woof woof! Paddleboarding on the river was really fun, and we hope to try on the ocean next time.

Then it was time for the Wai Koa Trail. Unlike the Kalalau Trail, this one was flat, but just as muddy. We walked through mahogany forests, past Kauai Fresh Farms, fish ponds, and a few private residences decorated with beautiful tropical plants. And we saw a bristly pink pig digging in the distance! Then we reached the stone dam - what a lovely setting. More mud on the way back, horses, and another pooch, who was very muddy and happy.

Stone Dam, Wai Koa Trail

Posing

Buddha

Better selfie attempt

Lunch time! Back to Village Snack for chili pepper chicken and chocolate haupia pie (yum). Then a rest at the cottage, before we ventured out again for a swim at Anini Beach. I dipped my feet in the water, but too cold to swim. We saw dark hairy pigs, mules, and ponies at Kilauea Farms! Also popped into another open house near Kalihiwai Beach. Got some more tako poke and another Dolphin roll at Hanalei fish market for dinner...our last night in Hanalei. The days went by so quickly. We hope to return during sunnier weather, swim in the ocean, relax at the beach, attempt stand-up paddleboarding on the ocean, boat ride to see the Na Pali coast, enjoy rainbows and sunsets...

A pony and a piggy

Piggies and a mule

Thursday, April 12
Blue sky in the morning! I was so excited. Went for a walk along Hanalei Bay after my coffee, and Dan tried boogie boarding, but didn't catch many waves. I only dipped my feet in the water. It was sunny, but not hot yet. Dan made an affogato with the last of the macadamia nut ice cream, we packed up, and reluctantly left our home for the last five days. Then it started to rain again. It was time to go south, where I hoped there would be sunshine.

We planned to hike one of the Sleeping Giant trails, and stopped at Poliahu Heiau and Opaeka'a Falls on the way, then drove down the windy road to Kamokila Hawaiian Village to ask about renting a canoe. They said the trail to Secret Falls would be very muddy, so we skipped hiking, and decided to look for Wailua Falls. Turns out we were driving on the wrong road, but we saw some colorful eucalyptus tree bark, very pretty. Dan said it was because the bark was saturated with water, but I wonder. (I think it's the species of tree.)

Wailua River

'Opaeka'a Falls

Wailua River Panorama

Colorful tree trunk

Colorful tree trunks

Eventually we found Wailua Falls, and then it was lunchtime. We enjoyed the noodles and old-school counter at Hamura's Saimin in Lihue. And lilikoi chiffon pie for dessert. Yummy.

Then it was on to Poipu, driving past resorts to our lodgings near Brennecke's Beach. After settling in, we walked to Poipu Beach, where I finally went swimming for the first time on the trip! Saw a bunch of fish, many brain corals, and a turtle swam by me! Visibility wasn't the best, but I was happy to finally be in the water. Also attempted to take selfies on the beach.

Selfie attempt at Poipu Beach

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On the walk back, we met Wes, who lives a few houses down from where we were staying. He was gardening, and Dan asked about what he was planting as he is an avid gardener. Gus introduced us to his pooch Chloe ("she's the boss"), seemed impressed when we asked about the Spanish moss hanging from the house, then shared a big handful of limes from his tree! Regarding the rainy weather, "You know what they say...April showers bring May flowers."

Then it was almost dinnertime. Drove to Koloa Town, where we picked up poke, smoked swordfish, and cucumber salad at Koloa Fish Market, drinks and chocolates from the wine shop a few doors down, pickled daikon and carrots and another kulolo at Sueoka's, then Big Save for Korean taegu, pineapple cole slaw, and snacks at . Then it started to rain again, lots. The poke was so good, with pickled veggies and rice, added limes to lilikoi passion juice, and kulolo for dessert (this one had a slightly courser texture than the one in Hanalei).

We had a great view from the upstairs Macadamia unit, but the bed was uncomfortable, exacerbated by the scratchiest sheets I have ever slept on in my entire life. After tossing and turning for hours, I thought of laying down a big beach towel, which helped somewhat. Seems like it's time to replace the mattress!

Friday, April 13
Awoke to blue sky through the clouds. Hooray! Mango coconut bread (that we got at Koloa Fish Market the previous day) for breakfast - yum. We packed a few things in the cooler, and we were off. Dan got gas in Koloa Town while I picked up coffees (cappuccino for me, iced coffee with almond milk for Dan) at Aloha Roastery, then headed west toward Waimea Canyon. We stopped at a pretty view on the highway.

On the road to Waimea
Preview of the canyon

Next stop was Ishihara Market, where we picked up bento box lunches from the deli, and several kinds of poke. And I finally got postcards. I saw the kulolo delivery schedule at the register, and the third kind (we had tried two so far) had been delivered that day. But Dan didn't think it would keep well in the car, so we passed. 

Then it was up the windy Waimea Canyon Drive. We met a couple from Atlanta at our first viewpoint on the drive. They were so nice and took many photos for us, including a panorama. (I suck at panoramas.)

Waimea Canyon

Another pose at Waimea Canyon

Waimea Canyon Panorama

Next photo stop was Waipo'o Falls. The canyon was so beautiful, it didn't seem real. The view of the ocean across the road was pretty too. 

Waipo'o Falls

Posing at Waipo'o Falls

Ocean view from Waimea Canyon Road  

We continued up the twisty-turny road to Kokeʻe Museum. (I was glad I bought ginger candies at the store the previous day). We enjoyed the wildlife exhibits; there is a nice selection of gifts too. Picked up a few more postcards, asked about the trail conditions (muddy, currently foggy), and then continued on the Kalalau Lookout, which was completely covered in fog. Were there mountains below? Ocean? Who knows? We decided to have our bento box lunches from the market and wait it out. Spam musubi for me, a meat assortment with omelet and rice for Dan. And taro chips. It was still foggy after we finished lunch. We drove up to the Pu’u O Kila Lookout, which was also covered in fog when we arrived. I suggested we walk down the Pihea Trail...and then! I thought I spotted blue sky and maybe ocean through the clouds at a clearing. Dan was dubious, but the clouds cleared up some more and we could see the Na Pali Coast! Yaaaay!

