Kauai was busier than we’d expected, especially near Lihue.
The weather was pretty wet when we were there, but the scenery is lush and verdant in the east.
We loved Waimea Canyon – like a smaller version of the Grand Canyon.
The Na Pali cliffs on the north coast were dramatic and evocative.
This is the island where Captain Cook first landed in Hawaii.
Tuesday 24th January On to Kauai 77 miles
We heard heavy rain in the night, but were up at 5.30 for our flight to Kauai, via Maui. The first flight was very busy, but then we had a two hour wait at Maui before our next flight.
On our second flight, we flew back over Molokai before arriving at Lihue, Kauai. We got our hire car, and set off to visit the nearby attraction of Wailua Falls. These were at the end of a 4 mile road, the last mile of which had been recently surfaced, but the rest was pretty poor. We couldn’t believe the numbers of cars heading this way, and the number trying to park at the end of the road. The recent rain had left everywhere a thick red mudbath. They had been ‘working’ on the road and viewpoint, so it was impossible to see anything of the falls unless you wormed your way behind the security fence and walked along on large uneven boards and pipes. The falls themselves were gushing with brown mud, instead of the 2 pretty trickles which are normally visible. Maybe that is why there were so many visitors, or maybe it was just that this wasn’t a beach day!
The overfull Wailua Falls on Kauai
We needed to get some food, so drove back down, stopping by a posey shopping area, where we finally located a shop selling a few items of food amongst its touristy things. We found a tin of corned beef, which Adrian couldn’t resist, and queued up to buy it. A tour group had come into the shop, and were buying up their supplies, so we had to wait absolutely ages to be served. Also, it had just poured with rain.
We took the road to the Opaeka’a Falls, and stopped beside them, intending to have lunch. By now it had stopped raining, so we viewed the falls first, then set about lunch, sitting in the car. Corned beef tins are renowned for being difficult to open, and this one was no exception! The little ‘key’ broke, as usual, and Adrian spent ages tearing the tin open with the bottle opener. We had bought an apology for butter, and had some of the Molokai bread, but it wasn’t the most exciting meal!
We continued along the road, wondering how far it would go, when after a few miles, we came to a flooded river flowing across the road. Dozens of colourful wild chickens were wandering about – there certainly are a lot of them in Hawaii.
We drove back, taking the road which went behind the so-called ‘Sleeping Giant hill’, and stopped to view some of the ancient Hawaiian sites before turning off to see a bit of Lihue, the town by the airport. It all seemed too touristy for us. We made our way westwards, to the southern resort area around Poipu. By now it was sunny, but windy. We eventually found a beach that we could snorkel from at Lawai, and although there was no coral to speak of, the fish were amazingly good.
We continued to the feature known as Spouting Horn, where water spews out from the rocks by the sea – quite fun to watch.
It was now time to head for our B&B at Kalaheo. We met Patti Pantone, the owner, and unloaded our stuff into the house, which is set in a lovely position high above the coast. By now it was raining buckets again. Adrian was concerned that one of the car tyres was flat. He phoned Budget, who weren’t very helpful, so when we drove back into Kalaheo for a meal, Adrian pumped up the tyre at the garage.
We ate at The Camp House Grill, sharing chicken and ribs, and enjoying a good local beer. When we arrived back at the house, we found that there was a power cut. We sat by candlelight chatting to a German couple from Frankfurt, who are leaving in the morning, until the power came back on again. The rain returned!
Wednesday 25th January Wonderful Waimea Canyon, and a bit more Captain Cook 94 miles
And it rained heavily in the night, and again in the morning, but better was to follow!
We had breakfast, chatting to Patti, who seemed to be a bit better today – she has been suffering from a nasty cough for a couple of weeks.
At 8.15 we left – we were pleased that the tyre had only gone down a little, so Adrian pumped it up at the garage, and again in the evening.
Our first stop today was at Glass Beach (good old Lonely Planet again!) This beach was tucked away by Port Allen – we would never have found it. The beach was made up of tiny bits of glass, worn smooth by wave action. They had come from an old abandoned dump from years ago, and were very pretty to see.
Next stop was the small town of Hanapepe. This town had been much destroyed by hurricane Inika in 1992, but many of the buildings remained, and it was now a little arty town, with lots of galleries (not open this early!) The ‘Thorn Birds’ had partly been filmed here in the 80s, as the town resembled the dry, red, dusty Australian outback. (Today it was red mud, after all the rain!) We later saw a book about the hundreds of films which have been shot on Kauai – we knew about South Pacific, and we hope to visit the ‘wash that man right out of my hair’ beach tomorrow.
On to Salt Pond beach, tucked away beyond the red salt ponds. There was a rainbow over the ponds as we arrived – the first of dozens that we enjoyed today. This was an idyllic crescent shaped beach, so sheltered that it was calm enough to swim in. The weather was still showery, but the beach was the most delightful one to have a swim from. Afterwards we had coffee and a lovely piece of macadamia nut and choc pie, bought at the café last night.
Now to Waimea, where we pulled into Russian Fort Elizabeth – the ruins of a fort with an interesting history – something about a Russian spy trying to gain land here. The good thing was that we could walk to the end of the Waimea River, and look across to the place where Captain Cook first landed in Hawaii. This was exciting enough, but as we looked across, we also watched whales leaping into the air out to sea. Wonderful!!
