S: Christmas in Kauai-2010
BC: "In what other land save this one is the commonest form of greeting not 'good day', nor 'How d'ye do', but 'Love"? That greeting is "Aloha'- love, I loveyou, my love to you." -Jack London
FC: to | Kauai
1: We started our journey by boarding a plane in Spokane at 5am onDecember 18th 2010. The flights over were rough, but by 3pm we had arrived at our destination... Kauai! We were all tired and Jess was sick, but we were so excited about what lay before us that we trudged on. Thankful we had arrived during the light of day, we found our condo (Nihi Kai Villas) in Poipu and went out for dinner at Brennecke's Beach Broiler.
2: We managed to spend at least a little bit of each day on Poipu Beach, people watching, basking in the sun, and snorkeling. Matt even boogie boarded and surfed. | Poipu Beach
3: A reef of lava encircled the beach at Poipu and made a perfect home for numerous tropical fish. All four of us got the chance to explore this reef at one time or another. Yes, even Donna! We were surprised and delighted by the brightly colored sea creatures we found, including coral, urchins, Needlefish, Triggerfish, Butterflyfish, and Surgeonfish to name a few. On one particular outing Jess even spotted a Zebra Moray Eel. | Snorkeling
4: We were excited about getting the chance to hike in Kauai, so on our first full day we decided to tackle Kahili Ridge. It was not an extroardinairily long hike, at only 2.75 miles roundtrip, but it was a steep hike, as it gained 1700ft in elevation. The trail was not well maintained, so we had to push our way through the brush, and it was only about a foot wide with steep embankments to either side.
5: In addition it was raining, which was making the clay soil into a mudslick. Both Matt and Carrie attempted to slip off the trail and fall to their death, luckily neither one was successful! When we finally reached the top of the ridge there was supposed to be a grand view all the way to the sea, unfortunately the rain and fog had socked in our view.
6: What is the deal with all those chickens? That's what we kept asking ourselves. We soon learned that they were originally brought over by the Polynesians that inhabited the island. For years they were kept for farming purposes. Then hurricane Iniki hit and released all the chickens from captivity. They flourished, and are now the most common bird you see. Luckily Kauai has a lot of other inhabitants that we got the good fortune to witness as well, including frogs, dolphins, tropical flowers, weird spiders, numerous aquatic birds, and geckos of all sizes. In addition the humpback whales were in the middle of their migration so they were common sights as well.
8: Starting at shipwreck beach, the four of us took a sandy path that led us atop the bluff. From here, we caught a great view of the ocean and the beach behind us. Apparently this was a site common for cliff diving. | Upon hearing this we all turned to Matt and said, "No"! On our way back to the beach we found a curious grouping of rocks declaring someone's love for J.M. Carrie thought she may have a fight on her hands!
9: Makawehi Bluff
10: While in Kauai we explored numerous beaches each with it's own unique beauty. | Poipu | Anini | Shipwreck | Brennecke's | Haena-Tunnels | Kekaha
11: On the north side we explored the Maniniholo dry cave; a huge lava tube that extends several hundred yards into a cliff, the Waiokapala'e wet cave; an ancient sea cave where natives used to swim but now is contaminated, and the Hanalei wildlife refuge; home to many endangered species of waterfowl and shorebirds. | The island also boasted many natural wonders. For instance on the south shore lies Spouting Horn, a geyser of sea water that shoots through a lava tube. The east side is the home of Wailua Falls, a 100ft waterfall that kings once jumped over for sport. | Spouting Horn | Wailua Falls
12: Matt's goal while in Kauai was to catch a wave. We all decided that it would be lefitamate if he could stay up for 4 full seconds. He accomplished it quite quickly actually, and had the weather permitted he likely would have surfed everyday! | Surfing
13: Matt also got a chance to put his certification to use and completed 2 dives. He saw sleeping sea turtles, 7-11 crabs and dove into dark sea caves. Luckily he didn't see any sharks while diving, although a reef shark did swim right past him one day while boogie-boarding! | Scuba-Diving
14: One morning Jess and Carrie set out at dawn to hike to Haula Beach. The hike started at Kawailoa Bay and followed the coastline along jagged rocks.. Here we were surprised by an odd whooshing sound that turned out to be waves crashing into old lava tubes. Then the trail gave way to sand dunes and offered views of sculpted cliffs and a tiny hidden beach. Beyond this we had to maneuver around a fence post next to a 20ft drop. Unfortunately we turned around shortly thereafter and never actually made it to Haula beach, as we came across some sleeping locals and did not wish to disturb them.
