Exploring the Garden Isle and All it has to Offer
Inspired by the majestic mountains, an emerald blue ocean and muddy rainforests, we set off on a 10 day adventure through the oldest high island in the Hawaiian archipelago. Almost two years to the day, my wife and I sailed away from the Hawaiian Islands on our small 37 foot boat after sailing to Mexico, the Marquesas, the Tuamotus and exploring all the Society Islands of French Polynesia. The allure and excitement of the Polynesian culture keeps us coming back for more.
We begin our adventure travel by checking into a timeshare in Princeville, the Wyndam Ka ‘Eo Kai. Set on the outskirts of the legendary Princeville Makai Golf Course, our room overlooked both the Pacific Ocean and the golf course, providing a spectacular view. The incredible lanai virtually wrapped around our entire third floor temporary residence.
Eagerly anticipating some adrenaline, we set off early the next morning after having an amazing breakfast in our own kitchen. We ventured to the small and picturesque town of Hanalei where quaint little shops dot the sleepy road and a handful of tourist saunter around with greetings of, “Aloha!”
Years ago I brought my daughter to Kauai and we made a cute video for her elementary school, featuring the famed, Flat Stanley. We took the little guy on an adventure to the Queens Bath, so on this trip, my wife and I wanted to relive the previous trip. After trudging through the muddy jungle bush, we made it to the lava-rock coastline. The waves were enormous and the Queens Bath looked more like a cauldron than a tepid pool. Little did we know, that as the beachgoers left, the lifeguards closed the beach at the trailhead. Before we knew it, we were the only one’s watching the turbulent ocean show. It was amazing to have this whole stretch of splendor all to ourselves.
Getting up before dawn the next day, we headed off to Waimea Canyon State Park to hike the Awa’awapuhi Trail. This hike has an elevation change of 2,126 feet in just under four miles one way, so our legs got a full workout, both going down and coming back up. The scenic view was worth it though. As we peered down the monolithic green and red mountains, we could see little dots on the ocean, which we would later find out, were the catamarans of our upcoming sailing voyage.
Kipu Ranch Adventures
Feeling a little too relaxed and having the, “need for speed,” the next day we headed over to Kipu Ranch Adventures, just outside of Lihue. Our amazing 4X4 guides, Jason and Marlon gave us a briefing on how to safely drive our “top shelf” Kawasaki TERYX side by side, for our VIP Triple Trail Expedition. Mud and dust flew everywhere as we drove through rainforests, ventured onto the plains where movies, such as Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean were filmed and we slowly meandered among the cattle, since this is a working ranch as well. During the excursion, our guides stopped several times to give us background on the ranch, local Hawaiian history and provided us with an amazing snack of local fruits and banana bread. We topped off the trip with an amazing side-trip to a private waterfall situated near a pristine bamboo forest.
Craving some beach time, we explored Secret Beach the following day. The trail down, like most trails in Kauai (the rainiest place in the world – in the mountains) was slick with mud, so we wore our hiking running shoes to protect our feet. Once on the beach we headed left and found our own little nirvana. The little sandy cove was all to ourselves, and not only that, as the ocean water cascaded over the volcanic rocks, it created a perfect little pool in the sand and we had our own salty bubble bath with no one around. Oh, the bliss.
Dakine Hands Acupuncture
Wanting to be the best husband I can be, I scheduled my wife a massage with Flora Freeauf of Dakine Hands Acupuncture. My wife was instantly amazed at the service she received. Flora has her Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine and she is now going for her Doctorate, so she spent time assessing and diagnosing issues to provide the best treatment possible. Flora’s compassion for her local and visiting clients is evident by her never-ending smile and positive attitude. After the session, Melissa felt lighter, more refreshed and empowered to take the information Flora provided to continue her healthy lifestyle.
Capt Andy’s Sailing Adventures
Getting up before dawn once again (easy to do, since we were on California time) we headed out to Port Allen on the other side of the island to go on our anticipated Capt Andy’s Sailing Adventures. We were met with a very professional staff and boarded one of two 65’ catamarans, the Southern Star. Heading out to sea with our amazing Captain Tony, he pointed the large sailboat north for our Star Na Pali Snorkel BBQ Sail. We slowed several times to get a close up look at the spinner dolphin, the green sea turtles and the waterfalls inside caves, cascading into the deep blue waters of the Pacific. The fleet of catamarans are powered by some serious engines to make their way up the coast, however these are true sailboats and the captain and crew love to sail. At the northernmost point of the island, the Captain reversed course and hoisted the mainsail and brought the jib out to sail downwind, wing on wing. It was beautiful.
Stopping midway along the Na Pali Coast, we moored up to a hidden buoy and jumped into the warm Hawaiian waters to explore the rocky reefs. Instantly, you could hear the schools of fish munching on the coral and algae from deep below. One of the guests excitedly yelled through their snorkel, “Turtle!” and newbies and seasoned aquanauts swam over to investigate. Minutes later, the conch shell sounded and we all knew that lunch was being served. Slowly everyone withdrew from the oceanic world to indulge in some beer, wine, burgers and chicken. All of the food, even the buns, are made from scratch and the taste shines through. Dolphin, waves and views of nearby Niihau followed us back to the marina to conclude our voyage.
Best Hiking Trails
Rounding out the rest of our stay, we ventured off to several other beach hikes including, SeaLodge Beach Trail which was right down the street from our timeshare and Hideaway Beach Trail which offers a Swiss Family Robinson feel and some of the best snorkeling in Kauai. Some of the trails we went on may be challenging for children, so we wanted to offer a trail that we thought would be perfect for the less adventurous.
The Wai Koa Loop Trail in Kilauea is perfect for children. The trail is good for all skill levels and is primarily used for hiking, walking and mountain biking. You should sign the waiver at the Anaina Hou Community Park, which is being renovated and includes a putt-putt golf in a botanical garden setting.
We did, however, save the best hike for last. My favorite trail in Kauai has to be the Makaleha Hike. This hike is rated as hard and it lives up to its reputation. Even with a map, we had to backtrack several times to find the correct trail. I live for adventure and this hike checked all the boxes. It was challenging, full of new scenery including; thick bamboo forests, traversing rivers, using vines to climb down steep sections and of course, finding hidden waterfalls. This hike was the perfect end to a perfect tropical sojourn.
If you have any questions about our trip, please let us know. Also, we will be releasing videos of these adventures and more on our YouTube Channel: TheAdventureTravelers