Friday, November 25, 2011

Hawaii Part 3 - Kauai

It's a hard choice between Maui and Kauai, but I think Kauai was our favorite island. So green, so lush, so beautiful.

We flew into Kauai in the afternoon and checked into our condo at Kuhio Shores #314 in Poipu. The condo was amazing. I know, I'm using that word a lot, but it had a huge lani (balcony) and it was right on the ocean. We fell asleep each night to the sound of the waves crashing into the shore and the windows wide open. If you're going to Kauai, you should definitely stay here.

Our first day in Kauai we went up to Waimea Canyon. They call it the Grand Canyon of Hawaii and it's pretty spectacular. Not quite as massive as the real Grand Canyon, but still pretty awesome. Everyday we were on Kauai it rained for some period of time then the sun came out; today was no different. We slowly took the long road up to the top, stopping every few miles for some photos. Jeremy picked out a 4 mile hike for us to do through the rain forest on the ocean side of the canyon. It is only in the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook "Kauai Revealed" and it's called the Honopu Ridge Trail on page 196. You'll definitely want to wear long pants that you can roll up into shorts or zip off. We went to the end of the marked trail, and then a bit more, but while we were out there we saw some serious hikers hike all the way to the end of the cliff. It's a gorgeous hike through a forest, dense with ferns and bamboo and culminates with some awe inspiring views of the Napali coast. I highly recommend this hike. That night we went to dinner at a restaurant right next to our condo called The Beach House. It was very romantic and the best part was that we could walk home. Okay, the best part was the food and Mai Tai's but the walk home was a nice bonus.

Our second day we spent the morning going on an ATV tour with Kauai ATV. My parents did this when they were in Hawaii a few years ago and they highly recommended it. The best part about the tour is that they encourage you to hit every mud puddle. We were covered in mud by the end of the adventure; it was so much fun! Though I don't think it would be as much fun during the dry season without any mud puddles. We took turns driving the mud buggie (you have a choice between mud buggie and ATV), to the right is a picture of Jeremy driving while I hold on tight.

After getting all cleaned up, we spent the afternoon snorkeling at Poipu Beach Park and boggie boarding at Brennecke Beach. The waves at Brennecke Beach were huge and we got beat up pretty badly. We were exhausted when we got back to the room, so we stayed in and made some pasta.

Because we were in Hawaii for so long, all the days are starting to blur together, so I'll just tell you about some of the other stuff we did on Kauai, in no particular order.

One day we spent doing the first half of the Napali Coast hike on the Kalalau Trail. This is also a 4 mile round trip hike, well the first part, and it is very popular. The day we did the hike it was again raining on and off, so the trail was very muddy, and the stream crossing at the 2 mile mark was raging. We couldn't cross to get to the beach, and if one were to hike the full trail, I don't know how they would have continued on this day. The full trail is 22 miles round trip, with a camp ground at the far end at mile 11. I've been told by friends that it is a beautiful hike. We enjoyed the first part and hope to do the full hike next time we go back.

A few days later we went for a hike on the east shore on a trail called "Sleeping Giant" (Nounou Mountain). The trail is called this because it traverses up the mountain that is said to look like a giant sleeping on its back. Legend says that in the case of an impending attack, the Kauai people would light fires behind the giant to illuminate his profile. If you squint hard and really really pretent, you can kind of see a giant... maybe.

There are three trails up the mountain; we took the east trail which is about 4 miles long and rises 1000 feet. This is a beautiful hike and one that we will always remember. There are so many amazing views of the Wailua Valley. Once you get past the picnic tables there is a trail that continues out to the chin and forehead of the giant. The hike is well worth it as you can see vast amounts of the island from up here. We spent a good hour at the top hanging out and having lunch. Jeremy also surprised me up there with a necklace that I had been looking at for a while. It was very special.

Besides hiking, we spent a lot of time snorkeling outside our condo, walking around Poipu, and just relaxing. It was so nice.

Our last day on Kauai we went for a doors off (of course) helicopter tour with Jack Harter. The tour was amazing and our pilot was very informative. Of the two helicopter tours we did, this one had the best views, though I did quite enjoy seeing the lava from the sky on the big island. We were mesmerized at how many waterfalls there were on Kauai. Every direction there is a waterfall, and because it had been raining the day before, the sights were even better. Our pilot took us around the whole island, darted in and out of the canyon walls in Waimea Canyon, got up close to the waterfalls, and even spotted a wild hog from the air. If you'd like to do a helicopter tour on Kauai, I would recommend this one for sure.

With so much fun stuff to do on Kauai, it was hard to leave. But we were so excited to get to Maui.

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