Thursday, December 13, 2018

KAUAI


KAUAI
May 14-21, 2018

Years ago Matt and I said for our 15th anniversary we were going to do a big trip, preferably something tropical. I'm so glad we ended up choosing Hawaii and specifically the island of Kauai. To say we loved it would be an understatement, we would move there if we could. It was an amazing trip and Kauai is beautiful. We stayed on the North Shore, the wetter side of the island and it's typically more expensive but I was able to find a private condo rental for a good deal at a resort and it even had air conditioning which isn't common over there. Not having been there before you don't exactly know the area or where is the best place to stay so we had to base it off of reviews and info from the internet. We lucked out because after spending a week on the island we would stay exactly the same place if (I should say when) we come again. The resort had the best views and shared a beach with the St. Regis resort which is super expensive so it definitely had a great location.


We flew from Salt Lake City to Seattle then to Kauai. We booked the cheapest tickets through Delta which meant we didn't get to choose our seats.


Flying over the Seattle area.


The first flight Matt and I were on different rows, he had an isle seat and I was in a middle seat but it was a short flight. The lady at the desk told us to go to the ticket counter when we arrive in Seattle and see if they could put us together on the next flight. I hurried to the desk to see if they could change our seats since it was a longer flight and they put us across the isle from each other which I was fine with. After boarding the only 2 seats that were empty on the whole plane were the 2 seats next to me. Why they didn't just put us together there I'm not sure? So after they closed the plane door I had Matt move over next to me and we had 3 seats to ourselves and the couple Matt was sitting next too also had one empty seat since Matt moved over so they were happy too. I was able to lay down and sleep for part of the flight which was nice.

Landing in Kauai

We arrived in Kauai at 5:00pm and went to pick up our rental car. Costco is close to the airport so we stopped to grab some stuff to have on hand for breakfasts. We also shared an acai bowl from Costco which were a new item that wasn't available at our Costco's yet. We then set off to drive to our resort which was just under an hour drive to the other side of the island. We wanted to see the sunset and so we stopped about 5 minutes before getting to our resort to watch the sunset. Everything was so green and beautiful.

May 14, 2018


We checked into our resort and unloaded the car and then grabbed a late dinner at a small Hawaiian BBQ place in Hanalei. Just after 10pm we crashed because it was 2am Salt Lake time and it had been a long day!


The next morning we were up really early. These Guava filled danishes from Costco were really good, I wish they had them here!

May 15, 2018

Every morning we enjoyed breakfast on the balcony. It was sprinkling this morning. I quickly found a bird friend who visited us every morning to get some crumbs.


It was dark when we arrived the night before so to see the ocean and mountains with waterfalls was amazing. If only I could wake up to this view everyday!


About a month before we went to Kauai they had record rain and flooding. They had almost 50 inches of rain in 24 hours which is crazy. They had never had anything like it before and the whole Hanalei bay area was under water. If you look at this picture our resort was just to the right of the picture on higher ground and wasn't affected. You can see the ocean and Hanalei Bay and where the mountains start and that is where the road was closed and you couldn't go past there to get to the hiking trails and also a couple of the other beaches.


Unfortunately this meant hiking the Na Pali coast was impossible because all of the trails were closed which I told Matt means we'll have to come back sometime. We drove down the Hanalei Bay to check out the ocean and small town and then made our way to the other side of the island to checkout Waimea Canyon which is like their Grand Canyon of Hawaii. 


You can see on this map here is only 1 road around the island and because of the Na Pali coast you can't drive around the island in a circle. The speed limits are lower too since it's a one lane highway. We figured it was a good day to do our big hike and then we could relax the rest of the trip.


Driving up the canyon was slow because of all the tight curves and turns in the road and even though I was driving I was starting to get sick to my stomach. It was worth it though to see the views. It was like a really green grand canyon.




The best hike to see parts of the Na Pali coast from the other side of the island was the Awa'awapuhi Trail. It was about 3.5 miles each way and although you're going up and down for the most part it's downhill going to the coast and then uphill to get back to the trailhead so it was challenging and took us most of the day.

It was crazy to see the moss on everything.


Most of the trail was overcast but I had read that once you get to the end of the trail at the coast it's usually clear even if it's cloudy during the hike.


Sure enough as we started to get to the end of the trail you could see blue sky.



Once you arrive if you aren't terrified of heights you can walk out further. There were a lot of people who just stay at the viewing area because it's a steep drop off and we were careful and nervous walking around. The pictures don't do it justice but it was so green and beautiful and literally straight down. If you fell you wouldn't stop falling until you hit the grass at the bottom in the picture.




