Mike and I arrived Friday afternoon, after traveling 14 hours, on Alaska Air. Unfortunately, direct flights from Anchorage to Kauai are non-existent. Our route is different everytime we fly to Hawaii and this trip the best price and arrival time was ANC-SEA-PDX-LIH, for about $950 each.......ouch. I stalked prices for months and had to finally buy the tickets before the best choices for us sold out of seats. The original price was $1200, but I used the low price guarantee and was happy to have two price drops. What could be a six hour flight, if direct, was a fifteen hour journey. Once we walk off the plane into the Lihue Airport, none of the misery seems like it was all that bad!
The vacation truly begins once the rental car is handled and our full shuttle bus dropped us off at Budget, where I walked right up to the FastBreak counter. No reservation was initially found in my name, but my printed confirmation sheet, FB # and ID was all it took to get our little, red Ford Focus in under five minutes, with no upsell. The car is brand new, with under 500 miles, and plenty of room. Our final price for the 8 days was $336, which I consider expensive. We had our intermediate car for 17 days, on Maui in Sept./Oct, for $326. But this is high season and I imagine fall is less expensive. No problem.
We were headed to the north shore by four in the afternoon. Our first visit to Kauai allowed us to get familiar with the north shore area for a brief three days, the first week of this past Oct.. It was awesome to know exactly where we were going and to be able to drive to Sealodge before dark. Traffic through Ka'paa was quite slow, but we enjoyed the slow pace to eyeball everything and note where places were located. We had a gift card burning a hole in our pocket for Safeway, but we immediately decided to keep going straight and not break through the massive traffic for a left turn. Buying food, after dark at the Foodland, was an easier, less stress decision.
We stopped at Chicken in a Barrel and got two chicken dinners. The guys there were friendly and talked drums and music with my husband, while we waited for our food. Mike was wearing the only t-shirt he brought which is a Zildjian drums shirt. It was a nice start to the trip listening to the guys talk about their drumming and rock and roll.....lol! All his other shirts are comfy Hawaiian shirts. We are feeling like this is a friendly island and that feels good. We were going to stop at Kealia Beach, but it was super crowded. We drove straight to the condo and were totally wowed by this condo! The views are impressive, the size is perfect for the two of us and I admit......bigger than I expected. Dinner was great in front of the huge windows and it was nice that Foodland was so incredibly close. Dessert on the first night was Roselani chocolate mac nut ice cream with coconut silk milk! That store was so busy, but it was a luxury to wake up and not have to buy food! We slept easy, waking up to incredible views from the big bedroom window. Mike had noticed clear skies and stars before we fell asleep and we hoped it would stay clear.....and maybe even have a sunny day!
We had decided before bed that we would spend the day driving to Ke'e early and then working our way back down the road, stopping wherever appealed to us. No schedule.....just hopes for no rain. It was so great being back on the north shore and somewhat overwhelming because I wanted to stop everywhere and take amazing photos of everything. Common sense dictated that we go non-stop to Ke'e and secure parking! Our last visit we drove through at eleven in the morning and parking was totally full with people parking in crazy places. We drove into the Ke'e lot, close to the beginning of the Kalalau Trail, with maybe 20 to 30 cars there already. We seemed to be the only folks NOT hiking the trail! That must have been a busy trail today cause not one person went to the beach.....only us walking past the lifeguards! The waves were massive and, YES.....we were way back from the water. We walked about ten minutes and sat down on our zip up beach blanket to just be mesmerized by the power of those waves. We sat way back by the trees and on one or two occasions, we had a wild wave come about three feet from us. We were aware of the two men that had drowned the day before and were careful. So sorry for their families because apparently they were being cautious, also. We stayed for an hour and ate some picnic breakfast before heading to Haena Sate Park, where we were rewarded with a beautiful morning. It was so sunny and gorgeous and just WARM!!! There is true happiness in being on a beach, watching the water and simply enjoying the warmth. I love the lava rocks to the left of the beach and took many photos in just the first three hours of this morning. The first morning of our Hawaiian vacations we just feel especially so fortunate to be able to enjoy these times together making memories. We never take for granted these opportunities to vacation in our favorite state, aside from our home.
After an hour or so of relaxing in the sun, time to head into Hanalei. So many cars behind us and once we get to Hanalei, the Farmer's Market looks good to me, BUT not my guy. Compromise is a good thing on a vacation and I decide to spare him the wandering around looking for stuff I like.....knowing that this is my only chance because we leave next Saturday morning. I keep driving and miss the turn for the Ching Young Center and still have too many cars behind me to easily turn around. Before I know it, I am driving over the first one lane bridge and we change plans. Instead of exploring Hanalei, we drive to Kilauea. The nice thing about no schedule is just going with the flow and not being stressed over a change of plans. And the truth is that I have so many places I want to see, it doesn't matter where we go as long as we both have fun.
