2014 Kauai Doings

When we got to Kauai on July 1st our mission was to find our long term accommodation. We found our Kauaian beach house on July 4th. From then on we were free to enjoy "our beach vacation from our full time retirement vacation." As we were driving the island looking at places to stay, however, we ogled the gorgeous views. With the temperature in the 80’s° Dimitri happily warmed up.
The sea views were stunning on Kauai
While we were staying in Princeville at The Cliffs 5106, we rented bikes and circum-navigated Princeville. 
At the end of Princeville near the St. Regis, with Bail Hai in the distance
The bikes were "beach cruisers" and the braking was done with our feet. That was tough to get used to. Princeville is pretty and manicured, with a golf course that is supposed to good. The area, however, could be a tropical resort anywhere in the world. This was not the Kauaian beach vacation that Dimitri had in mind.

Another day, we used The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed by Andrew Doughty, Wizard Publications, to help us find a hike. We chose the Powerline off of Kapaka Road near Princeville. 
The Powerline Trail
As usual, we started our hike around noon. It was very sweaty! We needed to start earlier or get used to inland island humidity!

During the summers of 1979 and 1981, Dimitri rented a bungalow on the beach near Haena. He knew that it was about 3 miles from Ke'e Beach because he would jog there from his bungalow. One day we drove the area looking for Dimitri's bungalow. We think we found the bay near Alamoo and Alealea Roads. The house had been completely re-built and the bay was now chalk-a-block with one house on top of another. The area on Aliomanu Road in Anahola was much more the kind of place Dimitri remembered, liked and wanted for our stay this time around.

Once we were in our long term accommodation, we started exploring the Anahola area. We walked the Aliomanu Beach in front of our bungalow towards the Anahola River and talked to people along the way. 
That's Audre on the beach in front of Aliomanu Road with the profile of King Kong and the spear of Kalalea Mountain behind her
We met Randell in the morning fishing under a tent. We told him where we were living and asked him to come by in the afternoon if he wanted to sell us a fish. As we walked on, we came upon a group of kids cleaning the beach of heavy ropes, nets and other flotsam and jetsam. Later we saw an article in the free Mid-Week newspaper about the kids. They came from all over the USA and were doing projects in Hawaii.

We also met up with a large group of people pulling small fish out of a big net. They called them "holy mackerel". They would not take any money and gave us three of them. Audre marinated one with lemongrass, lemon and white wine and broiled it. It was delicious and enough for dinner.

Randell, his son, his grandson and a friend in fact came by our house and brought us a very large fish. It was absolutely fabulous. They would not take any money for it. We provided beers and appetizers and we sat around getting to know each other.
Randell, a fisherman on Aliomani Beach gave us a fish he caught and Audre made it "en papillote" in our oven.
For lunch one day, we had one of the mackerel fish "cook it raw" style. It was even better raw than cooked.

Speaking of food, have we mentioned how expensive food is on Kauai? It is gaggingly expensive. Even things like milk which are produced on Hawaii are at least double in price than the same item would be on the mainland. A Hawaiian lemon costs 3 times what Audre would pay in Colorado. Oh yes, and the cost of gasoline; it's about 30 to 50¢ more than it was in California when we left--$4.79 a gallon. Wow. The only thing that was less expensive on Kauai than in Colorado or California was wine. It was decidedly cheap. 

We were very good tourists. We hiked the Pihea Trail in Koke'e State Park. We didn't hike far that day because it got slippery and muddy. We talked to people who went farther and it was very muddy, they said. We saw gorgeous views of one of the Na Pali valleys, with the sea beyond. The trail wasn't crowded and there weren't any mosquitoes.
The Kalalau Valley from above (see the snap below to get the view of it from the sea)
On our way to Koke'e, we drove up the Waimea Canyon Road. The views of the canyon were magnificent. After seeing Canyon Sinforosa, Copper Canyon and the Grand Canyon, this canyon was small but very pretty. We ended up driving 130 miles round trip. That was too much in a day.