To walk out to the end there was a skinny trail and some parts were so narrow and scary because of the drop off on either side of you. It sure had great views though.



 

If you look close there was a couple at the very end of the trail where we went out to. Not very many people ventured out there but we wanted to see the very end and the views.



It was also Matt's birthday and so I sang Happy Birthday to him. I told him I don't think we'll ever top this birthday! It was amazing!





This guy was from Florida and he hiked to the end where we were and I offered to take a picture for him but he said his girlfriend had the camera and she was too scared to come all the way out. I told him he had to have a picture of this once in a lifetime view and that I'd text it to him. 


As we walked back and he met back up with his girlfriend he asked if I'd also take a picture of them at this spot.


We found some shade by the viewing area and had some snacks before heading back up the trail. There really are chickens everywhere on the island even at the end of the trail.


My phone said we hiked just over 8 miles so I think it was a little longer than the 7 miles but it was worth it. We were definitely tired by the end of it though.


You can see other small islands in the distance.


We stopped to get dinner before driving back to the North side of the island at KP West (Kauai Pasta) and I had a pasta dish and Matt had one of the best fire grilled pizza's he's ever had. We enjoyed spending the evening in the pool and sand bottom hot tub looking at the stars. It was nice to relax after hiking for much of the day.

Every morning I would immediately go out to the balcony to take in the views and eat breakfast. It's nice with the time change because we were up really early and could take full advantage of our days there.

May 16, 2018

Our bird friend came back to join us again.



We decided to first walk down to the beach from our resort.


There was a full canopy of trees over the sidewalk.


It was low tide so we were able to walk out pretty far and check out the fish swimming around.




Another couple offered to take our picture.



The pool area was really nice with waterfalls and sand and at night there were torches lit all over.



We noticed 2 of the palm trees that were close to the sidewalk had orange tape around them and that morning someone chopped them down. He made quick work of the palm trees and knew to park the truck so that the pieces he would cut off fell right into his truck.


One of the better beaches for snorkeling and finding turtles was Anini beach so that's where we started our snorkeling. We saw so many fish but we didn't come across any turtles. We spent a couple hours there.

We took this cheesy pictures of our rings on the ocean floor since it was our 15th anniversary.


I'm not very good at using a GoPro and they don't take the best pictures, 4MP I think. So between not knowing exactly where to point it and the fact that I haven't used one under water before it was a new experience for me. Next time I'll be sure to have a newer or better quality under water camera for pictures but I'm still glad I had it.


Don't worry, Matt wasn't able to touch the fish as hard as he tried. They're just too quick.


There were sea urchins everywhere, most of the time they were out of the way but you had to look first if you were going to put your feet down.



Next we went over to Moloa Beach to do some snorkeling. It was a pretty bay with not very many people since it was at the end of a residential road. The water was a little rough but still not bad.



Every picture of us on the beach we have nice outlines of our snorkeling masks. :)


Yesterday was Matt's birthday and today was our 15th Anniversary. We decided to try a restaurant in Hanalei and ended up at North Side Grill. We were able to look at the scenery while we ate and the seafood was really good.



After dinner we decided to go back to the beach at our resort and watch the sunset.


Even with all of the clouds it was pretty and such an amazing gold color.




There was a wedding at the St. Regis Resort and they were setting up the reception. You can see the bride and groom that were getting pictures taken along the beach.



After we enjoyed swimming and soaking in the hot tub.




I couldn't believe all of the stars that you could see at night and had to try to take a picture to capture it. Obviously it doesn't do it justice but the stars were amazing.


Most nights it would rain and then clear up by the morning. This is what makes the amazing waterfalls everywhere on the mountains. We could always see 3-4 waterfalls from our balcony. The next morning the sky was clear and it was so pretty.

May 17, 2018


Our bird friend brought friends today so we let them finish off the crumbs left in the container.


Our first beach stop on Thursday was Lawai Beach over on the south side (drier) of the island. The fish here were amazing! There were so many different fish and the water was more clear than some of the other beaches. At this beach we were talking to another couple who have been coming to the island for 20 years and when we told them we wanted to see turtles they said Anini beach was the easiest place to see them. We told them how we didn't have luck our first time but that we would try again.




The water being clearer made for better pictures.















This beach also had the best shaved ice. It was called Riptides Shaved Ice and they put fresh fruit on them and they were amazing. It was hard getting out of the water and leaving because snorkeling with fish never gets old but we knew we wanted to see more places.


