My Faves: Kauai Part 2

 

Way back when I told you about a few of my favorite things Kauai has to offer.  Here’s a few more.

#7 Kayaking the Wailua River and Hiking to Uluwehi Falls

The Wailua River was one of the most scared places on the islands to the ancient Hawaiians.  Kayaking this sacred river and hiking through the forrest to have a swim in Uluwehi Falls is a must do while you’re on Kauai.

Since we had zero kayak experience, we booked a tour through Wailua Kayak Adventures.  We did the morning tour and went with them because they’re the first tour group out on the water, so we started out with the river all to ourselves.

I’m usually too nervous to do adventurous things, so I was pretty proud of myself for kayaking the river, even though I know it’s not really that adventurous.  I think if Michael and I were on The Amazing Race, we’d do decent in a kayaking challenge.

The guide was full of interesting information and took us on a route through the remains of ancient Hawaiian gardens.

And, of course, we got to swim in a waterfall.

#8 Jojo’s Shave Ice

The best shave ice I’ve had on any of the islands!  Get the Colada Special.  It’s a combination of pina colada, banana colada, strawberry colada, vanilla colada with a macadamia nut ice cream centre and haupia cream topping.  So good!

#9 Kalalau Trail, Na Pali Coast State Park

Originally, the plan had been to hike from the Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Beach and then on into Hanakapi’ai Falls.  Once we got to Hanakapi’ai Stream and saw the crowd of hikers on its bank watching other foolish hikers struggle to cross it in waist deep water, that plan changed.

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The trail has a reputation of being dangerous, and when the stream is above your knees, it’s not safe to cross.  I didn’t fancy getting stuck on the other side or swept out to sea trying to get back across it.  Michael wasn’t too impressed when I made him turn back, but he felt better when we reached the trail head and saw that they had closed it due to poor weather conditions.  At least we had got to hike part of it and see some stunning views of the Na Pali Coast, which is more than the late arrivals could say.  Moral of the story is, start early and check the website for updates before you go.

I am really glad we got to hike the part that we did, and hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to go back and hike into the falls.

#10 Kauai Nut Roasters

Delicious macadamia nuts with so many interesting flavors!  My faves?  Coconut kona coffee and coconut pineapple li hing.  They also have pecans, walnuts, and almonds too.  Oh, and I did I mention they have free samples?

#11 Maha’ulepu Heritage Trail

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I think this was my absolute favorite thing we did on the trip!  One of the most stunning stretches of coastline I have ever seen.  I couldn’t get over the color of the water.  Just gorgeous!

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Starting from Shipwreck Beach, the trail runs 2 miles each way to Ha’ula Beach.  You start out on a lithified sand dune and continue on to secluded coves with interesting rock formations, and even through sacred heiau ruins.  Walk it all, or turn back at any time.  You won’t regret it!

#12 Glass Beach

As an avid beach comber, who was taught from a young age to look for sea glass when walking on the beach, and I heard there was a glass beach on Kauai, I knew I HAD to go.

When we arrived, we actually thought that we were at the wrong beach.  The pieces of sea glass are so small, they really look like sand!  They may have been tiny, but if you looked closely, you could find blue, red, and pink pieces.

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And there just so happened to be a monk seal sunning himself while we were there too.

BONUS:  Of course doing a helicopter ride and seeing waterfalls are also great ideas!

Have you been to Kauai?  What are some of your island favorites?

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My Faves: Kauai Part 1

In March I traveled to Hawaii for the fourth time.  This year,  Michael and I went for two weeks so we spent one week on Hawai’i and one week on Kauai.  We hadn’t been back to Kauai since the first time we went to Hawaii, and on that trip we were only there for three nights, so we didn’t do it justice.

Plus, you can never have to much Hawaii, really.

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Kauai is amazing!  There are so many things to do and beaches to explore, and it’s a smaller island so it’s very quick and easy to get around.  A rental car is a must.