We were told by our friends the Laughlins that if we stayed in a remote location on Kauai we would be forever on the one highway (56 or 50 or the Kuhio Highway). We were not often stuck in traffic on our way somewhere from the north eastern town of Anahola. Coming south into Kapaa we found the bypass road. It went from the north end of town to Wailua. Andrew Doughty in The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook, Kauai Revealed says about the bypass road: "All the land around the bypass area was for sale some years back. Kauai residents were worried that someone would buy the 1,400 acres and develop it, connecting Kapaa to Wailua and creating a big-city feel. Entertainer Bette Midler (a part-time resident) bought it instead and promised never to put anything other than trees on it." We appreciate Bette Midler every time we use the pretty road.

Once we had a kitchen we started visiting the farmers markets otherwise known as "sunshine markets". Kauai is called The Garden Isle for good reason. There is lots of agriculture on it. Audre loves to live in a place with fresh fruit and vegetable grown there. Throw in local fish and she is really happy. Audre just had to accept the high the prices.

We went as far as Kalaheo Sunshine Market one day and another day we went to the Waipa Farmers Market north of Hanalei. After we found the Wednesday afternoon farmers market in Kapaa, we only went to that one. It was very big; we found everything we wanted there. Also it was not far at all. Audre cooked about three times a week and we went out the other days. Click here to read our restaurant reviews.

Dimitri loves sugar cane and its juice. At one of the overlooks on the way to Koke'e State Park, there was a truck selling drinks, juices and fresh, cleaned sugar cane. This is the first time we had seen sugar cane on Kauai--a place that used to grow it everywhere. Dimitri bought a small container of it for $4 and thought it was delicious. At the Kapaa Farmers Market, we found stalks of it for $1. We were happy to clean it ourselves but we needed a sharp knife. The only place we found that sharpened knives was on Google (we telephoned Ace Hardware and other places recommended but no one sharpened knives). The one on Google was called Rob's Sharp-All Service, 4451 Piiwai Pl,, Koloa, HI 96756, (808) 742-1762 but no one answered the phone. One day when we were going to Lihue anyway we put the address of Rob's in our Garmin gps. We arrived at a home on a dirt road. After calling out, a man came out and said that he was retired. He reluctantly agreed to sharpen our knives and hardly charged us anything. While Robin was working on our knives, we talked to his son, the chef at Living Foods, The Shops at Kukui’ula, 2829 Ala Kalanikaumaka, Koloa, HI, tel. 808-742-2323 96756 (http://www.shoplivingfoods.com/?r=) . It turned out to be a fun chore.

At the Kapaa Farmers Market we found custard apple (cherymoya), watermelon, mango, papaya, guava and pineapple, as well as sugar cane. All were delicious. The vegetables were so fresh they leapt off of our plates and into our mouths. We both love mangoes and the absolute best were at the Anahola Farmers Market (on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays). They were not stringy and were intensely flavorful; reminiscent of Alfonso mangoes from India. They were called Haden mangoes. There was one that was similar called Rapozo. It was sweeter but the mango taste was not as intense. The mangoes growing in Anahola--even the ones we found on the ground were absolutely fabulous.

We bought lychees and longans at the Kappa Farmers Market and had "taste offs" to decide which we liked more. Longans generally won by a minuscule margin.

We decided to rent mountain bikes and Dimitri found John (166 Wailua Rd, Kappa, HI 96746, 808-822-2796, http://kauai.backpage.com/VacationForRent/35-3br-recreational-equipment-rentals-by-the-week-bikes-sup-surfboards-snorkel-golf-boogie-boards/4702123). He rents bikes, surf boards, kayaks, snorkel stuff and much more. He is professional, friendly, helpful and a good guy. We made a deal to rent bikes for a week ($35 each), then a kayak for the following week ($125) and he waived his delivery fee. We went on excellent bike rides. After our bike rides we would go for a dip in the ocean outside our apartment and then use the outdoor shower downstairs to clean up. It was great!

Our first ride was from our Aliomanu Road house to the beginning of the Ke Ala Hele Makalae bike path in Kealia Kai estates. It was a little over 4 miles on the main highway but the shoulder was wide enough and it was not scary. Once we were on the bike path it was smooth sailing down to the Kealia Beach and Kapaa. We went as far as Waipouli, past the end of the bike path. On the way back, there was something wrong with Audre's K2 bike and she might as well have had a ball and chain around her leg. Dimitri figured out that one of the break pads was rubbing against the front tire. He disconnected the break on the uphills and re-attached it on the downhills. Audre made it home and felt like a hero--we had done a total of 19 miles that day. John came over the next day with the correct wrench (which we didn't have) to fix the bike. 

