Tuesday, March 14, 2006

2006-Our 5th Kauai vacation, Tim and Faith's 2nd, Dad's 3rd: Kauai Museum; Queen's Bath; Limahuli Garden; Sleeping Giant hike; Smith's luau; Kukuiolono Golf Course; Napali cruise;

We usually go to Kauai the end of Feb./beginning of March, but this time, we went the end of Jan./beginning of Feb. As I recall, this was the year they had really devastating rains in March. But while we were there the weather was really beautiful for our 2 weeks.

We had visitors most of these 2 weeks. Part of the time they were even overlapping. Since we had the 2 bedroom unit at our Kauai Beach Villas resort that my dad went in on with us, he stayed with us and Tim and Faith stayed at the Kauai Coast Resort at the Beachboy in Kapaa for the first 5 nights until Dad left, then they joined us.

One of the things we did with my Dad before Tim and Faith arrived was to go to the Kauai Museum in Lihue. In it is a permanent display of art and artifacts of Native Hawaiians. While we were there they also had a beautiful exhibit of hand made quilts and a photography exhibit--not sure if those are permanent or were special exhibits. The building was built from 1922-1924 as a public library in memory of Albert Wilcox by his wife Emma. When the Albert Spencer Wilcox Memorial Building became too small for it's library collection, and changes to buildings on the National Historic Register can't be made, a new library was built in 1969 and the Wilcox building soon became part of the Kauai Museum. I think admission at that time was about $8@, but it was an interesting museum in a really beautiful historic building.


Since Dad liked hiking and photography, we also took him on the short Queen's Bath hike. As I mentioned in my 2005 blog, the Queen's Bath area is very dangerous, especially in the winter, so when we do that hike, we make sure it's at times of low tides and surf and dry weather. (and we don't get near the edge like the people in this picture!)

Last time we really didn't even know which pond was the "bath", but we decided this is the actual bath. It looked rather calm at this time, but there were still large waves that did break over the outter wall on several occassions. After a short look around, we headed back up.

It is a moderately easy hike, but there is a spot near the lava shelf that is a bit tougher, as seen here in this photo. Again, if it's raining, this would be really hard to walk up or down.
For more moderately easy hiking, we took Dad to Limahuli Gardens near Kee. It is one of the 3 National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kauai (Allerton and McBryde are the other 2) and the 2nd one we've been to (see McBryde Gardens in my 2005 blog). In Hawaiian, Limahuli means “turning hands,” which recognizes the ancient Hawaiians who built agricultural terraces out of lava rock and planted kalo (taro) here some 700-1,000 years ago. Admission is $15.

We did the self guided tour at Lumahuli. More like a park setting then a formal garden, it was an interesting and fairly easy walk. Historical markers were placed throughout the garden.

I loved the garden's setting with the mountain peaks as a backdrop. The loop is only 3/4 miles long, but we managed to spend quite a bit of time here.

Before Tim and Faith arrived, we checked into their condo at the Kauai Coast Resort and checked out the grounds.



The rooms are very tastefully decorated and the grounds are beautiful.



They were given a handicapped accessible unit.


I loved the non-rattan island furniture.



The heated pool was really nice.





We finally made it to one of the farmers markets. Now we make a point of hitting them early in our trip and usually again near the end. Love the exotic fruit, especially the apple bananas! I also love being able to buy large bouquets of tropical flowers for about $4.

Tim and Faith even had fun making hand puppets out of the rombutans.

Back to our resort---Kauai Beach Villas, we like to walk the deserted beach. Not a good swimming beach, but great for walking.

At low tide, there are usually large tide pools along "our" beach.

Just another rainbow near Kapaa.
One of our regular spots is Lydgate park. Snorkeling there can be really great. There have been a couple trips when we weren't able to swim in Lydgate (usually after a big storm and the pond fills with drift wood), but when it's clear and the surf is down we really enjoy hanging out there. There are several schools of fish there, plus we usually find other sometimes really unusual transient fish that end up in there for a short time. I've seen fish in here that I haven't seen anywhere else.

Even Dad enjoyed snorkeling here. Although he actually said what he really enjoyed was watching the ever changing designs on the sandy floor from the shadows of the waves.

Since Tim and Faith are hikers, too, we all did the Nounou trail (or Giant hike) which starts out of Wailua. This is a semi-strenuous 1.75-mile hike (each way) that climbs 1,000 feet above sea level. There were parts of the trail that were a bit challenging, such as here---

But most of the trail was pretty managable. At least when it's dry.

Along the way we were treated to gorgeous views of the coastal areas of Kapaa, Makahela Mountain, and Mt. Waialeale. Here's a view looking back towards Kapaa.

Here's another one of the more challenging parts of the trail.



