We had heard that Hawaii was beautiful and of all the Hawaiian Islands Kauai was the most spectacularly beautiful. We decided to do a short five day trip to Kauai from 24 January to 29 January. This blog captures some of our beautiful memories along the way.
People were right – Kauai, also called the garden isle is a spectacularly beautiful island and a paradise for nature lovers. The mesmerising beauty and the tranquility makes you introspect and reconnect with your inner self.
Some random tidbits about Kauai before I talk about what we did:
There are stray chickens EVERYWHERE! Where do they come from and why do people let them wander around when they could eat them?
As with all indigenous cultures, there are many myths and stories associated with this island. The Dalai Llama considers this island very special to Tibetan Buddhism because their scripture says this is the island where spirits enter and leave the earth. The spirits enter this world in Anahola and exit in Polihale. There is an interesting myth related to these locations – the love story of Hiku and Kawelu. Hiku met a beautiful girl named Kawelu, the two fell in love and soon married. Hiku and Kawelu were happy together most of the time but, like all couples, they had arguments. One day after an argument, Hiku got upset, left Kawelu and returned to the mountains. Heartbroken, Kawelu waited for him in vain. She killed herself in grief when he didn’t return. When Hiku found out what happened, he deeply regretted what he had done and decided to go to the land of the dead, Polihale, to bring Kawelu back. He descended into the valley of the Waimea Canyon and wandered around Poe until he found Kawelu’s spirit. He begged her to return. Kawelu’s spirit came to life and the lovers were reunited.
There is an island called Niihau – a single family has owned the island for more than 150 years and this island remains isolated from the outside world. Legend has it that Niihau was purchased by the Sinclair family in the 1860s. The island’s inhabitants — known as Niihauans — were allowed to stay, but access to the island by outsiders (including anyone from another Hawaiian island) was restricted. To this day, only Niihauans, the Robinsons (the descendants of the Sinclair family), and the occasional invited guest are allowed there.
Mark Zuckerberg has recently bought a 700 acres slice of this paradise.
We flew Hawaiian Airlines from Sydney to Honolulu and then to Kauai. First things first, a thumbs up to the airline. The food was good, the service was friendly and it was lovely. When every other airline is focused on cutting costs, they were very generous. We even got socks, eye patches and ear muffs!
The couple next to us were incredibly fat and annoying. The lady complained about crying babies, their parents, toilet queues, the food .. almost everything. My prayer – God whenever I travel, don’t put me next to whingers.
There is so much to do – treks, canoeing, snorkeling, scuba diving. It was impossible to cover all this activity but we tried to do our best. The island is small enough to drive around in a day. It is inhabited primarily along the coast and the inlands are still untouched and spectacularly beautiful. While we couldn’t do everything we wanted to do, here is a recount of what we did.
Day one – Na Pali coast
Na Pali is one of the most beautiful and pristine coastlines in the world. A strenuous foot trail that stretches across 17 rugged kilometres from Ke`e Beach to Kalalau Valley, this stretch is only accessible by foot. We walked along the extremely challenging terrain many times wondering if we should turn back because it was wet and slippery. We persisted and came back with filthy shoes, clothes, not to mention sore butts! We only walked the first seven kilometres and back. The only way you can walk the entire stretch is if you camp overnight before heading back. We relaxed at the beautifully relaxing Ke`e Beach after the trek.
Day two – Hindu Monastery – Wailua Falls – Waimea Canyon – Kalalau Lookout
The Iraivan temple is located right next to the Wailua river. Set in an incredibly picturesque location, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. There is a spatika (crystal) lingam. Nataraja, Ganesha and Shanmuga are the main deities. Not too far from the temple we visited a rudraksha farm owned by the temple. The location, ambience and the general vibe of the temple make it a ‘must visit’ place – solace for the soul!
The backdrop for many movies and shows, the Wailua falls is very beautiful. The standout memories – the fertile red soil along the way, the spectacular sights and the beautiful birds.
Also called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, the Waimea Canyons are rugged and majestic. A deeply spiritual place that makes you feel truly insignificant. So magnificent, so mighty, so mysterious, so overwhelming, so scary, so moving … words cannot describe how I felt at this place. I particularly enjoyed the spectacular light show put on by nature – the shadows added beauty and depth to the beauty of the canyons. Don’t miss the mangoes and rambutans sold at the parking lot!
Kalalau Lookout is also the highest point in Kauai by road, at 4,000 feet. It offers one of the greatest views of Kauai with the valley and the backdrop of the Na Pali coastline. We were told the views were spectacular on a sunny day but we just caught glimpses of what could have been on a rather cloudy day.
Day three – Helicopter ride – Ferntree Grotto
We debated a lot whether we should do the helicopter tour as we weren’t sure the experience would warrant the price tag. For anyone having the same dilemma JUST DO IT!! It was the best thing we did in Kauai. A helicopter tour is perhaps the best way to see the island of Kauai. As I’ve already mentioned, the island is most inhabited along the coast making most of the island is inaccessible by land. The only way to see these areas is from the air.
Our helicopter tour lasted just about an hour. Flying around the island we saw the stunning Na Pali coast (and an odd dancing whale), Jurassic Park Falls, the Hanapepe Valley, Waimea Canyon, the Hanalei Valley and many other beautiful waterfalls.
To describe how I felt is incredibly difficult – I moved alongside the clouds, flew with the birds, looked down at the stunning views – the red brown mountains, the lush vegetation along the coast, the waterfalls that were everywhere, the crystal clear ocean and told myself with a lump in my throat ‘There must be a God’! I wondered if the creator up there would feel a sense of indulgent pride at this vision!
This is a one-and-a-half-hour trip. The two mile river journey in an open air boat offers lovely views. It was very calming and relaxing. On the boat, we heard songs and stories of ancient Hawaii. In addition, the crew teach you to do the hula – even the most reluctant and hesitant dancers got into the act during At the Fern Grotto landing, we enjoyed a short nature walk through the rainforest where our guides showed us the plants and shrubs that were important to their lives. We then proceeded to the lush Fern Grotto.
The Fern Grotto is a geological wonder of Kauai. Ferns grow upside down from the roof of the grotto, which was formed millions of years ago. Native Hawaiian plants and colorful exotic tropical plants provide a rain-forest atmosphere. The whole area is so fertile, lush and beautiful. You wonder if there are more beautiful spots on this earth.
Day 4 – relaxing day on the beach
A quiet day walking along the coast relaxing and reflecting with a certain amount of despair at having to leave all this beauty behind to get back to work!
We saw this cute little baby seal sunbathing on the coast. The local volunteers told us that the mum seal looked after the baby for a short time after which she went back into the ocean for her own survival. The baby was now fending for herself – she had survived but not without some scars. Poor baby! Why can’t human parents let go like the other creatures do?
Einstein is so right – “Joy in looking and comprehending is nature’s most beautiful gift”.