While in California, our plan is to travel to destinations that are more convenient from this home base. With that in mind, we headed to Hawaii in October. We'd visited Oahu in 2010, with a day trip to the big island. This time we flew directly from LA to Maui and later from Maui to Kauai. We were eager to explore new places before revisiting any islands. We chose activities and places to stop by referring to excellent guide books to Hawaii: Maui Revealed and The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook (and some recommendations from friends, too).
Maui is the larger of the two islands with greater distances between what we wanted to see. We decided to stay in three different places to avoid back tracking too much. Once we had our rental car, we did some exploring in Lahaina before checking in at our rental condo. First stop, McGregor Point and Lighthouse. I seem to remember saying "is that it?" After seeing so many lighthouses in New England, this was not very impressive. I prefer the driftwood decorated with leis as a welcome to Hawaii.
Hawaii, the Aloha State, is known for its rainbows. I had hoped to see at least one per day. That didn't happen, but we did see quite a few.
Banyan Tree Park is very aptly named - one tree provides shade for all the benches under it and takes up the whole block. Sadly for all concerned, some homeless make this park their home.
|street view of Banyan Tree Park|
|all one tree!|
Shave Ice (like a snow cone with flavored syrup poured on top) is extremely popular here, but I'll take ice cream instead any day, especially coconut macadamia fudge. Won't find this on the mainland and oh, so delicious
We also welcomed ourselves to Hawaii with Mai Tais at our first night's dinner. We were very lucky with our choice of restaurant - very good.
|boarding the shuttle out to the sub|
Tom and I are not fans of snorkeling, having tried it twice. I have a lot of trouble ignoring the "Darth Vader" sound of my breathing. We opted for a submarine excursion which took us to a reef and a shipwreck where we were able to see fish swim by without getting wet ourselves.
|everybody gets a porthole|
|view of sub and wreck (souvenir postcard)|
We didn't see anything quite like this. I think there must have been underwater lights somehow involved. Still pretty.
The experience would have been even better if a very young child had not decided to cry hysterically.
|off the western coast of Maui|
More views of western Maui:
|multiple people are hanging up there!|
|sunset from our condo's balcony|
|starting the road to Hana|
To teach is to Love
To learn is to Respect
|looks like someone needs caffeine already!|
|wish people obeyed this everywhere|
We saw lots of flowers and plants that were not familiar to us.
The silversword grows near Haleakala and is is planted in protected gardens to keep it safe from becoming someone's souvenir.
We were searching for what the app called "rainbow eucalyptus" and were frustrated not to find it. These trees with the colorful bark fit the description, but the label said "painted gum". Checking with google later, I was glad to know we actually did find them - they're the same thing!
We stopped for scenic views either inland or of the ocean.
Tom leads us into what seemed like a jungle in search of waterfalls. Although the app was a huge help, it wasn't perfect. There was not always clear information about how far we'd need to hike to reach a particular waterfall. Just about one year earlier, we had visited Plitvice Lakes in Croatia which has an amazing number of waterfalls. Since the waterfalls we saw on Maui were all being compared to Plitvice, perhaps unfairly, they were less impressive.
We did not get as up close and personal with all the waterfalls, but we did traverse a stream by walking across a board and later stepping on rocks. I figured I'd probably slip off the rocks so just went ahead and stepped in the shallow water. There was no grace involved and I am glad there is also no video.
Some waterfalls were visible from the road.
|black sand beach|
Finally we were getting close to our destination town, Hana. We were supposed to check in to our accommodations by 6:00 pm and call if we'd be late. Once we started driving, we had no cell service. Calling was not an option. We arrived shortly before 6:00 and were disappointed that the proprietor did not have the air conditioner running in our room! After an active day in hot and humid weather, no AC was not pleasant. There was actually a sign in the room that said if we left the AC running when we went out, it would be turned off! We took our chances when we left for dinner and were glad that it was still working when we returned.
We did not linger the next morning and went directly to have breakfast at the Barefoot Cafe, right on the beach at Hana Bay.
|no orange juice, but passion fruit instead|
|goodbye Hana, we're on the road again|
|finding free range cows was a surprise|
|that's tall bamboo!|
|Makahiku Falls - only 200 feet|
|some of the seven scared pools|
|Waimoku Falls - 400 feet|
|definitely free range!|
Varied topography of Maui:
|notice width of the road|
Finally, we arrived at our B&B and I was delighted with the Hawaiian appliqued quilt on the bed. It looked hand sewn!
|hiding here for protection from the wind and driving rain|
|taken with a flash|
|is it getting brighter?|
|Haleakala National Park, sunrise, October 24, 2017|
We decided the best way to recover was a good nap and then decide how to spend the rest of the day - and there was still a lot of day ahead of us. We had originally planned on going back to Haleakala to hike around the crater, but with roads closed and what was really a island-wide power outage (no traffic lights), that wasn't going to happen either. We opted to go see the Iao Valley (where the battle that eventually conquered Maui and united the Hawaiian islands took place) which was close to our B&B. Oh, bridge closed. Not going there.
