Kauai Adventures Beyond The Napali Coast

Waking up in the soft beds of the Resort Quest Islander on The Beach was like slipping out of the warm Pacific ocean waves of a starfish dream. I looked over at the Hula-Dancer lamp on the bedside table. After the whirlwind in our heads from our Lanai evening of my extra-ounces of my Kauai Kaboom coconut and rum drinks we were due for a sleep in despite the best efforts of those Kauai Roosters!

I was up first and, ouch, I had a bit of a headache and sore legs and it’s no wonder we we’re extra tired after our hike up Kailua Ridge where we passed a group of hunters wearing camouflage carrying rifles with a pack of dogs who were sniffing at the trail as they hunted for wild boar. They had two four-by-four vehicles parked at the trail head, the hunters not the dogs, with homemade cages attached in to the truck beds. We asked one of the hunters, a young Hawaiian girl af about 22 years old what they were hunting and she told us pigs. Maybe they sell them to the large resorts for their Luau’s?

We didn’t do the entire loop of the trail which starts near the end of Highway 580 West of Wailua. We thought of heading down the Moalepe Trail or the Kuamo’ o NaNou Trail but decided to just stop at the top of the ridge and admire The Sleeping Giant to the East. The Sleeping Giant is a delicate and subtle mountain formation than when you look at from a distance it appears to be the silhouette of a large sleeping giant, you can spot his chin, his forehead, chest, arms and feet. It’s like looking at a constellation in the sky which suddenly becomes a Bull or a Lion but this Sleeping Giant, from atop the Kailua Ridge was spectacular, being on the ridge was amazing also because you can look behind you and seen an incredible lush green Kauai Valley and mountains and then turn around again and you see the Sleeping Giant in the distance with the clear blue sky and the Royal Coconut Coast!

After hiking back down the ridge we drove to the end of route 580 to the Keahua Arboretum. There is a small creek at the end of the road where people can park but since we had a 4 x 4 Dodge Nitro and since the water level was low we decided to venture across the river. There was a cement bridge that was submerged by the fairly smooth current and the water was only 9 inches deep so we drove across the bridge, it felt like we were on some military adventure seeing the river beneath us.

Instead of stopping right away we decided to follow the road beyond the river crossing. It was likely a fork of the Wailua River but maybe was just a stream, anyway, we continued up a rough dirt road and the road got steeper and bumpier and narrower and after about 20 minutes we decided to turn back…it looked more like an off-road 4 x 4 trail probably used by boar hunters so we turned around and parked near the river crossing to check out the Keahua Arboretum.

So let me say I’m not a tree maniac, I don’t hug trees, I mean I like trees but I don’t have a special interest in naming or classifications of trees. I like trees and this peaceful little site with picnic table and clean public pavilions in the shade of the forest which was home to monkeypod trees, mango trees and eucalyptus trees. Don’t ask me to pick one out of a line-up though…but there were these crazy multi-colored trees that looked like they had no bark! They were red and green skinned trees that looked like rubber skinned toys, we couldn’t believe it! And they weren’t all clumped in bunches either but just spread out here and there…huge tower trees with trunks without bark and this multi-colored smooth skin! We strolled along an open field beside the river and I chased a rooster who wanted to play a game of tag with me!

We left for Wailua along highway 580 and we stopped at the Lookout over Opaekaa Falls and the winding Wailua River with the small sight-seeing cruise-boats chugging along through the State Park. It was windy but probably always is at that height, the falls were a bit sparse but it was a nice stop but we didn’t have time to chat with the many tourists who had parked for a snapshot since we were getting hungry and needed to get some groceries for the kitchen back at the hotel.

We stopped at the Wapouli Plaza, OMG we loved Longs Drugs with everything from books to plastic crowns and post cards to cheap booze, and grabbed some Mini Mai Tais and a book on what is the meaning of Aloha. We hit the Safeway, signed up for a Safeway Card to save a bit of money on purchases, and bought some roast beef and cheese so we could have a comfort food meal at the hotel on the Lanai and learn about Aloha and of course have a Mai Tai which is likely less strong than the mean rhum drink I mixed last night which held about 3 ounces of dark rum per glass!!

