Wednesday, January 13, 2010

2003 - Kauai trip 2, Dad's first Kauai visit: Kalalau Trail; resort scuba dive; South Pacific Dinner Show; Waimea Canyon

In 2001 we took our 1st trip to Kauai and fell in love with the little island. Since we owned an every other year week in Pahio Kauai Beach Villas there, in 2002 we went to The Big Island. With 2 trips to Oahu, 1 to Kauai, and 1 to The Big Island since 1999, we were anxious to get back to Kauai in 2003. But this time we knew 1 week wasn't going to be long enough. So I rented another week in our resort complex and we went back for our 2nd Kauai vacation for 2 wonderful weeks. My Dad even joined us for one of those weeks.
Our resort: Kauai Beach Villas---

 Sunset from C building looking towards the ocean


 master bedroom
 master bath
 livingroom in 2 bedroom unit
 livingroom/diningroom/kitchen in the 2 bedroom unit
1 of the  bar b q areas
 livingroom in 1 bedroom/2 bath unit

Since Dad was a hiker, we decided to hike the beginning of the Kalalau Trail. The full trail is 11 miles long and goes along the island's north shore from Kee Beach to the Kalalau Valley. The first two miles of the trail are moderately strenuous and open to the public. Farther then that and you need to get a permit from the State Parks Department.

Here is one of the outstanding views of Kee from the trail.

This is a view of the moderately strenuous trail. We were there on a dry day. I can't imagine anyone hiking it after a rain when the wet rocks and mud turn the trail into a slippery mess.

Another part of the trail covered with tree roots. We were there in March and it got pretty hot by the time we hiked 1 mile. Smart hikers would carry water with them and start early in the morning. Our goal was to go to the beach about 2 miles in, but we only made it about a mile before Ken was ready to head back. This is not a trail for someone with bad knees. We were even passed by a few locals running along the trail with bare feet and a surf board under their arm.


One of the reasons I loved traveling with my Dad was because he shared my love for photography. When I traveled with him, it was like we were on a photography excursion. He was always as anxious as I was to stop at any photo op.

Here we were at Waikanaloa Wet Cave, one of the 2 wet caves just north of Haena Park near Kee. This is the easiest of the two wet caves to access as it is just off the road. Sea caves are formed by thousands of years of ocean waves pounding against the lava and eventually etching out a cavern. At one time, the ocean was up to this point. The water in these wet caves is now fed by springs seeping through the porous lava and is extremely cold.
Dad immediately fell in love with Kauai, too. So much so, that when we went to the "owners update", aka "sales presentation", he decided to go in with us on buying another week so we would have 1 week every year (EOY). Our original purchase was for 1 week EOY in a 1 bedroom/1 bath unit and our new EOY unit was a 2 bedroom/2 bath unit. Here Ken and my Dad are celebrating our new ownership.


Dad was also always eager to try new things. So he and I did the resort course scuba diving class and did an excursion to Koloa Landing for our first and only ever scuba dive. I loved it, even though we didn't go very far out and only about 30 feet deep. But I was impressed with the Koloa Landing sealife and have always wanted to go back there to snorkel. Just haven't been able to get Ken convinced that it's alright to snorkel there---yet.
My underwater camera back then wasn't too good, neither was my scanner, but here's a couple pictures of our scuba trip.
 Here our guide was showing us a large shell.  We really didn't go too far into the bay and only about 20' deep.  I would love to get certified to do a real dive, but the resort dives are a bit of a waste of money.

In our trips all over the island, we often stop at Salt Pond. It's another great place for photo ops. The park has a big crescent beach and the snorkeling off to the sides can be good.  There are always strange creatures there.  This time we saw a Flying Gunard.

 But the really unique thing about this park is it's the only natural salt pond in the state still used today by descendants of ancient Hawaiians to make sea salt. Rock salt is produced when sea water evaporates in small, shallow ponds adjacent to the beach. This practice has been going on here for many years. Salt making is a summer activity since there needs to be extended periods of dry weather and hot sun. The season begins in May when the ponds are cleaned of debris and filled with salt water. After several days the water evaporates, leaving crystallized salt in its place. The salt is raked into a mound in the pond and allowed to drain briefly. It is then removed and stored under cover where it can drain and dry completely. Then it's bagged and used for home consumption.
There isn't any salt making during the time we're there since the winter rains dilute or dissolves the drying salt, but there are usually shallow ponds in the area. The red clay of Kauai dissolves in these shallow ponds giving them a reddish hue.

Continuing to the end of the highway, we ended up on the dirt road to Polihale. The last 5 miles is
dirt with a bunch of potholes and is very slow going.

But the view of the Napali and the sandy beach are beautiful. I'm not sure Dad thought the bumpy ride was worth it, though. Now rental agencies really frown upon you taking their cars here.

