Kauai is beautiful. And yes, that is an understatement. When you stand on the beach at Hanalei Bay and look around, you realize that you have truly arrived at the quintessential tropical paradise that all those movies and fantasies are based on. There are palm trees swaying, waves lapping the shore of a perfect sandy, crescent beach, and steep, jungle clad mountains shrouded in clouds. There are a million shades of green, brightly colored flowers everywhere, and birds calling to one another. Even the telephone poles sport plants growing out of the tops of them. Everything is alive. Of course, in order to have this extraordinary growth, you need rain, and there is plenty of that too. I think we are here in a rainier season, so probably, in the summer it would not rain as frequently as it has now. It has rained everyday, multiple times a day. This might not sound so great, but in reality it's delightful. I never thought I would say that about rain! The rain here can be light as a feather and last 1 minute, or it can be torrential and last 6 minutes. It never seems to last more than 10 minutes. It rains every night which keeps it cool for sleeping. You learn that rain is not something you need to run from. It will pass. You might get a little wet, but you will dry. The clouds add drama to the peaks, although just one day, I would like to see the entire ridgeline just to see what it looks like. The one drawback to the rain is that it makes photos less vibrant. Some things come out well and some don't. I have been using my iPhone for some pictures because it's easier to carry around, but my big camera is really so much better.
Our house is well laid out. There are three bedrooms and three and a half bathrooms. Two bedroom and bath combos are on the first floor where there is a porch, entryway, and off the porch, a laundry room. On the second floor there is a third bed/bath and a huge living/dining room and open kitchen and half bath. Windows surround the big living area and there is a wrap around lanai (porch) with additional dining space. This lanai has views of the mountains and always has a wonderful breeze. Whenever it rains, the waterfalls come streaming down the mountains. I think I counted 5 or 6 at one time. The kitchen is well equipped and there is plenty of seating for the 6 of us. Next door is a cottage that is similar, but smaller, and owned by the same people. So far no one has been there that we can tell. For anyone who is interested, this is Ileina's Hanalei House and Cottage. http://www.hanalei-cottage.com
One morning we looked out the window and saw this fellow perched at eye level. Michael saw him hop down a branch and scoop up a gecko. Breakfast!
Our other friends arrived Monday afternoon and quickly acclimated with a walk on the beach. That evening we walked into the village and had dinner at Tahiti Nui, a local bar/restaurant/wine bar/pizza joint. I guess they cater to everyone! They had some entertainment which was quite good – a couple who played guitar and sang traiditional hawaiian songs. It was a fun evening.
On Tuesday, despite the possibility of rain (you just have to ignore it), 4 of us went up to the end of the road to see what we could see. Hanalei is only a few miles from the north end of the main road that follows the coast of Kauai. Because of the Na Pali coast, there are no roads that circumnavigate the entire island. I like being on the North Shore. The towns are small and less developed. It's a bit wetter than the South Shore, but that makes it more green and lush. Up the road from Hanalei are several beaches and, at the end, the start of the Kalalau Trail which runs 11 miles along the Na Pali coast. We stopped at a couple of beaches along the way. The first one had powerful waves and the second one was more calm and had snorkeling.
At the end of the road, at Ke'e Beach, we couln't find parking due to its popularity and the limited parking spaces. As we headed back down the road looking for a parking space, the one we found happened to be right by the entrance to Limahuli Gardens. The Gardens are part of the National Botanical Tropical Garden system. We took a look and decided that it might be worth our time. What we found was spectacular! It was cloudy but never rained hard on us. We walked the 3/4 mile trail slowly up the hillside and down again. There were many plants and sights described in the self guided tour and we found it very informative. The walk taught us about the subsistence habits of the early Hawaiians. What we did on spec turned out to be a real winner. I loved the feel of the place. We strolled through restored native forest, traditional Hawaiian terraced plantings, and more modern forest, including introduced species. There was a lovely stream, lush landscape, and nice views. I took some photos of various plants and we thoroughly enjoyed our time there.
A breadfruit tree near the visitor center
There were many hibiscus of different colors.
I called this the Braille plant because of all the dots you could feel.
We saw this beautiful purple flower but weren't quite sure whether it was an orchid, an iris, or something else.
The adventures continue, but I will leave you there for now.