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Kauai trip report, 4-26 through 5-9 (Long)

Boston, MA
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Kauai trip report, 4-26 through 5-9 (Long)

A sample of photos at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/snorkelupagus/

My flight out 4-26 was uneventful. The first leg (Boston to San Francisco) the flight was completely full, and the (big) guy sitting next to me in the center seat had on a sweater that not only kept him warm, but slowly baked me since I couldn’t get far enough away from him. The other leg (San Francisco to Lihue) was only a third full, so I had an entire row to spread out. Ahhh, such luxury! Long flight, but as long as I don’t run out of stuff to read and my MP3 player’s batteries hold out I can deal with it. Got to Lihue about 5pm, and to my condo at Poipu Crater about 6:30

Thursday morning, I woke up early, encouraged by some tropical bird outside my window. I went over to the Marriott Waohai to buy their coffee, steal their Wi-Fi, and pick up a complimentary newspaper. Then it was off for a walk along Shipwreck Beach to the rock promontory at the end, and then along the coast a little ways. I went to the State Parks office in Lihue to get a good map to plan my hikes and see which trails were still closed from the rains in March

Thursday afternoon I did my first hike. It’s a trail called Milolil’i, and it’s off the western side of Waimea Canyon. For the most part, the hike was through the forest, but at the end I came out onto a small overlook that was spectacular. I also found some mountain goats already there, trying to enjoy their lunch. They all ran away over the edge of the cliffs. Of course, I paid for this hike sorely (figuratively and literally) as it went straight up the ridge back to my starting point. Altogether, about 7 miles and 3,000 vertical feet.

I spent most of Friday 4-28 hobbling around after my hike on Thursday. I hit several of the beaches around Poipu, sunning on Shipwreck, did some snorkeling off Poipu and Lawai Beaches. In the afternoon I went up to Scotty’s BBQ in Kapa’a to meet up with some other TA’ers (portomarie, kwils11,julie_wirth). There ended up being six of us, and we had a great dinner there. The restaurant is very low key, with several tiers of tables so everyone gets a wonderful view of the ocean through the two double-wide garage doors they open up. Everyone agreed the restaurant does their barbecue right.

Saturday the 29th, I got up early and headed back up into Waimea Canyon to see what else I could do to my knees. My goal was to do the Pihea Trail over to the Alakai Trail to Kilohana Lookout to see Hanalei Bay on the northern part of the island. I wasn’t able to beat the rain though, so I turned back after getting to Pihea Vista. Based on this experience, I will soon begin circulating a petition to formally change the name from Pihea Trail to “Red Dirt Shirt Factory Tour Trail”.

On the way back down along the canyon, I noticed the clouds beginning to come in as fog, and made a quick stop to take a picture of Waipo’o Falls. Watching the fog come in to the canyon and begin to obscure the waterfalls was amazing, similar to how the fog rolls in to San Francisco through the Golden Gate.

Saturday night I was off in search of Mexican sustenance. At Taqueria Nortenos, I was able to get two nights’ worth of food for less than $10! It’s takeout only, so you place your order at this tiny window cut into a building, watch them build your dinner and then cart it away. Great stuff…

Sunday the 30th, I traveled up the east and north shore beaches for body surfing, snorkeling and sunning. I hit Kealia, Anini, Haena and Tunnels. Snorkeling was an absolute blast, especially Tunnels. On the way back, I drove up to where the dam break was in March. If was very sobering to see the devastation and imagine how the water must have just careened down this small gully and stripped everything. From there, back down south to move to the Marriott Waiohai.

Reading the Sunday paper, I got some bad news: Brick Oven Pizza was closing that night for renovations. So, the Mexican food got put on hold and placed my order for a pizza.

Monday, it was back to the north shore in the afternoon (hung around Poipu in the morning) to go to Hideaways Beach in Princeville, and then to the end of the road to Ke’e Beach for sunset. Sunset didn’t disappoint. Long drive back though, back top the hotel around 9:30.

