Our last two days in HI flew by way too quickly. The second to last day we saw Kauai by bike. As an early birthday present for Drew we rented a Harley Street Glide to tour the island.
We drove between the south (Pupoi beach) through the coconut groves of the east coast,
up to the north shores (Hanalei).
No map needed, we just followed the main road around the island and even found some great sites along the way.
We ended the night at the Beach House restaurant in Pupoi beach for a sunset dinner.
Our last day we spent making leis, laying out by the pool, and shopping.
We stopped by Glass Beach, a small beach near Port Allen that used to be full of beach glass, but apparently word got out and every Pinteresting woman on the island was already there. We begrudgingly boarded the plane and went back to reality...well at least for a few days (we snuck away to Ocean City for the 4th of July).
Other than the luau, the one excursion that we booked was a romantic sunset cruise to the Na Pali coast. This is where Jurassic Park was filmed. Most of the area is accessible only by boat. We called ahead to ask about the attire and the boat company just said to bring a light jacket. What they left out was to wear a swim suit.
We spent the morning poolside, went to our room for a quick lunch , and got dressed for our 2:30 cruise. We boarded the catamaran headed for gorgeous sites, great weather, good wine, and a romantic sunset.
The captain recommended the seating in the front of the vessel for the best views. So of course we secured front row seats. Turns out the combination of the high winds and 3-4.5 foot ocean swells (which if you asked me I would swear they were 7-10 foot swells) left us completely drenched and unable to even make it that far into the Na Pali coast. The condition of the waters had grown men green and hanging off the side of the boat. Whenever a newbie came up from below the cabin, they took one look at the salty, soaked, and crazed people on the top deck, usually took a huge wave to the face, and retreated below again.
When dinner was served, you basically had to catch you food as it tornadoed around the area. On the trip we spotted several dolphins.
Others saw a sea turtle and sharks. At that point we were just doing our best to stay aboard the boat without being swept into the ocean by one of the waves, so we didn't make it to the side of the boat where these creatures were spotted in time. But we got our sunset. And we got to talk with the locals who were part of the crew; hearing stories of their adventures, life on the island, and getting recommendations for where to spend our last days in Kauai.
At the luau a couple nights ago we overheard couples talking in line about the excursions they had lined up for every day of the week. At dinner, the couple across from us talked about the excursions in the same light, asking which day we were going on the ATV's and had we signed up for ziplining yet? Don't get me wrong, the excursions are all tempting. But they are 1. uber expensive tourist traps and 2. take up a good part of the day. So we chose a couple and then left the rest of our days open to explore all that Kauai has to offer on our own. In recent years, we have been proponents of Rick Steve's back door travel philosophy. "Take the 'back door' and get to know people along the way."
So our morning started at a local coffee cart. No running water, 1 man job, raw home-made almond milk.
We spent some time by the pool, then threw together a lunch salad with our farmer's market picks,
before heading to the Kauai Humane Society to pick up our dogs for the day. They have an awesome volunteer program where you can take dogs on a "field trip" for the day. Not only does this improve the quality of a shelter dog's life, but the dog wears an "adopt me" vest while it is out and about on the town; increasing its chances of being adopted. We ended up taking a pair of sister Pit mixes out for the day; Cherry and Berry. We took them hiking on the western side of the island at Waimea Canyon.
They were a wild but lovable bunch. With a little work, it was easy to see that they would make a great pet. Such a sweet pair of sisters.
After dropping the girls off at the shelter, swinging by our new favorite hangout, da crack for a bite to eat, we ended our day on the beach, as the sun was setting. Total cost for the day... $25. We got to see half of the island, meet locals, and eat fresh.
Even this monk seal had trouble getting up and moving Monday morning.
She apparently arrived on the beach around 10pm Sunday night and sunbathed all morning on our beach just outside the hotel. When a seal arrives on the beach, a hotline is called and a volunteer is sent to the area to rope it off and answer questions on site about the seal. We were told that monk seals are loners and do not travel in packs. The volunteer guessed that she was pregnant and would likely have a pup within the week. The seals tend to travel to the secluded beaches to have their pups, where they care for the pup for approximately six weeks, during which time they don\t eat at all. At the six week mark they leave the pup to find food and never return.
