The flight to Kauai was looong: about 45minutes. The scheduled flight spent longer time taxing and boarding than actually flying in the air (20mins). We were not seated together so that we had some privacy (Hawaiian Airlines thought so apparently). Yinru spent some time playing candy crush and Roman was busy talking to a blondie sitting next to him. I bet he bribed Hawaiian Airlines to make such seat arrangement…
After arriving at Kauai Airport we were taken by car rental shuttle to collect our car for the following 7days. We had to queue up for one hour to get our car! We got a very American rental car Buick. (mumbles… who would buy that other then Americans? You rarely see it in Europe or Asia at least). As usual the car rental tried to sell us all insurances possible but we did not fall for it. We have Allianz Travel Insurance anyways (really a good product, and we are not saying that because Roman works for them).
Kauai is a little bit easier to explore than Oahu – it is smaller, more laid back and does not have so many streets. You basically have to know to go left or right and then you are on the right track! We chose to stay at Kapa’a for our entire stay because it is sort of located in the middle of the one and only loop highway around the island which makes it strategic to explore the whole island. We arrived at our Hostel which is managed by the owners family who also lives on the same compound. The hostel was pretty much made up of a dated building from the 60s in classical American wooden and another house which is built after the hurricane in 1992. The houses look fragile but cozy and family style. Many of the houses in Kauai survived the major hurricanes in 1982 and 1992, but some did not. Kapa’a was a historic town itself as it has several old buildings which survived the hurricanes. The owner jokingly said the buildings built back then were more solid because they used more cement and materials than needed as they have just experienced hurricane prior to building the buildings. Well we don’t know if that is true, but one thing we know is that if hurricane hits during our visit, we should stay in this top solid 60s building!
Our first day trip in Kauai was to explore the north shore of Kauai. We stopped at a lookout point which overlooked the valley and the traditional taro plantations the Polynesians once brought to this islands. Then came an old hippie lady (in her 60s maybe) who asked us if we smoke weed. After rejecting her weed offer, she came to us 5minutes later to ask for a lift. As kind as we were, of course we did (hoping that she would offer some free weed and smoking it in the car). It is not difficult to understand why Kauai is called the garden island, along the way there was just beautiful garden island scenery with lots of hills, mountains and greens everywhere (although this is only true for one side of the island which enjoys rainfall – the south west is dry and almost deserts like. At the north shore we got to see how locals enjoy their weekend at the beach with bbq grill, floating plastic castles for the kids and heaps of food: pizzas, chips, ice cream, steaks… Oh boy one had a full box of different chips and Yinru was so jealous! As we were in the neighborhood already we decided to do a detour to the Na Pali Coast even though the weather was bad. No wonder, being one of wettest places on earth with annual rainfall of 12m (10x the amount of where we live in Switzerland), Na Pali coast just has lots of rain. We wanted to check out the condition to hike. When we were there we saw many hikers who came back from their hike looking muddy and completely soaked from the rain. We were quite unsure if we should do it just in case if it rains during the hike it could be very dangerous as it becomes slippery and flash floods could occur. But we will see…
Having explored the northern part from Kapa’a seen, on Sunday we decided to do the other direction, the southern part of the island. We gave some Canadian girls a lift to a beach and we were quite surprised by how “influent” their English is. In Quebec, Canada, French is spoken and English is rather a foreign language for them. After dropping the ladies off, we visited Lawai International Center. It offered some interesting insights into Japanese/Buddhist beliefs and the spiritual place. Some of the volunteers there were Christians or of other beliefs, but they all worked hard together to keep this place alive and even spent one whole year building a temple there. If only everyone in this world puts their differences aside and work for the better of the world, our planet would be a much lovelier place. We chilled out at Poi’pu beach afterwards. This place was so sunny whilst the other part of the island were just cloudy. We saw a turtle just at beach feeding and a monk seal drying on the shore.
Being a Swiss, Roman has a habit of checking the weather. Sometimes it is good that we can plan our activities accordingly but sometimes Yinru would like to be more spontaneous. In Kauai Roman’s habit has proved to be a good one once again. On Monday when the weather was bad it was a day for laundry, some shopping and short visit to soso spectacular waterfalls. We decided to keep the exciting Na Pali Coast hike for Tuesday, when the weather was forecasted to be good. The wait for good weather was worth it. The weather conditions were perfect (though hot) to hike at Na Pali coast. We arrived at the park and had difficulties to find a free parking spot around 10am. There were so many people there to either hike or to visit the Ke’e beach! After finally parking our car at some odd but legal spot, we started to hike along this rugged and beautiful coastline. The target: a hike to waterfalls that is 8 Mile return (about 13km). That was one of the most challenging hike ever due to the trail setting that cuts through rough jungle with numerous stream crossings. For the last half a mile we literally had to half climb. The view at waterfalls was rewarding. We had a refreshing bath at these gigantic, over 100m tall falls. It was a tough but worthy hike, especially when you are constantly entertained by good (butt) views as some teenies were hiking in underwear. Well, why not? The hike cost us our last energy on the way back in the evening sun. In total we spent more than 5hrs walking, crawling and climbing covering over 13km and 800m in height.
Our last two days on Kauai were well spent. We had a day trip to Waimea Canyon, which is also known as the Grand Canyon of pacific and a famous movie scene from Jurassic Parc. The Canyon offers stunning views in all colors. We had to stop multiple times on the way simply because it was so beautiful. However we were not so lucky with the view on Na Pali coast from this side of the island. The view at lookouts on 4’000ft coastal viewpoints were all covered in clouds. Well maybe next time we will come back again when the clouds are nicer to us. Our last day on Kauai was spent on beach on north shore. We had a snorkeling day at tunnels beach with one of the highlights of the trip: snorkeling with dozens of turtles! We felt like we won the lottery when we saw so many turtles while snorkeling! They were feeding on the planets between the rocks and were not shy when human swam a little closer.
After spending one week on Kauai, we are heading to the next island, Maui. The airport at Kauai was not worth mentioning at all other than their chaotic, inefficient check-in process… Kauai had been really nice to us. Let’s stay tuned and see what the next island, Maui has to offer!