Monday, May 25, 2015

Kauai - Day 5

Nice lazy morning.... coffee and a little walk on the beach. Our plans today included the drive up Waimea Canyon and taking in the outlooks and then meeting up with our friends from home, (both our trips were planned before we knew each other was going... wild) we have a 2:15 check in for our Sunset Dinner Cruise with Capt. Andy.

First stop Hanalei Coffee Roasters. Waffles anyone! I ordered the kid size which is one half of a regular one and just perfect. Fresh fruit and the coffee is awesome. A look up into the mountains and I'm not sure if we are going to see anything when we get up there... but are going to give it a shot.

Driving around the island is just beautiful and the traffic was never an issue. Throughout our canyon visit we had sun, rain, mist and fog. We found you could just wait a bit and the conditions would improve. I would say take notice if there are folks at the side of the road - there are some outstanding view points outside of the major ones.

It is a beautiful drive and each outlook is worth a stop.


We made our way back down and as we were passing through the town of Waimea there was a little roadside market set up - we were both ready for a little something to eat. There was a food booth with pineapple sausages that they put pulled pork on top of..... yum. While Mr. H was waiting on the food order I looked around at the booths. My favorite - the sweet ladies from the local senior citizens center. They had beautiful shell jewelry and I could not resist getting a bracelet. They are only at the market on Thursdays. They are adorable! The lady on the left in the picture helped me and she was so sweet to right down the names of the different shells in the piece I picked and what those names meant. Full of the Aloha Spirit!

We meet up with our friends and head out on the cruise. This is a four hour tour so you get lots of time on the sea. You get to see Poihale Beach and Barking Sands.... which were barking as we approached.... like they were setting off stuff... which was interesting even to the captain! We saw some critters while we were out... A turtle and a monk seal... sticking his tounge out at us! Excuse the awful picture... wrong lens on.... but you go with what you've got in a moment like this.

I had a great conversation with Jon, a crew member. He came up and commented on the bracelet I had purchased earlier this day. He told me about his Grandmother who had lived on the "forbidden island" - Ni'ihau and she had done the shell work during her lifetime. He had wonderful stories and was so passionate about her story. A special addition to the trip. Here is Jon... Full of Aloha Spirit!
Onward we went and they warned us to prepare for the turn North as the waves would get bigger..... hello! The waves gave us a pretty good ride - we stayed up top and got a little wet and it was fantasic! The view.... my goodness..... Looking up into the valleys that we had looked down on earlier that day. Fantastic!

Once they raise the sail and turn around for the trip back south, it gets very smooth and is a nice calm ride. We ate dinner up top and the sweet thing... if you stay up top at the front... they serve you. So there's a tip. The food is cooked on the boat and I can say all 6 of us were amazed at the quality of the food... this is a really good meal. Beautiful boat, very sweet and interactive crew that we all had great conversations with, outstanding views and close proximity to the coast, great dinner and a beautiful sunset.

Everyone had a great time! A beautiful Day!



Sunday, May 24, 2015

Kauai - Day 4

Today we were signed up for the 5 hour hiking photo tour with Kauai Photo Tours. Their office is located in Kapaa and we... well in truth "I" wanted to arrive early so I could get input on what I should purchase for filters and such.

We head out and once we have located the photo tour shop we circle back and grab amazing coffee and food at Java Kai. Great atmosphere, nice service and goodness the food is outstanding! We had plenty of time to sit and enjoy our breakfast and it still left time to arrive at the tour a little early. We packed up a couple extra items to have during our hike and back at the house.

On to Kauai Photo Tour. I had learned about them via tripadvisor and am so glad I did. The staff is amazing and so very helpful. Way back when I first reserved my spot they only had a walking tour booked and the hike tour was what I had hoped to do. Kahea was kind enough to keep an eye out for me and ultimately got us a spot on a hiking tour. We were greeted by sweet Michelle, I think we would be friends if we lived in the same place... and I have a feeling a lot of folks come away with that impression. Good person... just so kind. The shop is well fitted with lots of wonderful items that help in getting great pictures on island. I'm sure they are open for business whether you are taking a tour or not. I picked up a ND filter, a rain cover, and a new stap. They have a great assortment of polarizing filters and even though I had purchased one before the trip, Michelle took the time to show me how to best use it - yep nice person.

