Monday, February 28, 2005

2005-Our 4th Kauai visit, alone this time: Queen's Bath; Napali/Niihau snorkel tour; Waimea Canyon; Kipu falls;

Another year passed and February finally rolled around again. At the end of the month we were heading back to Kauai for our 4th time there. Instead of renting another week, we picked up another 1 bedroom/1 bath unit at Pahio KBV off Ebay for about $1200 for another EOY ownership. We were again upgraded to a 1 bedroom/2 bath unit and were able to stay in the same unit for both weeks. It seemed a little odd being there all by ourselves for both weeks, but we had a great time none-the-less.

Our daily routine is usually to check the forecast for the north shore in the morning. If it looks like it's going to be sunny there, we head north. Sometimes we luck out and have lots of nice days there, other times hardly any. Being the rainy season when we're there, the north shore gets a lot more rain then the south side.

But we were able to head north right away this trip. This is just one of the gorgeous north side views from the car as we were heading north.

I had read so much about the controversial Queen's Bath that we decided to give it a look. We weren't expecting to swim, but the hike sounded short and pretty. We really couldn't tell what was suppose to be the Queen's Bath "pool". There were a lot of waves crashing in and we stayed as far away from the edge as we could. Every year we read about people drowning there. We have gone there a few other times since this trip and have seen some real idiots tempting fate in the rough pool. Even talked to others who had been there and had been beaten around pretty good. One time we went and the water was extremely calm and inviting. I probably would have gone in if I had been wearing my swim suit, but I wasn't expecting it to be so calm in the winter. But we really do enjoy the shaded walk to the lava bed. That's another trail I wouldn't try after it's been raining, though. This is one of the waterfalls you can see along the trail.

It was a calm day on the north shore beaches, though, so we headed to Kee and did some snorkeling and relaxing on the beach.

I even discovered a little gravel trail that led around the corner of Kee and leads to this view of the Napali.

 This is a view of Kee from that gravel trail.

If Kee is calm, then Tunnels probably is, too, so we also headed there.

This year there was a deep rut in the sand leading down from the mountains to the water. It doesn't look like much here, but it was about 6' deep. There was also alot of sand deposited in the "tunnels". Apparently this happens regularly and is ever changing. The next year we were there the beach was back to being pretty flat.

Back on the east side we often like to go over to a lookout of Nawiliwili Harbor in Lihue. We like to watch the boats come and go and have even seen a few whales from there. One time a mother and her calf were actually coming into the harbor. Someone from a conversation organization showed up at the lookout and we had a really interesting chat with them about the whales around Kauai. They were getting ready to launch a boat to herd the mother and calve out of the harbor, but the whales turned around and headed out before that was necessary.

Also near Nawiliwili is the Marriott hotel on Kalapaki Beach. We walked along the beach and marveled at the Marriott pool.
Kalapaki Bay is a beautiful large cresent bay, but we find it rather difficult to get to. There is some public beach parking at the Marriott, but not much. There are also shops and restaurants along the bay, but parking is a problem with them, too. We did eat at Portifino's on Valentine's Day and dinner was very good, as was the view of the bay. We would probably spend more time here if it wasn't so crowded or hard to find parking at.

Of course we spend a lot of time heading south. One of regular places to visit now is Shipwreck beach. Here's a view of the rock from a nearby hotel parking lot. There is a trail going to the top of the rock which we also like to hike.

Also near Shiprock Beach is Poipu Point. We often walk out to the point and watch for whales. It's a quiet, usually empty spot.

In the waters around Poipu Point we often see lots of turtles.

Since our first Napali Cruise was a bit of a disappointment with the high winds and mist shrouded coastline, we decided to take another one. This time we opted for the longer Napali/Niihau snorkel trip. We did check the weather this time and chose a calm sunny day. Even so, the cruise over to Niihau was a bit rough. Snorkeling there was a little disappointing. The water was super clear, but we were anchored in water about 30' deep, so the fish were pretty far away and hard to see. But the topography of the ocean floor was pretty neat. Coming back from Niihau was even rougher as I guess we were going against the current. There were a lot of sick passengers. But we enjoyed the ride.