Captain Cook again
We crossed the river to the actual landing spot, and saw the small plaque to Cook, then parked in the town right by the statue of Cook, a replica of the one in Whitby. In a little supermarket opposite we bought food for today and tomorrow.
Now it was time to begin on our drive up the Waimea Canyon. This canyon had been dubbed Hawaii’s answer to the Grand Canyon, and it certainly was comparable. There were lots of pull-offs where we could get views into the canyon, and the wonderful thing was that the weather became superb – better than we could have dreamed of. From the lower viewpoints we could also look down over the taro fields behind Waimea to the coast and to the island of Niihau beyond.
We walked a short trail with marvellous views of the long gushing waterfalls across the canyon. It was called the Ilia trail, after the plants which grow here, related to the silverswords on Maui and Big Island.
Having feasted on many an exquisite view, we lunched with our own view of the canyon, rainbows included. We sat in the car, but our lunch was more successful than yesterday’s!
Wonderful Waimea Canyon
We entered Ko’okee State Park, and called in at the little museum, which was packed with things of interest, from old prints of Hawaii at the time of Cook to information on the hurricanes which hit Kauai and of the wildlife, geography and history of the island.
We continued to the last overlook, to the fabulous north coast at Kalalau, with its enormously high cliffs and waterfalls, and complete with rainbow once again.
The Kalalau coast
It was now 4 o’clock, as we set off on our return journey down the canyon, reaching the sea at Kekaha – the last bit by a different route. The road now skirted the sea as we continued westwards. There was a long sandy beach, but the wind was blowing hard. We continued west, to where there is another state beach, but it was down a dirt road – not the right thing for tonight, and much of the land around was owned by the army.
On our way back to Kalaheo, we made one more diversion to visit the Menehune Ditch – an irrigation channel built before westerners time.
Just before arriving back, we took a pretty little scenic road (again thanks to Lonely Planet) and arrived back after 6 o’clock, for our last night in Hawaii, having had a superb day.
We ate our supper out on the balcony.
Thursday 26th January Bali Hai will call you 111 miles
It rained a lot in the night, and also for much of the day, but we were visiting the wet side of the island today!
We set off past Lihue, stopping by Kealia Bay for coffee, watching a few intrepid surfers out in the rain.
We continued right up the coast to Hanalei – supposedly the home of Puff the Magic Dragon – there were certainly mists and caves around!
We stopped at a viewpoint over taro fields before driving down to Hanalei Valley, and then along it for a short way. On our return we saw 2 Hawaiian geese.
Just past here was Lumahai Beach, made famous as being the place where Mitzi Gaynor ‘washed that man right out of her hair’ in the film South Pacific.
‘ I’m gonna wash that man’
We dodged the showers as we strolled on the sandy beach, which had dangerous waves, so not a place to swim! I sang many a South Pacific song, before we sat on the beach to eat our rolls for lunch, before the rain returned.
We continued to the ‘end of the road’ at Ke’e beach. This is where the steep north coast Na Pali cliffs begin. Along the cliffs is the one known as Bali Hai, as it was used as that in the film set of South Pacific. You could see it by walking for half an hour along the trail (not very inviting today, after all the rain) or walking back along the beach, or swimming out in the bay. We did the latter two - we had a lovely snorkel and swim, followed by a walk along the beach, with the superb views of the cliffs behind us. The special thing about this was that we came across a seal on the beach. Later we found out that it must have been a Hawaiian Monk seal – endangered and rare, so we were really lucky to see it. The beach thronged with the Hawaiian jungle fowl – the colourful hens and cocks which we have been seeing everywhere.
Ke’e Beach with the Hawaiian Monk seal
As rain returned, on this wet and verdant coast, we began our return journey, stopping at huge caves (for Puff), and for lovely beaches with surfers out on the waves. We took a side road for a while into the green mountains before driving back past beautiful Hanalei Beach where there were views to Bali Hai in the distance.
We drove up to Kilanea Point, with its lighthouse – too late for the reserve to be open, but we were able to watch boobies soaring above, and whales out to sea. This is the most northerly point on Hawaii.
We now drove back to Lihue, driving down to Akuhini Landing to change into warmer clothes before our flight to Calgary.
Once at Lihue airport we prepared for our flight to Honolulu, which was all shuttle buses and security. From there it was on to Phoenix. We slept for much of the flight, seeing desert scenery before we landed at Phoenix. There was work going on at the airport, so it wasn’t very attractive, and we couldn’t find anything suitable for breakfast, so sufficed with coffee (for me) and the dried pineapple which we had with us.
Then, after our 2½ hour wait, it was on to Calgary. The plane was very uncrowded. They didn’t call us for embarkation – they stopped after the ‘elite passengers’ and the back rows – the stewardess said that she got fed up calling out, but I don’t think that they would have gone without us!
Soon we were at Calgary, and met up with Simon, and a bit later with Laure and her parents and Manolo. Christiane and Albert were flying back to France, after 3 weeks in Calgary, having arrived on the day that we had left for Hawaii. We shared an hour or so all together, enjoying a beer, before we were driven back to Simon and Laure’s home for a few days before our return to England. Our trip to Hawaii had been great.