In no particular order, here is part one my favorite things in Kauai that you should check out if you find yourself on the island.

#1 ‘Anini Beach

Beautiful beach on the North Shore.  Crystal clear water.  There was also a view Kilauea Lighthouse on the cliff off in the distance, which we had been planning on visiting but couldn’t because it was temporarily closed.

#2 Waimea Canyon State Park and Koke’e State Park

Waimea Canyon has been called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.  The park offers numerous lookouts with stunning views.

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If you continue on through Waimea Canyon State Park you end up in Koke’e State Park which also has some amazing lookouts offering views of the Kalalau Valley.

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Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the greatest when we were there so we didn’t end up hiking as much as we had planned and some of our views were obstructed, but we were lucky that the mist cleared at the Pu’u o Kila Lookout that we were able to see down to the coast.

#3 Poipu’s Beaches

Poipu offered some delightful beaches, close to restaurants and beach gear rentals.  We spent some time at Poipu Beach Park and were lucky enough to spot some monk seals coming ashore here.

I also unintentionally swam with a sea turtle here!  One poked its head out of the water nearby while I was swimming and I was super excited!  I was also slightly terrified that a shark might be nearby looking for lunch.

#4 Hanalei Valley and Bay

More beautiful scenery from.  There’s a lookout of the Hanalei Valley where you can see the taro fields.  A little further down the road a fabulous view of Hanalei Bay, but there’s nowhere to stop, so drive slow around the turn and take it in!

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Of course, you can also walk along the beach at Hanalei Bay or take surf lessons.  And be sure to check out the Aloha Juice Bar.  I had the most delicious caramel macadamia nut milkshake from there.

#5 Eat Tacos

If I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, it would be tacos.  Kauai seems to love their tacos too, as it seemed like there was no shortage of taco restaurants.  Check out Island TacoTiki TacosAl Pastor Tacos, and Monico’s Taqueria.  Yum yum!

#6 Salt Pond Beach Park

A great place to relax or go for a swim.  For us, it was convenient because it was on our way back from Waimea Canyon and we stopped here for a swim, but it would be a great beach to spend the day at!

Stay tuned for part two of my Kauai favourites!

Hawai’i, the Island; not Hawaii, the State

I’m not sure why I love Hawai’i so much, but I think it has a lot to do with its relaxed vibe.  There’s nothing pretentious about it.  Perhaps that’s why I’m going back there for the third time in March?  And, as I was telling my dad when I was home a couple of weeks ago planning my upcoming trip, I think I may need to go back a fourth time because there is just so much to see and do!

That’s the benefit of going back somewhere you’ve already been.  It’s gives you the opportunity to visit some of the more obscure locations, because you’ve already been to the main attractions.  While I’m anxiously awaiting my next trip, it’s fun to look back at the great things I’ve already seen there.

Hapuna Beach

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Hapuna Beach is only a beautiful 30-45 minute drive from Kona through lava fields, with volcanos on one side and bright blue ocean on the other.  There was lots of parking available when we were there last March.  While I found it a little crowded, Michael loved it there and would be completely happy if this was the only Hawaiian beach we went back to.  It is a very beautiful beach with white sand and gorgeous turquoise water.  I don’t think I’ve ever swam in water so clear.  Oh, and lava rocks!  It is the Big Island after all.  I also enjoyed the whale watching.  The first day we were there, I was walking up the beach and all of a sudden I saw this massive black shape emerge from the water offshore.  It was a humpback whale breaching!  It was amazing!  I don’t think I’ll ever get over the magical feeling of seeing such amazing marine life right from shore.

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach

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Speaking of wildlife, Punalu’u has sea turtles, or honus, as they are called in Hawaii.  That alone would make a beach awesome!  But the other amazing thing about Punalu’u is that it’s a black sand beach.  It’s the first one of its kind I’d ever seen.  The contrast of the colors, between the black sand, blue water, green palm trees, and blue sky, was just unreal.

