Thursday, January 18, 2007

Honeymooning in Kauai


Well, as a first blog entry from the two of us, we thought the honeymoon would be a fine place to start. Here
is a link to a map of Kauai if you want to follow along. Everything on the linked page works just like Google Maps. We have marked certain points of interest that we mention in this blog. Click on them for a short description. For example: "Our cottage (A) was amazing." means look for marker A on the map at the linked site. Faster the internet speed, the better, of course, because some of the satellite images are very detailed.

Before we get started, though, thank you to everyone who attended the wedding for your support, kind words, ridiculous dancing, and plethora of gifts! We had an excellent time and couldn't have had it better without such a marvelous group of family and friends.

Well, it didn't take long for something to go awry during our first couple of hours in Kaua'i. After waiting far too long in the rental car line, and getting lectured about not knowing every detail of my car insurance policy at check-in time, I got our sweet ride and looped back around to pick up Tory with the bags. As we loaded the car, we realized we had left our packet of info (which included directions to the rental cottage and all of our return flight info) on the plane! Too late now, so we grabbed the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook (of which every tourist on the island has a copy. So much so that we even saw a sign reading something like, "trail now closed due to the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook." What??) and headed off to search for our place. I figured finding a 3 acre lot by random chance in the 398,720 acres that is Kaua'i wasn't too unreasonable a quest. I've seen worse probabilities than that in many a physics course.

It actually wasn't too hard since all we had to remember was the name of the bay and what the outside of place looked like. I had stared at the pictures on the owner's website long enough that I knew when we came to it.

Here are some pics of the cottage (A), inside and out. All to ourselves!
Papaya...
Our first order of business was to check out Moloa'a Bay, a four-minute walk from the cottage, and the filming location for many a Gilligan's Island episode...
Day 2: After a minor downpour in the morning...
...we headed North to Princeville, where we hiked to Queen's Bath (C), a large tidal pool good for wading and snorkeling. Sadly, the waves were crashing over the rocks "like an old man trying to return soup at a deli," so we didn't go in. Great views along the rocks though...
Still in Princeville, we drove to another trailhead leading to Hideaways Beach (B). Here we did a little snorkeling, chased a sea turtle, and ate a sandwich. Overall a fine time, except for the light drizzling of rain and cloudy skies. Tory on Hideaways Beach running to warm up after a swim...
We continued west on Hwy 560 to see some caves along the side of the road. Two of the caves (E) are filled with stagnant rainwater and swimming is strongly discouraged. The third (D) is completely dry. We explored this one as far as it would allow with the headlamp, into a skinny crawlspace about 200 yards in from the mouth.

This was the most impressive (water-filled) cave, which was a short hike up a roadside hill. The water is behind us in the picture. Couldn't get a good snapshot.
The other water-filled cave...
Day 3: We should probably say something about the roosters at this point. Yes, roosters. Being away from the hubbub of the resorts and condos, we found ourselves smack in the middle of the rooster tromping grounds of Kauai. Not only do they pack in at about 8/acre, they also seem to have forgotten how to turn off the alarm clock. So every day, from about 4:30am to dusk, the cacophony of cock-a-doodle-doos screeches loud and clear. There was to be no sleeping in on this trip.

Today, the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook led us to the adventurous Makaleha Hike, one of our favorite parts of the trip. This is an easy hike to describe because it came in several distinct stages, almost like levels of a video game, each more difficult than the last and with its own unique theme. Makaleha Hike trailhead (F) (best to look at the following waypoints with the topo map. Just click the "topo" button at the top right of the linked page).

Level 1: Bamboo Forest
After the first stream crossing, the trail entered a bamboo grove (G) and turned sharply up the side of the canyon. With plenty of bamboo-chute handholds, we were soon 60-80 feet above the stream walking through a corridor of the stuff. While the cliff was unnervingly close, you knew you the bamboo wouldn't let you go anywhere.
After successful completion of Level 1, we cross the stream to begin Level 2...
Level 2: Hau Tree Jungle Gym (H)
The banks on the other side of the stream were immediately dense with criss-crossing Hau trees; so dense, in fact, that we hardly felt the pounding rain that fell as we walked. The path here was nearly invisible, the only trail markers being machete marks in the bark of select trees. At times our only option was to climb up, which took us ten to twenty feet off the ground.
Level 3: Stream Walking
The path through the jungle dumped us at the side of the stream with no choice but to walk straight up the middle of it. Fighting the current wasn't as hard as keeping our balance on the slick rocks, but after twenty minutes of walking we came to this vista (I) and the thought of turning back left our minds completely...
Looking back at the "path"...
We continued walking in the stream up the right fork of the canyon for another quarter mile or so, and as the high, narrow walls closed in on us, the waterfall came into view...
Taking a dip in the swimming hole (J) at the base of the waterfall...
Day 4: We headed down to the South shore this day, looking for some quality snorkeling at Po'ipu beach (K), but made a pit stop first at Kipu Falls (L), which ended up being the highlight of the day. Below are pictures of us launching off the rope swing into the pool below the falls.

