Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kauai, fun things to do on the North and East sides

Kauai, Jan 2015

I love lighthouses!

This is the Kilauea lighthouse, it's super cute!

You can tour the lighthouse, check out the gift shop, watch wales and bird watch (this is where I saw the red-footed boobies and Nene).  I saw a couple of photographers waiting for perfect shots, so also a good place for photography.

The north is a great place to see the taro fields.

We of course hung out on the beach, this is Wainiha, but they are all fantastic.

The panorama function didn't function...

One of the best things we did was rent bikes
As you are driving the highway, you see this sign, so we had to check it out.  Turns out it is the self service branch of Hele on Kauai Bike Rentals.  Fantastic!  So Easy!  You pick out the bike you like, call them up and they tell you the lock combination and take your credit card number and off you go.  

First we rode north to the end of the path.

We rode south past more gorgeous beaches, like Donkey beach.  

Great views from the path that you just can't get from the road.

There is a section with no bike path and you have to be on the road but we felt it was worth it to continue all the way south to Lydgate park. Extremely family friendly with  a section of the ocean walled off to make a baby pool and an easy snorkel area.  Lot of picnic tables and play areas.  The best is the Kamalani Kai bridge.  
The embedded art was made by local kids

The bridge has many extra twists and turns, would be a great place for a game of tag.  Then we rode back, dropped off the bikes and got snacks at the Green Pig food truck.  I would recommend at least 3 hours to bike the whole things-these are cruisers, not road bikes.  We stopped to read every single informational sign and also had lunch.  If you want to actually sit on the beach, take the whole day!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Kauai, flora and fauna

Kauai January 2015

I love the weird plants and animals and Kauai has their share.
This little guy was so fast I almost missed him.

These flowers (?) look like little lanterns.

The flower looks like strawberry, the fruit is almost a raspberry, but it is neither and apparently quite sour.

Sugar cane

as fruit on the tree

as roasted beans

and coconuts pretending to be coffee.

coffee bushes in front, interesting evergreen lookalikes in the back

they are stunning in the sunset

Pretty flowers

An illustration of the pandanus on the right.

The pandanus fruit looks a little like a pineapple when it is green.

As it ripens the individual pods fall off,

often a bunch at a time.

The most important animal on the island is the chicken. 
They are all over the place-many got displaced in the hurricane and are now sort of wild.  But still hanging around people.  We named them all Bob.

These guys are all along the Kalalau trail

ah camouflage 

this little guy might be an import...

Nene, the Hawaiian goose, smaller and calmer than the Canadian type. 

See all those white dots?  Red footed Boobies!  Bring your binoculars and you can see them quite well.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Kauai, The Na Pali Coast, Hiking the Kalalau Trail

Kauai January 2015

The Na Pali coast trail, Kalalau Trail, is routinely labeled as one of the most beautiful and most dangerous hikes in the world.  There is no road around the island so you have to hike or kayak (summer only).  You can also take a helicopter tour, but that  ruins it for the hikers-just don't.  There are a couple of places to camp if you have a permit and it was totally worth it.  It is a work out, the whole trail is constantly up or down, much of the trail is rock, and the wet parts are slippery.

They even have this sign with the number of folks who have died in the ocean.

The first 2 miles-no permit needed to get to Hanakapi Beach.  Lots of folks do this.  You can even go inland to an amazing waterfall, but the trail is not well marked and a bit tricky.

The next 4 miles to the first campsite.  Some folks do this out and back as a day trip.  After that it is 5 miles to Kalalua valley and the final campsite.

The very first sign post is where you turn around an look at Ke'e beach

like this!  Totally worth it (even though it is all uphill) if you do nothing else.  One of our zipline guys is a local, been on Kauai 35 years and has done nothing more than this quarter mile.

We were looking to recreate a photo that was taken on our previous trip in 1994.  Of course I hadn't actually looked at the old photo until we got back-I think we got it right.   Someday I will scan those old photos and put up a comparison....someday.

Hanakapi beach
and if you look closely you will see there are dozens of hiking 'ducks'

like this one.

When we hiked back the next day it was lunch time, filled with people and all the 'ducks' were gone (guessing that it was the tide).

The trail is wonderful
When you aren't on the coast you are in the jungle.

it is rocky

and slick.

Note to self-long sleeves good, next time were the long hiking pants like E-.  The trail is super narrow and I got bitten/scratched and was itching for days!

So we decided to spend the night at the first campsite in Hanakoa Valley rather than push on for the long hike and be miserable.  Most folks on the trail are young and just bomb through.  If you are not a regular hiker you might be able to make the 6 miles but it will be hard.  I have heard it can be really wet but there hadn't been any rain for almost a week so it was sweet for us.

The sites are relatively unmarked, just some flatter spots scattered throughout.  We found this one under a huge old mango tree.  Logistics-wise you can totally bring all your own gear or rent.  We brought some stuff but rented the tent, sleeping bags and pads from Peddle N Paddle.  Super nice folks who can sell you any stuff you need.  Also recommend using the North Shore Shuttle to get to the Trail Head.  The parking is way bad-it is the end of the road and everyone comes to the beach and just to see the end.  Plus it is better to not leave your car overnight.

Kauai has feral cats all over the place and this little guy (Pulgas) was still young and friendly.  He ate a bunch of our Pad Thai.  We were wondering if we should try to bring him back to the Humane Society but he was gone in the morning.

The hike back has the same amazing views but each day the ocean is different.

Just can't get over the scenery both ocean view

and internal view.

On the way in we knew we needed to make the 6 miles, but we missed the 5 mile marker.  And you know how you are like, man, maybe we missed it?  Or maybe I am more tired than I thought-that would suck!  We were super happy to find marker 6, but on the way back out we made sure to mot miss 5 (now 1 mile in our direction) and note it well!

We are almost back to the trail head-yeah!  It was a tough hike, knocked us on our butts and yet was also fantastic-would do it again!