Sunday, February 4, 2001

2001--our 1st trip to Kauai: helicopter tour; Blue Dolphin Napali tour



Back in 1999 Ken and I went to a timeshare presentation in St. Louis that was selling weeks in a newly renovated condo complex in Kauai. We had never been to any of the islands of Hawaii. Didn't really figure it would be somewhere we'd frequent. But did like the idea that we would supposedly be able to trade it for anywhere we wanted to go. We were pretty naive about the whole timeshare thing back then, but I think we pretty well lucked out with our first timeshare purchase, even sight unseen. So for $8,000 we became the owners of 1 week every other year at Pahio Kauai Beach Villas. Since we actually had reservations already for our first ever trip to Hawaii (Oahu) at the time we bought into KBV, we went ahead and banked our first week into RCI as soon as we became owners. 2 years later we decided to check out our purchase before banking anymore weeks. So in 2001, we booked 4 nights on Oahu since we had liked it so much in 1999 (just in case we didn't like Kauai) and booked our week at Pahio Kauai Beach Villas. After a week in Kauai, we were sad to be heading to Oahu for the rest of our trip! We fell in love with Kauai and never banked another Kauai week. In fact, we've since bought 4 more every other year weeks.

From the moment we drove onto the Pahio KBV properties, we were impressed. We had purchased a 1 bedroom/1 bath "garden view" unit. "Garden view" actually means "parking lot view", but we were upgraded into a "lagoon view" 1 bedroom/2 bath unit near the pool. We both agreed we could live very comfortably there for a lot longer than a week. The pool was a bit cold, but at that time KBV owners were also able to use the pools at the adjoining Radisson hotel complex without a fee. Those pools weren't heated, either, but the jacuzzi was bigger and the pools were more interesting, so we did take advantage of that benefit quite a bit. We also enjoyed the "lighting" ceremony at the Radisson pool a few evenings. I think they still do the free hula and lighting show there, but we haven't checked that out in a few years---since we're no longer welcomed in their pools when the Radisson was bought out by Hilton. They've just been bought out again and we're hoping we'll have access to the pools again. Anyway, not only did we love the Pahio resort, but we also loved the location. It was isolated enough to be quiet, but close to 2 of the main towns on Kauai, Lihue and Kapaa. It makes a great base for winter stays since it's about equal distance to the north shore or the south shore. We watch the weather forecasts and if the north shores are calm and dry, we head north. Otherwise we usually end up going south. We do drive alot while we're on Kauai, but with the beauty of the island, I've never minded the rides. Back to KBV----it's on the beach, although most of the units aren't oceanfront. The beach there isn't swimable, but the beach is a beautiful one for walking on. It's truely a home away from home to us.

This being our first trip to Kauai, we tried to see as much of the island as we could in our too short week long stay. In our driving around, we stopped at various viewpoints. Here's one on the east
side of the Wailua River. The Wailua River begins near the Waiʻaleʻale crater (whose summit averages more than426 inches of rain a year) and enters the Pacific Ocean by Kapaa. It is the only navigable river (by boats larger than kayaks) in the Hawaiian Islands.

Across the street from the Wailua River viewpoint is the Opaeka Falls viewpoint. It is a 151–foot waterfall that flows over basalt from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago into the Wailua River.
It's name means rolling shimp, which comes from the time when freshwater shrimp were abundant there and could be seen tumbling over the falls.




Being winter, we headed south most often. I love this planter! That's a real truck full of beautiful flowers.

One of our favorite things to do on vacation is snorkeling. Poipu is considered one of the prime snorkeling locations on Kauai. We spent many hours here. I was so engrosed in the snorkeling there that I did get caught up in the shallow reef and ended up with a nasty cut on my hand, but that didn't stop us from enjoying ourselves. One of the really unique things there in 2001 was the tombula that was totally exposed. This sand bridge to the little island hasn't existed in several years now.

Back in those days, I had a Canon underwater film camera. Here were a few pictures taken with it and scanned with my not-so-good.
I very first encounter with a monk seal was at Lydgate Park.  I actually almost walked into it while looking out to the ocean.  The lifeguard finally got my attention. 
 Having snorkeled for the first time on Oahu a year earlier, I was hooked and anxious to see what Kauai had to offer in the way of snorkeling.  In those days, Lydgate was calm and clear and a great place to hang out.
A collage of Poipu Beach.
We usually head to Kauai in late Feb./early March, but this time we were there in Jan. It was interesting seeing Christmas decorations and aliens in a tropical location.

At the end of the road going southwest is Polihale State Park. The last 5 miles is dirt and very bumpy, but the views of the south end of the Napali makes it worth it. The road usually has to be regrated every couple years or so, so sometimes the access to the park is closed. We made it here right before sunset and were treated to a beautiful sunset. The ride back out in the dark was tough, though.

Heading north, the Kilauea Lighthouse began lighting the way for mariners in 1913. It served as a pivotal navigation aid for ships sailing on the Orient run.
Kilauea Point is listed on the State and National Registers of Historic Places. After the light was decommissioned in 1976, the US Fish and Wildlife Service acquired it in 1985 and currently manages the 31-acre site as part of a 203-acre wildlife refuge.

Gaylord's Restaurant is located on the grounds of historic Kilohana Plantation, about a mile
south of Lihue. Ethel and Gaylord Parke Wilcox built this 16,000 sq. foot home in 1935. Kilohana sits in the middle of 35 acres of pasture where Clydesdales, a donkey and other animals graze. Select retail shops are now housed in the main house. Gaylord's restaurant was established in 1986 when the Wilcox home was restored to a historic site accessible to the public for the first time. Gaylord was the second president of Grove Farm Company - an early and very successful sugar plantation on the island owned by the Wilcox family. Although the restuarant is rather expensive, the setting is grand and wandering around the little shops is fun. There's also a luau held on the grounds, but we've never made it to that luau.

One of the major tourist activities on Kauai is a helicopter tour. They aren't cheap, but it's one of the few ways to see the inland areas of the island. We ended up going with Will Squyres Helicopter Tours which has been sharing this island's unique features with visitors since 1984! Taking off from the Lihue airport, we were first treated to a great view of Nawiliwili harbor on the east side.

After going over the canyon, we were treated to outstanding views of the Napali.

Here we came along the north shore over Hanalai Bay and Princeville.

Then we headed back inland and over to the east side.

Our route took us right by our resort complex, Pahio Kauai Beach Villas and the Radisson.

We also did a Napali Caramaran Tour. This time we went with Blue Dolphin. I was somewhat disappointed in this tour. Not because of the company, but because of the weather. It was a very windy day so we were sailing pretty far off shore and mist was being thrown up on the Napali. Although it did make for an interesting mystically shrouded mountain view, it wasn't the brilliantly colored scene that I saw in pictures. We did have some dolphins come swim with us for awhile. Also saw a turtle and a manta ray. I'm surprised we didn't see any whales. We did stop to snorkel for about an hour, but it was in 30-40 feet deep water so the fish were really far away, so that wasn't too impressive, either.



All in all, we were blown away with the beauty of Kauai and knew we would be back. Now we go for 2+ weeks every year and that still doesn't seem long enough.

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