The Tour - Matt was our guide and he was fantastic! Answered any question we had - reguardless of topic - photo setting questions - island history - dinner recommendations. He had great energy and made for a really fun day. We had been warned that it could be a muddy mess and everyone was prepared for that. Waterfalls and rainbows.... come from rain... as does mud... it's Kauai... there you go. I wish I had made a better list of where we went. That is my tip to myself for next time! And I would do this tour again... there was a gentleman on our tour and it was his third. I think that speaks very highly of the experience... it's awesome. I will also add that there were folks with big fancy cameras, supporting spouses that carried camera bogs, folks with iphones or similar and point and shoots. You do not have to aspire to be a national geographic contributor to enjoy this tour. One couple had walking sticks, for anyone who wanted one Matt graciously cut ones out of jungle. 7 people on the tour, nice van with beverages and treats. I felt we had plenty of time at each location and never felt rushed and never felt like we were standing around waiting on the group. Nice flow to the day. You hop out of the van and follow Matt down paths that I would have looked at on my own and questioned whether or not you were supposed to "be" there. Then you can always go back... provided you take better notes than I did!

Here's some of what I got....

Back at the shop, decided to pick up a new strap and Michelle fit it to me and my camera... not make a quick sale and the end of the day and send you on your way.... nope...she helped me set it up perfectly. I took a bucket load of pictures and my husband took a few and we both enjoyed the short hikes.

That was the extent of our "plan" for the day... so peek at the list and realize this would be an awesome time to take in the two waterfalls in the area. We first head up to Opakea Falls and then up to Wailua Falls.


From here we went back over to Costco to pick up a couple things. Mr. H wanted the shrimp for a snack and it simply ended up being dinner on our ride back to the house.

Great Island... Great Day!



Saturday, May 23, 2015

Kauai - Day 3

Kauai - Day 3

Morning ritual here is get up early, make some coffee and walk out onto the beach. Check out the weather conditions, enjoy the sunrise and comb for shells. We first head out to Tunnels/Makua to see how the conditions look. There is no one in the parking lot so we decide to try and find the road closer to the snorkel area . Just before we pull out we walked across the road to check out the dry cave... cool place to grab a photo. Now on to see if we can find the road to park on. We passed it once and had to turn around. A group is just leaving and let us know the visibilty was bad due to rough surf. We decide to pack up our stuff and as they say "chase the sun"!

Looking into the cave and then looking back out - across the road is the parking lot at Ha'ena State Park - access to Tunnels.
We stop at the Wake Up Cafe in Hanalei Bay. Mac Nut Cinnamon rolls... just go and have one. We shared one and then each had Hang Ten Breakfast - eggs, sausage and hashbrowns. Great food, awesome service - NOTE - they only take cash or travelers checks - so have cash and you are good to go.
We head down the road and my thoughts are we will snorkel at Lyngate, but the great app from Kauai Explorer tells me the swells on that side of the island are big and the visiability is fair. So with this information we decide to head further South to Poipu. There is a great parking lot right across the street from the park/beach access. There are two sides to Poipu as there is a Tombolo in the middle, very cool spot to walk all the way out and shoot a picture back towards the beach. When we arrive there is a turtle resting right on the beach next to the water. We head into the right side first and right off the bat there are huge fish, not as much variety, but huge fish. After a little break we head into the left side. Smaller fish and a great variety! Including two eels... It is on this side that rocks have been placed in the sand to spell out Poipu and there are fish everywhere. We had packed a lunch, so we enjoyed that on the beach. It was a cloudy day, and we still had waves crashing on the reef - but it was our best choice for the day. I think that is something to keep in mind when planning. If your itenary is so locked down that you cannot flex for the weather... you may set yourself up for some frustration. Leave your "mainland" ways back home and be open to letting the day unfold.
We head up to Kukui'ula Village Shopping and the Halelea Gallery. They had posted some of the artist's work they represent on Instagram. Beautiful shop and outstanding service. We also visited Poipu Surf and discovered Surfers Salve.... An amazing product that calms sunburn, bug bites, on and on. I have already gone back and picked up 4 more tubes!
From here we head up the road to the sweet little town of Koloa for one stop.
We refer to our list and realize we are close to the Allerton Garden. I call to see if they have room on the next tour which starts in about 15 min and they do. So we get on our way and make it there with a little time to spare. By this point my phone is dead.... no pictures and to be honest... I really enjoyed just soaking it in. Beautiful place and learned so much about the plants that make Kauai so beautiful. It is a beautiful walk through the gardens... we had an active group so our sweet guide tossed in a walk down to the house and beach - amazing. I think if you take the dinner tour, the dinner is served down at the house and you will have access to the beach. Our tour was right at 3 hours and well worth the fee.... a place well worth the support!