Tuesday thje 2nd, time to head back up Waimea Canyon for another hike, this time out the Awa’awapuhi Trail. It was a lot of fun, but much more crowded than other. On the 7 miles I hiked, I saw 9 people, including one guy literally running the trail!

Wednesday I did the Birds in Paradise motorized trike flight. Anyone who gets a kick from flying has got to do this tour. Gerry the owner did a great pre-flight prep with me, and we took off from Port Allen a little after 7a.m. and headed up into the canyon. You can’t bring a camera, but I got a DVD movie of the flight and Gerry took a few stills as well. Swooping in and out along the canyon walls must be as close as anyone can get to flying, and it’s not something I’ll forget any time soon. Watch out for Gerry’s guard chicken, though.

Thursday and Friday were chill-out days, alternating between Poipu and western shore beaches and the Waohai’s hammocks. Friday, I did 9 holes at Kukuiolono Golf Course. You can’t beat their prices, and luckily I only keep track of how many golfballs I lose when I play so it was a fun outing. And no chickens were injured in the playing of my round…

Saturday the 6th, I went up to the Kilauea Lighthouse for their 93rd anniversary open house. As a part of the celebration, they were giving lighthouse tours, and I’m always a sucker for a factory tour so I went through. They took a small group at a time into the lighthouse, and took us from the ground up to the top. I’d never thought about it before, but they described how the light revolved before electricity came there. The lens weighs 7000 pounds, and there was a 250-pount counterweight like for running a grandfather clock that ran from just under the lens to the ground through a tube in the center of the lighthouse. Every 3 ½ hours, the lighthouse keeper had to rewind this thing, every night.

Saturday night, I went out to the southwest “corner” of the island to Polihale Beach for sunset. Pretty cool, although it was very crowded. There were probably almost 8 people along 3 miles of beach! This is a wonderful place for sunsets. Just take your time on the ride in and out as the road leaves a little to be desired in the quality department.

Sunday afternoon, I did a helicopter tour of the island with Inter-Island, my first doors-off tour. The helicopters take only 4 passengers, and I was able to get the righthand seat in the back. There was a couple up front, and then a pilot-in-training in the left rear seat. This was such a cool flight, very different from my ultralight flight and another unforgettable experience. Being able to lean out and take photos literally straight down gave me some great photos. And not having to worry about reflections off windows was another bonus.

Sunday evening, a great meal with fellow TA’er pzp and her husband at the Poipu Beach Broiler. Wonderful food and company.

Monday was another day of rest, so just the usual beach-wandering and snorkeling at Ke’e Beach on the north shore.

Tuesday, it was off for one more hike, down the Canyon Trail to and past Waipo’o Falls. This is a great set of hikes for people who want to see Waimea Canyon up close. You can choose to do just the hike out to the cliff overlook or continue over to the Canyon Trail itself to get to one of the main rim of the canyon. If you do, be sure to say “Hi” to my picnic table out there.

Tuesday night, I made my one mistake of the trip. I got on the plane and returned home.

Edmonton, Canada
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1. Re: Kauai trip report, 4-26 through 5-9 (Long)

Thanks! Wonderful trip report!!!

Edmonton, Canada
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2. Re: Kauai trip report, 4-26 through 5-9 (Long)

Awesome photos too!!

Las Vegas
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3. Re: Kauai trip report, 4-26 through 5-9 (Long)

Great report.

I'll be there next month with my wife, my kids (10 & 12) and another couple. I've been looking at possible Waimea Canyon hikes that don't require 4wd to get to the trailhead, and that won't exceed my kids' attention span -- probably around two hours or so. I had more or less decided on the Pihea trail, turning around where you did. If we do only one hike, what do you think of that one?

Omaha, Nebraska
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4. Re: Kauai trip report, 4-26 through 5-9 (Long)

Sorry again we missed you guys at Scotty's but it looks like you had a great time. We did a little hiking as the wife's knees told her to stop but did do a Napali cruise. Will have to go back for the copter tour.

Reisterstown MD
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5. Re: Kauai trip report, 4-26 through 5-9 (Long)

Which hike did you like better, the canyon trail or the Awa’awapuhi Trail.