We happened upon a small cultural park that had memorials for the various cultures that came to Hawaii. Their cultures have had a significant and lasting impact.
Our host at the B&B suggested we visit the aquarium. Nice idea, but no go! We finally gave up and went back to the B&B to watch the Disney film, Moana. We'd never seen it and it was quite fun. We also found an open grocery store and picked up provisions for a wine and cheese dinner back at the B&B. We weren't in the mood for another long wait outside one of the few open restaurants. When buying the wine, I was asked what my birthdate was. I thought the cashier was kidding until I looked at her grim face. OK, seriously, you think I'm under 21? She didn't check my ID, she believed me. It was also time to pack for our flight to Kauai. Breakfast at the B&B was fabulous with the highlight for me being banana macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup! Delicious! There were other syrup choices, but why bother? (Can you tell I like coconut?) Watch out Kauai, here we come!
After our short flight to Kauai, we were ready to make a stop for lunch. A little "hole in the wall" place was recommended to us. Luckily, Pam was home at the time because I'd forgotten to include the name or address in my notes. Phew, we made it to Hamura Saimin for a tasty lunch and fun experience. We timed it just right, getting a seat immediately, but later there were people standing around the perimeter of the room waiting for a seat.
Another friend, Lynn, told me about Kapaia Stitchery which was a highlight of Kauai when she was here. They have an amazing number of fabrics and of course, lots of "aloha" fabrics that I wouldn't find on the mainland. I bought a kit to make an applique pillow - they even customized the fabric for me because I didn't like the kits they had already assembled! Wow!
Since Kauai is so small, we stayed at the same hotel the entire time. Kapa'a was a great location - central to many of the places we planned to visit. Our hotel room may have needed some updating, but there was a laundry room at the facility where we could wash our sweaty clothes and we were also right on the ocean. Beautiful spot. Throughout our stay, the sun put on quite a show for us.
Would you go to the Sistine Chapel and not look up? The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook likens visiting Kauai and not taking a helicopter tour to not looking up at the Sistine Chapel ceiling. We took the advice and booked a tour with Blue Hawaiian. Not at all scary and well worth it. I only wished it was longer.
|front seat next to pilot, Sean|
|our reflection in pilot's instrument panel|
Seating assignments by weight and by luck. We liked being in the front - definitely the best view.
|up, up and away we go!|
|Hawaiian Airline plane at Lihu'e Airport|
|plenty of waterfalls visible from the air|
Hurricane Iniki (name means strong and piercing wind) hit Kauai in 1992. It stripped many trees bare and their dead trunks still stand.
|Waimea Canyon wall|
Most of the pilot's work was done with one thumb. There were loads of controls, but the thumb was most important. It was so cool to have this seat to view Kauai from above.
|another helicopter touring the canyon|
|another helicopter landing|
Definitely recommend a helicopter tour here. There are many places that are difficult to see any other way.
Later the same day, we joined a food tour. Our bellies were about to be full, as well as our day! This tour was primarily cuisine which has been imported or adapted by ethnic groups that came and stayed. The group met at Paco's Tacos - they advertise that they have the best tacos. They were good, but I haven't had a lot of fish tacos so I'm not a good judge.
We didn't have to walk far before arriving at the next stop, Kauai Juice Co. They use locally sourced produce and press them into interesting juice blends. We were able to sample about eight flavors available that day. They all had some herbs or spices mixed in. This was definitely not my favorite stop of the day. I thought all the flavors were a bit weak or watery. We were all to choose one flavor for a free bottle to take along. I didn't want any, but took one so as not to insult the shop owner or tour guide. I drank some of it over the next few days, but not all.
|meat being cooked at outdoor grill where man is standing|
Our next stop was at a market, not a restaurant. One of the owners came out and explained how early he arrives in the morning to start preparing rice. Laborers buy their lunches before going to work and students also stop for either breakfast or to buy lunch on their way to school. He typically sells out of the most popular items every day.
We were offered an assortment of items they sell from edamame, a couple varieties of poke (marinated ahi tuna chunks), shrimp, octopus, etc. Everything I tasted was delicious, but I passed on the octopus.
Luckily, the servings were small and we had some time between the latter stops to give us a little time to digest.
Next we stopped at a Japanese influenced restaurant for their local burgers and a bit of sushi. Their truffle burger is definitely in the running for the best burger we've ever eaten.
Finally, it was time for our last stop on the tour. Coincidentally, I had already made a dinner reservation at this restaurant for the following evening. The head chef spoke to us - I was surprised how young he is.
|extremely tender pork with beets flavoring the noodles|
Room left for dessert? Of course! It was light and delicious.
We thoroughly enjoyed the tour. The food was varied and plentiful, but it could be improved by adding tastes of local fruit and vegetables. It was definitely both lunch and dinner!
The restaurant kitchen is in a separate building between the pool and the dining room. The chef explained that often people come to the window looking for towels!
|cool bar decor at the restaurant|
Since we missed sunrise on Maui, Tom decided to get up early and was rewarded with some of the pictures I shared above. My reward was him walking back to Pono Market and buying some provisions for our day. He bought some of the traditional musubi for breakfast and also some of the delicious poke to take with us on our road trip.