We checked out the thrift Store at the turn into Kilauea. We love looking for unusual treasures in thrift stores and Mike found a couple books but otherwise, not much to be found today. Drove to the Kong Lung Centre and I had fun in Banana Patch where I bought my "vacation" coffee mug with a huge turtle and green leave. I could have bought a lot more but I'm keeping myself in check. Next stop was the Kilauea Bakery and Pau Hana Pizza. Immediate happiness was eating the chocolate lillikoi cream puffs in the parking lot! Still in the box are lemon bars and croissants. The easiest way to find the Akers is to park by Banana Patch. You cannot see the bakery easily until you walkninto the center. Once again, I turn wrong leaving the parking lot and we drive to the lighthouse. We were going to skip it cause of the heavy traffic and we're surprised how quickly we get there compared to our last visit. We just did the circle and left cause there was a line of endless cars coming out of the street to the lighthouse.
We decide to head south and just meander as long as we want to, with no real plan, except to become familiar with Kauai. I had spent countless nights driving all over Kauai on google earth. While that was fun and it had the names of streets, beaches, restaurants, etc., nothing compares to driving all over the island for real and having it just unfold before your eyes! Our next stop was a thrift store in Ka'paa, close to the cemetery. We walked around town for a few blocks and then kept heading south. It felt familiar as we passed through Lihue, down the long road heading to Old Koloaa Town and then onto Poipu and we finally stopped at Spouting Horn. This area seemed very busy but we found parking in the "cool red dirt on the sides" parking lot. Happy to see the facilities after the long drive, and we walked through the little shops to the Spouting Horn viewing area. We saw a few medium size spouts, but what was more distracting was how quickly the crowd grew and went from only two people in the viewing square to 25 or so people crowding into that small area. Why folks didn't just stand around the fence where there was more room was a wonder to us.....but then again, we are crowd avoiders!
It was fun driving through the Poipu Beach area and it was a very busy day at the beaches here. The beach areas just seemed so small compared to the north shore, but here people were able to enjoy playing in the water. We were correct to choose the north shore with more room to spread out and feel alone, even if the trade off is not going in the water. We felt it was much busier down south, but we understand that we drove through this area at around three in the afternoon on a Saturday......and a sunny, beautiful day!
I did appreciate finding the parking lot that will probably be less crowded the next time we are here very early in the morning. I saw Keoki's, Puka Dog and so many other places we will revisit with a better plan for the day. This was a simple exploration day. We will spend time walking through Old Koloaa Town and taking photos on another day. We also want to walk the lithified cliffs. We will certainly spend a better planned day here next week!
The drive back was so easy and I could feel that all my "google earth" driving combined with terrific green signs making it very clear how to find my way back to Ka'paa, made for a stress free drive back to.....yes, Chicken in a Barrel! I know that some would consider this boring, but honestly, those guys gave us extra ribs both visits and they were so very, very nice with the BEST chicken ever! This time we got the 2 Hawaiian coleslaws, half chicken and a combo chicken/rib dinner. We once again ate in front of our huge windows enjoying our private view! We were tempted to eat at many places along the way home, but we were both feeling "less than fresh"! We don't usually get in the car at seven in the morning and stay gone from our condo the entire day. It was nice to be back "home"!
It is nine right now and the wind is whipping like crazy. The palm tree below our lanai is about to blow away and there is a solid whitecap line of waves across the ocean, easy to see in the dark. The lights from the homes across from us are shining along with the beacon from the lighthouse. We are on the third floor and it is quite loud, but there aren't too many clouds, so with luck we will get another beautiful day.
The plan for tomorrow is to head back to Hanalei and enjoy Hanalei Bay in the morning, wander town and eat wherever it suits us at the time. Part of the fun is not knowing exactly whether it will be Kalypso, Tahiti Nui, Bubba's Burgers or Mediterranean Gourmet or wherever. I'm determined to walk around Hanalei. I hope the shops at The Schoolhouse are open on Sunday because I want to check out HAWAKI Nui. If it isn't, we'll be back. The afternoon looks like Anini Beach, but we could just as easily end up reading books on Sealodge Beach. But only if the surf isn't crazy! So much of this vacation will depend on the weather.
We do not have the same easy familiarity with this island that we do with Maui. It can be frustrating to miss turns and have cars following so closely behind me with no available pull-out to turn around. Today was more fun not having solid plans and while we covered lots of ground, it was done in a relaxing pace. We live in a state that can require covering many miles to get to where you want to be...so driving this island was not a chore, total pleasure. Time for some ice cream.....take care! Deb