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Mani’owali Beach

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One morning we stopped at Mani’owali beach.  It’s in the Kekaha Kai State Park, and it’s the only one of the park’s beaches that has drive up access suitable for a regular old rental car.  It’s a little closer to Kona than Hapuna, and just as beautiful, maybe even more so  We didn’t stay too long because it was smaller than Hapuna and started to get crowded.  There also wasn’t any food nearby, and Hapuna is next door to the Hapuna Beach Hotel which has a restaurant.

Java on the Rocks

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View with breakfast

I love having breakfast at Java on the Rocks.  There’s nothing better than drinking Kona coffee with your toes in the sand and staring out at the ocean.  Our last morning there we were even lucky enough to see whales!  My favorite breakfast is the delicious papaya boat with yogurt and granola, and a side of multigrain toast.  Oh the toast!  It’s the BEST toast ever!  There’s no better way to start your day.

Volcanoes National Park

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Halema’uma’u Crater in the Kilauea Caldera

The only lava flowing at Volcanoes National Park when we were there was only visible by helicopter… so we didn’t see any lava.  But the park was cool none the less!  We saw steam vents, walked through rainforest, and had the normally crowded Thurston lava tube all to ourselves.  Definitely a unique experience.

Chain of Craters Road, Mauna Ulu eruption

Chain of Craters Road, Mauna Ulu eruption

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There is nothing like a Hawaiian sunset.  Enough said.

Can’t wait to see you again, Hawai’i!

Wai’anapanapa State Wayside Park

I just packed up my Christmas tree today, had to shovel my car out of its parking spot so I could get to step class, and January is looking like an awfully long, cold, dark month, so I felt like looking at something warm and sunny.  Perhaps you do too?

Let’s revisit Maui, shall we?

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The first time we went to Maui we didn’t have a rental car, so we missed out on driving the Road to Hana.  So when we went back to Maui last March, I knew this time around it was a must see!  There are so many places you can stop along the way, it’s hard to choose.  I knew Wai’anapanapa State Wayside Park was going to be on our list because it has a black sand beach.  And, as I discovered on the Big Island, black sand beaches are just cool!

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This one didn’t have honus, but it did have stunning views and colors so vibrant, they popped as if they were in high definition!

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There were just too many things to see along the road to Hana, and we wanted to make it to the Kipahulu section of Haleakala State Park in time to hike the Pipiwai trail, so we didn’t have as long to spend at Wai’anapanapa State Wayside Park as it deserved.  But what I did see, super impressed me.

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I loved how blue the water looked.  I loved how green the trees were.  I loved the contrast of the black cliffs.  I loved the sea arches were saw.

So beautiful.  Definitely worth the stop!

 

 

Long Time, No Blog

Oh hello there.

No, I did not drop off the face of the earth.  I’m still around.  I’ve just been… busy?

Actually, I don’t know where time has gone.  I had extreme lack of motivation last winter and into the spring which made it hard for me to get out of bed in the morning, let alone keep a blog up and running.

I went to Hawaii (again).  It was beautiful (again).

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Then it was summer and even though my work schedule changed to working every other weekend instead of one in three (womp womp), it meant I had three days off the weekend I wasn’t working.  And lucky for me, both my parents and my sister have cottages next door to each other in PEI… my favorite place to be in the summer.

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I was so glad to be able to spend as much time over there this year because when my dad called me in March and told me my mom’s Alzheimer’s was progressing and he didn’t think they’d be able to go to the cottage for the summer, I was heartbroken and mad at myself for not spending more time with them over there last year.  Thankfully, mom’s medications got changed around and she stabilized again, and they were able to spend the summer at the cottage after all.  It very well may have been the last summer that will happen and I am so grateful for every morning I sat on the deck with her, walk on the beach I took with her, and every ice cream at Frosty’s I ate with her.

So my summer was busy with work and cottage living.

