Day 4 – January 28, 2015
Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii
Aloha Kauai Courtyard
When we realized we would be coming to Kauai in January, and subsequently their winter, we decided to stay on the South shore because there was going to be a better chance of nice weather. So far this theory has held out and since we arrived I’ve been checking the North shore weather to find a clear and sunny day to visit the more lush tropical side of the island. Day 4 presented the perfect sunny day so we packed all our beach gear and hit the road very early at 8am, planning to make it to Ke’e Beach (the very end of the road around the island) by 10am.
Just a few minutes out of town we hit traffic and assumed it was just a bit of island rush hour. After not moving an inch we tuned in to the local radio station to find out there had been a major crash just minutes earlier that blocked both lanes of traffic (we didn’t find out until days later that one of the passengers was in critical condition and I truly hope she makes a full recovery). Part of the charm of a small island is that there aren’t many roads so it’s very hard to get lost, but when something like this happens there are literally no other routes for people to take that would help clear the traffic. Your choices are to either wait or go home. Knowing it might be the only clear day on the North shore we decided to stick it out and after an hour or so we got moving.
The scenery on the drive to the North is absolutely beautiful. Snaking through small towns, with the ocean on your right and Waimea on your left there is always something to look at, or in my case take a picture of.
Being an hour or so behind schedule (and remembering we had 6pm dinner reservations), we had to alter our plan a little bit. We ended up passing Kilauea Lighthouse, constructed on the most Northern point of the island and working until 1976. Continuing on we passed lookout after lookout that showcased the islands taro fields and Hanalei Valley. One of the neat (and sometimes frustrating) parts of the drive was the one lane bridges you had to navigate.
We then entered the charming town of Hanalei, made famous by the Peter, Paul & Mary tune “Puff the Magic Dragon.” We didn’t stay in town long but it was absolutely charming, with restored historic buildings filled with restaurants and surf shops. And of course there was Hanalei Bay, the largest bay on the island and the perfect surf spot due to the huge swells we saw.
At this point the highway changed, became much narrower and filled with blind curves and twisting roads. Directly across from Haena Beach Park is the Manini-holo Dry Cave. Hawaiian legend says that Manini-holo, the chief fisherman of the Menehune (the original inhabitants of the islands) dug this cave in search of the supernatural beast, who had been stealing their fish. I saw no beast or evidence of fish thievery, but it was neat and pretty big once inside (about 300 yards deep).
Finally, after 3 hours of traffic and driving we hit Ke’e beach, a pristine lagoon with the Na Pali cliffs on one side and sandy stretch on the other. It was one of those movie set beaches, hardly believable that it exists in real life because it is just too pretty. Unfortunately the waves (about 5-10 ft) were too high to do any snorkelling and even swimming seemed like a risk, based on all the warning signs that were up, so we were content to lay on the beach, relax and watch the waves.