Day Trippin’

On Thursday, while Dusk and Rinda went off in the morning to hike a little of the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali coast, Bill, Machelle, Michael, and I decided to pay a visit to the Kilauea Lighthouse. Kilauea is a small town on the North Shore only about 15 minutes away by car from Hanalei. The lighthouse sits on a point which is the northernmost point in Hawaii. The area surrounding the lighthouse and a small island off the point have been designated a National Wildlife Refuge, primarily for birds. We lucked out with the weather as it was windy, but mostly sunny, when we visited. There were spectacular views up and down the coast and we saw lots of birds and enjoyed a few small exhibits.


A frigate bird (I think)

Looking toward the aptly named Secret Beach

It was quite windy on the point but that is what you would expect when facing the open ocean. We enjoyed watching the waves crash into the cliffs creating dramatic explosions of seawater. Bill even spotted a sea turtle way down below in the water. It was quite a large one. Then Machelle spotted another that was a bit smaller. There were hawaiian geese wandering about as well as some red footed boobies across the way on a hillside. We saw some young wedge-tailed shearwaters hanging about their nests and looking all fuzzy.

This is where Bill spotted the turtle

I love my zoom lens!

After we left the lighthouse, we stopped in Kilauea town to browse in a couple of shops and have a snack. I have been enjoying the local arts and crafts. The beauty of the surroundings here cetainly inspires some lovely artwork!

On the way back toward Hanalei we detoured to Anini Beach and got in a little beach time. Anini is a lovely sand beach with an offshore reef that creates a protected lagoon in which to swim and snorkel. We saw a kite boarder setting up his equipment which was of particular interest to Michael as he has dabbled in kite boarding and would like to do more. It was very windy, so when the kite boarder took off, he went ripping across the water straight out the break in the reef, and played in the waves, all of which were quite advanced maneuvers. Michael and I went in snorkeling. It was not really the best snorkeling as the water was a little choppy, the visibility wasn’t all that great, and there wasn’t a ton to see. However, the highlight for me, which made it all worthwhile, was that we found a turtle and I was able to follow him for a bit. Snorkeling with turtles is one of my favorite things to do!

Beautiful Anini Beach


The Kilauea Lighthouse in the distance.

The kiteboarder setting up.

That evening we had some semblance of a sunset which was a nice change of pace. Dusk and Rinda had enjoyed their hike, though Rinda was a little banged up from a fall during their river crossing. Fortunately it was nothing serious, just some scrapes and bruises. We walked into town for some happy hour Mai Tai’s and cooked ourselves some dinner back at the house. All in all it was an excellent day.




















Let’s Hula!

Our days in Hanalei have been fluid and only loosely structured. A lot depends on the weather. It rains every night. Usually this includes a few torrential downpours with high wind that feel like you got dropped into the middle of a hurricane for about 10 minutes. They never last long. In the morning the showers dissipate and become less frequent. Walks on the beach or around the village punctuate time lazing about the house, reading, or playing dominos.

On Wednesday we all piled into one car and drove down to Wailua to go to the Smith's Tropical Paradise Luau. Yes, the name Smith's may seem a little strange when attached to a Hawaiian luau, but they have been doing the luaus for 30 years and are on their fifth generation of their family business. Ages ago some guy named Smith married a Hawaiian lady. Imagine that! The weather was a little iffy but it all worked out just fine. Arriving to the locale felt a little Disney-esque because first we were leied with shell leis, then we had our picture taken, and then we were put on a little tram for a tour of the gardens. Fortunately, that was the end of the “tour” and we were left to wander the gardens ourselves before the start of the Imu Ceremony. The gardens were beautiful and included peacocks wandering the grounds along with many other birds and prime examples of indigenous flora. I didn't take a lot of photos as the light was fading and I only had my iPhone.

The Imu Ceremony consisted of an explanation of the Hawaiian cooking technique used to make Kalua pig, followed by the unveiling of said swine. Basically they dig a pit, make a fire to create hot coals, add lava rocks covered by leaves, throw the pig on, cover with more leaves, and then a tarp and some dirt. The pig cooks in this oven for 12 hours. Sure enough, they dug up a pig and it was steaming hot! After that, we all processed into the dining area and found our seats. There was an open bar and a buffet of traditional Hawaiian fare, including that Kalua pig, which was delicious. During dinner there was some entertainement in the form of guitars and singing and even som hula dancing. They did a little demonstration and then got a few people up on stage to try the dance. The hosts and entertainers were very nice and sincere and had a sense of humor, so it wasn't too tacky. The food was delicious. There was a lovely cucumber salad that was a hit, as well as the pork and many other dishes. What was less of a hit was the poi. Poi is a local dish made from pounded and stewed Taro. Apparently it's what the early Hawaiians ate all the time and is still eaten a lot today. We've seen Taro plants growing all over the place. You have to cook the Taro root down for a long time to ensure it's edible. The end result is a rather unappetising, dirty grey, treacly mush. Oh, and it's tasteless too. We all agreed that it was surprising they didn't try to flavor it with something, like roasted garlic poi, or ginger sesame poi. At least the MC was up front about the likelihood of us liking the poi (or not). He was pretty funny. Here we are at dinenr.

After dinner we were directed down to the amphitheatre where the show would take place. The show was a collection of dances not only from the Hawaiian Islands, but also from other cultures that call the islands home and contribute to the overall Hawaiian culture, such as Japanese, Chinese, Tahitian, and Filipino. Then for good measure they threw in some other Polynesian based cultures to round it out – Maori from New Zealand and Samoan. The Samoan guy was very entertaining and nearly lit himself on fire a few times (probably on purpose!). All in all it wasn't bad. They included some history and explained some of the symbolism. It was a fun evening and I'm glad we went. However, now that I've been to a Hawaiian luau, I think I can check that off my list and won't need to pursue it again.

The next day we went to see the Kilauea Lighthouse, so stay tuned for more adventures in the next post.

Mahalo for reading!


The Garden Isle

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.

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.