At the top of the Sleeping Giant, there's even a picnic table. Tim and Faith even found a video recorder tape along the trail. We were surprised that it fit into an adapter I had at home and it actually played. Quite an interesting tape of a hike to a waterfall and also of lots of trucks at some sort of mudding games going on somewhere on the island.
Of course we had to take Dad to a luau. So off we were to Smith's Luau for Ken's and my 3rd time, Tim and Faith's 2nd time and Dad's first luau. I would go there every trip if I didn't need an excuse to get Ken to go. I love the garden as well as the performance and the food.
And I get to take portraits of my "kids" again!

In the back ground is the sleeping giant that we had just hiked.

And here's our group picture at Smith's.
Something the "kids" did that I couldn't talk Ken into doing was the kayak trip up to secret falls. They said it was a lot of fun. Looked like it here! They did say the wind was against them on the way back which made the paddling tougher near the end of their excursion.

Along their hike to the secret falls they came across this vine covered area.
Down on the south shore we stopped at Glass Beach, again, to show it to Tim and Faith.

With Faith being a coffee connoisseur, we also stopped at the Kauai Coffee Company in Kalaheo. It started out in the early 1800s as McBryde Sugar Company. In 1987, McBryde Sugar Company transformed into the Kauai Coffee Company. Today there are a 22,000 acres of land owned by the company. In 1996, Kauai Coffee’s harvest exceeded that of the entire Kona region. Along with sampling and a gift shop, they also have informative videos and photos of the process of coffee production.
Can't go that far south without a trip to Salt Pond. This area may not look like much, but it can be a great place to snorkel and is deceivingly large when you're in there. There can be a pretty good current running near the shore, though. It's fun to the ride the current, then swim back up along the rocks checking out the sealife.

Tim and Faith found a couple friends to pose with here.

Tim and Faith are also golfers, sort of. They had read about Kukuiolono golf course on the south side of the island and wanted to give it a try. Originally built as the personal golf course of sugar magnate Walter D. McBryde, Kukuiolono is now a 9-hole public course. Perched atop a hill overlooking the ocean, the scenic park and golf course offers a panoramic view of the southwestern portion of Kauai. McBryde donated the course and adjacent land to Kauai's people in 1919.

It has fewer hazards than other Kauai courses, but this is one of them. It's hard to see from this picture, but there is a wide deep gulley between the tee off and putting area.
Also unique about this golf course are the extra wide fairways, great for beginner golfers. I even thought of giving it a try, but it was rather busy there that day. They like to send at least 4 golfers out at a time, so they were paired up with another couple. We were allowed to walk along, but warned not to venture too far from the golfers. I've taken lots of pictures of golfers at home for work, so know how to stay clear of flying golf balls.

There was a bit of a wait for their turn to play, so they hit the driving range while they waited. Can't beat this view for a driving range!

Their greens fees were only $7 @ for the day. They only did 9 holes, but if they wanted to, they could have gotten back in line and gone again on that $7. There are electric carts for $6, but they rented hand carts for a buck or two.
Another one of our favorite places to visit is the remote, rugged, and beautiful Mahaulepu beach. With it's typically strong winds, it's a neat place to watch windsurfing and kite surfing. On one of our trips, we actually hit an unusually calm period and were even able to snorkel there. But the snorkeling was rather disappointing, hardly any fish where we were.

We also love to sit out at Shipwreck Beach and watch the activities going on there. We've seen weddings taking place there, as well as lots of boogie boarding and surfing. It also seems to be a place people like to go for shore fishing.

One of our highlights of everyday, is catching sunset or just marveling at the rays of sun streaking through the clouds.

Back up to the north shore with Tim and Faith. The weather was sunny, unfortunately the surf was up. We got a kick out of the ocean being closed.

Even if I can't get any snorkeling in here, I still love to go to Tunnels. It's my favorite view on the whole island.

Just north of Hanalei is where another of the farmer's markets are held. Since we were there at the right time, we stopped and got more treats. Here they were drinking the coconut water. After the liquid was gone, they went back to the vendor who cut the coconut open so they could eat the coconut meat.

After all our "guests" had left, we had another day or 2 by ourselves. Since we had toured Kauai Coast Resort (as part of the deal for the rate I got for Tim and FAith's stay there), we had some activity money to spend. I still wanted to get a good view of the Napali Coast from a boat, so we booked another catamaran tour (our 3rd, so far). This time we went with the sunset cruise figuring the light on the Napali would be better then in the morning (when the sun rises over the mountains and washes them out). We also checked the forecast for a few days and picked the day with the best weather before booking the cruise---something I highly recommend for a Napali cruise in the winter. This time we weren't disappointed. The views of the Napali were outstanding.

We were able to go the whole length of the Napali and even into a couple of the caves.

The jagged peaks of the Napali are really something to see.

Since we're always there in the winter, we also are there during whale season. The Napali Cruise is a great whale watching tour, too. I lucked into being in the right place at the right time here. The whales around Hawaii like to do a lot of breeching. They can put on quite a show!
Thus ended another great vacation in Kauai. Instead of getting tired of vacations here, I'm looking more and more foreward to them.

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