Kauai, HI

January 28, 2015

I had saved writing up this post and looking at these pictures of perfect weather and beach for a cold, bad winter week, when I'd be in a desperate need of a quick pick me up. Turns out, I'm not sure where winter went. It's sunny and warm, and snow on our beloved mountains seem to be melting faster than it's accumulating. People were walking around town in shorts and t-shirts just a few days ago, and they should probably have been wearing sunscreen. Oh wait, all of winter headed east this year. Sorry, I would have been happy to share some too.

Back in December, before everything started getting messy and rough, we met up with two great friends in Kauai for a few days. There are a lot of reasons why I love living on the West Coast, the mild winters being one, and they easily add up to the fact that I never want to leave. The direct, cheap flight to Hawaii doesn't quite make my top 5 reasons but let me tell you, it's for sure on the pros list. Our friends were there for 2 weeks, and we met them for 4 days, enough to catch up, relax, soak in the sun and wish we could stay longer. We were overall pretty lucky with the weather, and loved every minute of the trip.

Graham and I met when he was living in Seattle, WA, and I was living in Victoria, BC. Our relationship involved a lot of ferries, seaplanes and road trips. Since at least one of us always had to travel, it made sense to start planning trips together early on, and our first big trip together was 10 days in Maui. We absolutely loved it, and were very excited to have the chance to discover yet another Hawaiian island. Our friends had rented a nice condo a few minutes walk from Poipu beach, on the southern part of the island, and we were very thankful for the pullout couch.

We had breakfast on the Lanai every morning with the wild chickens, birds and lizards. We went snorkelling right from the beach, unfortunately missing the giant turtles but finding so many beautiful, colourful fishes that I spent most of the time screaming "Look, look, wow!" to myself I guess, since no one could hear me. I was just that excited. Most evenings we made it to Poipu Beach State Park for sunset, bringing with us a few beers, some bubbly and POG, some snacks and we simply sat on the sand, enjoying the view.

One morning we followed the Maha'ulepu Heritage Trail along the lithified cliffs of the southern coast, from Shipwrecks Beach at the Grand Hyatt to Gillin's and Kawailoa Beaches, which we pretty much had to ourselves. The clouds lifted as we started hiking, and I couldn't believe how beautiful it was. My friend kept telling me it was only going to get better; obviously I doubted her, and obviously she was right. The views were amazing, and we even spotted some giant turtles swimming below. Even though it was early in the day, the hike was particularly hot in the sun, and we more than welcomed the refreshing swim at the end. 

Later that day we went to one of the farmers' markets, filling up on fresh tropical fruits for the next few days, which turned into the most delicious breakfast smoothies. The second day we headed north, to check out the much busier Hanalei Beach on the north, lush side of the island.  

We kept driving 'til the end of the road, towards more beaches, a strange large cave and Ke'e beach, the southwestern point of the Na Pali coast, where the road ends. The next 11 miles of coast line, all the way to Polihale State Park, can only be accessed by land via the Kalalau Trail, which I would love to hike one day. 

Our last full day was spent on the east side of the island, starting at Wailua Falls. After a quick stop to admire the falls, we headed to Waimea Canyon, where we had planned to hike for a few hours. The canyon is absolutely stunning, and you may recognize it from Jurassic Park. Unfortunately for me the road is the windiest I can remember, and I was pretty close to losing my breakfast. The clouds closed in as we drove up, and the view pretty much disappeared. The rain started just as we reached the starting point of our hike, which seemed less and less tempting in a white-out and on the slippery red dirt, so we turned around and headed back to the beach.

We followed the dirt road up to Polihale State Park, avoiding potholes as best as we could, and walked along the beach for a little while before eating our packed lunches in the car, hiding from the small sandstorm.

We stopped by Kauai Coffee Company before heading home, sampling a few (for most of us) or several (for Graham) coffee varieties and walking around the grounds. We rarely ate out on this trip, preferring to BBQ, sear Ahi tuna and make Mahi Mahi fish tacos at home. We did however stop for Lappert's ice cream most days, and had a great Happy Hour at Tortilla Republic in Poipu. I would go back in a heartbeat, to eat passion fruit and ice cream every day, hike and read on the beach. 

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