Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Our Lifestyle Adventures: A Wet Aloha in Kauai, Hawaii's Garden Isle

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Our Lifestyle Adventures: A Wet Aloha in Kauai, Hawaii's Garden Isle

a wet Aloha welcome
We landed in Honolulu at 6 pm under heavy rain. Oh no! The Hawaii sun will be absent during our 17-day Hawaiian getaway, and I had nothing but tank tops and shorts! The hotel shuttle took only five minutes to bring us to our rest for the night. Alas, the pathway leading to our room was flooded so we went to the Chinese restaurant on site for some hot food. Good that, after dinner, the water had receded, and we went straight to our room and bed. Our flight to Kauai was at 5 am the next day!  
Topographical map of Kauai
Kauai is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian Islands at 563 square miles, almost as wide as it is long. It is also the fourth most populous with more than 65,000 people, after Big Island, Maui, and Oahu. We landed at Lihue Airport on the East Shore. Although the rains had not stopped, we were welcomed by the Welcome Landmark on Kuhio Highway. Aloha means a combination of Alo, sharing in the present, Oha, joyous affection, and Ha, life or breath of life. I felt surer of a good time in Kauai.


Filipino Memorial
Too early for check-in, we proceeded to downtown Lihue.  At 7 am nothing was open except McDonalds. Good thing they served spam and eggs, the traditional Hawaiian (and Filipino) favorite. I just knew I was going to love the food in Kauai! After breakfast, we visited the Kauai Museum, just a stone’s throw away. Beside it was the County Courtyard. On one side stands a Memorial to Japanese settlers while at the other, the statue of Jose Rizal, our national hero. The two nationalities comprise Hawaii’s top immigrants.

When we got to Pono Kai Resort, our room was ready. It was a one-bedroom unit, the most spacious of the Diamond Resort timeshares we had been to thus far. We were on the ground floor, and the living room led to the exquisite tropical garden surrounded by about twelve buildings of four floors with about twenty-four units each. In the middle of it all, there was a pool, jacuzzi, and lanai. Towards the front were two tennis courts, a putting green, and a fitness center. Behind the last row of condo buildings, a lovely beach was waiting for Bill and me. Everywhere you can see chickens running around!
Our building in the background, Pono Kai Resort
Opaekaa Falls
They say Kauai has from ten to a hundred waterfalls, depending on how hard it rained the day before! Since it had been raining hard, the next day we trekked to see the nearest one. It took only 15 minutes to get to the Opaekaa Falls, 150 feet high, fondly called the Lace Falls because of the delicate pattern the falling waters create. It was a bit far from the Lookout Point though so the second one excited us more, just another 10 minutes away, 80-foot tall Wailua Falls. It was right there below the bridge, and the mad rush of water was truly thunderous that day.
Wailua Falls
Wailua Heritage Trail
The East Shore is called the Royal Coconut Coast. It stretches between the Wailua Golf Course, heading north along the coast to Kealia Beach and up west towards Mount Waialeale. Acres of coconut trees are along the coast and Highway. Even the golf courses preserve them. The area includes the sacred Wailua River, and the Wailua Heritage Trail is host to many heiaus or holy places for the Ali’I, Hawaiian royalty of the former Hawaiian Kingdom.
Golf course on Royal Coconut Coast

at Ke'e Beach
The next day we proceeded to explore the areas along the highway to the island’s northernmost point accessible by car.  It was a two-hour drive from Pono Kai to Ke’e Beach. When we got there, we found huge uprooted trees lined the beach. They must haves been gradually felled by the crushing waves that have been clawing at the island’s coastline. On the way to where Bill parked the car, we also found what they called the Wet and Dry Caves. The former had a river running through it; the latter didn't.

Wet Cave
The Heart of Hanalei
But alas! We could not find Tunnel Beach. Later, we were told you can only get there by a walk on the beach from Ke’e. So we gave up.  On romantic Hanalei Bay, the Ching Young Village is a favorite stopping point. We sat down at the ubiquitous LL Hawaiian Barbecue to sample another local favorite. Wow! The pork laulau, pork steamed with luau or taro leaves, was delicious!

Kilauea Lighthouse
tandem bike
Next stop was Princeville where Kauai’s plush resort hotels like St. Regis, Westin, and Wyndham were located. At the entrance to the exclusive village is a huge water fountain with quite a statue of Neptune. Just before turning south on Kuhio Highway, we came upon the Kilauea Lighthouse, on a short spit jutting out from a high viewpoint.

It may still have been raining off and on. But we had a great start to our Hawaiian exploration. On our last day, we rented a tandem bike (I still cannot ride a bike) and traced the Eastern coastline from Pono Kai to Kealia Beach. Bill’s legs got a great deal of exercises!

at Kealia Beach
It may have been a wet Aloha to the Hawaiian Islands, but it was, as always, a great Aloha! After all, rain is just water from heaven. And in Hawaii, it isn’t wet-cold!

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