Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Kauai Adventures

Before I share our adventures on this beautiful island of Kauai, I want to say that our goal for this vacation was relaxation. Unlike our typical vacations, after which we need a vacation from our vacation, this one was meant to rejuvenate us. However, we still managed to go on a couple of hikes, do lots of snorkeling and body surfing, explore a beautiful botanical garden (which was basically another hike), get a Lomi Lomi massage in a cabana, and eat a lot of tasty food. Oh yeah, and take tons of pictures!

This was my first time to Kauai and, of course, I fell in love with it. We could have definitely spent more time on Kauai and there are a ton of places to see and activities to do that we didn't get to on this trip. Thankfully, it's such an easy place to get to from the Bay Area, so I know we will be back soon!

We got to the island mid-day on a Saturday and drove to Princeville. After we checked into our place and unpacked our things, we got back in our red Jeep (!) to check out the beach at Hanalei Bay. I think my favorite part about this place, besides the incredible beauty surrounding us, was that most of the people there were locals. This is what they do every Saturday afternoon. Sigh.

My future child. 

Another one. They are already so much cooler than me. 

Paddle Out - Family Time

We had dinner that night at Tahiti Nui. This place just oozed North Shore Kauai. Super relaxed vibe with good food and local music. This definitely wasn't the only night we spent at Tahiti Nui.

Another favorite for dining out in Hanalei was Bar Acuda. This is fancier than Tahiti Nui but definitely still had a casual vibe. But the food! Their menu features tapas and you will seriously want to get everything on it. We didn't have a chance to go here twice, but we should have. We need to go back to Kauai just to try the rest of their menu. Favorites were: Risotto Fritters and Banderillas.

We rented snorkeling gear for the week in Hanalei at Pedal & Paddle. We brought it with us everywhere and snorkeled at as many beaches as we could. I would say Tunnels Beach was my favorite for snorkeling but you have to walk quite a way down the beach from the parking to get to the good snorkeling. We definitely saw a sea turtle there and probably 40 different types of fish.

Tunnels Beach

One morning that was kind of rainy, we decided to check out Limahuli Gardens. This place was magical! Definitely worth a visit. And I think because it was on and off raining, we pretty much had the place to ourselves. 

This little guy blending right in. 

One day that was forecast to be a little clearer (it rains a lot on the North Shore but usually not all day!), we drove around the island to Waimea Canyon. First, we went almost to the end of the road to Kalalau Lookout (Mile Marker 18). This spot is the highest elevation that most people can reach by road on the island (4,000 ft) and also has been in scenes from many movies, so may look familiar. 

Continuing just a bit farther up the road is Wai'Ale'Ale which is one of the wettest spots on earth. It gets somewhere around 460 inches of rain a year! We walked along the trail here for a bit, waiting for the fog to clear out of the valley. The weather changes here really quickly, so if you pull up and don't see any of the view, WAIT! More than likely, within a few minutes, it will clear out!

In the meantime, I got some awesome pictures of the lush ferns along the trail.

Now you see it...

Now you don't...

Now you see it again!

By the time we headed back down the road, the canyon had gotten pretty hazy so it wasn't ideal for pictures. This is the best I could get of Waimea Canyon.

Waipo'o Falls in the distance.

We went for a moderate hike (about 4 miles) to the top of Waipo'o Falls. The coolest part of this hike for me was walking right along the cliff in the middle of the canyons. The views were surrounding us and incredible. I'm not sure I would've taken small children on this hike, because it was definitely a little sketchy. 

We started the hike at the parking lot at Pu'u Hinahina Lookout around Mile Marker 13.5. There is a spur trail that connects to Cliff Trail and then Canyon Trail. If it's been raining, expect to slip and slide down the hills. The red clay gets very slippery. 

The red cliff to the left of the falls is where we were hiking! 

Of course, we couldn't be on Kauai and skip the Na Pali Coast trail. We didn't bring our backpacking gear (remember...this was a relaxing vacation!) and I was a little worried about how treacherous the trail would be after all the rain we had been getting that week, but it was mostly fine! We only hiked along the Kalalau Trail to Hanakapi'ai Beach and back, but it was definitely full of breathtaking views and plenty of work. I highly recommend getting started early because man, there were a lot of people on that trail!

Casual girl doing yoga in a cave.

Our hike along the Na Pali Coast definitely lived up to my expectations! I can't wait to go back and do the whole thing one of these days. 

We explored many beaches during our time on the island, including Salt Pond (south shore), Anini, Hanalei Bay, Lumaha'i (see surfer below), Tunnels, and Ke'e. We enjoyed snorkeling most at Tunnels, walking along Anini (from our resort), and body surfing in Hanalei Bay. But there are so many other beaches we left to explore next time! 


 I'll leave you with the sunset at the Hanalei Bay Pier

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