16: One of the most stunning features of Kauai is the Napali coast. It is comprised of steep, rigid, cliffs that are best viewed by boat. We were lucky enough to get a spot on a catamaran cruise just before sunset. The weather that day threatened to spoil our views but at the last minute the fog lifted and we were able to appreciate the coast in all its glory. Along the way we also got to glimpse views of migrating humpback whales, spinner dolphins, and beautiful rainbows.
17: Unfortunately the swells were large that day which quickly led to both Carrie and Jesse's sea sickness. But they both agreed that the beauty was undeniable and possibly worth the profound nausea. Unfazed by the waves, Matt developed several new friendships whileDonna shot numerous lovely pictures including the one to the left. | The Napali Coast
19: Created by Robert Allerton in the 1940's, on the site where Polynesians first landed on Kauai, The Allerton Gardens are one of only 5 national tropical botanical gardens. Our guided tour took us through several outdoor rooms where high society and celebrities once dined to a fruit orchard which contained the African Bread Fruit, a possible answer to world hunger. We witnessed artistic combinations of botanical textures and learned about conservation efforts for endangered species. For instance, the Alula plant was almost extinct until the botanists at Allerton repelled down a cliff to take cuttings from the only existing plant and have now propagated it off the endangered list. There were also odd plants with unique adaptations, like the vine with large blooms that resemble hunks of meat to attract pollinators. And last but not least we caught a glimpse of movie magic while viewing the Moreton Fig trees used in "Jurassic Park", the grassy field Indian Jones ran through in "Raiders of the Lost Ark", and the Lawai Bay where the latest "Pirates of the Caribbean" was filmed. | Allerton Garden
20: The most famous trail in Kauai is the Kalalau Trail which dares to venture through the Napalii coast. This trail was a must-do on our list, so one morning Matt, Carrie, and Jesse left the condo before dawn to drive to the opposite side of the island where the trail head awaited.
21: The full trail is 11 miles long and ends at Kalalau beach, but we weren't afforded that much time so instead we hiked 4 miles in to Hanakapiai Falls. | The first 2 miles of the hike gave way to beautiful views of the Napali coast. The trail itself was made up of clay and it had been raining all week so the terrain was pretty slick, and downright mucky in places. | Kalalau Trail
22: Hanakapiai Beach | Once we arrived at the beach we investigated some lava caves, and then hiked through a jungle of bamboo.Next we had to cross a river multiple times by jumping from rock to rock. Unfortunately they were slick buggers and we fell in a time or two. Eventually we made it to our final destination...
23: Hanakapiai Falls | It was an awe inspiring spot to linger for a moment. Jess and Matt couldn't resist taking a dip in the waters below.
24: In Kauai there is a main highway that runs the circumference of the island but does not form a complete circle. During our stay we drove to both ends of this road. One of these trips took us into Kokee State Park which included many vantage points of the Waimea Canyon and the Kalalau valley.
26: On Christmas morning Jesse and Carrie took a hike through the Halemanu Valley within the Waimea Canyon. This hike was unusual for a number of reasons. One, it seemed backwards because you made a deep descent on the way in and then had to climb up on the way back. Two, compared to other hikes in Kauai, this one seemed more woodsy and less jungle-like.
27: And three, there was a dense fog that morning so at times it looked as if you were walking into oblivion. Unfortunately the fog made it difficult to enjoy the immense views the trail had promised, but we did get to spot a mountain goat and play in a couple small cascades before ending at the top of Waipoo Falls.