Through all the busy-ness of wedding planning and hecticness of travel, we had not had a chance to plan the activities on Kauai. This is the first order of business in Honolulu. We make several phone calls and book the next day’s activities during the transit. The hop to Lihu‘e is easy. Our luggage comes out very quickly, getting the rental car through Budget’s Fastbreak is easy, and soon, we’re heading out for lunch. We crave Thai food and find a place near the airport called Gingbua, or Lotus Stem. The food evokes memories from the previous week.
Waipouli Resort and Spa is a wonderful surprise. Centrally located for island travels and situated right on the beach, we open the doors to modern oceanfront living. We decide we would make breakfast together every morning and enjoy each day’s first meal and sunrise on our balcony overlooking Kauai’s eastern shores. First, though, there hula shows at the Coconut Marketplace and the Marriott Courtyard that we catch. Back at our resort, we have our first dinner at the Oasis on the Beach. The seared ahi will be the first of many more meals of ahi to come—grilled, raw, marinated.
Day 18 starts off bright and early heading out of Lihu‘e. We check in at Island Helicopters for a flight tour. Before long, we take off and circle the island, first up and over the southeastern ridge, then along Po‘ipu and the sunny southern coast before swinging over to what is known as Jurassic Park Falls. From there, we ascend over several more ridges and end up in the Waimea Canyon for spectacular views. Heading up to the northwest corner, we dive in and out of slots along the Na Pali Coast. The pilot swings around this spectacular coast another time, flies over Hanalei Bay and taro fields in the valley, introduces us to Princeville, and then heads back to the interior mountains for the last time. Then, we cross a ridge and end up in the Wailua drainage canyons and follow river back to the heliport. What a phenomenal introductory overview of the island.
The afternoon is spent kayaking the Wailua River upstream to its north fork. Moored in this fork, we stop for lunch: multigrain toast sandwich stuffed with tempeh and Maui onion potato chips. Then, we beach our boat and take a muddy trek up to Uluwehi Falls, otherwise known as Secret Falls in the marketing department. The trail is a slippery muddy mess, with each divot filled with rainwater. We meet crowds on this trail to a waterfall that is anything but secret. The falls itself is beautiful, but the feral chickens are too friendly. We had been warned to not feed them, as it will be hard to peel away once they find an easy handout. At the base of the falls, we snack on baby bell peppers and hummus dip while keeping the chickens away.
There is time left by the time we get back and clean up. We decide that chasing sunsets will be fun excursions when possible, so we strike out to the Kilauea Lighthouse to find that it had closed at 4:00 pm. Backtracking, we find a knoll from where we can see the faraway coastline with the Na Pali range rising out of the ocean. Soon, the last sliver of sun sneaks beneath the clouds and dips below the horizon.
Then, we enjoy a very nice dinner at Hukilau Lanai—huki for pulling, named after the pulling of nets to bring in the day’s catch. Here, we try some Hawaiian fish: ono and opah, both seasoned and grilled. The molten chocolate cake comes with whipped cream and ice cream. Now, we are overstuffed.
Back at the resort, we plan out the next days’ activities.