Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wailua River Cruise and Wailua Falls

On Monday night, after returning from Hanalei Beach, we headed 1.5 miles down the road to the Wailua Marina to explore the Wailua River. The Smith Family has been offering river boat tours of the river and Fern Grotto for decades. We had the last tour of the day which wasn't very crowded. The boats coming in before we left were pretty packed so I was glad we had fewer people to deal with on our tour.

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So jealous of the people kayaking on the river!


An older gentleman gave a guided tour while steering the boat. It was a little hard to understand him since he was facing forward and the speakers were too great but nonetheless, I really enjoyed the relaxing 20 minute ride to Fern Grotto. Once we arrived, we left the boat and made our way back to a gorgeous location in the rain forest. There was a stage of sorts set up for us to view Fern Grotto and we listened as a guide (awesome guy!) explained the history of the area. He and his family (coworkers?) played the Hawaiian Wedding Song for us and he required everyone to kiss at the end of the song. And if you didn't have anyone to kiss, kiss the person next to you! HA! A lady walked up and kissed him on the cheek. It was a fun, friendly, happy atmosphere.

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We stayed there for a total of 30 minutes before getting back on the boat and then the fun really started. The guides set up their instruments and played traditional Hawaiian music for the ride back. It was so much fun and the great commentary and conversation by the family provided a warm feeling for everyone on the boat. This is a really relaxed Kauai experience that is great for people of all ages. I really loved it.

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On Tuesday during a break from swimming due to rain, we decided to take the short trip up to Wailua Falls. I was so excited to see these waterfalls and so glad Chris was going to go with me somewhere! We also had to go to Macy's because he jumped in the pool with his wallet in his pocket. Good times.

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Messing with my shutter speed

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Again, so lush, so green. So beautiful.

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There is a way to get down to the water although it isn't a state approved trail but we saw people climbing over guardrails and going for it. I was wearing flip flops so that wasn't really an option.

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Because we are really mature, we had to do a "barfing out the waterfalls" picture

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No, guy taking our picture, we don't want the waterfalls in the background. Thanks though.

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We know Kauai has so many nature focused activities and I hope next time, we will take advantage of more of them. It is such a gorgeous island full of green plants and trees, beautiful beaches, quaint towns and cute restaurants. It isn't anywhere near as touristy as Maui and felt much more relaxing as well. I hope our return to the island is sooner than later.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hanalei and Poipu Beaches

While the plan was to go to 3 beaches in Kauai, weather prevented us from going to a beach on Tuesday. We didn't want to take the risk of getting to the beach and having to deal with wet, slushy sand since rain was in the forecast all day.

On Monday, after I got back from Waimea Canyon, we headed North to Hanalei Bay Beach. I looked up pictures of this beach online and was so so excited to see it in person. It did not disappoint. I wish I would have taken a picture from the road looking down on the beach because it was incredible!

All photos have been slightly edited to enhance color.




The water is pretty calm at Hanalei Beach. There were a few waves that were a little more intense but most of the time, the water was just perfect for drifting around.

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I'm so in love with waterfalls.
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Unedited. Everything is so lush and green.
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We left the beach and drove back up the road to the small town of Hanalei where we waited 40 minutes in line at Bubba's Burgers so I could get a corndog. It was a corndog. I'm sure the burgers were good but I didn't want a burger and I didn't want a sit down restaurant either. Oh well. We had to get back to the East and our hotel for a river cruise.

(I will discuss the Wailua River cruise in the next post along with Wailua Falls)

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On Wednesday, we took our time getting going for the day. It was our last day in Kauai and we wanted to enjoy it. The weather forecast had improved a bit but still called for some rain around the island but we didn't let that stop us. We headed out to Poipu Beach. It was only about 16 miles from our hotel (going South) but it took us 40 minutes due to speed limits and traffic. When we turned off of the freeway to take a 6 mile road to Poipu, it started raining pretty heavy but I could see blue skies in the distance and knew we would be okay once we got to the coast.

We settled on this smallish beach area right in front of the Marriott hotel. From my research, there were three beach areas and based on the sign at the Marriott, we were on Poipu Beach. We didn't want to get back in the car and drive around to the other beach areas so we set our stuff down. Chris was really happy to see that there were decent sized waves. Really decent. Good body boarding times ahead!

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This photo is not edited at all. It was a beautiful day!

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The waves made me sea-sick so I could only stay out there in small spurts of time.

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We were there for about 90 minutes before the heat started to drain us. I was thirsty and Chris was tired from battling the waves. We packed up our stuff, washed off and went up to the little marketplace and had lunch. We were going to eat at Puka Dogs but I didn't want to wait in another long line or pay $6.50 for a hot dog. So we went to a burger restaurant next door, grabbed some gelato and wandered around for a bit before heading back to our hotel.

We were very happy with both of these beaches. Are there better? Probably. I've heard Secrets and Tunnels Beaches on the North side of the island are spectacular. But these beaches were easy to find and gave us just what we needed and I thought the scenery was pretty great too.

