Thursday, January 11, 2007

Hawaii (Kauai, Days 1 & 2)

Day 1:

Six of us who attended the wedding in Oahu decided to hop over to Kauai for a few days. We caught a pretty late flight out of Honolulu on New Year's Day, so it was dinner time when we arrived in Lihue.

After checking into our condo at the Kiahuna Plantation (on the south shore, in Poipu), we walked to the Poipu Shopping Village to get something to eat. The first restaurant we tried had closed at 7:30pm (maybe because of the holiday?) so we ended up eating sandwiches at e.b.'s Eats. The food was only so-so, but we were pretty hungry at the time.

Afterwards, we bought some extremely expensive groceries at Whaler's General Store. We were slightly horrified at the prices until we read in our guidebook, The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook: Kauai Revealed, that all groceries in Kauai were overpriced.

Day 2:

Our goal for the first full day in Kauai was to hike the 11.3 mile Nu'alolo-Awa'awapuhi loop. The guidebook recommended that hikers begin the loop by 10am, but we got off to a late start, and what with the hour and a half drive from Poipu to the Koke'e Lodge (where the loop begins) we didn't get going until about 10:45am.

Here's a map of the entire loop:

The first part of the loop, the 3.4 mile Nu'alolo Trail, is mostly downhill after a short initial climb. However, it was a bit slippery that day, since it had been raining just as we were starting out, so we stopped briefly to hunt down some walking sticks. After that we hiked straight on to the end of the Nu'alolo, and then onto the 0.4 mile side path leading to the Lolo Vista Point.

There was a good view of the Nu'alolo Valley at the end of the path, but it was obvious that if we hiked on past the safety railing, we could get an even better look, so we did so. We were rewarded with a better view of both the valley and the coast, and also discovered a nice flat patch of red dirt on which we decided to take our lunch break.

After eating, we retraced our steps back up the side path, and then started on the 2.1 mile Nu'alolo Cliffs Trail. Somewhere near the beginning of this trail, there was a strongly worded sign that warned hikers to proceed on the next quarter mile at their own risk, and indeed the trail soon became narrow and rocky, with a pretty scary looking drop on the left side. Luckily, that part was short. Unluckily, the rest of the trail consisted mostly of whacking our way through vegetation several feet taller than myself. The Cliffs Trail was certainly not designed for large hikers.

At the end of that trail, there was another side path, 0.3 miles this time, leading to a second vista point. We were making pretty good time, despite our late start, so we decided to check it out. In my opinion, the second vista was better than the first, with views of the Na Pali coast as well as both the Nu'alolo and Awa'awapuhi valleys.

Here's a photo (although it's not particularly representative of the view):

After a short water break and photo session, we headed back up the side path and onwards to the 3.1 mile Awa'awapuhi Trail. The last two miles of this trail are mostly uphill, and I started counting quarter mile markers well before the end. We made it back to the road at about 5pm, an hour before sunset, but still had the 1.5 mile downhill section of Waimea Canyon Road to hike, which took us another 30-40 minutes.

We got back to our cars and had some snacks and drinks (we had cleverly remembered to bring a 2 gallon jug of water, which we polished off in no time) and then drove up the last section of the Waimea Canyon Road to the Kalalau Lookout, to catch the sunset.

Although I was pretty hungry, I still managed to enjoy the view:

It took us another hour and a half to get back to Poipu, plus we stopped in Waimea for some more groceries (Big Save, cheaper than the General Store), so when we finally sat down to eat dinner at Pizzetti's, an pseudo-Italian place, I was starving. I ended up eating four ribs (with guava BBQ sauce), three slices of pizza, and a bunch of mashed potatoes and some other sides. I really can't say whether the restaurant was any good; the food tasted awesome, but I couldn't tell if it was because I was so hungry, or whether the food was actually tasty.


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