The Ke Ala Hele Makalae bike path is fabulous. It has great views and is close to the water. It is slated one day to come all the way to Anahola!
Dimitri on the fabulous Ke Ala Hele Makalae bike path
Another day we road our bikes from our house north to Larson's Beach. We road about 4 miles north on the main highway from our house to Koolau Road. After going about 2 miles out of our way, we found the beach access road off of Koolau. On the remote nudist beach there were old men hanging loose and one stunning young woman. We saw shearwater birds fishing there (like the ones in our bay outside our apartment). That day we did a total of 17.4 miles.

On that bike ride, we found a perfect and perfectly ripe mango under a tree. With mangos at the farmers market costing $2 each we felt like we had struck it rich. One of our longer bike rides was from our Aliomanu Road house south to Kealia Road. We turned toward the Anahola Mountains and had a great view of them, up close. When the road turned south-ish, we could see the Makaleha Mountains near Kapaa. We got to the Spalding Monument, commemorating the sugar cane baron. It was fitting that we make a pilgrimage to a monument to a sugar cane baron--Dimitri loves fresh sugar cane.
Audre at the decrepit Spalding Monument to the sugar cane baron
We took Hauaala Road at the monument and did a fabulous descent to Kapaa Stream where we stopped to have our picnic lunch.
Lunch at Kapaa Stream on our bike ride
From there we stayed on Hauaala Road to Mailihuna Road to the Ke Ala Hele Makalae bike path at Kealia Beach and home. It was a 4 hour ride and 16 miles total!

Our last bike ride was when we biked to Papa’a Bay through many “No Trespassing” signs and, even so, on we went. Evidently the producer of the movie 6 days/7 nights used the bay to film a scene and liked the location so much he bought all 171 acres. We saw a lovely stream with a waterfall there. Eventually, we were confronted by polite goons who unceremoniously threw us out.

After a week with the bikes, John came to our house with our Ocean Kayak. The first day we went out, we just stayed in our Aliomanu Road bay area testing our strength. We were inside the reef and did great. The second day was not such a success; we did everything wrong.

We were kayaking toward Anahola Beach Park and knew that the reef ended before the park. We wanted to stay inside the reef for protection. We were doing fine and feeling confident when, all of a sudden, we were engulfed by a big wave and we overturned. We both survived without getting hit by the kayak and we dragged the kayak up to the beach. A woman came running to help us—that was Theresa. We were discussing our options when she went back to her camp ground and came back with her friend, Mel. They got ropes (actually dog chains that clamped onto the kayak). The four of us dragged the kayak back to the area where the reef started. We launched and stayed inside the reef on the way back home. We don’t know what we would have done without Theresa and Mel. We were disoriented and the kayak was very heavy—even dragging it in the water was difficult and fraught with danger when it slammed into one of us as a wave broke at the shoreline where we were dragging it. We made it back home safely—no credit to us though. We found Theresa and Mel later at their campsite and brought them a bag of longans as a gift. Mel's partner Pua invited us to Sunday dinner!
Us with our rescuers, Theresa and Mel
We should have been angled off of the wave, away from the way it was breaking. We were parallel with the waves. To make matters worse, we didn't realize how much force they had. The last time we did ocean kayaking was in 2006 in Tahiti Iti. There the reef was big and, inside it, we felt very protected. And, our bay was calm compared to the one in front of our Aliomanu Road house. Also we were 8 years younger. (Our kayak was kept near the stream at Teahupoo, the world famous surfing beach on Tahiti Iti. We felt confident enough at that time to kayak out to where the surfers road the waves, staying on the inside of the reef all the while.)