We drove over to Poipu Beach which was the largest, most crowded beach and walked around. We didn't get in the water but enjoyed walking around and checking out the shops that were there.


They had this poster with the different types of fish.


With chickens everywhere there's not shortage of photo ops with them.


Next we drove a short distance to Shipwreck beach. This beach was our least favorite beach but we also didn't get in the water. Some people were jumping off the rock and swimming but the types of trees there made the sand uncomfortable to walk on and being the "dry" side of the island it was hot. We didn't stay long. 


The island is so green and pretty we enjoyed driving from beach to beach exploring the island.


We left and had lunch at Bubba's Burgers in Poipu at an outdoor shopping mall and walked around a couple of the shops. Next we drove over to Spouting Horn. There were a lot of vendors set up around this tourist destination so we walked around for awhile.


After going back to the room to change we ended up having dinner in Hanalei again at the Tahiti Nui Tiki Bar. It was a small tiki hut bar with live music (a husband and wife duo) and wasn't very big. It also was pouring rain most of the time we were there and with big open windows it was awesome to see and hear while we enjoyed our dinner. We both had fire grilled pizza and it was really good. The best part though was just the atmosphere. It was one of our favorite dinners on the island.


May 18, 2018

Friday morning the plan was to get up early and go to Queen's Bath. The parking area for this trail is in the subdivision by our resort and you can't park on any of the streets. So if the parking fills up you are out of luck or have to park outside of the neighborhood and walk in. So we made sure to get there early around 7 and there were still 5 or so spots out of the probably 10 spots there. Unfortunately getting there early it was still raining off and on and had been raining most of the night so everything was really muddy and wet.

I only used my GoPro to take pictures since it was raining off and on.

There was a waterfall on the hike down.


Then it started sprinkling again.


We swam for awhile and even had it all to ourselves until another group showed up as we were leaving.


Some of the waves that would crash over the side into the pool were pretty big.



They have this sign by the rocks because the waves are pretty big and strong and they don't want people standing on the edge.


The whole trail was muddy and full of roots so it was a slow hike down and back up since it was slippery and wet.



After Queen's Bath we grabbed breakfast burritos in Hanalei in the town square at Pedro's and then decided to try our luck at Anini Beach again where we were determined to see a turtle.

Anini Beach is really long and has plenty of parking. We stayed more to the right which is where the couple told us we would have a better chance of seeing turtles.







We were about ready to come in for a break after about an hour and as we were coming in there we saw our first turtle on the ocean floor. Matt found it and pointed it out. As I was swimming over to see it a baby turtle swam past me so I followed it to take pictures. Matt didn't see where I went so he didn't see the baby turtle but he stayed by the other one.


It was amazing to see how large they were. Shortly after we found another even bigger turtle. It's hard to see the scale of them but they were huge, especially the last one we saw. I was so excited to see them. When I first saw them I was screaming in my snorkel. We pointed them out to other people who were snorkeling so they could see them too. I didn't want to leave the water after that!






The biggest turtle swam up to the surface and then went back down to the same rock.



Next we went over to the Kilauea Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge. You have to pay $5/person to go in and walk around. Everything was so green and there were birds all over flying over you.


All of the white spots on the far hill are all birds. Hundreds of them everywhere. And the water was such a pretty color of blue.





Next we decided to try to find this "hidden" trail called Hoo'pi Falls. You have to go to the end of a residential road that dead ends. They said the trail was right there but it wasn't that easy. Another couple was also looking for the trail and they said they walked onto the guys property at the end of the road and he yelled at them and said it wasn't the trail. So I looked up on trip advisor to see if I could get anymore clues onto where this trailhead actually was. Eventually someone had mentioned it was by a power pole with a black/yellow sign on it and we were able to find the trail head hidden in the brush.

Unfortunately we weren't planning on hiking this day and so it was the one day I didn't have mosquito spray and the one and only time the whole trip when I actually needed it. We were inland quite a bit so it was hot, humid and there were lots of mosquitos. It was about a mile to the falls and there were quite a few people there jumping off. We even saw a marriage proposal in front of the falls.


We then hiked farther down the trail to see the other waterfall.


The trail was pretty and you can tell well used. They say it's on private land and to be respectful and not yell or be loud since people live around there.


On the way back out Matt decided to jump a couple of times off the rocks around the first waterfall.



I watched and swatted mosquitos the whole time! :) I tried swinging my arms and my hat around while we were hiking but I still ended up with quite a few mosquito bites. They just love me for some reason and always have.


