After four wonderful nights on Oahu, we made our way to the airport to catch our 20 minute flight to Kaua’i. Known affectionately as the Garden Isle, Kaua’i has such spectacular landscapes with its foliage and lush settings. The area isn’t as developed as Oahu so you’ll find that there you’re closer to nature than when you’re in the more bustling commercial areas of Honolulu. So many parts of the island have been used for filming movies and tv shows (the opening mountain view of MASH, the waterfalls of Fantasy Island as well as Jurassic Park & The Descendants).
One of the prettiest parts of the drive from the airport to the hotel was the Tree Tunnel, a mile stretch of highway lined with 500 eucalyptus trees.
We arrived to our hotel (Koa Kea), decked out in all of its holiday splendor. It’s still a little unusual for me to see snowflake motifs when the ocean is so close. After we got settled in, we took a walk around to get our bearings.
We noticed that there weren’t any sidewalks along the roads but there were still a lot of pedestrians taking to the streets. One of the first things you notice when you arrive to the island are the wild chickens. They are everywhere – there were a group of them hanging out of the rental car depot and they freely roam the streets. Be aware, the roosters sometimes don’t really know the time of day because they’ve been known to crow at 2am vs at dawn. There is definitely a love/hate relationship with these feathered fowl both from tourists and the locals alike. To read more about these crazy cocks, you can read up on them on Kauai Blog, which also has a ton of pictures to see these beautiful birds.
We stayed on the southern side of the island (Poipu – which means “crashing waves” in Hawaiian), also known as the “sunny side” of the island since it gets sun 300 days out of the year! Kauai is also known to be one of the wettest places on earth at Mount Waialeale, where on average the summit gets 452 inches of rain a year. So an island of great contradiction. We drove up to Princeville on the north shore and although it’s a short distance in miles, the traffic can be brutal so be sure to budget 45 minutes – 1hour to get up there from Poipu. It was a particularly rainy/windy day when we arrived up there, so a lot of the higher elevated areas were closed due to the high winds. From what I could see from the windows, Hanalei Bay was still beautiful in all of its foggy glory. Here are a few shots from @garypeppergirl‘s recent visit.
It was still cloudy the next day but we wanted to make the trek to Waimea Canyon, “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific” has noted by Mark Twain. With its size being 10 miles long and nearly 3,000 feet deep, its geological nature is different in that it was created not only by erosion but by a collapsing volcano that actually created the island itself. Since the weather wasn’t the best during our stay, we decided to forego the helicopter ride that one can take to view the vastness of the area. We met a few folks at our hotel who had gone on the helicopter ride and were soaked from the rain. Here’s another view from @garypepper‘s helicopter ride. If I had gone one week later, my weather experience would have been much different!
In fact, the weather was a little chilly (definitely chilly for Hawaii where anything below 75 degrees is considered sweatshirt weather) so going outside to enjoy the weather required a layer. Being along the water to catch the Spouting Horn was a little windy but it was fascinating to see the local legend in person. We had dinner in that particular area when we dined at the Beach House Restaurant, near Lawai Beach. The 1st sunset of 2015 was nothing short of luminous. I can’t say enough about the food at the Beach House. The fish is caught locally and one of the things that I enjoyed the most was that the menu also featured the names of the fishermen who caught the fish.
We also made a trip to the Grand Hyatt down the street to see their views. A lot of the locals dine at the hotel restaurant and enjoy the hotel because it incorporates so much of the outdoors in its buildings. The atrium of the lobby also has a collection of birds that inhabit the area.
We barely scratched the surface of our visit since there’s so much to do in Kauai that we didn’t get a chance to do such as take a trip on the Wailua River or tour the various botanical gardens or take in the views of the Napali coast from the water. Just more reasons for a return visit! I did manage to eat some of my favorite Hawaiian snacks and eat more fish than I could ever want.
Mahalo (thank you) for coming along on my journey. I’m back to Hawaii in October so I can’t wait to do another visit. Aloha \m/ (shaka)!!
Koa Kea Hotel
2251 Poipu Road
Koloa, HI 96756
Beach House Restaurant
5022 Lawai Road
Koloa, HI 96756
1571 Poipu Road
Koloa, HI 96756
Roy’s Hawaii Poipu
Poipu Shopping Village
2360 Kiahuna Plantation Drive
Dolphin Sushi & Fish Market
The Shops at Kukui’ula