A May 2002 trip
to Kauai by gosusan
Quote: With its lush and spectacular beauty, Kaua'i has been the setting for many adventure movies, among them Indiana Jones, Jurrasic Park, 6 days/7 nights. While no pirates or dinosaurs chased us, we had an action-packed active week here, worthy of a film with Harrison Ford.
1) Take a helicopter tour of the island, as soon as possible. It will help you scout out areas you wish to investigate further and see natural wonders otherwise off limits.
2) Rent snorkel gear and go swim with the fish and perhaps even the occasional sea turtle.
3) Rent a kayak and paddle up the Wailau river, then take the hike into Secret Falls. You'll be humming the tune from Indiana Jones the whole time.
4) Hike the first part of the Na Pali trail in the morning, before the sun has risen too high and most other hikers have started.
5) Take a Catamaran Cruise of the Na Pali Coast. The views are worth the bumpy ride!
Wear sunscreen. Reapply often. Also, if you can find non-waterproof sunscreen you will be less likely to get HEAT RASH (I got a bit, and was it annoying!), since waterproof sunscreen inhibits your ability to cool yourself through sweating.
There are plenty of mosquitoes, especially along Kauai's East Coast. I forgot to wear bug spray and had at least 50 bites after my kayak trip on the Wailau river.
Kaua'i is famous for its red dirt. Expect that any hiking shoes and clothes will likely bear the red-stain-of-courage forever after. Bring only 1 or 2 fancy outfits, since you will only wear them in the evening (they'll be too warm during the day).
Hiking in Kaua'i is fun and can be the only way to visit some places, such as the waterfalls off the Na Pali trail. Given how warm and humid it is, be sure to bring extra water with you.
Inside, the suite was comfortable, with kitchenette area, large bathroom, TV and plenty of space. We had a lanai with a small table and chairs.
Breakfast was served between 8:30-9:00, and the menu varied by day. It was tasty enough to hang around for if you weren't either planning on sleeping in late or getting an early start, but I would recommend keeping a stock of fruit and muffins in the mini fridge in the room, so you can eat on your own schedule.
All in all, it was a pleasant place to stay during our journey and was well worth the $130/night we spent. For reservations email Carolyn at HanaleiBay@aol.com
PS: The place is currently for sale, so if you have a spare $1.7 million and a penchant for running a hospitality business, here's your chance. ;-)
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 15, 2002
Plantation Guest House
Mile Marker 4
Attraction | "Kayaking down the Wailau River to Secret Falls"
We arrived at the launch site before 8am, as the rental company suggested that would be better to start early in the morning. Alas, they only rented sit-on-top kayaks. It didn't really matter, as the paddling was not at all technical, with smooth waters and little current.
A few minutes after the launch any sign of civilization disappeared, and it was just us, alone admist the bird calls. The vegetation along the river was incredibly lush, with flowering plants overhanging the water. I felt like I was venturing in unchartered waters.
Alas, the aura of exploration was interrupted about half an hour later when loud, flat bottom boats, complete with ukelele band and several dozen tourists motored by us to get to Fern Frotto. But we lost them when we took the right fork up to the Secret Falls landing.
Here we ditched our boat and began the 45 minute hike. This venture involved fording several streams, including a section where we had to wade in nearly to waist level, gripping a rope to avoid getting swept off our feet by the current. The vegetation here was thick and the mosquitoes swarming. Alas, I had not donned bug spray, so I was nearly eaten alive. The theme from the Indiana Jones movie kept playing in my head. (Actually, those scenes were filmed on a different Kauai'an river.) At times the vegetation was such that I wished I'd brought his trusted machete.
We finally reach our destination, Secret Falls. At the base of the tall waterfall, we found a tranquil wading pool guarded by a mystical gathering of a ferocious pack of...uh, chickens. The Moa, or red jungle fowl, are a common site in Kaua'i. But here they congregate in large numbers, completely unafraid of hikers or even a pair of feral cats. Such was the aura, that I'm surprised we did not stumble across a temple decorated with rooster feathers and the bones of sacrifices brought by a here-to-unknown bird-worshipping cult.