We also had a nicer view of the Napali then we did the last time, although we still had harsh light coming over the mountains at us.

I decided the best time to do a Napali Cruise must be in the afternoon when the sun is already over the island and behind the ship. But it was still a nice day.

Another interesting little area near the Port Allen marina where the Napali Cruise went out of is Glass Beach. From the small parking lot, it just looks like a rough, not too impressive beach.

Up close, it's made up of tiny pieces of tumbled glass. A lot of crafters collect this glass. Apparently there's a dump off shore nearby that is the source of the glass. There doesn't seem to be as much glass in the last few years. We've heard the dump isn't being used anymore, or maybe it's just being controlled better. At any rate, it was an interesting "beach" at one time.

Another of our regular places to visit is Salt Pond. It's a great place to catch a sunset. The sunset cruisers always pass by this beach on their way back to Port Allen.

Another sunset picture from Salt Pond.

Although we don't go here every year, we have been to Waimea Canyon a few times, too. This time it was a gorgeous day.

At the end of the Canyon road was a closed paved road that led to another view of the canyon. It was such a nice day, we decided to follow the tons of other people also walking along the road and see where it goes. At the end of the paved road was a lookout over the valley to the ocean and then this dirt hill down to some more views.

Pretty much the same view of the valley as near the museum, but on as pretty of a day as it was this day, the walk was nice.

If you walk down the dirt trail from the lookout, though, you also have to walk back up it! Note the little people near the top of the hill.

Back on the paved (or gravel) road, this was pretty much the views there and back. There were a few hills, but not bad. I think the roundtrip was maybe 3 or 4 miles. We even saw some piglets next to the road at one point. Thought that was pretty cool until we realized that probably meant there was a mother boar nearby. Fortunately the piglet ran back into the woods and we didn't get attacked by the mother. I think they opened this road back up to car traffic a year or so after we walked it, not sure of it's status now.

Another place I'd read about was Kipu Falls. Another controversial spot, but we wanted to check it out. It's noted as not being a safe place to park---lots of break-ins happen there, so we didn't meander for very long. The trail took us through some sugar cane fields and brush.

After about 10 or 15 minutes walk we came to the upper river to the falls.

Reminded a lot of the area around Falls City in Oregon. Looked like a neat place to hang out, but we were afraid to be away from the car for too long.

Here is the falls. It's also known as a dangerous place because people like to jump off the falls into the pond below. We've read about many drownings here, too.

Even though the south side is known for being sunny even in the winter, it does rain there sometimes. This was after one of those hard rains that left the parking lot at Poipu park flooded.
Time to explore another new area---Gillin's beach is off an old cane road on the south side. I guess they aren't too concerned about traffic on that road.
Although the ocean along here is pretty rough, it's another beautiful stretch of beach. It's usually pretty windy, too, so we've spent hours watching wind surfers here.

Even the monk seals like to frequent this area.

Also along the cane road is an old sugar cane factory. I'm not sure which factory this is, but as of late in 2009, all sugar cane production on Kauai has ended. It was once Kauai's main agricultural crop. Now the new dominate crop is seed corn. There is still lots of sugar cane growing on the island, but it's mostly wild now.

Heading back north, Kilauea Kong Lung Historic Market Center is a neat little shopping center. One of the shops here is a soap/candle shop where they actually make them. To keep the guys happy while their wives shop, they've designated special benches for them.

As we followed a road through Kilauea and a little east, we ended up on another dirt road that led us down to sea level. I believe this is Kilauea Bay. An interesting looking area, but we didn't spend much time here.

Our final beach for this trip was Anini. A little more snorkeling, a little more relaxing on the beach.
Then we were off to spend a complimentary hour at our condo, then head off to catch our red eye flight. An end to another great vacation and start of another long year until the next Kauai vacation.

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