Lima, Peru
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6. Re: Kauai trip report, 4-26 through 5-9 (Long)

sounds like a great trip - I enjoyed the pics

I got to "live" for one month on Kauai staying in Kapaa. I could hike everyday there and never get tired of it. At home I cant seem to ever get off the couch or the PC.

I cried when I turned down the road to go to the airport.


Mobile, Alabama
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7. Re: Kauai trip report, 4-26 through 5-9 (Long)

Thanks for the great report - so glad you got to tour the lighthouse & share that info with us!

Healy, Alaska
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for Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
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8. Re: Kauai trip report, 4-26 through 5-9 (Long)

What a fun trip report and how cool that you got to meet up with other TA folks and your ending was perfect!! Mahalo for sharing your adventures with us all. :)

Kauai / Los Angeles
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9. Re: Kauai trip report, 4-26 through 5-9 (Long)

Wow, what an adventure. Reading your report makes me feel like I was there with you. Well, I was there for a little bit anyway! Now you've got me thinking about those ultralights.....hmm....

Sorry you ran into so many people during your travels. Sometimes the island just seems to be overrun with tourists! Eight people at Polihale is almost unheard of. Sheesh, the nerve of some people!!

I think the word sobering aptly describes the feeling at the point on the highway where the water from the dam break rushed over the road. I was going to take some photos to show folks what the current state of the road was, but just didn't feel it was right. I can still see the pregnant girl's face. So pretty, such a tragedy. And, as I told you at Scotty's, one of the cousins (the newspaper delivery guy) almost met the same fate. Helps keep things in perspective, huh?

Thanks for the great report !!

Boston, MA
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10. Re: Kauai trip report, 4-26 through 5-9 (Long)

Hi all,

Thanks for your feedback! Finally sitting down to write took me a while, but brought all the fun memories again. I never get tired of this island.

Sorry for not keeping up with questions (the finale of '24' was on last night!), so here's my attempt to keep up. Anyone with more detailed questions can always email me at peter@bowersworld.us as well. More than happy to help if I can...

mposin, the Pihea Trail and Canyon Trail are both beautiful, but in very different ways. Going to Pihea Vista takes you around the top edge of Kalalau Valley which is very lush and very beautiful. The canyon Trail gives you incredible views of Waimea Canyon which is very dry by comparison. If you can only do one, my Waimea Canyon pictures got more "wow's" than my Pihea pics. Another option is to do the Canyon hike, but also walk the road to the Kalalau Lookout. This is only about 20-30 minutes each way and very easy to do. You get some great views of the valley.

hulajake, we missed you, too! We'll simply have to try again!

willbebroke (Awa'awapuhi vs. Canyon Trails), you've asked the same type of tough question mposin did. I'm a sucker for a good hike and there are so many of them on this island. You face a similar dilemma if you can only do one of these great hikes. In fact, I'll make it even tougher for you! I would actually recommend the Nualolo Trail over the Awa'awapuhi if you choose to hike out to any Na Pali overlooks. It's a little longer, but gets you better views/pics (IMO) of the Na Pali coast since it's further out it's ridge (I use a picture of the sign there that says 'end of trail' to close my slide shows!). So, bottom line, try to make time to both as they're so different but beautiful. If you're taking a helicopter tour, go with the Canyon hike. If not, do the Nualolo to get those spectacular Na Pali pictures people will love.

kwils, I did the same soul-searching about putting up a photo of the flood area, but ultimately thought it would be helpful to other TA'ers to understand how devastating this event was to this close-knit island. I still remember vividly your story about your relative's brush with this tragedy. On a much more positive note, fly the trike the next chance you get! Not only do you can an unforgettable experience, but you also get Gerry's non-stop commentary of the flight, his friends (and not-so-friends), and his experiences flying around the islands and other places. And have him do the DVD movie for you. I get a kick watching people watch the video, and see them start to lean to try and steer us (Gerry and myself) away from the canyon rims when he does his fly-bys!