The main road tracing Kauai's perimeter takes you past much more scenery than would seem possible on one small island. Chiseled mountains, thundering waterfalls, misty hillsides, dreamy beaches, lush vegetation, and small towns make up the physical landscape. Perhaps the most stunning piece of scenery is a place no road will take you—the breathtakingly beautiful Napali Coast, which runs along the northwest side of the island."
|View from the back of the hostel's upper deck|
|View at Kalalau Lookout, Photo from the internet|
|View from Waipo'o Falls, Waimea Canyon, Photo from the internet|
VERY, VERY COLD up at Kokee State Park last night! Very tough sleeping. At 4:30am slept in car with heat (and engine) on until 7:30am. Went back into tent to sleep more. Started raining. Leaks in brand new tent I had "sealed" with the spray. Grr. Folded tent in the shelter pavilion.
|Hanalei Valley Lookout, Photo from the internet|
|Kalalau Trail, Photo from the internet|
The 11-mile trail begins at Ke`e Beach, etched into cliffs that raise as much as 4,000 feet above the ocean below and crosses 5 major valleys and countless smaller ones, ending at Kalalau Valley. Conditions of the narrow path may range from muddy puddles to dry, crumbly rock; eroding cliffs and big surf sometimes take out small sections of trail.
It's lengthy and challenging due to the extreme elevation ascents and descents (it's almost never level) over ridges and around gulches, with loose rocks underfoot and sometimes muddy narrow (single track) trail, sheer cliffs and steep drop-offs adjacent the trail, dropping hundreds or thousands of feet to the ocean below, possible strong currents and flash flooding at river crossings, dangerous shorebreak and riptides at Hanakapi`ai and Kalalau, oh and its remoteness - with no roads, this stretch of coastline is only accessible on foot or by boat. It's rated a '9' out of '10' in degrees of difficulty by the Sierra Club!
|Hanakapi'ai Falls, Photo from the internet|
|Kalalau Beach, Photo from the internet|
|Big Pool, Photo by Peter & Christine|
|View behind Space Rock, Photo from the internet|
|We did it! Me w/ my new Napali pals, Peter & Christine|
Helpful links for those possibly planning to ever hike the Kalalau Trail:
I drove down to Lihue to switch rental cars (I couldn't keep the same one when I added days, because I switched companies to get the best rate), which was no easy feat! I came to realize that the rental car I was switching into had its location miles apart from the others, and with having tons of stuff that I had to swap between cars, I had to leave my stuff unattended outside Company A, take a shuttle to Company B to pick up my car, then drive to Company A where thank goodness my stuff was present! Phew, lol.
|Photo from hanaleigourmet.com|
Saturday, February 5th
This morning I had the first hot shower I’ve had EIGHT days! Thank you YMCA! It was heaven…in return, I picked up a hitch-hiker on his way to work in Hanalei, the same town I traveling to :) He was around my age, and we talked about life in Kauai, specifically, how “growing up with intolerant native classmates was difficult as a white kid,” and how island fever sets in (i.e., feeling stuck on the island).
|Watersports Swap-Meet, Photo from hanaleisurf.com|
I picked another hitch-hiker, a handsome guy who talked about weird hitch-hiking experiences (“dropped off by a crazy woman that said her kids felt up uncomfortable with him,” and “a guy picked him up, took a detour and offered him more than just a ride”), and how great island life is as a guy that “shows hot female tourists around, so that they get attached and buy him shirts and stuff,” and how “tourists try to change Kauai, instead of respecting the culture and laid-back, open-minded, hippie lifestyle.
|Poipu Beach Park, Photo from HawaiiGaga.com|
Afterward I revisited Hanalei Gourmet for more live music, another lava flow, and delicious crab-stuffed mushrooms :)
I got back to the YMCA camp around 11pm, and yet again had a whole cabin all to myself!
