Kauaʻi – West and South Shore/Waimea Canyon
On Saturday we packed and left for Waimea on the southwest side of the island, stopping at Koloa Landing to snorkel. It was very primitive, really just a boat launch with no facilities; it was difficult to even get changed. But the fish sightings were good. A family was spearfishing and one of them had speared a small fish (about 6”). Nevertheless, he was proud and they asked me to take a picture to memorialize the occasion. A teenager started to hand me her Canon Rebel, then seemed to have second thoughts. “Do you know how to use an SLR?” she asked. Several humorous remarks came into my head, but in view of our age difference, I just smiled and said: “Yes, I have the same camera.” Then the irony really hit me: it seemed like only last year that some one handed me a smartphone and asked if I knew how to take a picture with it.
After two sessions, we headed for Poʻipu Beach to relax. It was a gorgeous beach with beautiful mountains towering above. It had shower/changing rooms and Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” medley was playing in the background. J did a brief snorkel trip, but saw nothing.
Our suite at Waimea Inn was roomy, with all the amenities-highly recommended. We checked in and went out looking for food. At the first place we came to, the Shrimp Station, the workers said they had closed at 5:00 (it was 5:10). We found an Asian take out place and took some food down to the Lucy Wright Beach Park and watched the sun set over the Waimea State Recreation Pier. Little did we know that this would be the easiest food acquisition of the trip.
Waimea Canyon Drive
Sunday morning the hotel proprietor directed us to two possible breakfast places in Waimea and said we could also drive up to Kokeʻe Lodge for breakfast. Both places in town were closed. We started up Waimea Canyon Road, stopping at various vantage points to admire the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”. Arrived at Kokeʻe Lodge, around 11:00 but that was closed, too. There was a sign on the door claiming they didn’t have power, but we later found out that they used that excuse more often than it actually happened.
Starving, we arrived at the end of the road – Kalalau Lookout, with stunning views of the Na Pali Coast and its ridges and hanging valleys. Never had we seen anything so spectacular and we were sure we never would top this vista. Scores of movies have been filmed here – Jurassic Park, King Kong, and Six Days/Seven Nights among them.
Luckily we had brought lunch, since food did not seem readily available on this part of the island. The guidebook promised even more spectacular views if we hiked a few miles toward the coast. I’ll never understand why human beings, having just witnessed the most spectacular sight on earth, immediately want to see something “better.” And are willing to hike 7 miles to see it, but that’s what we did. It was our intention to hike Nuʻalolo Trail to Lolo Vista where Harrison Ford allegedly had his tree shaking tantrum in Six Days/Seven Nights, and return on Awa-ʻawapuhi Trail but the Cliff Trail which connects them was still closed due to dangerous conditions. So we hiked 3.5 miles, descending 2000 feet on Awa-ʻawapuhi to Awa-ʻawapuhi Lookout.
It was hard to believe but the views were even more breathtaking than Kalalau Lookout. It is unimaginably gorgeous with sheer green cliffs and knife edge ridges. You can get as close to the edge as you would like, but if you fall, it’s another 2000’ straight down to the water. Then it was time to pay for the view, with a 3.5 mile, 2000 foot ascent.
Heading back down to Waimea, the traffic finally thinned out enough for me to put the Mustang through its paces. I was having a good old time until J mentioned that maybe I should slow down but when I looked over to make a joke and saw her white knuckles, I took my cue and eased off the accelerator. We headed for the Wrangler Steak House in Waimea but of course it was closed. So off to Hanapepe where we found the Kauaʻi Island Brewery. The food was good, the beer was better. The New England Patriots were playing a west coast team and to our astonishment, everyone in the place was cheering for the Pats.