Category Archives: Hawaii

A Bit of History

Day 7 – January 31, 2015
Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii
Aloha Kauai Courtyard

On our last full day we decided to check out the Kauai Museum. It’s a small museum that is absolutely jam packed with artifacts and info about the islands past, present and future.

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There were sections on the original indigenous people of Hawaii, the missionaries that came, the sugar cane industry, the wildlife, the role of Hawaii during WWII and more, it was hard to keep it all straight!

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Right in the lobby there was a lovely gentleman demonstrating how to hand tie a fishing net.

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We spent a few hours at the museum and learnt so much. We probably could have spent even longer but I get museum fatigue after a couple hours and needed a beach break.

On our very first night we watched the sun set at Salt Pond Beach Park so we thought it was only fitting to return and watch the sun set on our last night. Kauai has been absolutely lovely. It’s hard for me to do a “relaxing vacation” but I’ve done my best and this little island has treated us very well.

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Mahaulepu Beach

Day 6 – January 30, 2015
Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii
Aloha Kauai Courtyard

Yesterday, our kayak guide recommended an isolated beach on the south shore called Mahaulepu. The directions we were given were along the lines of, “drive until the paved road ends and it looks like you aren’t supposed to be there. Then keep going.” To get there we had to drive through private property on an old sugar cane road that was better suited to a Jeep than our Mustang rental car. The dirt road was really beat up, with 6″ deep potholes and large stones sticking up randomly. It was a bumpy ride and we weaved back and forth across the road to avoid the worst of it, sometimes brushing up against the trees and bushes that lined the road.

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When we got to the end of the road and what we guessed was the “parking lot” for the beach we surveyed the damage and momentarily freaked out. But luckily the scratches were just dust and washed off easily.

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Mahaulepu Beach is one of the beaches from the movies that you can’t possibly think exists in real life. The water is too blue, the cliffs are too dramatic, the sand is too soft…it was the perfect place to spend the day. Lucky for us the water was pretty calm because there is no lifeguard post at this beach. There are also no washrooms and no snack bar, so plan your day accordingly.

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There’s a hiking trail that runs along the cliffs that we explored at a leisurely pace in the afternoon. It takes you across cliffs and around blowholes, over lava tubes and continued further up the coast than we were willing to go. This trail is more of less unmarked and there are no safety barriers along the cliffs, which are made from brittle lava rock so hike at your risk and bring lots of water.

January is part of whale season on Kauai and from the top of a cliff we watched dozens of whales jumping and spouting in the distance. When the sun got too hot we turned around and headed back. The scenery was absolutely awesome and I totally get why they call Kauai the “garden isle.”

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Kayaking Wailua

Day 5 – January 29, 2015
Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii
Aloha Kauai Courtyard

This morning we decided to try our hand at kayaking on the Wailua River, a calm waterway with a secret waterfall hidden deep inside. We signed up with Kayak Wailua ,who graciously accepted our last minute reservation and seemed to be one of the most cost effective ways to kayak the river with a guide. We opted for a morning tour, hoping there wouldn’t be too many people and the sun wouldn’t be too high. After checking in at head office and borrowing a couple pairs of running shoes for the hike, we got into a van with 10 other people and drove just a couple minutes to the marina. Both Jeff and I had never been in a kayak before but we took to it pretty quickly.

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The river was calm so it was easy to paddle 2.5 miles while picturesque scenery and a small local village floated by. As you got closer to the trail the river narrowed and the lush foliage started to close in.

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It took some tricky navigating but we eventually made it to the landing site and start of the trail. Even if you weren’t with a guide the pile of kayaks made it quite obvious that this was the place to start from. We made sure we gathered all our belongings before starting the 1 mile hike to the waterfall.

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To start the hike you first have to cross the stream, which was about thigh deep while we were there. The trail more or less followed the river, though I am confident that without our guide Lisa from Kayak Wailua we never would have found it. The trail was pretty easy to follow, though it was not marked in any way so if you show up without a guide it would probably be best to tag behind a larger group. There were just a couple muddy spots and two stream crossings so we were happy that we borrowed sneakers instead of wearing our own.

During the hike and I was struck by how clean the trail was. The area was pretty remote so I don’t think there were any state employees picking up trash, it was more likely due to the visitors respecting the land and choosing to take home any garbage with them. Which is just lovely. After sweating it out for about half an hour we started to hear that familiar rushing sound as the trail ended at the plunge pool of the 100′ Uluwehi Falls.

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We were hot and sticky and a little muddy so we wasted no time jumping in that water only to be shocked that it was absolutely freezing! Refreshing, yes? Ice cold, definitely! After our quick dip we enjoyed a picnic lunch perched on the rocks at the base of the falls watching other brave souls force themselves into the water.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We spent about an hour at the falls, swimming, eating, relaxing, before heading back to the real world. Kayaking the Wailua was a great way to spend the day and probably one of the most cost effective excursions you can do on the island!

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Skydiving and Waimea Canyon

Days 2+3 – January 26-27, 2015
Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii
Aloha Kauai Courtyard

On our second day in Kauai we sat ourselves on Poipu beach and did absolutely nothing…except when it started sprinkling rain we packed up and drove 20 minutes to Salt Pond beach where we continued with our day of nothingness. I think this day of total relaxation prepared us for what we had planned for Day 3 – Skydiving and Waimea Canyon.