Sunday, February 6th
This morning I did some sight-seeing and bird-watching at Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge & Kilauea Lighthouse. “Located at the northernmost point of the main Hawaiian Islands, this beacon for sea traffic and National Historic Landmark was built in 1913, and has the largest clamshell lens of any lighthouse in the world. It's within a national wildlife refuge, where thousands of seabirds soar on the trade winds and nest on the steep ocean cliffs. Endangered nene geese, red-footed boobies, Laysan albatross, wedge-tailed shearwaters, white- and red-tailed tropic birds, great frigate birds, Pacific golden plovers (all identifiable by educational signboards) along with native plants, dolphins, monk seals, humpback whales, huge winter surf, and gorgeous views of the North Shore add to the drama of this special place, making it well worth the modest entry fee,” which was free with my America The Beautiful National Parks Pass :)
I watched through the free binoculars the visitor center lends out, at the hundreds of birds soaring to and from Moku'ae'ae Islet (just offshore from the peninsula) and Crater Hill (landward from the lighthouse, and part of an extinct volcano that looms above the refuge), then I stopped into the little gift shop and checked out the large 3-D display of the Hawaiian Islands, selection of books about the island's natural history and other merchandise, with all proceeds benefiting education and preservation efforts.
|Kilauea Point, Photo by Miron Kiriliv|
Just before reaching the parking area for the waterfalls, I turned left into a scenic pullout over the Wailua River Valley, to get a good look at where "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Jurassic Park" and "Outbreak" were filmed, and to the right to view a Kamokila Hawaiian Village.
I picked up a hitchhiker on the way back to Hanalei, who, as luck would have it, was on her way to her job at Hanalei Gourmet – the exact same place I was heading! It turned out to be way too crowded there, so I watched the Superbowl at Bouchon’s Hanalei Restaurant & Sushi Bar across the street – their fish tacos were lame (should’ve gone with the jalapeño cream cheese & salmon poppers), but that’s not important – the game was great, with the Packers just barely won against the Stealers.
Then I rented the movie, “Smokin’ Aces,” before checking out Bar Acuda, a bougie restaurant with poor, snobbish service, serving overpriced wine and tapas. I didn’t stay long, lol. I went back to YMCA camp (full house tonight!) and watched my movie – great little action flick!
Monday, February 7th
Rainy day today (the “Garden Isle” needs to stay lush somehow), so I went to the nearest laundromat (in Kapaa) to wash some clothes (long overdue) – ALL my clothes were dirty, so I got creative and must have looked like a wacko with my fleece sleeping bag wrapped around my waist, lol! Oh well, I’m never going to see these people again, lol. I caught upon emails and booked my airfare to Oahu, dropped off the movie rental at Blockbuster, then went to Verde to relax with couple magazines and $3 margaritas!
In the evening I took my Forbes magazine and gorged myself on the delicious buffet at Brick Oven Pizza, then went and saw “Black Swan” at Kukui Grove Cinema down in Lihue. What a trip! I was still trying to wrap my head around the movie as I headed back up to the North Shore. I was tired, so instead of driving all the way back up to the YMCA camp (a slow, 33 miles north) I saved myself the time and money by pulling the car into a ditch and sleeping there for the night.
Tuesday, February 8th
|Kipu Falls, Photo by traveladvisor.com|
I picked up some artichoke dip from Hanalei Gourmet and brought it to Hanalei Beach Park, "part of four beaches that make up the 2-mile, crescent-shaped bay that is quintessential Hawaii, and the sight of the lush, majestic mountains to the east, ribboned with waterfalls, will take your breath away." I lied out and sunbathed for a quite while, wining and dining as I caught up with my dad over the phone, before doing some body-boarding on the fun waves.
Afterward I went back to Hanalei Bay (yet again, lol) and grabbed some fish nachos, before heading back down to Lihue to see the movie "The Rite."
I checked back into Kauai Beach House and paid for tonight and tomorrow night; it sure was nice getting some rest on a real mattress again - I slept like a baby.
Wednesday, February 9th
Today I returned my things to K-Mart & Wal-Mart, went to Starbucks, and saw "The King's Speech." Yes, I've been seeing a lot of movies lately, lol (it's been raining). When I returned to the hostel, I was unfortunately surprised to find my eye-glasses, toiletries, and inflatable pillow gone, and my bed made up - they thought I checked out! Luckily I recovered my glassed and toiletries (just setting out on a table in plain site), and retrieved my pillow (the manager had it in her room!). I got all my things packed up in my car, took a shower, and went to bed; tomorrow I'll be waking up early to fly to Oahu, woo-hoo!
*Note - my camera was stolen with all the hundreds of photos of Kauai in it, hence I'm using photos from friends and the internet.