Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hawaii (Kauai, Days 3 & 4)

Day 3:

We were all pretty tired the day after the Nu'alolo hike, so we decided to take it easy. First, we drove up to the Ke'e Beach, at the very end of Hwy 560 on the north shore. The famous Kalalau Trail starts from this point, and extends for 11 miles across the Na Pali coast, but we weren't about to attempt any part of it that day. Instead, we hung out on the beach and did some swimming, and although we were close to shore, we saw quite a few fish.

Here's a photo of the beach, with the beginning of the Na Pali coast in the background:

After a couple hours, we headed for the Hanalei Bay pier, where we signed up for a 90-minute surfing lesson. The instructors (two for the six of us) gave us huge, wide surfboards, showed us how to paddle and how to stand, and then spent the next hour pushing us into waves. I was able to stand up most of the time as long as the instructors were pushing us, but then they gave us 20-30 minutes of free time with the boards, and I couldn't catch a single wave. Later I talked to a friend who surfs, and she said it was likely that I was having timing problems rather than issues with paddling strength. Apparently you have to catch the wave with an accuracy of about a foot or two, otherwise you'll completely miss the wave. I now have a whole new respect for surfers.

Here are some of the other people learning to surf in Hanalei Bay:

At this point we were really hungry, so we rinsed off and headed to the Ching Young Village in Hanalei, which is a shopping center with lots of shops and restaurants (none of which are Chinese, despite the suggestive name). We ate at the Polynesia Cafe, where I had a Kalua Pork sandwich and some yummy fries. We also bought several homemade desserts to take home, including a coffee macadamia cookie, a lilikoi mousse cake, and a macadamia fudge coconut tiramisu cake. We topped the food off with a shave ice from Shave Ice Paradise, which was not as good as Matsumoto's, although we were now better at picking flavors (guava, lime, and li hing mui, aka preserved plum). Some people also grabbed coffee from Java Kai, and then we drove the hour and a half back home.

Four of us were staying together in the condo at the Kiahuna Plantation, so it took about an hour or so for us all to shower and get cleaned up. Aftewards, we hung out organizing pictures and using our free internet connection for awhile, and then invited the other two people over for dinner. We had bought groceries the day before, and so we were able to produce a spaghetti dinner, with ground beef, onions, and mushrooms in the sauce, and salad and French bread on the side. We all split the Polynesia Cafe goodies for dessert. I really do enjoy having a kitchen and living area when on extended vacation.

Day 4:

The groom from the wedding in Honolulu decided to come hang out with us in Kauai after his family left town, and so early on the next day, he flew in to join us. One person picked him up at the airport and we all met up at Kipu Falls, a watering hole with a 20-foot waterfall. Both locals and tourists like to jump off the cliff into the waterfall, and/or jump from a nearby rope swing. After we munched on some malasadas (big doughnut holes stuffed with red bean paste) and other baked goods for breakfast, all of the guys did the rope swing, and one did the cliff jump as well. I passed on both and did camera duty. Unfortunately, we had one slight injury; one person hurt his hand crossing the stream to get to the rope swing, since the rocks were pretty slippery, so we decided to keep things chill for the rest of the day.

After leaving Kipu Falls, we drove up to Wailua Falls, which is quite a different kind of waterfall:

The official height is 80 feet, but according to our guidebook author, who actually measured it, it's actually 180 feet tall. As we were standing at the railing looking at it, a local told us a story of two men who jumped off of the side last year. One broke his leg on impact, and was waving at the second to tell him not to jump, but unfortunately the second guy couldn't hear him, so he jumped anyway, and broke his shoulder.

It was raining a little bit, so we drove back to Poipu and hung out in the condo for awhile waiting for the weather to get better. After an hour or so, it cleared up a bit, so four of us walked to the Kiahuna Beach, right outside our own door:

We checked out free beach chairs and towels from the beach hut, set them up on the sand, and then went swimming for a bit. On the left side of the beach, we saw several types of fish, including a long, thin, pencil-shaped fish, and a larger fish with black stripes. The right side of the beach was much rougher, but the waves were kind of fun, so we spent some time there anyway, before retiring to our beach chairs.

Unfortunately, we had only been lounging for about twenty minutes when the rain came back in full force, and we quickly returned the beach chairs and ran back to our condo. It lasted quite awhile, so we decided to get cleaned up in case the weather stayed bad, and our only option was to go get dinner. We had actually been quite lucky with weather so far (it normally rains a lot in Kauai in the winter) so I was afraid that maybe our luck at turned.

However, the rain stopped after about an hour, so we drove to the Spouting Horn, which was only a few minutes away. I'm not sure what it is about the rocks in Kauai, but apparently it's quite common for them to erode in such a way that the water comes in underneath and then spouts up through holes, looking like little geysers. The Spouting Horn is the most famous such blowhole, partially because it's quite large, and partially because the water makes a kind of mooing, whooshing noise when it comes out:

It sounds cheesy but is actually quite fun to watch, and there are all these little blowholes nearby, so we spent some time hanging out in the area and exploring the rocks (again bypassing the safety railings).

After we left, we headed to the Poipu Shopping Village for dinner. We were a bit early, so we watched the sun set, and I took some photos:

Then, we met up with the rest of the group at Poipu Tropical Burgers. The restaurant was recommended by the guidebook, but I wasn't all that impressed. The burgers were fine, although the guava BBQ sauce that I had on mine was a little bit sweeter than necessary, but the service wasn't great; one person asked to substitute a chicken patty for a beef patty, and they obviously had chicken, since there were several teriyaki chicken burgers on the menu, but the waitress refused, without even consulting the kitchen. She also seemed annoyed when it took us awhile to decide on our menu selections. Nevertheless, the food was decent, and generously portioned.


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