A Travellerspoint blog

May 2011

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 Comments (3)

Kauai, Paradise on Earth: Day 9

Happy Eleven.

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42427255@N00/sets/72157626551508705/with/5691367585/

This was our 11th anniversary and what better way to celebrate than waking up in Kauai? Happy, happy day to us.

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The day stretched out before us…a blank canvas …..no plans, no itinerary, no schedule….just an endless ribbon of highway dotted with sandy beaches and waves. The day was wide open and limitless, just as a perfect vacation day should be.

We decided to see if we could find Secret Beach. Another Kauai “secret” that’s in all the guidebooks, the sketchy directions and steep walk down assured me that even though others could find it, they might choose not to, affording us some privacy for the day.

The directions to the beach were something like this: Drive north to the first Kalihiwai Road. If you get to the second Kalihiwai Road you missed it. Look for the unmarked, unpaved road on the right and drive until it dead ends. Park somewhere that looks legal and take a big guess which direction to walk, because there are no signs or markers. Good luck.

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We saw some surfers heading down, which was lucky, because I am not 100% sure we would have headed that way. The walk was steep and down, down, down. Lazy girl that I am, I couldn’t help but think about the trip back up all the way down to the beach.

Apparently, despite the fact that public nudity is illegal on Kauai, this beach is the one nudists often try to get away with “doing their thing” on. We did not, however, encounter any nakedness. We did not encounter much of anyone, to be quite honest. The beach was enormous and there were less than a handful of people on it, so spread out that once you settled in, you couldn’t see anyone else.

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Solitude.

We blissed out for a while with books and sun, listening to the roar of the waves and digging our feet into the cool, soft sand. As the sun rose higher and higher, and it got hotter and hotter, we decided to see if we could find a place to swim. The ocean at Secret Beach is not very swimmable and on this day, the waves were pounding ferociously, so that even when I just tried to splash my legs at the water’s edge, I was nearly knocked over by the crashing waves.

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I had read that one could find tidal pools in the lava rock on the northern side of the beach, and it was low tide, so away we went. We were up for a little adventure. We did a barefoot rock scramble along the lava shelves and boulders and not only was it a fascinating walk, we did, indeed, find swimmable lava pools! The water was incredibly clear and cool and not a soul could be seen.

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Our very best discovery, however, was on the walk back to the beach. As the tide had gone out in our absence, it had created the most perfect swimming lagoon against the rocks.

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Try to picture it: the waves are crashing out in the ocean, but between two towering sets of lava shelves and backed by a lava cliff with a cave, a little sandbar rises up defiantly, daring the sea to come any farther. Behind this little sandbar, enclosed on three sides by smooth black rock, is a perfectly clear, perfectly beautiful swimming lagoon. The sides of the lagoon rose up, soft and sandy, and we simply lay in the cool water, looking out at the crashing waves beyond the sandbar. I could have spent the rest of the day right there in that spot.

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We stayed until we pruned and then had to force ourselves away from this absolutely dreamy little oasis.

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Sunned, salted, and now pruned, we decided to go in search of food, what had become our standard post-beach activity. I wanted Mexican food, so we decided to head back down to Kapa’a to find Verde for lunch.

To ensure that we didn’t pass out from post-beach-hunger, we made a quick pit stop at Banana Joe’s for a banana smoothie. It looks like ice cream, it tastes like ice cream, but it’s nothing more than blended frozen bananas. I don’t know how they do it, but it’s phenomenal.

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Frozen banana smoothie in hand, we made our way to Kapa’a town. We stopped on the way as we passed the Anahola Farmer's Market. We could see the smoke and could smell the BBQ and knew they were cooking up some wild boar today. We had wanted to try it but hadn't caught them out cooking yet. Seemed like a good time to give it a shot.

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It was good, but not good enough to deter me from my original craving: Mexican. We passed on the BBQ but did pick up some incredible banana bread and some delicious dried mangoes.

Verde was easy to find, but it’s not a place you might go into if you just happened upon it. It just doesn’t look like much. Located in a simple strip mall, with no fancy décor and an order-at-the-counter set up, it looked way more fast food than fine food. However, I wanted Mexican and I had heard good things about this little place.