Back at the cottage that evening we scourged the grounds for some good fruit and ended up having Chris (construction guy and stand-in land manager for cottage owners) chop open a coconut for us. The milk inside was delicious and the meaty part tasted more like butter than anything else. -YUM-Day 5: We decided to be ambitious this day and hit the Kalalau Trail (M) along the Na Pali coastline. It was a beautiful day, with only a little bit of rain, and the views were stunning...

Two miles into the hike is a somewhat treacherous river crossing (N), made all the more dangerous for us that day by the river's heavier-than-normal currents after the previous night's downpour. There were a number of signs warning us to be careful, including an old board carved with tally marks to record the number of lives taken by the river. We spent a good ten minutes sizing up the current and deciding where our crossing point should be, but in the end we championed the river with little trouble.
Just a few more beauty shots...
Oh, and did we mention it was muddy?
At the three-and-a-half-mile mark (O) we decided to head back, as our feet were aching and the views were all beginning to look very similar. We got back to the trailhead an hour or two before sundown, and were able to snorkel off Ke'e Beach (P) a bit before cleaning up and heading back South for a nice dinner of seafood chowder and lobster tails at the Hanalei Dolphin. Double YUM.

Day 6: We decided the best remedy for our sore legs from the Na Pali hike would be a relaxing morning on our own "private" Moloa'a Beach. (Though not actually private, we were often the only ones there...)
Despite the slightly rough surf, Moloa'a Beach provided the best snorkeling experience of our whole trip (Q). There were plenty of reefs and rock clusters in the shallow water, which were home to some of the most colorful/exotic-looking/oddly-shaped fish we had seen. At one spot in the bay you could float just under the surface of the water, attach yourself to a rock, and be swarmed by clouds of tiny silver fish for minutes at a time.

Later that afternoon we took the car South to a few waterfalls just off the main roads. Wailua Falls (R), with a 173 foot drop, was the most spectacular of the bunch...
Just to the north up Kuamo'o Road, was 'Opaeka'a Falls (S), another drive-up, park, and gawk-at waterfall. There was a very pretty valley just on the other side of the road as well. 'Opaeka'a Falls:
A nice view of the Wailua River (T) just across the road. Renting kayaks and cruising up one of Kauai's rivers would have been the next on our list of activities if we had had more time. Oh well, I guess we'll have to go back. The lookout over the Wailua River:
After lounging all morning on the beach, day 6 seemed to fly by pretty quickly. On the way back down Kuamo'o Road, we stopped to check out the scene at the "best luau on Kauai" according to the guidebook, at Smith's Tropical Paradise (U). Alas, it was sold clean out, so we called it a day, heading back to the cottage to finish off our leftover lobster tails and watch a few Twilight Zone episodes.

Day 7: We couldn't leave the island without a visit to the vast Waimea Canyon, so our last full day was spent gawking from the various lookouts along the 18-mile-long highway that follows the rim of the canyon. (As is often the case, the photos here do little or no justice to the actual beauty of the landscape...)
The view from mile 10.5 (V):
At mile 18, our turn-around point, there was a road closure that forced us to walk about two miles to the final and most spectacular lookout, Pu'u o Kila (W), over Kalalau Valley. This valley meets the ocean at Kalalau Beach, the end of the Na Pali coast trail and a target for our next visit. Though we welcomed the exercise, we were disappointed to find that the trail to the lookout was nothing more than a perfectly paved road, enclosed on either side by shrubs, leaving us with no view but the asphalt in front of us. Why had they closed such a smooth, flawless road? To force the lazy Haole tourists to exit their rental cars and hoof it, no doubt...
We were less than thrilled.
In the end, though, it was MORE than worth the walk. Shots of Kalalau Valley and Beach:

The view to the east from Pu'u o Kila lookout:For our last honeymoon hoorah we treated ourselves to a lu'au at one of Kaua'i's fancy resorts. As the Mai Tais flowed, we enjoyed good company, chowed on some delicious authentic foods, and were mesmerized by the Hawaiian dancers' hip shaking and flame throwing.
Closing thoughts: WOW. We loved Kaua'i, can't wait to go back, and have already started a mental list of all the things we'll do when we return. Boulder was sure to welcome us home by dumping another few inches of snow within our first week back, and the ceaseless winter here has only brightened the fondness of our memories of the island. Until next time, Hawaii, aloha.

3 comments:

MomDad said...

Finally got to read through your blog. Sounds like you had very little time to put up your feet and relax. Glad to see the sunshine came out the latter part of the week. Loved it.
Mom

gareth said...

C, T,

Awesome.

Tony said...

Carl and Tory,
Great narrative of your honeymoon--as the owner (with my lovely wife) of Gilligan's Cottage, I enjoyed reading all that you did at the cottage and on Kauai--it is also one of my favorite places in the world, and it is a pleasure to share it with people like you two.