Tuesday, April 5, 2011

3 Days in Kauai

In late March we took a few days out of our busy 'preparations' schedule to fly over to Kauai for a whirlwind visit.

Dave and I at Hanakapi'ai Falls in Kauai

We would really have liked to take Soggy Paws over and stay for a month, but that just isn't in our plans. The best time to actually cruise the Hawaiian islands is in the calm summer months, and by summer we plan to be in Tahiti and Bora Bora instead. (To see our updated cruising plans: Click Here)

First, a few specifics of getting there, where we stayed, and the costs involved:

- We flew Island Air from Honolulu r/t for $150 each
- We stayed at the Kauai Sands hotel for $70/night (this is an older slightly downtrodden resort, but has perfectly reasonable accommodations--clean enough, decent beds, hot water, fridge in room, convenient location)
- We rented a car from Budget for 3 days for $44/day (incl taxes)
- We took a helicopter tour with Island Helicopters for $170 each

Our first few waking hours in Kauai were inauspicious--we visited McDonalds (breakfast and internet), Walmart (bought some "slippas" (Hawaiian for flip flops)), and Costco (bought Lunch), but after that, the rest of the visit was awesome.

Two of the 3 days we were there, we spent most of the day hiking. The first hike was in the Kalalau Valley (all the way to the end of the end of the Waimea Canyon road, and then on the trail to the Pihea lookout and down to the Kawakoi Stream). The drive up was really nice and we made several stops at lookouts to take pictures, and ate our Costco lunch at one scenic overlook. We didn't get on the hiking trail until after lunch, so we did have to hustle some to get all the way down to the stream. But once we turned the corner at the Pihea lookout, we were the only ones on that that trail, and so had the whole lush place to ourselves.

One of the great vistas along the Pihea Trail

We got back to the car in enough time so that we made it back down to the beach road in time to catch the sunset, and drive out to the Barking Sands Missile Tracking Station before dark.

The second hike was out on the Napali Coast (to the end of the road at the east end of Kauai), and we hiked all the way into Hanakapi'ai Falls. (The first picture above is at the falls). I actually got Dave out of bed at 6am to get on the trail early, so we'd have time to make it all the way to the falls. We were almost one of the first people at the falls, and got to go swimming before it got overrun with hikers (brrrrr!)

The 3rd day in Kauai we drove around--stopping at the old lighthouse and making many stops along the road between where our hotel was in Kapa'a and the roads end at Ke'e. We again grabbed a salad at Costco before setting out, and had lunch on a picnic table in famous Hanalei Bay, watching the surfers and the tourists.

Awesome View of the Napali Coast from the Helicopter

For our anniversary, Dave booked us on a one-hour helicopter tour of Kauai, and though it was pricey for budget travelers--it was the highlight of our trip. After calling all 5 helicopter tour places, we settled on Island Helicopters--partially on price and availability, but also because we had gotten a couple of recommendations from people about them. They originated the Kauai helicopter tour business over 30 years ago, and are still offering a fantastic ride for a good price. Dave negotiated us into the front seat of the helicopter and we got some great photos. The benefit of the helicopter tour is that there is so much of Kauai that you can't see by car, and it was awesome being able to hover in remote valleys. As we flew over various places, our pilot commented "There's where they filmed the water fall sequence in Jurassic Park 2..." etc etc. (lots of movies have been filmed on Kauai).

Jurassic Park Falls from the Helicopter

It was a great trip--wish we'd allocated more time--I'd love to go back to Kauai some time and do some more hiking and enjoy the beaches at a more leisurely pace. It's far enough out of the normal tourist circuit that it has a much more laid back flavor to it than Oahu does.

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