We took a day off after our spill and then went out again with our kayak. We stayed in front of our house in our Aliomanu Road bay but there was a storm coming and the ocean was choppy. We got tired quickly. We don't know how far we went because Audre's MAPTAQ watch got waterlogged on our previous day's outing. It never did dry out in a bag of rice. Audre had a Pyle heart rate monitor and gps watch shipped by Amazon to our Aliomanu Road apartment and it turned out to be exactly like her old watch.)

The ocean in front of our Aliomanu Road house was a little cold for us. We would wait until we had done some exercise and were warmed up before going in. We think that the ocean might be more pleasantly warm in October. We have now seen jelly fish in our ocean; Audre even got stung. Maybe swimming in ocean on Kauai isn't for us.

The 5 days leading up to the weekend of August 8th and that weekend was dominated by Hurricane Iselle and then Hurricane Julio. We survived. Click here to read about it. A really great side effect of the hurricanes was that the nights were cooler; during the nights after the storms the temperature went down to a more comfortable 75°. Dimitri almost used a blanket! On the Sunday night after Hurricane Iselle we had a clear night and saw the supermoon on the 10th of August.
The Supermoon
One day we rented kayaks from Kayak Hanalei (5-5070-A Kuhio Highway, Hanalei, Kauai 96714, tel. (808) 826-1881, e-mail: kayakhanalei@gmail.com, web:http://kayakhanalei.com/). We decided to go after 2 p.m. because of the discounted price (regular 2 person kayak rental price was $60; after 2 it was $45). We kayaked for 2 hours up the Hanalei River, about 4 miles.
Audre in the front of the kayak on the Hanalei River
The first mile was right by the highway. It was kind of noisy and Audre smelled petrol. After the bridge it was much nicer and quieter. We saw one interesting bird but no turtles. After 1 hour, the river was too shallow to kayak (as we had been warned) and we turned back. It was pretty; Namolakama Mountain was in a dark cloud, however. Would we recommend it? Well no. It was a little boring compared to ocean kayaking but without the drama.

We hiked the Wai Koa Loop from the Garden Cafe at Common Ground 4900 Kuhio Rd., Kilauea, HI 9675). It is listed as one of the Kauai Northshore's Top Five Best Hikes, although it is possible to rent bikes and do it that way. The part of the Wai Koa Loop that we did was 4 miles and it took nearly 2 hours. The brochure that was available at the mountain bike rental shop at the Mini Golf said that the path was brought to us by the generosity of Bill and Joan Porter (Wai Koa Plantation). It is truly lovely and the Stone Dam Lookout along the way is very pretty.

We highly recommend a hike to the Secret Lava Pools near Secret Beach. We followed the directions in The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed by Andrew Doughty, Wizard Publications. We drove from Anahola and took the first left on (eastern) Kalihiwai Rd. Then we took the first right on the dirt road, and went to the end of it. It is also known as Kauapea Beach. Andrew Doughty says:

"Near Kilauea, it’s about a 10 minute walk down the path to Secret Beach 200 feet below. Once at the bottom nearly everyone is attracted to the large, beautiful beach section to the right. The most unusual part is to the left. Walk along the sand until it ends. Some lava rock may make further progress awkward, depending on the surf and tide. Beware of getting slapped by a rogue wave here….

"After about 500 yards, a large channel/tide pool filled with small fish much of the time makes a fascinating diversion.

"About 600 yards to the left of where you first encountered Secret Beach at the bottom of the path (it’ll seem like more because of some awkward footing), you’ll come to one of the most perfect bathing pools on the island. Over 6 feet deep in one place, cut off from the ocean’s waves during low to moderate surf, the calm, clear and beautiful water beckons. Oh yeah. Life is good."

There are even waterfalls to shower off with (although the rocks around them are exceptionally slippery. So we soaked in a lava pool, showered off under a waterfall and ate our lunch sitting on towels on top of lava rocks. Then made our way back to our car. What a great day. We even saw the couple (on their honeymoon) who were staying at Da Fish Shack next door to us. They were on Secret Beach and so we could tell them about the fabulous Secret Lava Pools that they should hike to!

