Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Three Days in Kauai: Day One

I normally don't do travel posts when I come to Hawaii because it's more of a family place/second home than a vacation spot for me, but recently a friend impugned the awesomeness of my beloved islands and now I am out to defend Hawaii's honor with three days of travel logs about pure touristy vacationing on Kauai.  Kauai is a relatively small island and in my opinion among the most beautiful - with mountains, waterfalls, red rock canyons and some of the best hiking in the islands. But due to its size, it's possible to actually get a good feel for the island in only three days (though longer is always fun).  On day one, I went West.


Landing in Lihue in the morning, I grabbed my rental car and immediately set off toward Poipu.  The Grand Hyatt's swimming pools had made a strong impression on me as a child and I wanted to see if they were as I remembered.  And boy were they.  Waterfalls, waterslides, dozens of cascading pools and below it all a salt water lagoon - which, given Kauai's dangerous rip tides and unpredictable currents is a much better way to swim in the sea than braving the beaches on most days.

After the Hyatt (which has renewed its claim as my favorite hotel in the islands), I kept heading west, past the westernmost independent bookstore in the US in Hanapepe, the ruins of Russian Fort Elizabeth (not much there), and all the way out to the gorgeous beach at Kekeha (which is a great place to stop and stretch your legs and play for a while before getting back in the car for the canyon drive).

Then it was up, up, up the winding road into Waimea Canyon.

The Lodge at Kokee hasn't changed a bit from when I stayed there as a little girl and is a great place to stop for a lunch of Portuguese Bean Soup.  I pressed on, all the way out to the Kalalau Lookout from which you can see the Napali coast.

Descending the canyon road in the daylight is both much easier (it's not lit at night) and provides gorgeous ocean views.  You can stop in Waimea town for dinner at the Shrimp Shack or Island Tacos, or continue on into Ele'ele for some grinds (local word for food) at Grinds.  I got mine to go, because I wanted to make it back to Poipu Beach and Spouting Horn before dark.

I visited the blowhole, tried not to run over the chickens (they are everywhere on the island), and watched the sunset from this southernmost tip of the island.

Then I retreated to my hotel to collapse for the night.  Tomorrow, Hanalei and the North Shore!

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