A February 2006 trip
to Kauai by creekland
Quote: The new adventure begins. We left PA in 30-degree weather and stepped out of the aircraft in Lihue to 75 degrees - absolutely perfect. We left brown, and found lush green. This... THIS is what we were waiting for!
We loved this place. We had a two-bedroom, two-bath condo, rented from a private owner and it was superb inside. You don't get any closer to the water… so if you don't want to hear it at night, you might want to select another place to stay. Bedrooms are to the back, but you still hear the water (a good thing for us).<</P>We ate several meals on the Lanai, especially breakfast, and watched several turtles down on the rocks, and whales a bit farther offshore. We were never out there when we couldn't see something. Higher floors have a better view, and no one walking between you and the sights.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on April 26, 2006
Oceanfront - South Shore
We searched out Brick Oven on the advice of Wizard's "Ultimate Kauai," after a long day of hiking/sight-seeing at the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. We were tired, didn't want to cook, and felt pizza would be easy. This place is expensive, as is much of HI to be honest, so we were a little doubtful but chalked it up to vacation expense and let the boys each choose their own small pizza while Jack and I tried one of their specialties. While waiting, we people-watched... and they have quite the license plate collection to look at.The pizza was superb, and different from any other that I've ever had. I'm not quite sure exactly what it is either (and I'm not a gourmet cook, so I don't know flavors that well to figure it out). All of the boys loved theirs, and their topping choices varied from basic cheese/mushrooms to chicken, etc. We loved ours too (ours had Portuguese sausage among other ingredients, basically a "works"). You do get decent portions. We didn't order them, but the salads that went by to other customers also looked appealing. Perhaps salad and a pizza for next time? You can choose take out if you prefer.Service was excellent, food was excellent, decor was excellent, and they offered young kids some pizza dough to play with to keep them amused while waiting. We'd eat there again, and I hope to get that chance someday! Oh yes, the guidebooks say they are closed on Mondays.
Brick Oven Pizza
2-2555 Kaumualii Highway
Kalaheo, Hawaii 96741
+1 808 332 8561
Restaurant | "Hamura's Saimin "
Finding it IS tough because it's not on a main street. Take Rice Street, and look for Kress to the right. Turn down Kress, and look for the cars. You'll see the restaurant on the left. Parking is an issue; drive around a couple of times, we all do.Inside you'll see a couple of counters with short barstools. See empty ones? They're fair game, have a seat. If not, wait. I'll shorten your ordering problems. You want a "regular special" and a BBQ chicken strip or two. This will give you a rather large serving of Saimin—what's that? You don't know what Saimin is? Neither do most tourists who come, including us prior to our first visit.Saimin is an Asian soup. The special is filled with noodles, pork, fish cake, hard boiled egg, and a few other ingredients. It's simply scrumptious to say the least, even pleased my youngest, pickiest eater. It is, however, high in sodium. Mix some hot mustard with the black sauce and you have an excellent dip for your BBQ chicken and the pork from the Saimin. Be adventurous, and use chop sticks to eat.
People come from all over to eat here, and with the close quarters you can often talk with natives or other tourists while you're waiting/eating. We enjoyed visiting with folks. By our second visit, other tourists thought WE were locals (I wish!). For dessert, try their Lilikoi pie. We bought whole ones and took them back to the condo for dessert and breakfast the next day. Their shaved ice is good too.To try more places, we seldom eat at the same place more than once, but we ate here three times including our "last meal" on Kauai. We said our sad good-bye's to the staff when we had to leave. If I could afford it, I'd head back to Kauai just to eat here again. Well, I'd do more while there, but I'd certainly eat here. I feel for those who miss out on some of the best local food because the conditions (seating, etc.) are too "lowly" for them!
Hamura's Saimin Stand
2956 Kress Street
Attraction | "Jack Harter Helicopter Tours"
We chose Jack Harter for one reason; when we went, they had the only 90-minute tour (most are 50 minutes). The shorter flights cover similar territory, but were quicker "look quick before you move on" trips. Our longer flight allowed us to linger and really take pics. We also could "customize" our trip—our kids love Jurassic Park—so we spent more time looking at film sites.
Be prepared to see the beauty of nature. You fly over those beautiful mountains, and into the canyons. In places, there are literally so many waterfalls you can't count them all. You fly over the fields and swamp too. You fly over the Na Pali Coast. It's literally awesome.
Do this trip early on your vacation. For one, it allows you to get a real perspective of the island, helping figure out what you want to visit later. For two, if the weather is bad... it allows you to reschedule...
For specifics... Jack Harter offers 4- and 6-seat helicopters. For the 90-minute tour, you only have the 6-seat option. Be wary... those center back seats do NOT have the best view. If you get one you won't have as great of a trip. We are a family of five. We opted to purchase that last seat for our "imaginary" friend, and it helped our middle son (in the middle seat) to see much better.
