Kauai, Hawaii – Part 1: Days 1-3

I met hubby in 2011 & and married him in 2012.  We decided to take a delayed Honeymoon to the Big Island in 2014 and loved Hawaii so much we’ve decided to retire there [someday].  Which meant we needed to check out the other 3 major islands to see which one we liked best 🙂  So in 2015 we traveled to Maui, in 2016 we traveled to Oahu, and this year we traveled to Kauai.  The Big Island is still our favorite, but we also really like Kauai & Maui.  Oahu was our least favorite, only because it’s so crowded.  The Big Island has ≈ 50 people per square mile whereas Oahu has ≈ 1,675 people per square mile.  We also like the Big Island best because it has volcanoes, lava, snow, mountain goats, 7 climate zones, mongoose, geckos, the Saddle Road, and the best swimming/snorkeling beaches we’ve experienced yet, with the exception of Hanauma Bay on Oahu which is in a class by itself.

map of the hawaiian islands        

We stayed in the Kapa’a area of Kauai, which is on the East side.  The island is so small it only took an hour & a half to drive around the bottom perimeter to the West side, and an hour & 20 minutes to drive up North to the Princeville/Wainiha area.  There are no roads traversing the middle of Kauai or along the NW side of the Island.  Because of the mountains, only 10% of the island is accessible by car.  They filmed Jurassic Park on the NW side of Kauai which gives you an idea of what that part looks like!

We woke up on our 2nd day in Kauia to this ominous weather advisory from the National Weather Service:  HIGH SURF WARNING FOR NORTH AND WEST FACING SHORES OF KAUAI IN EFFECT UNTIL 6 THIS EVENING. LARGE BREAKING SURF…SIGNIFICANT SHOREBREAK…AND DANGEROUS CURRENTS MAKE ENTERING THE WATER VERY HAZARDOUS. ANYONE ENTERING THE WATER COULD FACE SIGNIFICANT INJURY OR DEATH.  Awesome… Every beach had multiple red flags out.  It was so weird to drive by beaches and see no one in the water!  There were always lots of people on the beaches, but no one swimming.  It was cool to just sit & watch the waves, though, which we did from numerous beaches & shore spots:

        

       

        

There were of course SOME people thrilled with the dangerous conditions, like surfers:

        

And kite boarders.  I sat at the beach at our hotel and watched this guy for half an hour – he was going SO fast!  And when I looked closely at my pics I realized he was mostly kite boarding one handed – crazy!:

        

This was the first time we stayed at a hotel right on the beach.  It was pretty sweet!  Our room didn’t have a water view [we’re too cheap for that], but we did enjoy spending time in the shaded lounge chairs [as I’ve mentioned before, one thing I LOVE about Hawaii is that 90% of the beaches have shade trees] and eating at the hotel restaurant with our toes in the sand:

        

        

We were told by a waiter that scenes from South Pacific were filmed at our hotel beach!  The warning sign at our hotel beach cracked me up – I totally want the jellyfish part on a t-shirt:

       

We found out later in the week from the snorkel rental dude that the jellyfish referenced in the sign are actually Portuguese Man O’ War!  WOAH.  He got tangled in the tentacles once [which can be up to 165′ long!] and his first thought was “Why am I on fire???”  Glad we missed those…

        

Our hotel sponsored free yoga lessons on the beach 3 days a week, which hubby participated in.  I opted to take photos instead [because lazy]:

        

The cat you see is named “Yoga Kitty” and was a feral cat living at our hotel.  Apparently he shows up for every yoga lesson.  He was friendly and he let me pat him, but not for long.  A woman feeds him every day and he sits in her lap and purrs.  We saw him lounging in the underbrush another morning:

On our 3rd day we finally ventured away from Kapa’a and drove to the South side of the Island where we saw Waimea Canyon.  We didn’t hike down into it [because hot & lazy], just viewed it from a highway overlook.  Beautiful!:

Then went to the Kauai Coffee Plantation where hubby bought lots of coffee & hammed it up for some pics:

       

After that we decided to check out Poʻipū Beach, which is one of the more popular beaches on Kauai.  We heard it was protected from the waves by a natural coral reef, so we might be able to swim.  When we arrived we realized there was an endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal sleeping in the sand!