Back at the hotel, we have a private parking spot because we are renting a suite at the Resort Quest which is a good thing because the parking lot is full with guests and shoppers at the Coconut Marketplace; we had our lunch overlooking the pool and then had a nap. Ahhh…nothing better than having a nap after a hike and a Mai Tai!

When we got up we strolled across to the Coconut Marketplace. It’s really cool, like a board walk with shops, boutiques and restaurants in a nice little village. The perfect spot to shop, have a snack and just check things out. We took our time and went into cool little nick-nack stores and expensive jewellery store…they had everything and it was a warm evening so we took our time and so did a lot of other tourists! I bought a red flowered Hawaiian shirt and a sharks tooth necklace and some funky ukelele and palm tree key chains. DD bought an awesome, and rather sexy Hawaiian dress, black with red flowers and two straps, along with a necklace and some flowers to put in her hair. We went back to the hotel and took some pictures on the Lanai with candles and the moonlight! How romantic it was…if only it had been our Honeymoon we would have said it was perfect. But even though we were only on holiday it WAS perfect!!! We had a mini MaiTai and Safeway Sushi for supper and with the sounds of crashing waves in the distance we went to bed early, rocked to sleep in the arms of the Aloha Islands.

The next day we got up relatively early as we wanted to take full advantage of the day, another sunny day on Kauai, and after the stress of the trip from Canada and the initial hotel shock we had finally reached a point of comfort and were ready to get up and take on the island! There is so much to see and do and in only a few hours we have to be prepped and have a written itinerary!

I was up first, making coffee with our portable espresso machine that we brought with us, oh it’s great to have a kitchenette in the room! Cool tiles on the floor beneath my bare feet and the sun coming through the main windows off the Ocean outside. Having the large suite at the hotel is perfect because I can get up early and download my pictures to the laptop and have a cup of coffee while keeping the door closed so DD can sleep. When she did wake up I had been sunning on the Lanai watching the cat prance about the grounds and the guests heading to their rooms with fluffy towels wrapped under their arms or shopping bags in their hands. When DD woke up I made us a roast beef and egg breakfast that we enjoyed with some fresh juice, no rum this morning peeps, on the Lanai.

The wind was rustling the palm trees and a cruise ship passed in the distance. After a relaxing breakfast we grabbed our snorkel gear and the days supplies of power bars, snacks and water and sun screen for an awesome day of come what may!! The wind and sounds of birds from the Lanai was magical! We love staying at the Resort Quest Islander on The Beach… dum dee dum…as we go downstairs from our suite which is right above the lobby and closest to the main entrance we find our rental car in our private parking spot! Sweeeeeeet!!

We drove south on Highway 56, which is the main road that circles the island of Kauai along with Highway 50, to do some snorkelling. We drove the Kaumaulii Highway which had fairly steady traffic, we started to recognize the locals from the tourists because the locals all had beads or shells or flowers hanging from their rear-view mirrors and the tourists all had late model clean vehicles. Two weeks later, as we left back to Canada, we bought some shell necklaces at Hilo Hatties and we’ve had those hanging in our Salsa Vibe ever since we returned…sometimes I grab the shells and rub them between my fingers and it sounds like the surf wrapping her warm arms around the driftwood of a sunlit Kapaa Beach! The traffic is pretty bad in Kauai but we were there in the off season so it wasn’t too bad but apparently 5 people miss their connecting flights every day because of the snarled island traffic…maybe the island should only allow Smart Cars and not big bad Dodge Nitros!

Turning south onto highway 520 towards Koloa and Poipu we passed under the Eucalyptus Trees Tunnel which was an incredible canopy of tall trees fencing the road and hanging their leaves over the road; it was like really driving through a shady tunnel! We got a bit lost as we tried to find Poipu Beach Park. There seemed to be a lot of roads with condos and hotels and we turned in to the Marriott Waiohai Beach Club parking lot, the Hyatt Regency Kauai parking lot, the Sheraton Kauai Resort and the Poipu Bay Golf Club before we actually found the Poipu Beach Park so we could do some snorkelling.