I spent the morning in yoga class (which I will likely be paying for the rest of the week). It was higher level yoga than earlier in the week. Drew got to try Crossfit Poipu. By noon we made our way to the local farmer\s market. You have to wait at the end of the road until it opens. A farmer and his dog open the market with a brief welcome speech in the native language. Then he allows the elderly (which he defined as over 90), sickly, hurt, etc. to walk into the market first. The rest of us had to walk in behind him. When he blew the whistle, the market opened and it was total madness!!!
Ten minutes later, with a bag full of fresh, local food, we were headed out.
We found a great little hidden treasure lunch place "da crack." It was a three man mexican food stand operation.
The afternoon we spent at the pool, until it was time for our first Hawaiian luau.
We dined at a beachfront buffett and hung out with another couple who had traveled from the north shore (1 hr 45 mins) for this luau. Luckily we just had to walk out of our hotel room and we were there. The luau featured traditional music, customs, costumes, and dancing. Drew's favorite were the war dances.
It rains on Kauai more than the other Hawaiian islands, making it more green and lush in comparison (remnicient of Ireland, or even Seattle). Both mornings, evenings and sometime in the middle of the day it has rained briefly, usually just a quick shower that doesn't interrupt the daily activities in the least.
Today we relaxed by the pool. We secured a spot under a tiki umbrella, as the sun mid-day is quite brutal. Glad that we brought tons of sunscreen and lavender essential oil to put on burns at the end of the day. We also took a mid-day hike on the Mahaulepu Coastal Trail.
It starts on Shipwreck beach and winds through a mountain, leaving you with breathtaking views of the ocean and beach below the cliffs.Our view from above allowed us to see tons of huge sea turtles; the highlight of the adventure! Drew got some pics with his nice camera, but I was able to capture a little turtle peeking out of the ocean with my iphone.
Tonight we ate at Duke's Canoe Club. We found them on a Kauai Underground site; listed as the best salad bar on the beach and a place where locals hangout.
Can't argue with the critics. It was oceanfront dining, great services, and perfect for a light meal Before heading home we stopping at a local market to pick up a couple things for the room. $6 each for a big container of yogurt and string cheese and we were on our way. So far the prices haven't been what I expected. We were able to get away with spending about $250 between the both of us between Friday (our travel day), Saturday, and Sunday. Random stuff like the cheese is super expensive though. We keep breakfast foods and snacks in our room and take it to the beach, which cuts down on both cost and calories. And...bed by 7:30 because we are still adjusting to the time change and need energy for the luau tomorrow night!!!
One day in and we are already debating not going back to the lower 48. Drew can teach Crossfit here and after my morning yoga class facing the open ocean, I think I have found my next career too.
Yesterday I watched the sunrise as the roosters crowed for us to "rise and shine." We decided on an *early morning walk to Starbucks; two blocks away, through a garden of tropical flowers. (Can you see why we want to move here already?) While waiting for our yoga class, I quickly realized why Hawaiian license plates have rainbows.
We spent the day lazing between the beach
and the pool
We barely made it though dinner at a cute local pizza joint (Brick oven pizza ) because we were so tired... we clearly have not adjusted to the time change yet and dinner felt like it was every bit of the 2 am east coast time that it was.
It should be in the next version of DSM-5. Characterized by mood lability, old-man jokes, and distortions in reality (Did I *really just see three huge owls under the overhang of the car rental place?!?) After 24 hours of travel, we were weary. I'd love to say that we stepped off that plane and saw how gorgeous Kauai was and felt renewed. But all that I can say about Kauai right now is that it is dark and the locals are not a fan of street lights. We were greeted at the hotel with shell beads to place around one another, went to our room and crashed.
I awoke at 315 am, which I'd say is not bad considering we are 6 hours behind here. Can't wait to watch the sun rise here and start our adventures!