My second backdated post, this one all the way back to just after high school. My parents graduation gift was a week anywhere in the US, and I chose Hawaii, Kauai specifically.
I went on this trip with three of my high school friends (my girlfriend’s parents wouldn’t let her go, for obvious reasons). We didn’t backpack; instead we did day trips from our timeshare (this is how my parents travel and I hadn’t developed my own methods yet).
Alright, enough prefacing. Onto Kauai!
DAY 1 – We flew to the island, then took a taxi to our timeshare. This was my first time to Hawaii, my first time in the tropics, and I immediately discovered that it was amazing.
Our time share was on Pee Road (supposed to be Pe’e, but the apostrophe was missing). We thought this was hilarious.
Part of a giant pond centerpiece in our timeshare. It was beautiful.
Lillie pads in the pond. This is one of my favorite pictures from the trip.
Our resorts beach-like pool. It was so big I couldn’t capture even half of it in one photograph.
One of our resort’s two jacuzzis. We spent a lot of time here, got kicked out of it once (for being in after-hours), met lots of cool people, and even got the hairs on our legs singed and one of our board shorts ruined when, unbeknownst to us, someone bleached the water (the resort apologized, and also bought us new board shorts to replace our ruined ones).
DAY 2 – A mile from our resort is Poipu Beach, a beach that had recently been ranked best beach in the US by some organization (I can’t remember which, but I think it was the Travel Channel). So that’s where we went.
Our mile trek to Poipu was almost entirely along the coast, which meant we constantly walked by places like this.
Poipu Beach. Quaint and secluded, with beautiful palm trees and sand that massages your feet. But as great as these were, they weren’t what made this the best beach in the US.
This is what makes Poipu the best beach in the US (this and snorkeling, but more on that later). Basically, the shape of the beach causes the waves to curve both clockwise and counter-clockwise around a small island, and you can stand/walk where the waves meet, having them hit you from both sides. It was a very unique experience and also lots of fun.
The beach from the island. This picture taken at low tide.
We stayed at Poipu until sunset, then walked back to our resort. Once back, we went to another beach to enjoy the night.
This is Shipwreck Beach, located next to our resort. This beach got its name because it is extremely rocky, although you can’t see that in this photograph.
DAY 3 – While at Shipwreck Beach last night, we noticed a giant resort nearby, neighboring (and dwarfing) our resort. So today, we went to check it out.
Shipwreck Beach and the resort behind it, taken from our resort. On the far left you can see some of rocks that inspired the beach’s name, and the giant rock on the right is actually the cliff Harrison Ford and Anne Heche (or at least their stunt doubles) jumped off of in Six Days, Seven Nights.
A surfer at Shipwreck Beach. If you couldn’t see the rocks before, you can definitely see them now. At one point, we tried boogie boarding on this beach, but the rocks made it pretty unenjoyable.
A small portion of this resort’s pond. It was much more impressive than the one at our resort.
Here are some birds that were at the resort. Very cool.
And here is the resort’s tropical themed pool. With a beach too.
The resort also had a river pool accompanying the pool pictured above. We actually swam in this pool, but we didn’t have the resort’s wristbands, so we got kicked out.
We got kicked out but we came back at night, to check out the resort’s luau.
Fire twirlers at the luau.
And a fire dancer. This was the main event, and he was awesome.
DAY 4 – Today we rented bicycles. Our plan was to ride all day and get a broader tour of the island, but after 45 minutes we were already tired, so we returned the bikes shortly after that.
My buddies and me, with our bikes.
We didn’t bike far but we did make it to Spouting Horn. How this worked was: over the years, the waves created a tunnel in the side of the rocky shore. At some point, about twenty feet into the tunnel, the ceiling collapsed. Now, when waves come in, they enter the tunnel, traverse the twenty feet, and then, if the wave is strong enough, the water shoots through the collapsed ceiling and into the sky. It was pretty cool.
After returning our bikes, we relaxed at our resort: we watched a movie, drank some alcohol (a big deal for us 18-year-old Americans; we found a market that didn’t card us, we should have taken more advantage of it!), and then spent way too much time in our resort’s Jacuzzi. This was also the night we got bleached.
DAY 5 – Today we went back to Poipu and went snorkeling. Snorkeling at Poipu was amazing; the wave gauntlet was sandy but the inlets beside the gauntlet were rocky and filled with fish. The inlets were also shallow enough to stand, so you literally just had to lean over, put your head in the water, and you were surrounded by fish.
Me in my snorkel gear. I look ridiculous.
Unfortunately, because of our singed legs, we weren’t able to snorkel long: the salt water was just too painful. I snorkeled for as long as I could, but once the stinging reached my crotch, I was outta there.
By evening, we went back to the our neighboring resort’s pool, where we got kicked out again, so we went in our resort’s jacuzzi (the other one, not the one that was bleached).
DAY 6 – Today, our last full day in Kauai, was our splurge day and we decided to spend it on an ATV tour. We went lots of cool places and the whole thing was super-fun, so check out the pictures below.
An abandoned sugar factory at the beginning of our journey. I’d say we’re off to a pretty good start!
On our ATVs, about to enter the tunnel that separates the civilized parts of the island from the wilderness.
“Welcome to Jurassic Park.” According to our guides, they shot several scenes from the film here.
An abandoned WWII bunker.
The end of our journey took us to these ponds and waterfalls, which we could jump and play in. This was a particularly nice ending to the trip because we were covered in dirt and dust (kicked up by the ATVs in front of us).
After the ATV tour, we went back to our resort. To get there, we shared a shuttle with a family staying at the resort next to us, and when we told them that we’d been kicked out of their resort twice, they gave us wristbands so we could go to the resort and stay!
Before going back to our neighboring resort, we made dinner, which consisted of barbecuing this four pound steak. It was delicious, and large enough for all of us.
We spent the evening in our neighboring resort’s pool. And you know what? Since we had wristbands and were allowed to be there, it wasn’t as fun (it was still fun, just not as fun).
DAY 7 – Today were headed home but our flight wasn’t until the afternoon. We toyed with trying to fit in a trip to the Nepali coast (the number one attraction on Kauai) but it was way on the other side of the island and we just didn’t have time. So instead, we relaxed, packed our things, and enjoyed a little more time at the beach, then got in our taxi and we were off.
A cool tree tunnel we stopped at on our way to the airport. The tunnel went on like this for almost a mile.
Everywhere we went in Kauai, we found wild turkeys. Apparently they escaped from a now out-of-business chicken coup, and they don’t have any predators on the island, allowing them to roam free.
Goodbye Kauai! You will be missed.
A map of our trip: our resort was The Point, the nicer resort was the Grand Hyatt, Makawehi Bluff is the Six Days Seven Nights rock, and Lawai is where we ATVed (I think, it’s been a while so I might be mistaken on this one). All told, we traveled ~45 miles by shuttle/taxi, 7 miles by bike, and 10 miles walking.
Despite all we did, we only saw a small corner of Kauai.
And we saw even less of the Hawaiian islands as a whole. I’m definitely going back, to Maui, to Oahu, to the Nepali coast. There’re so many places to go in this world, traveling is so much fun!