I ordered a margarita and she asked me if Patron was okay. For a $6 margarita? Um…yeah. At home, a $6 margarita means you’re going to be lucky to get some Sauza Gold. Score one for Verde.

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After we ordered, she told us we could help ourselves to salsa and directed us to a condiment counter. I found not one, but two delicious homemade salsas there to go with the house made chips. Self serve house made chips and salsa. Score two for Verde.

Our food arrived incredibly fast and didn’t look a thing like fast food. Didn’t taste a thing like fast food either. It was incredibly good and the portions were huge. Score three for Verde.

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Ding, ding, ding. We had a winner.

Bellies full, we headed back to the villa and decided to take our villa kayak out for a spin around the bay before heading in for some down time. The bay the house sat on was wonderfully protected by a reef and the water was fairly calm almost all the time. We paddled to our hearts’ content in the clear calm waters before the sun, fun, and food finally took its toll and we had to call it a day.

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Naps were in order, since we had an anniversary dinner that night at Makana Terrace at the St. Regis Princeville.

We could not have chosen a more perfect location for our anniversary dinner. Arriving just before sunset, the views from the terrace where we were seated were so picture perfect they simply didn’t seem real. It was difficult to concentrate on the menu with those views before us.

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We had a bottle of wine as the sun settled lower and lower in the sky. Just as the sun was setting, literally everyone in the restaurant was up taking photos. It was just too beautiful for words. When the sun finally ended it’s slow journey, sinking into a blaze of red into the ocean, we were able to fully concentrate on our meals: Scallops for him and a risotto with crabcake for me. We followed it with dessert and rolled ourselves on out of there.

Happy Eleven to my dear, dear husband.

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Posted by vicki_h 10:42 Archived in USA Tagged beach island tropical hawaii kauai Comments (0)

Kauai, Paradise on Earth: Day 8

The trail to Heaven.

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42427255@N00/sets/72157626551443277/

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There is one section of Kauai that is inaccessible by road. The extreme north, or Na Pali coastline can only be seen one of three ways: by air, by boat, or by foot. The Kalalau Trail is considered by many to be one of the best hikes in the world. Stretching 11 miles along the Na Pali coastline, the trail begins where the road ends, literally. From there, it climbs and dips, steeply along a badly eroded trail that hugs sheer cliff edges and is often turned into a maddening slip and slide if one of Kauai's frequent rainstorms arrives. It ends at Kalalau Beach, a mile of pristine beach open only to those who want to get an overnight permit and brave the rugged trail.

For those who don't have a permit, enough time to do an overnight hike, or don't feel like lugging camping equipment all the way to Hawaii, you can still get a taste of this exciting hike by hiking 2 miles in to Hanakapi'ai Beach and 2 miles back out. You can tack on an additional 4 miles to hike back to Hanakapi'ai Falls if time allows.

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The beauty of it and the promise of a secluded beach are too much for anyone to resist, however it is not for the faint of heart. Even the short 4 mile trip to Hanakapi'ai Beach and back is difficult to maneuver. The trail gets vertical very quickly. In some places, it is smooth packed red dirt, but in others, it is a sheer climb up slippery rocks or mazes of twisted roots. The trail is not easily forgiving. One misstep, and you will be sorry. It's a hike that makes you wake up and pay attention to where you are putting your feet.

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We had been hoping to do the 4 mile hike to Hanakapi'ai Beach and back all week, but each day spewed just enough rain to keep us away. I knew the trail could be difficult under the wrong conditions. I had seen photos of the misery that is the Kalalau Trail when it's wet. I didn't want any part of that. However, this particular morning was heralded in by a bright blue sky and followed two very dry days. We felt that our chances for clear skies and a dry trail were pretty good, so we headed north.

We made a pit stop at my favorite little church, the Wai'oli Hui'ia Church in Hanalei. I think this might be the most beautiful church on earth.

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We continued north until the road literally dead-ended at Ke'e Beach. We grabbed the essentials (water, snack, sunglasses, camera) and headed toward the trailhead. It was a phenomenal day....clear, bright, and beautiful. We had managed to pick the perfect day to hike. The trail was dry and the skies were clear.