        

He was surrounded by a roped barricade with signs assuring people he was just sleeping and not to get too close.  There was a volunteer sitting in a beach chair next to his area who told me monk seals hunt all night and then spend the day on the beach “resting & digesting”.  Most don’t choose such populated beaches, but this 3-year old male was a regular:

        

Look at that little face!!!  I took these with my zoom lens:

        

The volunteer dude told me there was a 2nd seal way up at the other end of the beach – I got a pic of him with my 300mm zoom – a much older & much fatter seal:

Because the beach was much safer than most, we did do a bit of swimming, which was wonderful!  The beach is kind of boomerang shaped, and both sides were safe, but right in the middle there were a bunch of rocks & red flags posted.  Every now and then we heard the lifeguards on their loud speakers yelling “To the people swimming in front of the red flags, please move to the left or right – it’s not brain science, people, the red flags are there for a reason, to keep you safe!”  Right when we were about to leave we heard the life guard on the loud speaker again, but this time he was yelling “give the turtle some room, people, let her come up onto the sand!”  So of course we raced back down to the beach and saw this amazing sight:

        

The seal volunteer had people move back and told us that she’s a 70 year old green sea turtle, and every afternoon she and a companion come up onto the sand to sun bathe.  We didn’t see the 2nd one, the guy said she’d probably be up sooner or later, and after watching the first one for a while we left.  Such beautiful creatures!

We ended our afternoon by visiting the Spouting Horn, a blowhole in the lava that sends the surf shooting straight into the air with a loud boom [first pic by Jim]:

        

My favorite part of the blowhole visit was the wild chickens, roosters, & chicks everywhere:

        

        

We came to learn that Kauai has a HUGE population of wild chickens, due to 2 hurricanes that slammed Kauai, one in 1982 & one in 1992, which released most of the domestic chickens into the wild where they have flourished because no predators.  Apparently you can’t eat them or their eggs, though, as they are tough & disgusting.  Ew.  But we loved hearing the roosters crowing all over the place and the chickens and chicks which had no fear of humans and would walk right by you or stand and stare at you.

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10 Comments

  1. Still working on getting Eric to take me to Hawaii, and this makes me want to go more than ever! Love Yoga Kitty, the sleeping seals, and green sea turtles (which we learned about in Florida)!

  2. Each island an experience.
    Jede Insel ein Erlebnis.
    Liebe Grüsse

  3. What an amazing trip! I need to go to Hawaii. Your vacation was much warmer than mine!

    • I know it – but we didn’t get to ride behind sled dogs or see the Northern Lights! I would love to do both someday!

  4. thanks for sharing, Ali! i love the ‘90% of beaches with shade’ – that might actually sell Julie on a trip to Hawaii!

    if you find/make a jellyfish t-shirt, plz make one for me too!

    • That’s one of my favorite parts of Hawaii – every Island we’ve been to has beaches lined with shade trees. And if there are no trees in the sand, then there are up above in the grass – most beaches have a grassy sitting area right above the sand line. It’s pretty neat! But a lot of beaches have trees right in the sand. Not just palm trees, but big huge trees with tons of leaves. It’s a rare beach that doesn’t have any trees. There’s usually a bunch of people crowded into the shade, but there’s always room for a few more 🙂

  5. This was excellent – a really great presentation.
    For people, like us, who’ve never been to Hawaii, the maps and descriptions really put the islands into perspective! It’s all SO incredibly beautiful!

    • It’s amazing! An incredible state. It doesn’t feel like you should be able to get there without a passport. The people that live in Hawaii [we’ve talked to some over the years] love to island hop between the islands – apparently you can get very cheap flights sometimes. So cool!

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