My final island, also Hawaii’s oldest inhabited island, was Kaua’i. (Truth in Blogging: Ok, technically my final island was O’ahu since I need to go back there to catch my flight to the mainland.). Kaua’i is known as the Garden Isle and is the wettest place on earth with an average annual rainfall of 440 inches. I had a chance to experience some of that personally. There were a lot of hiking opportunities on Kaua’i that I did not take advantage of because the wet, muddy trails were slippery as though coated in ice. The trail I took down to the Queen’s Bath proved that in spades.
A chunk of the Northwest part of the island is the Nāpali Coast. “The pali, or cliffs, provide a rugged grandeur of deep, narrow valleys ending abruptly at the sea. Waterfalls and swift flowing streams continue to cut these narrow valleys while the sea carves cliffs at their mouths. Extensive stone walled terraces can still be found on the valley bottoms where Hawaiians once lived and cultivated taro.” – from state park website. There are no roads through it. It can only be accessed via hiking or boating, though you can get a good look at it from a plane. Just South of the Nāpali Coast is Waimea Canyon, the Hawaiian Grand Canyon. It is AMAZING! Seriously, the pictures I took do not do it justice.
Like on the other islands I found plenty of time for driving on every major road (Kaua’I – home of the one lane bridges!), taking pictures of stuff, reading on the beach, watching surfers, finding yummy food (though the mango I ate that fell from a tree onto my car found me), but here I also did some super fun touristy stuff too. Such as………
Tubing through irrigation ditches and tunnels! From www.kauaibackcountry.com – “Part of the former Lihue Plantation this ditch and tunnel system once irrigated vast sugar crops had been unused since sugar was taken out of production in 2000. This water system runs through some of the most beautiful and remote land on the island. It includes spectacular views of the mountains and Waialeale Crater. The waters which originate near the top of Mount Waialeale, one of the wettest spots in the world. Witness Kauai’s spectacular, historical engineering feats as you float down the open canals, through several amazing tunnels and flumes engineered and hand dug circa 1870. Enjoy the wonder and magic of each tunnel, lit by headlamps.” One of the best parts was going through the last tunnel in the pitch dark. I wasn’t even sure I was moving until I hit a wall. The second tunnel was ¾ of a mile long! It was wicked fun.
Ziplining! Super fun & interesting plus the group I was with quite amusing. -From website http://ziplinetourskauai.com: An amazing tree canopy zipline experience that combines zipping high above the treetops with unique and exciting tree bridges. Enjoy 7 zipline runs and 4 canopy sky bridges as you soar through the canopy of Kauai’s awesome giants, a unique grove of 200 foot tall Norfolk pine trees. Gliding 60 – 85+ feet above the forest floor you will be able to experience life from a bird’s eye view. Fly through the forest over pine, mango, eucalyptus, bamboo, and native plant and bird life. Mountain views are outstanding! Ecology narratives included.
Plane ride! So glad I did this. Awesome views (not hyperbole, they really were awesome) & the pilot’s narrative of the view and Kaua’i history was an added bonus. AND since I was in the co-pilot seat he let me steer for a few terrifyingly, amazing minutes.
Drove a huge 7 passenger van: This is what can happen if you book the “wild card” rental vehicle in order to save money. It added a special nuance to every drive I took.
Turtle Cove & Queen’s Bath! I braved the steep, slippery path and went early to avoid everyone else and saw SEA TURTLES! I spent hours climbing on the rocks, checking out tide pools so clear they could have been aquariums and searching for turtles feeding off the shore. This was one of my favorite times on any of the islands.
Kauai Coffee Company! Got a tour of the 3,100-acre coffee plantation (Not the WHOLE thing) and tasted a lot of coffee. Even though I’m only a casual coffee drinker at best, it was a very interesting and tasty stop.
Fun Facts (or maybe just facts)
I couldn’t pronounce much of anything correctly in Hawaii. I mostly just tried to memorize words by sight and hope I didn’t need to say them out loud.
Best food the entire trip – the cucumbers I bought at a Kauai farmer’s market.
Cranky days happen – even in Hawaii.
There are little crabs on the beach skitter around like spiders. It was equally fascinating and disturbing.
Sitting at a beachside restaurant having drinks and dinner is just as enjoyable as I thought it should be.
CURRENT UPDATE: When I got back from Hawaii, I spent 3 days in Chula Vista, CA before zipping back to Maine for my niece’s graduation. Then she and I flew to Washington, DC to take in the sights for a few days before I headed back to CA. Right now I am in LA visiting a high school friend. Next I’ll be meandering North where I eventually will catch a flight from Portland, OR back to Portland, ME in late August so I can go on my annual Montreal trip.