Kalapaki Beach & Waimea Canyon

This post will highlight the sights we saw in Hawaii including the beaches we visited. In the next post, I'll link to each restaurant with a brief review.


After settling in on Sunday, we drove 15 minutes south to the Kauai Marriott Resort to have dinner. Of course, as soon as we walked onto this property, Chris said "why didn't we stay here??" The Marriott was more of a resort than our own Kauai Beach Resort in that it was big in size and stature. Next time, okay? :)

The beach in front of the Marriott is the Kalapaki Beach. It is a nice size beach with calm waves in a cove type setting. Don't let the clouds fool you. It was still warm!

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Monday was a big day! Chris insisted on not having a set schedule and lots of timed events. He wanted to go to the beach, lay by the pool and just relax. But I couldn't go all the way to Kauai without some type of adventure so I woke up at 5:00 a.m. Monday morning (it felt like 8 a.m. so I was wide awake), got in the car and drove 38 miles (75 minutes) to Waimea Canyon State Park. This is called the "Grand Canyon of Hawaii" and I didn't want to miss out, even if it meant going alone....which I was perfectly fine with!

Anytime I saw a sign that said "Lookout Point 1000 ft" I stopped. This was somewhere along the freeway. I think it was about 5:45 a.m. at this point. 10 minutes to sunrise.
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After I finally reached the official entrance of the park, I climbed (well, the car did) up narrow roads. I saw another turnout point, not an official one but I love a view, and stopped for a bit.

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I think that that point, I was about 1000 ft above sea level...and climbing fast.

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My first official lookout point. It was WINDY as hell.


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 Let me explain why I look so uneasy. First, I thought I was going to get knocked down by the wind so I was taking this picture with my iphone since holding my dslr with one hand seemed dangerous to me. Second, I was the only person up there. It was about 6:30 a.m. I still had cell phone reception but as I stood up there admiring this gorgeous view, I started to feel a bit scared. Scared in the "I could be murdered up here" type of way. So I climbed off of the lookout area and ran back to my car. I saw another car parked next to mine and started to freak out. I had my key in my hand and my belongings out of my pockets so I could jump in the car quickly. I didn't see anyone in the drivers seat which scared me even more because I was then worried that someone was hiding behind a tree waiting to murder me. I didn't see anyone so I got in my car and sped off. Fast. Very fast. Eek.

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Those fears didn't stop me though. Oh no. I kept climbing. 

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Chickens are ALL OVER Kauai. Every where.
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I didn't stay at that lookout long (freak out factor) before I forged on. The next lookout point was 7 miles up the road. For some reason, in my head, 7 miles didn't seem that long. But on a windy, twisty road, it is FOREVER. I lost cell phone reception somewhere along the way and there were a few cars on the road but mostly trucks that were going to several work sites located in the mountains.

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I passed by a super cute camp site on my way up and when I finally reached my destination...well, the "will I get murdered" fears were kinda worth it considering I didn't get murdered.

Going up near the end of the road at Kok'ee State Park.
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The Kalalau Valley

It was even windier up there but I was moved to tears, no joke. It was breathtaking. I was literally running from one end to the other like a hyper little kid.
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Hello Waterfalls. HELLO WATERFALLS. So excited.
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Sadly, I didn't realize that there was one more lookout point (Pu’u o Kila Lookout, 5140 ft. up. DAMNIT. I can't believe I missed it.) and I turned back down the road to go home. I left Kalalau Lookout at 7:35 which was exactly 2 hours after getting in my car at the hotel. I hadn't eaten breakfast and didn't have a drop of liquid in my stomach so I knew I needed to stop somewhere along the way and grab a bite to eat. And I knew I needed to call Chris but cell phone reception going back down didn't come back as fast as I'd hoped. He ended up calling and wondering where the hell I was. I was nearly to the small town of Waimea at that point and was looking at about an hour drive back. It was 8:00 a.m. I told him to go to breakfast without me and I should be back at the hotel at 9:00 a.m. I stopped at the Kookie Kompany in Hanapepe and got a donut, water and some small peanut butter chocolate cookie bites for later (or now, whatever).

Hawaiians take their speed limits very seriously so I got stuck behind a guy going 40 in a 50 zone and hit a lot of traffic going through construction just before getting into Lihue but I pulled into the parking lot at 9:05. I'm so good at timing travel!

Was this worth the 3.5 hours? YES YES YES. I would do it all over again in a second.  I wish Chris would have come with me if for nothing else than to have someone take pictures of me but it was quite the solo adventure. I loved every second of it. There are a lot of hiking trails in the park that are supposed to be awesome but I'm not much of a hiker and wouldn't have even thought of braving a hike alone. Especially not at 6:30 in the morning.

This is a super long post so I'll blog tomorrow about our Wailua River cruise, Wailua Falls as well as Hanalei and Poipu Beaches.