Next we had dinner at the Shrimp Station in Kapaa and they didn't open until 5 but you knew it must be good because there were already people there waiting for them to open. They had different shrimp pasta type dishes and different breaded shrimp. Matt had a cajun pasta shrimp which was really good, the only bad part is that you had to peel the shrimp and they're covered in the pasta sauce so that was kind of annoying. I had the coconut shrimp which is what they're known for it was the best tasting shrimp I've ever had. The coconut flavor was so fresh tasting and it was seriously amazing! I doubt I'll ever have shrimp that tastes that good again. (until I go back)


We then went back to our resort to sit on the couches they have and watch the sunset.


Then we enjoyed swimming and soaking in the hot tub. It was always the perfect way to end the day because we were always alone in the pool and the hot tub was usually empty or only a couple other people. I was surprised more people weren't using them at night.



May 19, 2018

Saturday we had a helicopter tour scheduled for around 3pm and we had to leave around 1 to get there in time and be early so we decided to stay around Hanalei. We went to Hideaway Beach to snorkel. Parking was hard to find because again you can't park at the resorts unless you're staying there and have a pass and all the residential streets you can't park on or they tow you and the parking lot fit about 8 cars. Luckily, we were in a small car and I was able to squeeze into a really tight parking spot. The walk to the beach was steep bu it was a pretty beach with lots of shade trees and good clear water for snorkeling.







It's hard to see but right where the surface meets the rocks you can see long skinny fish. They would swim right at the surface and were almost translucent.


I think this was one of the only times I thought to take a picture of the beach from where we were snorkeling. I liked that this beach had more areas of sand where you were snorkeling so it was easier to stop and stand up for awhile without worrying about being thrown into the rocks.


These next 3 pictures are screenshots from short movie clips I took. It was other than the turtles the coolest part of snorkeling and of course I messed up with the camera. I thought it was on picture mode and it was on video mode so I had about 15 2-second videos to show for it. But there were hundreds if not thousands of fish surrounding us on all sides and we swam with them and just followed them around. It was amazing.




I put all the clips together and you can kind of see what it was like but between the fact that they're 2 second clips and me not pointing the camera just right it's not the best video. :)




Here's a better picture of the long skinny fish that would swim right at the surface.


It got busier as the day went on but not too bad. Some people saw turtles but we couldn't ever find them when they told us the area they were in.


We went back to our resort and showered and got ready for our helicopter tour. Just as we were getting in the car to drive there they emailed us and told us they canceled the tours for the rest of the day because of wind. We were kind of annoyed because it really wasn't that windy but there wasn't anything we could do. I tried to call and reschedule and they didn't have anything available before we had to leave. I researched and found another helicopter tour company and thankfully they could fit us in the next morning at 8am so we had to be there at 7:15. Not the best time for picture taking but I really wanted to see the Na Pali Coast and this or boat was the only way to see it and I knew I would get motion sick on a small boat.

So with our plans changed we decided to explore the rest of the island we hadn't seen yet. We stopped to look at Wailua Falls which was really pretty. They tell you not to hike down to the falls because there is no trail and it's really steep. There were some people climbing over the fences to hike down anyways but we weren't going to.


Many of the falls are inaccessible due to their location. This was Opeaka'a Falls and you aren't able to hike to it but there was a lookout to see it.



We stopped to get some shaved ice at Ono Ono shaved iced in Kapaa. Not as good as the shaved ice at Riptides shaved ice but still good.


We had dinner at Brick Oven Pizza in Kapaa and it was pretty good. We had better pizza other places but it wasn't bad, just not as good as the others.

We went back to the resort to hang out and swim and also grabbed ice cream from the grocery store in Hanalei.

May 20, 2018

The next morning we had to leave by 6:30 to drive to Kahuliu for our helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. Unfortunately this tour would have 4 other people with us and you don't know what seat you're in until you get on the helicopter. There are 2 people up front with the pilot and 4 in the back. Also, I knew they made a clockwise circle and so you want to be on the right side of the helicopter if you can be. Even though they claim the circle around for everyone to see everything it still makes a difference from what I read. Our original tour that was cancelled was just the 2 of us, no one else and it was a doorless tour so you didn't have to worry about the glare from the glass in your pictures. So that's why I was really bummed our other one was cancelled but there wasn't anything we could do about it. We arrived first and they weigh you so they can distribute the weight accordingly and I asked if I could request the front and that if we didn't get that if we could be on the right side. She told me no guarantees but she would make a note. Well, we didn't get the front but we did at least get the right side. They tell you to dress in black or dark clothes so there isn't a reflection on the glass but the people in the front didn't do that so that made for quite a few reflections in pictures but it was still amazing.