We decided to have Kaitee and Eron, the couple who were staying at Da Fish Shack next door to us, over for a dinner party. It was really fun.
Kaitee and Eron with Dimitri having apéritif chez nous
We bought and brought home dinner from Sukhothai Restaurant (Kapaa Shopping Center, 4-1105 Kuhio Hwy., Kapaa, Kauai, HI 96746, tel. 808-821-1224). It was good enough. After the Thai meal, we were eating longans and lychees. Eron called longans "dragon eyes" and showed us how he had been taught to open them. He squeezed them and popped them open. Much easier than the way we had been doing it--trying to saw the tough shell open with a serrated knife. 

The sunset tour of the NaPali coast exceeded our expectations (Na Pali Coast Hanalei Tours, 4489 Aku Rd., Hanalei, HI 96714, tel. 808-826-6114, www.napalitours, e-mail: info@napalitours.com. $159 pp = $318). There was no snorkeling or lunch involved—pure sightseeing. Our narrator, Ryan, was personable and gave us enough nuggets of information to be entertaining. Ron, the Captain, was very good. At one point he twirled the boat around to show us a perfect rainbow with a sailboat at the end of one side of it. It was so large we couldn’t get a photograph of the whole thing. Dimitri chose NaPali Coast Hanalei tours because of its small boat, which they called UFO. It was comfortable but fast and small enough to get into the caves. We had originally scheduled the tour for Saturday, August 16th, but the captain cancelled because the sea was too rough. On the following Tuesday when we went on the excursion, the Captain said that the sea was about a Number 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 in calmness/roughness.

The NaPali coast is one of the most beautiful (and inaccessible) coasts in the world. The sheer cliffs descending into the ocean that are covered with multiple colors of green and the green-covered, chiseled ribbons of mountains are awesome.
The chiseled contours of the NaPali Coast are unusual and gorgeous
When we got to the wide Kalalau Valley it was very exciting because we had seen the same valley from above when we hiked on the Pilhea Trail in the Kokee State Park (see the photo above, from above).
The Kalalau Valley from the sea
It was thrilling to get as far as the Open Ceiling Cave. Dimitri had remembered it as fabulous from his 1981 trip to Kauai. We even saw people on the Kalalau Trail and camping on the Kalalau Beach! To top off our sunset excursion, we had a gorgeous sunset on the way into the Hanalei harbor!
Our sunset tour of the NaPali Coast provided us with a gorgeous sunset
We don’t get to see sunsets from our Aliomanu Road apartment—it faces northeast. We were very glad we did this sunset tour. 

One day, we walked to Waiakalua Beach and saw 2 Hawaiian Monk Seals. That was a treat. The beach was 160’ below along a narrow, scary trail of about 250 yards. Audre's new Pyle gps watch recorded that we had walked 1/4 of a mile to the beach but it took us 25 minutes at .06 mph! Waiakalua was an undisturbed, serene place to spend the afternoon with 2 Hawaiian Monk Seals. (To get there we drove north and turned on North Waiakalua Road. We took the dirt road on the left side just before the end of the road. We parked when we couldn’t drive anymore and walked the trail off to the left.) 

We decided to take a helicopter tour of Kauai based on Andrew Doughty in The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook, Kauai Revealed saying: "Going to Kauai without taking a helicopter flight is like going to see the Cistine Chapel and not looking up." Dimitri chose Blue Hawaiian Helicoper Tours (3651 Ahukini Rd., Lihue Heliport #8, Lihue, HI 96766, tel. 800-745-2583, 808-245-5800, www.bluehawaiian.com). We spent $421.30 for the two of us for the helicopter ride, plus $26 for video. Have a look at the video (in 5 parts):

There were 6 guests (not the maximum of 7) on our flight. Our pilot, Brad, was knowledgeable, entertaining and a good pilot. The flight was all that it was cracked up to be and we were glad we took it. Seeing the NaPali Coast from the air completed our Kauai experience. Having a look at the walls of Waialeale Crater up close was awesome. Each part of the island was beautiful. Audre’s new Pyle gps watch said that we were in the air for 55 minutes and did 95 miles at 102.3 AvMph.

We decided not to hike Sleeping Giant or the Hanalei 'Okolehao Trail (highly recommended) because both are inland. Our experience was that hiking inland trails was too sweaty to be fun.

Have a look at all of our Kauai photos by clicking here.

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