After escaping the strange avian gathering grounds without incident, we hiked back to our kayaks and paddled back to the main branch of the Wailau. A few minutes away was the state park containing Fern Grotto. Boatloads of tourists regularly visit here, but the grotto has never really recovered from the 1992 hurricane. We found it a let down after our hike to the chicken sacred grounds...I mean Secret Falls.
By the time we paddled back, other kayakers had arrived in full force. We were glad that we had started our excursion early. It's hard to pretend that one is an intrepid explorer surging into uncharted territory if one keep passing by other boats. Still, I think Professor Jones would have been proud of us.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on June 15, 2002
159 Wailua Road
Kauai, Hawaii 96746
Attraction | "The Kalalau Trail"
Park at Ke'e beach and take plenty of water. The trail along the 2 miles to Hanakapi'ai is pretty easy. The beach here is beautiful but dangerous. People have been known to be swept out to sea and drown, even when just wading along the shore. I admit we took our chances and went in up to our knees.
While many turn back at this point, we decided to take the side trail up to the Hanakapi'ai falls. This 2 mile jaunt was much more difficult- the trail is much narrower and requires several stream crossings. At one point we were scrambling over a steep slope that was wet with runoff.
The surprise at the end of the trail is worth the effort. Although we saw plenty of waterfalls during our visit to the island, this one remains my favorite. It was incredibly tall, beautiful and had a wonderfully cold pool for swimming (although there's always the danger of falling rocks.)
We had thought we had packed enough water in, but thanks to the exertion, warm weather and our foolish generosity (we encountered a nice but clueless couple that hadn't brought ANY water on the hike and so gave them one of our 4 water bottles), we ran out. We had to hike the last 2 miles back dry- and nothing was as beautiful to us as the water faucet at Ke'e beach.
At The End Of The Kalalau Trail
Attraction | "North Shore Snorkeling"
I would recommend getting up and going in as early as possible- you can find parking, you will have the fish to yourselves, and the waters are often the calmest in the morning, allowing for better visibility and a chance to venture further out.
On especially calm days you may be able to swim to the outside side of the reefs. The waves were too choppy for us to feel comfortable doing so when we were visiting.
We did not get the chance to try Hideaways or the beaches near Poipu. We were going to try Lydgate, recommended by some guidebooks as having a nice enclosed area that is good for calm snorkeling. When we arrived were were horribly disappointed to find that the enclosures were about the size of a small-town swimming pool. So don't bother unless you are teaching your child to snorkel for the first time.
North Shore Divers
P.O. Box 853
Koloa, Hawaii 96756
(808) 828 1223
Attraction | "Inter-Island Helicoptor Tour"
Flying in any helicopter is an adventure for most people. But this heli tour is even more exciting than the others, for several reasons:
1) Inter-Island is the only company to use the Hughes 500. It seats 4 passengers, rather than the 6 passengers that A-Star and Jet models carry, so you need not fear being stuck in a middle back seat. The Hughes 500 is smaller and more maneuverable, so you should get a more thrilling ride.
2) They fly with the doors OFF, unless otherwise requested. That's right, should you lose grip on your camera when the 'copter is banking, you might watch it plummet to the cliffs below. Aside from upping the adrenaline factor, you will have greater range of visibility and no glass glare in your pictures.
3) For their 2 hour tour they land at a waterfall in the remote interior (not reachable by any form ground transport, including hiking) for a mid-trip swim and lunch. This is the only company that currently offers a mid-trip landing.
Of course, helicopter tours are expensive, noisy and not inline with low-impact, fuel-efficient ecotourism, but a flight over Kaua'i is a guilty pleasure even die-hard, penny-pinching environmentalists should allow themselves, at least once.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 14, 2002
Bear in mind that our photos hardly do justice to the full views (and overall experience) of the trip. Especially hard is capturing the majesty of the Wai'ale'ale crater, since it's perpetually preciptiating, and the photos don't give you a full sense of scale. Suffice it to say that those walls are over 2000 feet high.
Also, on some of the shots you'll notice a slight red frame on one side. That's the door frame. Now imagine being that high up and leaning out, without anything between you and a long fall other than your safety belt!
While trying to get pictures of sea life can be frustrating, and the shots are never as spectacular as the real experience, I would recommend picking up a disposable underwater camera. For $8 bucks plus developing costs, you can feel like Jacques Cousteau.
San Francisco, California