Fog clearing over Na Pali Coast

Posing as the fog clears 


Na Pali Coast

It was so beautiful. Another couple we met told us it's even more spectacular from the ocean. Next time! On the way down, we stopped at the Waimea Canyon Lookout, where it began to pour rain! But it was still beautiful. I didn't get any photos though. We stopped again at Waipo'o Falls on the way back, and heard many helicopters. The view was just as beautiful with rain falling across several layers of the canyon.

Rain over Waipo'o Falls

Since it wasn't raining after we made it down the mountain, I suggested we check out Salt Pond Beach. I was dipping my toes in the water and waiting for Dan when I saw a monk seal on the sand! Such a cute blob of blubber relaxing on the beach. We attempted snorkeling, but the visibility was poor. Also, it was cold in the water. By the time I got my camera, the monk seal had turned on its side. Lifted its head once when the tide reached its body, but otherwise napped the entire time. My first monk seal sighting!

Hawaiian monk seal!

Then we joined the last tour at Kauai Coffee Company. Lots of funny signs. Sampled many coffees and bought some beans that had been roasted earlier that day. Even met the roastmaster in the shop. Also, I met a dog in the parking lot, and their people said it's possible to borrow a dog for a day from the Kauai Humane Society! Take it to beach, hiking, etc. I want to do that.

Depresso

Unaccompanied Children

Kauai Coffee

After all the coffee, it was time for a snack at Wong's. Dan had a steamed manapua, and we shared a slice of lilikoi chiffon pie. Yum.

Pork bun at Wong's

Lilikoi pie at Wong's

Then it was off to Hanapepe for their Friday Art Night. Despite our recent snack, we were convinced to try the huli huli chicken at Bobbie's when we saw (and smelled) them on the grill. I really enjoyed the music too.

Music at Bobbi's

We peeked into some galleries and shops, then met a young man with a lemonade stand outside Taro Ko, the taro chip factory. I was disappointed it was closed, and he told me his uncle worked there, and was usually open during the day, and then pointed out his many relatives surrounding us. I asked what grade he was in (second grade), then he asked me to guess his teacher. Also it had been walk to school day. We enjoyed our chat with Bryston very much, and need to go back for taro chips.

After trying (and buying) salts at Aloha Spice Company, we walked across the swinging bridge. It was VERY SWINGY, we discovered that some young people were responsible. At first I was annoyed, but then tried to be more magnanimous. Kids on a Friday night need to have their fun, right?

Housekeeping had changed the bed sheet when we returned, but it was still very scratchy. Not the best night's sleep, but a great day on the West Shore...

Saturday, April 14
Our last full day in Kauai! Unfortunately awoke to overcast skies and rain in the forecast. Scallop and salmon poke that we got at Ishihara market the previous day, with leftover rice (and a few taro chips) for breakfast. Yummers. Walked out to the rocky cove by Brennecke’s beach to search for turtles. We saw a bunch, reaching their heads up for air. So cute. Continued walking along the shore to the Sheraton. It was gray and serene, a few swimmers and snorkelers in the water. But then! It started to pour! Hurried back under umbrellas, then drove to Spouting Horn, which was not super-spouty at the time. Very windy and rainy. We looked for turtles at Lawai Beach and walked around Kuhio Shores, where we were supposed to stay last June. 

On the way back ,we walked through the (free) orchid gardens at Kiahuna Plantation. A small garden, but many different orchids. Big koi in the fish ponds too. Dan spotted a frog, then we saw some snails feeding in a pond! Didn't take any photos, probably because of the rain. Then drove back to our place, and decided to walk along the shore in the other direction, past the Grand Hyatt to Shipwreck Beach. We heard someone say this was the first year she hadn't seen whales, but we did see more turtles bobbing in the waves.

Lunchtime. Drove to Koloa Town and sampled all the nuts at Kauai Nut Roasters. I got a coconut Kona coffee mix for my father, who watched the hounds while we were gone. Wish they had more whole macadamias though. And then. I saw this sign at the register. So it's true! I must do this on my next visit.

!!!  

We picked up lunch at Koloa Fish Market, which we ate back at our place. Dan had the plate lunch with Ahi, and I had a poke bowl with two kinds, avocado and Korean. I also ate Dan’s macaroni salad. We shared a coconut porter, and purple sweet potato haupia pie for dessert. After a rest, we drove to the parking lot at Shipwreck Beach and started the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail. We made it past the golf course to Punahoa Point, when it started to rain again. So we turned back. Saw lots of nene and more golden plovers on the grass. Dan also found a white-tailed tropicbird nest, and we saw several interesting snails. I was disappointed we didn't make it to Maha'ulepu Beach and the petroglyphs, so we'll have to go back.

Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail

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Dan found a white-tailed tropicbird nest

Maha'ulepu Trail

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Snail!

Big snail

We went to at Keoki's Paradise for dinner our last night. There was a wait, so we had drinks at the bar, where I enjoyed the music. My Poipu Piña was delicious and served in a pineapple! We enjoyed our dinners too. Fun, tropical atmosphere...perfect for our last night!

Poipu Pina

We had requested a flat sheet for the bed, and I finally got a decent night's sleep on our last night in Poipu. Despite the rainy, cool weather, Kauai was beautiful, and we hope to return during warmer weather for more swimming, beach time, boat tour, sunsets, and more. Also, we didn't see any rainbows! Next time...

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