And then September came and I turned thirty.  How did that happen?  Aren’t I still twenty-three?  Shouldn’t I have life figured out by now and be married or something?

Having a milestone birthday is a good excuse to travel (not that I need one).  But it did mean I got the final say in the destination.

And I picked Spain!

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Barcelona, Seville, and Mallorca specifically.  All places previously featured on the Amazing Race.  From now on, I only travel to destinations the Amazing Race has been to.  Just kidding.  But it did help give me ideas.  What really sealed the deal for me was seeing pictures of Park Guell in the Barcelona Lonely Planet book.  The colours!  I needed to see that mosaic lizard.

IMG_7336Also beaches, palm trees, and the Mediterranean?  Sounds like my kind of vacation spot.

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So I’ve recently plummeted back to reality and I’m struggling with the fact that the seasons magically transitioned from summer to fall while I was sitting on a beach in Spain.  Why is it still dark when I get up in the morning and why is it getting dark earlier at night?  What am I going to do when Daylight Savings Time hits?  No more beach going until next year.  Do I really have to pack my bathing suits away?  Arg.

In an attempt to keep the fall blues at bay (I struggle with them every year), I’ve decided I need more hobbies and contact with people.  So my goal is to resume blogging.  It will keep me busy, and let me ramble on to an invisible audience.  That’s sort of like a conversation, right?  Or maybe more like talking to myself…

Welcome back!  Thanks for listening/reading!

How Do I Love Thee Hawaii? Let Me Count The Ways

Are you sick of hearing about Hawaii yet?  I hope not.  I’m not sick of talking about it.

This is the last installment in my two week mini-series about my Hawaiian vacation. This is a list of my favorite things about Hawaii.  They are the things that make me want to go back there.  They are the things that make me smile.

 

1.  Everything is coconut flavored!  Coconut drinks, coconut soap, dried coconut to snack on… it’s all amazing!  Did you know Hawaiian Starbucks have coconut flavored drinks?  Mocha coconut frappuccinos and coconut cream frappuccinos!  Both are SO good, but I loved the coconut cream one more!  I also really loved the coconut pineapple flavored ice cream I had in Maui.

2.  Fresh pineapple and papaya are everywhere!  The pineapple in Hawaii is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!  Hands down, the best pineapple I’ve ever had!  Michael’s been trying to get me to eat papaya for a few years now (it has unique digestive enzymes in it, you know), and I was never really a fan of it until I had some in Hawaii.  Now I love it!  Just slice one of those mini ones in half, scoop out the seeds, and dig in with a spoon.  The ones here at home aren’t as good, but I still like to pick one up at the grocery store.  Eating papayas will always make me happy now because it reminds me of Hawaii!

3.  Sun, sand, and surf.  I am such a beach bum and the beaches there are beautiful!  I could watch the waves in Kona forever!  I want to decorate my house (when I eventually have one) in the color scheme I shall call ‘Ka’anapali beach’.

4.  The friendly people and their Aloha spirit.  Everyone we met in Hawaii was so nice!  We had many an great shuttle or cab driver.  The hotel staff were awesome.  The airport security guard even made a phone call for us when our shuttle wasn’t there to pick us up.

5.  The beautiful scenery and flowers.  The views are stunning everywhere!  Oceans, palm trees, volcanoes, waterfalls, lava rock.  It’s all beautiful!  And flowers everywhere!  Plumeria are now my favorite flower.

6.  Palm trees.  I think I need more palm trees in my life.  That’s definitely what the beaches around here are missing.  Do you think one could grow in the Maritimes if I planted it?

7.  Sunsets.  I fell in love with sunsets in Hawaii, and that love affair continued on to Maui.  I’m looking forward to trying to capture some sunsets around here this summer.

8.  I felt safe.  I loved that I was on a tropical vacation and could venture off on my own without worrying about getting caught up in some drug war shoot-out by accident.  I also loved that I didn’t need to brush my teeth with bottled water and I could eat all the fresh produce I wanted without worrying it would give me Montezuma’s Revenge.