We parked the Nitro right beside the outdoor change rooms and grabbed our gear and got changed. The beach was across the street and quite full because it was a hot sunny day. It was nice to get on to the warm sand and as we walked west on the beach we passed a group of people performing Baptisms! Maybe people come Piopu for religious ceremonies or there is a regular Baptism service here…it wouldn’t surprise me since even we came to the islands with my Gramma’s ashes to spread some of them in the sea here since this was here favorite place…well she loved Maui but my point is that I understand seeing 30 people in the green waters off the Kauai Channel getting Baptised…it was GR8!!!

We found a spot of sand, oiled up with some SPF 30 Salt Water Sunblock and I got my camera ready for some underwater filming. I had bought the Canon G7 and the Canon WP-DC11 WaterProof Case to allow me to film and take pictures underwater. When we went to Florida we only had those cheap disposable 35mm underwater cameras and we were disappointed with the results.

We got our flippers on and headed in to the sea, not sure what to expect, the area is very shallow and protected but with so many people we thought it would be barren with all the choral trampled and all the fish running scraed but no! There were all kinds of fish, mostly Lemon Butterfly Fish, but a few others as well dodging the flapping feet of the swimmers. After about 20 minutes the cool waters and current were getting the best of us and we crawled back on shore, dried off, enjoyed a bit of sun and then left. We drove back under the Eucalyptus Tree Tunnel towards the hotel, excited after our first trip in to the ocean…it always leaves us wanting more after we come out from snorkeling!!

The next day we decided to head North towards Hanalei as we wanted to do some canoeing on the Hanalei River which winds in to the Hanalei National Wildlife Reserve. It was a nice drive along the Kuhio Highway winding along the coast of the island, reminded me of The Sunshine Coast in British Columbia with the lush growing forests and winding roads often single lane. We got to the kayak and canoe rental off of Hanalei Bay and rented a canoe and paddled inland towards the bird sanctuary instead of heading North towards the bay which they said is better to visit only in a kayak which we didn’t want to do.

We took about two hours return-trip to go up the river and back which was a calm river which got interesting when we got further into the preserve and were in thick mangroves on the banks and could here natural springs but couldn’t see them through the mangrove shadows. More than half of the canoe-trip was parallel to the busy 560 Highway so it was rare wheen we paddled without seeing power lines or hearing the vehicles passing on the road. Despite that, the reflections of the palm trees around us and the flower petals drifting around our canoe and the birds nesting in the thick mangrove walls made it a worthwhile trip.

We continued West from Hanalei and past Wainiha Bay where there were cars parked along the narrow winding road at beach access points and surfers in the waves since it was fairly windy up on this North side of Kauai island. We stopped at the Maninihalo Dry Cave; a mouth-like opening in a huge towering rock face where we could go inside! It was quite freaky to see so much rock overhead and everyone is so small as they enter the huge wide opening into the cave!

Entering the Mainihola Dry Caves at the North of the Island was an awesome and freakish experience like crawling in to the mouth of a beast!

In the caves it was dark and spooky with only the sunlight from behind us to illuminate the floor and distant walls. There was liquid oozing from the ceiling overhead and as you get deep inside the cave and turn around I felt like a little mouse looking out through a hole in the wall! We took a few pictures and then went back to the beach parking lot; there was an avocado tree right beside our car! How cool! We could have made homemade guacamole if we had the time but the day was wearing on and we wanted to get to the Napali Coast State Park which was only two miles from the cave!

It was so exciting to arrive at the parking of the Na Pali Coast Park! We got our hiking boots on, grabbed our backpacks and hiking poles and headed towards the trail-head. As we stood at the brown wooden trail map we couldn’t really believe the people who were venturing on to the rugged trail without being properly prepared! There were people wearing flip-flops, untied running shoes and we even saw one guy with bare feet! There were ladies in un-sensible shoes and without any water bottles!

We couldn’t believe our eyes and as we started up the initial climb of the trail, which was knotted with roots and uneven stones we couldn’t understand how people could even contemplate hiking the Napali Coast Trail without understanding what was involved! We saw one poor fellow lying on the rocks at the side of the trail with a group of hikers and he had slipped and broken his leg or ankle because he had a bone sticking out of his leg and he was wearing sandals! Uh Oh! Hotdog! They were waiting for a helicopter rescue. We were saddened to think that the resources of the search and rescue teams would be wasted on a hiker who wasn’t prepared.