Here we are before taking off.


Within 5 minutes I felt like I was going to throw up because the wind would throw you around quite a bit. Thankfully Matt found some air vents above me and turned them on and that helped a lot. I really thought I wouldn't be able to hold it in but thankfully for everyone else I did.

First we went around Waimea Canyon (their Grand Canyon) and it was pretty to see it from inside instead of lookouts.



The highlight was definitely the Na Pali Coast line. There's just something so unique about the formations the rain has made and everything is so green and beautiful.




There were lots of waterfalls along the way.


This is Kawaiikini Peak, the highest peak on the island and is known as the wettest place in the world and as gets over 400 inches of rain each year and is almost always covered with clouds. I think he said there are only 2 or 3 days a year when you can see the top of it.






Overall I'm glad we did a helicopter tour even if it wasn't the one we booked and wanted to do. We were able to circle the whole island and see everything from a different perspective.


The tour lasted for 1 hour and so we were done at 9am. We grabbed breakfast at Mariachi's a Mexican Restaurant in Lihue. After breakfast we went over to Lawai Beach again to snorkel. It was windy and the water was a little choppy. At one point we had been pulled by the current really far away and we could feel the current pulling us farther out so we swam hard to get back to where we had started. You would swim hard with flippers on and still barely moved. So after that we were exhausted and decided to pack up. Also, being choppy you would swim over rocks and coral that are barely under the water and a wave could change the depth so quick you would be on top of the rock almost out of water so you had to be careful not to go over reef that was too shallow. The rocks were really sharp and would cut you up if you weren't careful.






After snorkeling we stopped at their Walmart. We had driven past it many times and never realized it was right there off the main road in Lihue. After a little souvenir shopping for the kids we had lunch at Saimin Dojo where we had pulehu chicken and some amazing roasted mushrooms.

Next we went to Secret Beach. It was quite a hike down. You can see the lighthouse far in the distance. There were big waves here and it wasn't good for snorkeling but we played in the water and walked around for awhile. I also took a nap on the beach and we just enjoyed relaxing.


We went back to our room to change for dinner and ended up eating at Tiki Iniki in Princeville out on their patio. Matt had a burger and I had fish and then we shared a lava cake that was to die for. We were sad it was our last evening there. It felt like a long week but it also went by way too quick! We enjoyed our last night swimming after getting back to our resort.

May 21, 2018

The next morning packed everything up and turned in our keys at the resort. Then we decided to drive down to Hanalei Bay. We hadn't walked down to see the houses that were affected by the flooding. It was sad to see the $10-$15 million dollar homes sinking that were basically washed from their foundations.


This is a closer look, you can see there are still cars tossed in the trees.


And this is the view from the houses of the bay.



We climbed up and hung out on the pier for awhile and just enjoyed the breeze and the views.



After Hanalei Bay we went to Kapaa and had pizza from Scorpacciata which was a pizza food truck and right next to it was Wailua Shaved Ice. They're owned by the same people. The pizza was really good and fresh and we shared an almond joy shaved ice which was different but really good with real whipped cream and coconut on it. We drove back to the outdoor mall in Poipu to walk around and we had ice cream.

Our flight had been changed and instead of going straight from Kauai to Los Angeles and then to Salt Lake early in the morning we were flying from Kauai to Oahu on Hawaiian Airlines and then a straight redeye flight from Oahu to Salt Lake. We were excited for the change in plans even if it meant we had to be to the airport a little earlier that evening. Our flight to Oahu wasn't very crowded and we were able to sit together. I was worried about our flight to Salt Lake so I rushed to the desk as soon as we landed and there were so many people already at the gates. We were the last group of people to get I'm sure since there wasn't much time until we were to board. Thankfully the lady at the desk was able to get us on the very last row together. I really didn't want to have to sit apart for a long red eye flight. We had to hurry and grab something to eat for dinner and rushed back to board the plane. We ended up running into a couple from our ward and another family we knew all on our same flight. I slept off and on for some of the flight but not much since it's hard to sleep on a plane. Matt just watched movies the whole time and didn't even attempt to sleep. He didn't have work the next day but I did so I knew I would be tired but it was worth it.

This was the flight from Kauai to Oahu.

We can't wait to go back and hopefully take our kids too! Kauai was amazing and the perfect way to spend our 15th Anniversary!