There’s only one company that offers skydiving in Kauai, the aptly named Skydive Kauai. Luckily they have great reviews and an excellent safety record so we felt pretty safe falling out of a plane with them. We showed up at the airfield at 745am and were back on the ground, in our car by 9am. After literally signing our life away we were fitted into our harnesses, met our tandem mates and had one second for a quick selfie.

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We hopped into a small, doorless plane and took off down the runway. As the plane climbed higher we were afforded amazing views of the islands and saw tons of humpback whales playing and breaching off the coast. We broke through the cloud layer and before we knew it it was time to go. Our instructors gave us a quick bit of instruction: arms to the chest, knees up and head back for the exit. Jeff, the brave soul, went first and I followed shortly after.

Falling is my favourite feeling in the world and I can honestly say there wasn’t one second where I felt any fear. When the ripcord was pulled and we started drifting down I became acutely aware that my thighs were being pinched in the harness. I tried to pull my legs up to relieve the pressure but they had already started going numb. My vision started getting dark and I had to keep forcing myself to breath in through my nose and out my mouth, knowing that passing out while skydiving is probably not the best way to guarantee a smooth landing.

I kept looking over to Jeff who looked like he was having an absolute blast and used his distance from the ground to figure out how much longer I had to hang on for. Unaware that I was struggling my instructor started us into a tailspin and everything went black really fast. I must have managed to say that I wasn’t doing well because before I knew it I was on the ground with my head between my knees, covered in a cold sweat. While I laid on the ground until my vision and breathing went back to normal, Jeff looked on with a mix of confusion and concern. I was really disappointed, mostly in myself, because it was something I had looked forward to for so long and I couldn’t enjoy the entire jump, though the plane ride and free fall had been awesome.

We went back to the rental for a couple hours to let me recover a bit before we headed out to complete the rest of our monster day. On our way to Waimea Canyon we stopped at the Kauai Coffee Company farm, the largest coffee farm in the US where we sampled some free coffee (and there were dozens to choose from) and took a self guided tour of the farm.

 

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Waimea Canyon has been called the “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific”, though it is not nearly as deep or old as it’s cousin. According to google maps the drive from Koloa was supposed to take us just shy of an hour but because of all the amazing lookout spots and photo ops it took us about two. The drive was easy, paved the entire way and filled with twists, with mile and elevation markers to give you an idea of where you are on the journey up. The first lookout comes at you suddenly, it’s not marked at all, really only noticeable by the other cars pulled to the side of the road.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you continue the earth becomes redder and almost extraterrestrial, like the surface of Mars (if Mars had waterfalls of course).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe probably stopped half a dozen times on the way up, passing just as many lookout opportunities where we decided not to stop. It seemed like every time we came around the bend there was another place to get out and take a picture, but eventually we made it to the lookout at 3,400 feet.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe found out we were incredibly lucky to have such a clear day this time of year and decided to press our luck and continue on to Kalalau lookout, just a bit higher at 4,000 feet. Kalalau lookout overlooks Kalalau Valley, a very famous movie backdrop (original King Kong, Six Days Seven Nights, Jurassic Park) that was inhabited until 1919.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor such a long drive up we didn’t stay long at each view point but it was well worth the effort. Very rarely do you come across something that is as breathtaking as Waimea Canyon and Kalalau Valley and you can’t help but stop and take it all in.

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There’s a Seal on my Beach

Day 1 – January 25, 2015
Koloa, Kauai, Hawaii
Aloha Kauai Courtyard

Here we are, back in Hawaii (albeit a different island) celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary. When we visited the Big Island on our honeymoon we made the decision to try a different island every five years and so far we’re on track. We landed last night after dark and with only a couple turnarounds we made it to our vacation rental in Old Koloa. Waking up this morning with the roosters was a bit harsh, but was a great reason to get a jump on our first day.

An easy drive away was The Spouting Horn, one of the most photographed places on the island. The Spouting Horn is a naturally formed lava tube that shoots a large blast of water into the air when the sea rushes in. Hawaiian legend says that a giant lizard once guarded this area, eating anyone who dared to fish or swim close by. One day a young boy named Liko confronted the lizard, stabbed her with a sharp stick and swam under the lava shelf escaping through the small hole. The lizard got stuck in the lava tube and to this day you can hear her roar and see her breath from the blowhole.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile there was also saw a turtle and small pod of dolphins playing just by the edge of the rocks. It’s a quick visit, but a really interesting spot. It’s tempting to climb down onto the lava rocks, but there’s lot of fencing and signs warning people to keep away because it’s considered one of the most dangerous spots in Hawaii. People who do climb down for a photograph with the blowhole can be swept out by a wave and drown.

Just down the street from Spouting Horn we found Poipu Beach Park, an awesome beach with great facilities (lifeguard, toilets, showers) and seals! When we walked onto the beach we could see some yellow string roping off what looked like a dead seal, but turned out to just be a really tired seal.

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The Hawaiian Monk seals are endangered and fiercely protected. While we were on the beach there were two volunteers on the Seal Response Team that are called when one of these guys decide to take a nap on a beach. The Team is responsible for keeping the general public informed and in most cases keeping them away from these slumbering beauties.

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The seals actually need to sleep on the beach, they can become so tired that if they fall asleep in the water they can drown. And with only approximately 1100 left it is critical to give them space, especially when they flop around trying to get comfortable.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon in Poipu before heading to Salt Pond Beach for sunset. Salt Pond was another great beach that we’ll probably visit again, but in Hawaii can you really have a “bad” beach?

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