With our hiking boots and poles we were like Hawaiian Mountain Goats leaping and charging up and down the trail. The trail was totally spectacular with the green turquoise ocean to the North and whitecaps and endless horizon while we headed up into the coastal mountains….it was so exciting. Every turn off the trail opened up a new panorama, the mountains receding into the distance, huge flowing trees shaped like sculptures with the coastal winds, red rocks and formations on both sides! We didn’t have time to do more than a two hour return walk, we didn’t get to see Hanakaa Falls or pass through the Kalalau Valley, but that was fine…it was dry at first but as we got further down the trail there were some muddy spots so we were happy to turn back. The views were unforgettable and when we got back to the beach we felt as if we had been to see a most incredible magic show and had a hypnotic glow in our hearts!

On the way back to Kapaa we stopped at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge but it was closed for the day so we just took a look at the Kilauea Point Lighthouse. There is an awesome lookout where you can see this bright white lighthouse perched on the craggily cliffs and thousands of birds are swarming overhead and the wind is enough to make Steve McGarrets hair move!

In the distance, there were humpback whales…well…that’s what the sign said although we don’t think we saw any…there were too many whitecaps to be able to tell if it was a whale coming up for air or just a big Hawaii-Five-0 sized wave!

On the way home we had to detour because a car had flipped on the road and the police had closed off the road. It looked like two vehicles involved in a mash-up and they looked like rentals. The roads are fairly good on the island but there are many turns and curves and if you’re not a local and used to the road it could be dangerous…we tried to always stay within the speed limits!

We picked up a nice piece of fish at the market and we bought some cajun spice from the girl behind the counter who said it was a traditional cooking spice for such fish so we gave it a try. The hotel room filled with an acrid cajun smoke as we cooked the fish and we were both coughing and had to dash out on to the Lanai for fresh air! It was funny! So we had our fish and then some cookies and ice cream and after the day we were just exhausted and so we climbed in to bed early and drifted off to dreamland with the distant crowing of roosters reminding us of the sounds of paradise!

The next day we decided to hit the hot tub first thing because DD was homesick, probably thinking about our cat Pauline being home alone! The hot tub was nice once we finally figured out how it worked; there were already people in the hotel courtyard reading and sunning themselves! Ahhhhh nice way to start the day with tea and magazines under a thatched roof!

We drove to town to buy a Ukelele but the music store in Kapaa wasn’t very nice and we weren’t exactly welcomed warmly…I guess we looked like tourists…DD had been looking forward to buying a real Ukelele on the vacation but in the end we just bought a couple of wooden flutes, which, by the way, ended up cracking from the humidity or lack of humidity when we got back to Canada.

We headed back to Poipu for some more snorkelling and then to see the Spouting Horn. The spouting horn is an interesting coastal formation where underwater tunnels allow sea water to be forced out of the shore so the appearance is like a whale exhaling water from a blowhole. The tides and waves were not very active when we were there so it was hard to capture the spray as it hung in the air.

We got back to the hotel for some burgers and beers and then went back to the Coconut Market for some last minute shopping. I got a very funky shirt, a long sleeved blue shirt with a funky turtle design on it! My new favorite shirt! We started packing because tomorrow we flying to The Big Island and we are so excited!

Being in Kauai has been great but it is a small island and we sometimes felt that the tourists here were a bit of a burden on the locals…they growth and population seemed to be growing faster than the poor little island could handle and most of the expansion was due to the tourism trade.

We dropped off the Silver Nitro at the Dollar Rental stall and boarded our Hawaiian Airlines inter-island flight. Taking off we could see the coastline disappearing behind us and both were smiling because we are having a great time we both couldn’t help but feel a little sad to be leaving but at the same time we are looking forward to feeling the Aloha of The Big Island!!

Both DD and myself wrote diaries on our Hawaiian vacation and took a lot of pictures so you can find all of our favourite places and sights described in more detail here on the website. You can also use the site search to find hotel reviews or specifics on towns and places we visited or any topics of interest including any pictures you may want to see.