Sprouting Horn is just across the street from Allerton, with a bit of a South swell it was putting on quite a show. There was a guy there with a drone camera thing... His pictures had to be crazy amazing!

Realizing it is Cinco De Mayo, the Tortilla Republic is a great choice and bonus... it's taco tuesday... so half price tacos! The food was awesome, we had the nachos and three kinds of tacos.

We make the drive back North and crash.

Great day... another really great day!

** Trip Tip **

The List - My husband had requested I not over plan this trip so we went with plans for days 4-5-6, and "the list". What's the list? My way to go with the flow and it worked great. I made a list organized by area of "options". I included hours of operation, links to web sites or driving directions. I included places to eat, hike, snorkel, shop and places of interest. I emailed it to myself and it worked great. When we found ourselves in an area and a bit of time... I just pulled up the trip options list.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Kauai Day 2

Kauai - Day 2 - Monday May 4th

A walk across the back lawn and we are on the beach! Beach combing as we watch sunrise. Fun finding shells of all shapes and sizes.


Just down the road from our airbnb is a sweet little coffee shop, Na Pali Art Gallery and Coffee House. Good iced latte. We headed out to Ke'e beach, a bit later in the morning than anyone would venture if you are hoping to get a parking spot.... but we lucked out and someone was pulling out just as we arrived.

Ke'e is a beautiful soft sandy beach. Lots of shaded areas you can take a break from the sun and the snorkeling is outstanding. Nice sandy entry area and we found an area to the left near the rocky side that had an amazing assortment of fish all around one big rock. Everyone will tell you to get there early... but even if you don't, give it a go and you might luck out like we did. There is also a shuttle service on the North Shore, we have not used it ourselves but have talked to others that have and were very happy with the service ****UPDATE*** - I have read that due to funding issues they are planning on stopping the shuttle service - hopefully that will change. Ok back to the beach. Before you leave the area be sure to grab your camera and walk yourself to the North end of the beach (to the right as you are facing the water). Go as far as you can and then look South back down the beach. You will see a stunning view of the Napali Coast.

As I made my way down the beach I noticed two plein air painters working on paintings. They were very sweet to visit with me about their work and let me take pictures. They were both artists who's work I had admired prior to visiting Kauai and it was a highlight for me to see them in action.

Artist - Pierre Bouret and Jenifer Prince

We headed into Hanalei Bay and experienced our first Puka Dog... it tasted great! I had the sausage with pinapple relish and Aunt Liki's mustard. Great Lemonaide too. We walked around the little town and peeked into a couple shops. Picked up grass mats $2.50! These are great to use at the beach to put your towels on top of. A couple beers at the Dolphin Restaurant and we are ready to go.

We called over to the Makai Golf Course to see if we could take the evening Sunset Tour and they said come on over. For $40 two people can rent a golf cart - stocked with water and pop and other beverages you can buy and ride the course. Which takes you to amazing vista's of the mountain range, Nene's, Queen's Bath and Hanalei Bay. Really a nice way to end the day. For those of us who don't golf it is a nice opportunity to see views we would otherwise not have access to. Nice time.

Ready for dinner we swing into the Tahaiti Nui - live music is playing a sweet woman is dancing the hula. We were able to get a tall table on the front porch and could still enjoy the entertainment. The service was outstanding, a nice mix of locals and visitors. Fun atmosphere. We ordered the Hawaiian Pizza and it was really good.

Back to our beach hut, checked out the great moon and hit the sack! Another great day!