A Day Exploring the West Side: Up and out the door early to explore the west side of the Island. It was raining when we left Kilauea and we wondered if the lookouts would be socked in. But it was a beautiful, clear morning as we drove up 550 to Waimea Canyon. The canyon is quite magnificent and reminded us of
the Grand Canyon. It was neat to hear a goat bleating (do goats bleat?) somewhere deep in the canyon.
We then drove the rest of the way up to the end of the road and Pu'u o Kila lookout - wow! They say this vista is one of the best in the Pacific, and they are probably right! Words can't even describe how beautiful the view is out over the Kalalau Valley. The mist rolled in and we hiked the Pihea trail in solitude. We were very glad to have our hiking boots and poles to help us on the slippery trail. We hiked up and down along the ridge until the mist and drizzle turned to pouring rain. Because it had been raining on the north shore and we weren't sure of weather patterns so high up, we decided to turn around and head back. On the return trip we passed a few people setting out. By the time we got closer to the viewpoint the weather was again clear and sunny and the area was quite crowded with people in flipflops - I don't think they were going very far. Next time we will try to pick a day when the north shore weather is sunny, leave even earlier and attempt the Alaka'i Swamp trail. They say you can see Hanalei Bay and Ha'ena on the rare days the Kilohana Lookout is clear - it would be worth a try.
After a refreshing snack of pineapple, we drove down 552 and then back to Waimea for lunch and to Hannapepe to find the farmer's market. It was very busy with no available parking spots, and since we are only on Kaua'i for another day, we decided to skip the market and check out Banana Patch gallery instead. Lots of interesting things there and we picked up a few small gifts.
In case we hadn't seen enough today we then drove 50 to the end of the road at Polihale (don't tell Alamo). The road really wasn't that bad, as long as you have some experience driving on unpaved roads full of potholes and covered by drifting sand; but I wouldn't attempt this road in wet weather. Our rental vehicle was AWD; we were surprised by how many people were out here in regular rental cars. Polihale is really hot (you can feel the heat of the sand through your sandals) and the surf is huge - a careless person could fry or drown out here.
Falls: We were back & forth between Kilauea and Princeville and/or Kapa'a often; and didn't mind the driving at all. I wouldn't be able to say how long any of our trips took us because I was always captivated by the sights. One of my favourite drive-bys was Kalihiwai Falls. I kept hoping that one of our many holdups due to tree trimming would be right in front of the falls so I could get a longer look and take a picture; but no luck. Speaking of falls, both 'Opaeka'a Falls and Wailua Falls are beautiful; although it was disappointing that access to get better views of Wailua Falls was closed off.