9.  Flip flops and shorts.  I’ve decided I don’t like wearing pants or shoes.  I much prefer to feel the sand in my toes and the breeze on my legs.

10.  Outdoor dining.  I LOVE eating outside!  I love being able to feel the sun on my face.  And throwing in a pretty view or a sunset doesn’t hurt.  Bring on patio season!

 

As one of our shuttle drivers said, “Go home. Work hard. Pay the bills so you can come back here.” That’s what I hope to do.

 

This vacation made me realize that although vacations are a great source of happiness for me, I need to do a better job of finding happiness in everyday life, because as much as I want to, I can’t be on vacation everyday.  I feel inspired to look for the beauty that’s all around me.  I may not live in Hawaii, but there are still some beautiful places close to home.  I also want to try to incorporate some of the things I loved about being on vacation into everyday life, like eating papayas, not being a slave to Facebook/internet, and trying to eat at more outdoor patios this summer.  And if all that fails, I have souvenirs.  They’re a great way to take a bit of wherever you’ve been with you to where you’re going

 

What’s your favorite vacation that you’ve taken?

Maui, Paradise Found!

I heart Maui!

Hands down my most favorite part of the trip!  Ka’anapali beach is by far my favorite beach that we went to in Hawaii.  The water was so pretty!  I have never seen water so clear.  I loved the colors of the ocean here.  The water transitions from a deep blue out far to turquoise, and then to light blue closer in, paired next to the beautiful sand.  I could have stared at that ocean forever!  The camera doesn’t do it justice

To top off the view, you can see the islands of Molokai and Lanai in the distance.

We stayed at the Royal Lahaina (owned by the same people who own the Royal Kona, which we stayed at in Hawaii) in West Maui.  It was about a forty-five minute drive from the airport, but it was a very pretty drive.  Much of it was along the coastline so I could do more ocean staring.  We passed by so many beach parks with surfers and paddle boarders out in the water.

Our days in Maui were spent sitting on the beach.  The perfect way to end the trip!  If we’d had more time, there’s so much touring I’d like to have done in Maui, like hike to the Iao Needle or drive the road to Hana.  But after two weeks of touring around, I just wanted to relax and enjoy the fabulous beach!

And wanna know the best thing about the beach??  WE SAW HUMPBACK WHALES RIGHT FROM SHORE!!  In all the time I’ve spent at the beach over the years, I’ve never seen that before.  It was so special!  I saw a whale jump right out of the water!  At one point there were probably about three whales out there, playing around.  They hung around pretty much all afternoon.  It was awesome!

Michael and I broke up the beach sitting by going to a luau and on a sunset sail.

The luau made me want to learn how to hula dance!  Although I’m pretty sure my butt and hips can’t move like that.  The fire dancing finale was pretty awesome!

And those whales I saw from the shore?  They were probably the same whales we saw later that day on the sunset sail!  That was an AWESOME bonus.  It wasn’t even a whale watching tour, but we followed the group of about three whales up the Maui coastline.  And the little baby (little being a relative word) kept jumping out of the water.  I’ve been whale watching in the Bay of Fundy, but this was way better!  I’ve never seen anything like it before.  And then to top off the cruise, we got to watch the gorgeous sunset while one of the crew played the ukulele and played the Over the Rainbow song.  The whole experience was so special!  I felt so happy and at peace.  Now if only I could feel like that everyday…

The hotel was awesome and I highly recommend it!  I loved their coconut-lime scented bath products.  I loved that they offer yoga classes some mornings with a natural ocean soundtrack and beautiful views.  I loved the little coffee and ice cream shop that was on the property that made the best strawberry papaya smoothies and macadamia nut coffee.  I loved having breakfast on the lanai of our hotel room and staring at the stunning view (which included humpbacks one morning).

Hmm… I wonder if they need pharmacists in Maui??