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Kauai, Paradise on Earth: Last Day

A Perfect 10.

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42427255@N00/sets/72157626551558261/with/5700615378/

As they say, “All good things must come to an end,” and this trip had been a very, very good thing.

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It was our last day on Kauai, but thanks to a 10 p.m. flight, it was a full day.

Knowing we had to be out of the villa by 10 a.m., I had contacted the Kauai Garden Inn near the airport and they had graciously offered us a $50 day rate for the use of a room until our flight that evening. The morning was spent packing, cleaning up, and saying “Goodbye” to our beautiful home away from home.

We hadn’t been to Waimea Canyon yet, so we hopped in the car and headed that way. We did a little shopping en route to break up the drive, but soon enough found ourselves driving into Waimea.

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A quick stop at Yumi’s confirmed that we were too late for coconut pies. She was already sold out for the day even though it was early. NO! I so wanted a coconut pie. Oh well, that just leaves a reason to come back, now doesn’t it?

We did the Canyon Rd. drive, heading up and up and up while munching on banana bread and dried mangoes and marveling at the incredible views stretching out in every direction.

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Aptly nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” the Waimea Canyon is a 10 mile long, mile wide, 3,600 feet deep chasm that cuts through the west side of Kauai and explodes in a burst of greens and reds at every vista overlook. The road gains about 4,000 feet in elevation as it climbs 18 miles up to the final lookout, which, on a clear day, affords a view through the lush northern valleys and mountains all the way to the ocean.

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This was, unfortunately, not a clear day. This was the view from the lookout.

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Despite the clear views all the way up, the fog at the very end was so thick and so dense, you couldn't see your hand in front of your face. So uncool.

After my second denial of the day (first no coconut pie now no view), I was getting grumpy. Figuring the best way to remedy this was to feed me, we headed back down to Waimea and stopped at the Shrimp Station for some beer battered shrimp and fries.

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Still not completely ungrumped, I also required a shave ice. In two trips to Hawaii, we still had not tried a shave ice. We had a hard time deciding between Jo Jo’s Anuenue (the original) and Jo Jo’s Shave Ice (the more popular imposter).

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As I am easily distracted by bright and shiny things, we ended up at Jo Jo’s on the main drag, for lack of a better deciding factor, simply because it was brighter and had more colorful signs. Besides, we had nothing to compare this to, so we wouldn’t really be able to negatively evaluate the shave ice, now would we?

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Overwhelmed with choices, I ended up with a mango-something-something with macadamia nut ice cream and Matt ended up with a chocolate-something-something with macadamia nut ice cream.

We quickly became fans and wondered why we hadn’t tried this earlier in our trip.

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It was still early, so we popped over to the Garden Inn, a super cute, super sweet little place and were quickly checked in. Our room was neat and clean, there were snacks out (like we needed more to eat), and we were shown where the beach towels, mats, chairs, and other beach goodies were. We dropped off our stuff in our room and grabbed some towels and chairs and walked across the street to Kalapaki Beach.

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Bordered by a Mariott and a park, Kalapaki isn’t a beach I would have chosen to spend a day on had it not been travel day and had this particular beach been so darn convenient. It was pretty enough, however, and the day was beautiful. Lots of surfers and boogie boarders were out on the waves and it made a great place to spend one last, lazy afternoon.

Eventually, we headed back to the Inn for showers and rest before doing a little last minute shopping in Lihue. There were lots of great little shops within walking distance and we were able to grab some last minute things to stuff our already overflowing suitcases with.

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We decided to grab a burger at Kalapaki Beach Hut for dinner. I remembered it from our previous trip. If memory served, they served up one mean hamburger.

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Memory served.

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This was such a seriously good burger that it made me sorry I had eaten that Duane's burger all over again. THIS is what a hamburger is all about. With a side of crispy fries, a cold soda, and a view of the beach from the upstairs deck, we soaked in one last blissful post-beach meal, knowing it was soon coming to a close.

With a little time left to kill, we wandered over to Dukes Barefoot Bar for one last mai tai and a gigantic hula pie.

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The sun was setting and a woman was sitting on the grass, flowers spread about her, making leis and giving them to the children that ran laughing about. Tiki torches were being lit, and laughter floated above the palms and the sand on the tide of a few mai tais.

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We sighed, heaving one last bite of macadamia nut ice cream and fudge sauce into our mouths, feeling the spirit of Aloha and the enchantment of this beautiful place settle into our bones, to carry home with us across the vast Pacific, and remind us of a kind and gentle place that is called Kauai.

Mahalo, a hui hou malama pono...

Posted by vicki_h 12:02 Archived in USA Tagged beach island tropical hawaii kauai

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Comments

Vicki-I just love your travel blog. I'm a fellow Tennessee girl too-and I ran across your blog last year researching info about sailing in the BVI's-we took our first sailboat trip there last June. Your blog helped me prepare for that first voyage! I always look forward to reading about your travels and your beautiful pictures. Happy Anniversary to you and your hubby! We are celebrating 11 years this year too-and went to Kauai on our honeymoon in 2000. This was a nice trip back visually. We need to go back now-we were too worn out from the wedding to do much other than drink mai tais. Thinking about the Abacos and St.John with friends later and your blog is a starting point for the planning. Thanks for sharing your adventures.

by akc315

I'm so glad you enjoy it. Happy 11th to you too! We are headed to the Abacos in June. I can't recommend it or St. John enough! Two awesome places.

Happy travels!

by vicki_h

Your research and planning seem perfect... many times the greatest joy is found imagining the trip, but I suspect that you and Matt enjoy realtime moments the most. Then you visit the memories, writing and posting these engrossing accounts full of color and life. Thank you for inviting the readers to come along.
Astounding views... incredible experiences! Happy Anniversary... may you have many more and spend them all in such delightful places!

by lprof

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