Once again, we used the Shaka app to guide us to recommended sights. First, Wailua Falls.
Vendors know people will stop to view the majestic falls and take pictures. They're ready to sell some wares. I loved these bowls, but I restrained myself. How could I get it back to California and what was I going to do with it anyway? There was also a vendor selling warm breads from the back of her van. I did indulge in some pineapple coconut bread which we enjoyed the next morning. Yum!
We continued on towards Waimea Canyon seeing plenty of beautiful scenery along the way.
First views of the canyon. We know it'll get better because we saw it from the sky earlier.
|Red Dirt waterfall - color coordinated clothing was not premeditated|
I saw these "stealth" containers for bringing alcohol where it is prohibited. Wow. I may be a prude, but I do not approve. No purchase made.
|waterfall in the canyon|
|we flew threw there yesterday|
While in this part of the island, we opted to take a hike along the Pihea Trail. "If you only do one hike while visiting the canyon area, this is the one you want." Sounded like a good recommendation.
The phone app we were using described it as "relatively flat". We obviously have a very different idea of what flat means.
|not exactly the awesome view we were hoping for|
We eventually turned around without going to the end, but we got a pretty glimpse on the way back. The clouds were moving quickly - this did not last.
More scenery on our way back to Kapa'a
|rainbows are another benefit of frequent rain|
|I like the leis on the cowboys|
|one lane bridge - local courtesy is 5-7 cars|
|nice, calm place to paddle|
At dinner time, we headed back to Oasis and the chef worked some more of his magic. The waitress suggested a Mai Tai because their bartenders make if differently than the traditional. The ingredient list includes three kinds of rum, fresh lime juice, macadamia nut milk, almond milk and lillikoi puree. With the description, we gave it a try and it was absolutely delicious. If anyone is motivated to try it and figures out the proportions, please make me one!
One more day on Kauai and we decided to follow the app's tour of the north shore. There had been heavy rain and wind overnight. We hoped there would be heavy surf and folks out showing off their surfing skills.
|we didn't go any closer to the lighthouse|
The nene (or Hawaiian goose) is the Hawaiian state bird. They mate for life and we are told they cry when they can't see their partner.
They say that the nene is the state bird, but to consider just Kauai, I think it would have to be the chicken/rooster. They are roaming free everywhere you look: wandering around outside our hotel and pestering us during breakfast on the patio (annoying), and walking around parking lots of various lookout points and along the edge of beaches. The same hurricane that killed so many trees also destroyed the chicken houses on chicken farms. So far, the result is chickens and roosters roaming free range. There does not seem to be any attempt to catch them or limit their reproduction. I think the people of Kauai are going to have to come up with a better solution sooner or later.
|why did the chicken cross the road?|
|the chicks were cute, but....that means more chickens|
Does this look like a good place to be shipwrecked? This is where Gilligan's Island was filmed. (If you're too young to know that show, you can look it up.)
We learned this is a Brazilian cardinal. Not sure how it got to Kauai - that's a long flight!
Maniniholo Cave - the remains of an old lava tube and evidence of Kauai's volcanic history.
We've seen plenty of churches in our travels. Making a quick stop at one in the little town of Hanalei seemed appropriate.
|pretty stained glass looked different than any I'd seen before|
In Hanalei, we also sampled Hawaii's number 1 comfort food! Wow. Glad we stopped here before leaving Hawaii.
Left: Lau Lau (pork with taro leaves) and Kalua Pork and cabbage
Right: BBQ mix of beef, chicken and short ribs
Both accompanied by much too much rice and awful macaroni salad (which I didn't even taste - think macaroni and mayo only)
Lappert's (where we tasted ice cream in Lahaina, Maui) had a branch in Hanapepe too. Sadly, no coconut macadamia fudge ice cream, but they did make very tasty iced coffee treats.
We did finally see some surfers. We stayed to watch for a bit, but none of them were particularly skilled. I give them credit for trying - that's more than I will do!
We had one more night in Kapa'a and took the recommendation of our food tour guide and went to JO2, her favorite on Kauai. It did not disappoint. As you can see, the presentation was lovely. No room for dessert.
|ono ceviche with coconut|
|poached scallop ravioli|
|rack of lamb|
Our flight back to LA was in the afternoon. With a little extra time, we took advantage of the bikes the hotel had and took a short spin along the path beside the ocean. I hadn't been on a bike with only one gear and foot brakes in probably more than 40 years! It felt strange, but was fun anyway.
|Can you guess which bike is mine?|
At the airport, we had to have all bags scanned (checked and carry-on) because we were going back to the mainland. No fresh fruit allowed. I did have an apple in my carry-on which I planned on eating on my flight. It was confiscated and I was not happy! I asked them if they at least gave the contraband to the homeless. They said they do, but I think that was just to make me go away. They had quite a pile of apples and oranges.
We had a great time exploring Maui and Kauai.What a beautiful place. Another trip to Hawaii? Who knows? There is still the big island that deserves a closer look.
|Mahalo = thank you|