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.
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.
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.As you continue the earth becomes redder and almost extraterrestrial, like the surface of Mars (if Mars had waterfalls of course).
We 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.
We 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.
For 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.