Our pilot was superb - we had headphones that muffled the sound of the helicopter and could ask any question we wanted as we flew. At times, music was played so we could simply enjoy the scenery. Details were pointed out for us as we flew. This was not a taped narration flight.
Other details. This company is popular, so early reservations are recommended. Don't count on extra seats being open. Every 'copter we saw was filled.
You arrive at their small office close to the airport, sign in, and are weighed on the spot. No cheating on your weight, you're life might depend on it. Fortunately, other tourists didn't laugh when our weights were announced, and we returned the favor.
There are restrooms available, then there's a safety briefing and you are finally off to the heliport. Your helicopter lands, folks get off, and you enter at your guide's directions. You don't pick your seat... it goes by weight. After some short conversations with the pilot, you're off. All too soon it's over, but the memories we have (and pictures) will always be there.
Jack Harter Helicopters
4231 Ahukini Road
Kauai, Hawaii 96766
The reward is what is considered the "most unusual hike in Hawaii"—that would be hiking through the world's highest swamp and the diversity associated with it (and getting there)—and a gorgeous view of Northern Hawaii, including Hanalei Bay. The reward is worth it if you have the time for a longer hike and are up to the challenge.
You start by a boring hike along the (ex) road (1¼ mile) to get to the beginning of the trail... while pondering WHY they had to close the road. At the end of this part (a part MANY people opt to do) you get a really nice view of the Kalalau Valley. Then it's off on the Pihea Trail (2 miles) which takes you along the valley and through forests of ferns and ohia trees. Some of this is steep ups and downs. Little of it is boardwalked (towards the end it is).
After the intersection of the Alakai Swamp Trail you head east (2 miles) and reach the end of the trail at a steep cliff. The route passes through the swamp - and two long sets of steps - one that is VERY long. There is one water crossing here, but when we went it was easy to get across without getting wet. The trail is boardwalked through most of the swamp. You've lost the forest... but gain the swamp plants—and some OLD power poles—leading to more "wondering" questions.
The end has an awesome view; bring snacks, drinks, sit (there is a small bench), and enjoy. We saw clouds literally blow in, and out, making the view go from fantastic to nothing, and back. It was really neat to see. Plus, if you first get there and see the "nothing" part, just wait a little bit. It can change quickly.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 26, 2006
Alakai Swamp Trail
Starts at the End of Waimea Canyon Drive
Attraction | "Kilauea Point Lighthouse and Wildlife Refuge"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 26, 2006
Kilauea Point Wildlife Refuge
Kilauea Lighthouse Road, one mile north of Kilauea P. O. Box 1128 (mailing address)
Kauai, Hawaii 96754
Attraction | "Poipu and Brennecke Beaches"
Poipu Beach is larger and offers a great place for even the youngest children to enjoy the water. Lava rocks offshore stop all wave action in places. In other places, the waves are mild. The water is shallow for a reasonable distance. One day a Monk Seal was making his appearance - as well as a Green Sea Turtle.
Snorkeling here is a favorite with many folks. Smart ones bring wetsuits... as in Feb at least, the water is cold. Wetsuits allow you to stay in MUCH longer. Don't have one? You can buy them in WalMart in Lihue... "shorties" are fine - those are the knee to elbow versions. When snorkeling, expect to see lots of different colored fish - and if you look carefully - eels too. They aren't afraid of people and they are plentiful. We were even lucky enough to spot an octopus - a favorite with all the children there that day. There isn't much coral on Kauai - it's too far north. There is some though.
Brennecke Beach is a great one for one main activity - boogie boarding! My boys brought the boogie boards in our condo and started as beginners by "trial and error." It wasn't long before some other tourists happening by were pointing them out thinking they were native sons since they were doing so well... (this can make a mama really proud!). I probably should have, but I didn't say a word - and somewhere, their pictures are in someone's album (besides ours).
One warning about Brennecke - there are some larger rocks underwater. 'Tis best to locate these BEFORE landing on them... There are submersed rocks at Poipu too, but it's easier to spot them when snorkeling!
A big advantage of these two beaches is the variety. We could let our boys boogie board, while those of us who preferred snorkeling, went to that side. In between was a great "green" area for sitting and watching the whales (need winter for this) and once we even saw Spinner Dolphins jumping. It's a great place to unwind, picnic, enjoy the water - or all of the above.
Eastern end of Poipu Beach Park
Koke'e Road (highway 552)
Kauai, Hawaii 96752
Attraction | "Spouting Horn - A Great Hawaiian Geyser"
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 28, 2006
Lawai Road, across from Allerton Visitor's Center
Koloa, Hawaii 96756
No phone available
East Berlin, Pennsylvania