Since this was Dad's first time for snorkeling, we took him to Lydgate to get him acclimated to the water. He seemed to do well and even seemed to enjoy it.
There were an amazing amount of fish there, including these stripeys that I've only seen there. 

Back at the condo, we went to the South Pacific Dinner Show at the adjacent Radisson Hotel. Kauai is the island where the original 1950s’ film was made. The dinner was pretty good, but the show left a bit to be desired in my opinion. The acoustics in the room were pretty poor and we weren't able to hear what they were saying. Ken was also annoyed by the emcees voice. I believe the show is still going on so maybe they've corrected the sound quality.

On another day we headed north to show Dad the views up that way. Here we stopped a little while at the far end of Hanalei Bay looking back towards Princeville.

At the other end of the island, we took Dad to Salt Pond Park for a beautiful sunset.

Here we are at Lawai Beach on the south side.
Snorkeling here is usually very good.  Lots of large fish like this file fish.
 Schools of fish like these black triggerfish.
 Another school---orange bar surgeonfish.

Then over to Poipu Beach. At this time the tombula (sandbar) was still there at low tide. It made it nice for wandering over to the far beach and exploring the rocks. Now the water between the land masses usually has a pretty swift current going through it and the rocks exposed in this picture are under water making it difficult to get onto the island.
Love to snorkel here, too.  A milletseed butterflyfish.
 And a Threadfin Butterflyfish.

One of our favorite places to eat is Brick Oven Pizza in Kalaheo, on the south side. The pizzas are really expensive (we paid $60 for 2 large pizzas in 2009), but I love the garlic butter crust. They recently opened one in Kapaa so now we don't have to go so far from our condo to get our fix.

Another not so well known spot on Kauai is the cinder cones called Pu‘u Wanawana near Koloa.
Usually we just drive by, but with Dad along we stopped to get a few pictures. Called post-erosional or rejuvenation stage volcanism, the eastern half of the island has been extensively rebuilt with lava from such volcanic action. Called the Koloa volcanic series, about forty vents have been identified. Koloa volcanic activities took place between 3.5 and 0.5 million years ago.


Back to the north shore, we stopped at the taro field overlook above Hanalei. The root of the taro plant is used to make poi. It is one of Kauai's first agricultural products. In ancient times it was prohibited to argue when a bowl of poi was placed on the table.

As the highway winds around the north side, there are many viewpoints. This one overlooks the famous Lumahai Beach. The beach became famous in the 1958 film South Pacific. The beach's geography makes it extremely unsafe for swimming and surfing. There have been several drownings here, including 2 during one of our vacations to Kauai.

We also took Dad to Kilauea Lighthouse. This is the northernmost point of the main Hawaiian Islands. It's suppose to be a great place to watch whale, but we haven't had much luck seeing any there. But the view of the coastline is impressive.


We couldn't let Dad leave without seeing Waimea Canyon State Park. It is approximately ten miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep. It is located on the western side of Kauai and encompasses 1,866 acres. The canyon has a unique geologic history—it was formed not only by erosion, but also by a catastrophic collapse of the volcano that created Kauai. About 4 million years ago while KauaŹ»i was still erupting almost continuously, a portion of the island collapsed. This collapse formed a depression, which then filled with lava flows. Since then, rain from the slopes of Mount Waialeale, one of the wettest places on earth, has eroded Waimea Canyon along one edge of the collapse. Along with the many pull-offs along the highway, there are lots of hiking trails. We didn't get to any of them this trip, but we did enjoy a beautiful day in the canyon. Here we are at one of the biggest and most popular viewpoints.
The 80-foot tall Wailua Falls is located on the East side of the island near Lihue. It is the famous waterfall in the opening scene of the show Fanasty Island.

There were various venders here. After watching this gentleman painting with watercolors, I was impressed enough to buy one of his paintings.


Continuing on our tour around the east side, we showed Dad the Menehune Fishponds near Lihue.
Legend says it was built by the Menehune, leprechaun-like people, in one moonlit night. Archeologist date the pond to around 1,000 years ago. The wall between the pond and the stream is 900 feet long - an engineering marvel considering when the pond was built. Today the fishpond is privately owned and is no longer in use.

Another easy access tourist stop is the Spouting Horn on the south side. The ancient Hawaiians believed that Kaikapu, a lizard goddess, was trapped by a fisherman in the lava tube and the hissing is the sound of her angry roar. Not only do you see the water spray, but another blowhole blows air that makes a loud hiss.

Finally, we spent our last day at Anini. We hadn't discovered this gem of a beach on our first trip, but we've been there every trip since. This beach used to be called Wanini. The "W" fell off the name sign and rather than fixing the sign the name has permanently changed to Anini. This stretch of beach is protected by Hawaii's largest coral reef. It took us several trips to find any decent snorkeling here, but the beautiful stretch of beach and calm warm waters kept us coming back.
Thus ended our 4th trip to Hawaii and our 2nd trip to Kauai. We're hooked!

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