Wednesday, April 27, 2011

kauai - day 4

tuesday brought about our hike on the kalalau trail, so we were out the door by 7am for the hour-long drive to the end of the north shore. the trail goes as far as 11 miles one way, but because we're here for only a short time, we opt to do the 8-mile roundtripper to hanakapi'ai falls. it's a slightly treacherous hike due to the slippery rocks (the north shore receives the most rainfall on the island) and boulder hopping across streams, but the variety and challenge make it most worthwhile.

not to mention the views... as the first two miles virtually hug the na pali coast as you make your way up, then down to hanakapi'ai beach.

the beach is unique in that there are a number of vertical rock formations littered throughout the shore:

heading to the falls, there are a few stretches where the trail isn't so clearly delineated because of the multiple stream crossings, so it's a relief that there are a few pink ribbons (below left) interspersed to affirm you're on the right path. below right you can see hanakapi'ai falls in the distance...

and here it is up close:

the second best part of reaching the falls is getting to feast on the spam musubi we brought with us.

fully refueled, we make our way back, but not before one last look...

we successfully made it back to our car at 1:30pm, so a little over 5 hours in full. since we're on the north shore headed back to the east side, we make a pitstop at hanalei taro & juice co. for a smoothie and for their taro mochi cake, which is out of this world. i don't say that about much, but it has to be tasted in order to be believed. wow.

on the drive back to kapa'a, we stopped for a few postcard-worthy panoramas. first, the hanalei valley lookout, where most of the taro grown in all of hawaii is grown here:

lastly, a shot of the kilauea lighthouse which was constructed in 1913:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

kauai - day 3

had reservations on monday morning for a kayak/hike excursion with kayak wailua, so we met up at 9:45am for our orientation and headed out shortly after. our group consisted of a honeymooning couple from denver, an indian family of four and another family of three. after unloading at wailua marina, heidi & i jumped in a two-person tandem kayak and headed upstream for two miles. weather was ideal - a little cloud cover on an 81 degree day - so it was good to get out there and flex the rowing muscles.

we hitched our kayaks near an old hawaiian village and continued our expedition on foot thru the tropical forest. while crossing a one-foot high stream, heidi nearly fully submerged, which kept our entire group in good humor the rest of the day.

after about a mile, we arrive at secret falls (uluwehi waterfalls), where we broke for lunch before heading back to our kayaks.

after we returned to our cars, we headed straight to hawaiian blizzard for our first shave ice of the trip. heidi had the lychee/coconut/pineapple concoction with snowcap and i opted for the li hing mui (plum)/passionfruit. so good.

for dinner, we did takeout at mermaid's cafe for their unmatched ahi nori wrap - seared ahi in a spinach wrap w/rice, cucumber, nori, wasabi cream sauce, pickled ginger & soy sauce - and took that back to our place to enjoy with a few local beers...

Monday, April 25, 2011

kauai - day 2

woke up 'relatively' early to grab breakfast at kountry kitchen in kapa'a, where peeps were already lined up out the door - my kind of place! i had the amazing macadamia nut pancakes w/coconut syrup, heidi had the polynesian omelette (kim chee, portuguese sausage) w/hash browns.

we were planning to hike the famed kalalau trail, but because sunday is a rest day for most on the island, a few of the places we wanted to hit on the north shore were closed. so, perfect day for a drive to and up waimea canyon!

along the way, made a pitstop at the kauai coffee company, where one could sample all of their varietals in a relaxed plantation setting steps away from the coast. even though i don't normally sip the java, their hawaiian coconut caramel crunch is the truth:

making our way up waimea canyon drive (approx. 40min from our spot on the eastside), before we even hit the waimea canyon lookout we stopped at the side of the road for this ho-hum vista:

between mile markers 10 and 11 is the lookout of waimea canyon, dubbed the "grand canyon of the pacific." not nearly as expansive as its brethren, it still stretches 14 miles long, 1 mile wide and more than 3,600 ft deep, and the sight is truly one to behold.

one thing i didn't know about kauai was its abundance of wild roosters, hens & chicks roaming the island. they are everywhere - parking lots, outdoor restaurants, parks - and it's quite hilarious to see them clucking about.

at the end of waimea canyon drive is the pu'u o kila lookout, where we parked and embarked on a short 2.4 mile roundtrip hike to pihea peak. trails differ greatly from the ones back home, as they are much rockier, muddy and slippery out here due to the abundant rainfall.

starving after all of the activity, we made a beeline to shrimp station for their coconut shrimp, then took a stroll down the street for a mouthwatering pint at waimea brewing company.

lastly, dinner was in poipu at josselin's tapas bar & grill, where we feasted on:

* lychee sangrias from a portable sangria cart!
* poached oxtail ravioli, vietnamese pho broth
* wood oven roasted kauai mushrooms, potato foam, red miso powder
* blue cheese panna cotta, mixed greens, candied walnuts
* seared diver scallops, vietnamese caramel
* 36-hour braised pork belly, apple kim chee, rosemary orange local honey

the food at josselin's was a revelation - inventive, playful and most importantly delicious. i didn't think anything could compare with saturday's dinner, but this was every bit as amazing...

parting shot is this panorama of the na pali coast: