Kauai is wholly captivating and dazzling. Regardless of which route you choose for your self-drive or shore excursion, you will not be disappointed. Although you may have certain "must-see" destinations, be assured that if you hang loose, as Hawaiians advise, you will leave the island with life-long memories and brilliant photographs.
After abandoning our trek to Polihale Beach, we drove back ‘round the shoreline road to the 552 Kokee Road approach to Waimea Canyon. The views, which I had captured from the air during our past helicopter trip, had been satisfyingly stunning and the vision from land was no less so.
From there we headed into Waimea, where the Waimea Plantation and Brewing Company beckoned as an obvious choice for lunch. After a bit of refreshment, we drove on into Waimea town, noting the Captain Cook monument and the Russian Fort Elizabeth remains located at the mouth of the Waimea River State Park. I was interested in this Historical Sight having visted another of such forts at Princeville on a former visit.
We followed Kaumulalii Hwy to Hanapepe , described in the Drive Guide as a delightful little Old Hawaiian settlement. It appeared that Hanapepe had seen better days and, unless you are searching for ghost towns, you could be disappointed.. Instead we stopped at original Lappert’s Ice Cream , drive-up just outside of town. Behind the walk-up window visitors can peek into the secret hiding place where that fabulous flavor and creamy refreshment served all through the islands originates.
Another interesting stop just outside of Hanapepe is the Salt Pond Beach Park, where the familiar Hawaiian red and white sea salt is captured by families who have earned the unique honor to work the saltpans from their ancestors.
"I wapi kope nau?"
For miles we’d been driving past coffee plantations, stirring an insatiable desire for a pick-me-up brew. The Kauai Coffee Company sign welcomed visitors and tours. Turning down the plantation road we found an insightful, enchanting little coffee center where visitors can learn about the coffee growing process and taste the many blends the 3,400 acre plantation produces.
With renewed vigor, we drove Koloa Road to one of Hawaii’s most photographed and visited blowholes. A legend of Mo’o, the lizard, casts an intriguing spell as the water spews upward of 50 feet and retreats with a mournful howl.
The best discovery of the journey was the captivating plantation town, Koloa. Rivaling Hanalei, though far less busy, the town features the oldest buildings in Hawaii, as it was the site of the first sugar plantation. Reproductions and refurbished village shops hold a slew of small town attractions that made leaving so soon difficult. But the ship was waiting, so we drove through the alluring eucalyptus tree tunnel and waved Kauai fond farewell.