|Waimea Canyon, by car|
Most of Kauai is accessible by car. Aside from the East and North Shores I wrote about in my last post, the South Shore and the Waimea Canyon are, too. However, The Napali Coast in the Northwest can only be reached by either boat or helicopter and, at the island’s center, the crater of Mt. Waialeale and the waterfalls featured in Jurassic Park are reachable only by helicopter.
|the tree tunnel|
South Shore is completely accessible by car. First stop was the Kuloha Plantation where Koloa Rum was conducting hourly tastings of pineapple, coconut, and mai tai mix, etc. The amazing thing was Jamie, the bartender! She remembered all of the names in our batch of six couples! Then, we saw another amazing thing as we turned left from Kuhio Highway. The Tree Tunnel is about a half mile of 150 eucalyptus trees that formed a magnificent canopy over Koloa Road. Just a few minutes away we chanced upon Old Koloa Town, and we stopped for lunch. We sampled another local dish, Kahlua Pig with Cabbage. This dish is made from slow-roasted pork (like lechon) that is shredded and then mixed with cabbage.
Further down into Poipu, we went to the National Tropical Botanical Garden but did not have enough time for the long tour. Nevertheless, we were glad we made the short visit because we saw the amazing tree with multi-colored bark by the entrance. Almost just across the street from the Garden, we found what is called Spouting Horn, a system of black rocks on the water, a hole in which howled as the onrushing waves spouted up to about 100-feet high! A little further away we visited the Kauai Coffee Company, and there found another amazing thing by its entrance: the Autograph Tree. It is a rubber tree whose leaves have been etched by names of couples. Of course, I etched “Bill and Carol” in one!
Just about thirty minutes from Poipu, we turned into Waimea Road. It seemed we had been transported back to Arizona! When we reached about 1,000 feet in elevation, the coast had an amazing layer of pinkish clayish color before the blue and green of the ocean. This is due to the presence of a great deal of to the volcanic soil around. At 5,000 feet in elevation, a Little Grand Canyon emerged. What an amazing thing! There were even cacti around! We took pictures from every lookout and, from one of them, we could even see a waterfall from a distance.
As we continued further on the road to the Kokee State Park, evergreens started to appear. Soon we were at the Wettest Spot on Earth! Of course, it was raining there! Amazing! On the way down, we had snacks at The Lodge. Then we turned west on the side road to Kekaha, hoping to find Poli Hae, supposedly the most amazing white sand beach in the islands. But we couldn’t find our way there. So we ended the day with just Captain Cook’s monument in Waimea, Hawaii, just before the road up the Canyon. Captain Cook landed on Kauai in 1776. Another amazing thing!
I have never ridden in a helicopter before. But they said 80% of Kauai is not accessible by car. So we booked a one-hour ride with Safari. It was spendy, but I was afraid to be by myself so Bill, even if he had done the tour fifteen years earlier with his second wife, had to come with me. At the start, it was scary as the chopper gyrated and whirred into action. Soon, however, awe overtook fear. Bill, who also flies planes, was right. The beauty of the earth is incomparable from up in the air! And he made sure we were on the front seats by paying $25 surcharge for those premium seats.
From up in the air, Wailua Falls seemed grander, the waters around the different beaches displayed more hues, and you could see whole mountain ranges, including the Sleeping Giant whose photo I could not capture in its entirety from the roadside. I finally got a glimpse of the Tunnel Beach and all the other beaches and bays we just passed by on the road. And I saw the grandness of Waimea Canyon. I was clicking the camera once every five seconds. Bill was in charge of taking videos. It was truly breathtaking up there!
|Jurassic Park waterfall|
But what amazed me most were Napali Coast, the Mt. Wai ale ale Crater, and the waterfall featured in Jurassic Park. These I had no other way of seeing them but by helicopter (Napali could have been seen by boat, too). One of the very first things we flew over along the Hoary Head Mountain Range into the Hanapepe Valley was the Manawaipuna Waterfall, commonly known as the "Jurassic Park Waterfall. Too bad we could not go in another more expensive helicopter tour would have done that! Then the Napali Coast, including the Cathedral Peaks, were just spectacular. No wonder no roads can be built there! Finally, the helicopter flew us right into the crater of Mt Wai ale ale. It was like a no man's land, but my photo even included another helicopter in front of us!
|Wai ale ale Crater|
What a ride it was! It showed in an hour that Kauai is an island of varied ecosystems, from tropical rainforests to desert landscapes. It is also an island of romance and adventure, of delicious food, and of beautiful plants and animals. Flowers don’t just grow on shrubs; they grow on trees! No wonder they call it the Garden Isle! We may not have seen dolphins or whales or turtles but we spotted many egrets. Besides, chickens were everywhere! Now I know why Bill likes Kauai so much. Now I do, too!