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The first section of trail climbed up to a viewpoint where we could look down on Ke'e Beach, with it's perfect swimming lagoon framed by a reef. I had no idea just how beautiful Ke'e is until I saw it from this vantage point.

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From there, the trail climbed steeply up and over rocks, pretty much a rock scramble until it once again reached a dry packed red dirt trail that wound endlessly with lush green jungle on one side and a steep drop to the ocean on the other.

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The landscape was intoxicating. The views..... surreal. Jagged cliff edges fell steeply into the wild crashing ocean below. Turquoise water foaming with white tipped waves stretched as far as the eye could see. Matt pointed out a pod of dolphins as they jumped and played in the surf below. Plants in shades of green that seemed impossible to the eye burst out of every shady crevice, so large and twisted they seemed prehistoric. Flowers flowed over lava rock like brilliant purple waterfalls. Ragged green mountains rose like mammoths along the ridge before us.

I was mesmerized. I had no idea it would be like this.

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For a couple of miles, the trail rounded a jungle covered ridge where the forest canopy opened to reveal an endless expanse of blue Pacific waters. A thousand feet straight down I could hear the wild surf smashing into the rocks below, sometimes so loud I was certain it was thunder or a distant explosion, only to have Matt assure me it was nothing more than the force of the water against the earth.

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We were reaching the section of the trail where it started to head down toward sea level, nearing Hanakapi'ai Beach when a little girl walking toward us stopped to wait for her parents. She stood gangly and cute, like little girls do, hands at her sides, twisting back and forth to the kind of private music little girls always have in their heads when suddenly, she looked down and SHRIEKED!

I mean, it was a full on, horror movie, being bludgeoned to death in one's sleep, top of the lungs type of shriek.

She started high stepping toward us rapidly, reminding me of the drum major as he makes his way across the football field before the band at half time.

"GET THEM OFF! GET THEM OFF! GET THEM OFF!" she screamed, flailing her little girl arms helplessly at her legs as she ran, her mom trying to catch up to her, but not having a chance as fast as that kid was running.

It was then that I noticed the ground was literally teeming with THOUSANDS of little red ants. No exaggeration. THOUSANDS. They covered the trail for about 1/2 mile.

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This is not at all a problem unless you stop moving.

If you stop moving, you are dead because they will climb up your legs. Quickly.

If anyone saw a girl frantically marching in place every time she stopped to take a photo on the Kalalau Trail on April 21, 2011....that would be me.

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We made our way down where the trail crossed a stream. As we waded across and the view of Hanakapi'ai Beach could be glimpsed through the trees, I forgot all about hazardous slippery rocks, mud, roots, steep drop offs, hot sun, and ferocious ants.

It was beautiful.

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Smooth round rocks rolled from the lush jungle to frame the beach on the back and countless cairns had been set up, rising like little sentinels protecting this pristine paradise. Steep, lush green peaks rose on the two sides of the beach, and the beautiful turquoise waters of the Pacific rushed in from the front. The beach itself was a perfect little crescent of white sand dotted with rocks covered in a moss so green it looked unreal.

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The setting was simply breathtaking. There are no words to describe it.

There were several feral cats around and we had only brought grapes and cheese, so Matt kept feeding them cheese despite my warnings that, while he thought he was helping them by feeding them, that much cheese was going to wreck their little systems. I bet those 3 cats didn't poop for a week.

We had a snack and simply enjoyed the moment.

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And then it was time to make the hike back...which was absolutely as beautiful as the hike in.

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If you didn't count the ants.

As we neared the end of the trail I was hot and could just feel the cool water of Ke'e Beach as I splashed in. When we actually reached the end of the trail, I peeled my sweaty clothes off and dove in. Ke'e Lagoon was clear and beautiful and was the perfect place to cool off after the hike. Two big turtles were sunning up on the reef as we swam in the crystal clear water, feeling lucky to have been able to witness such a perfect piece of paradise.

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It was too late for lunch and too early for dinner. Not sure what we wanted, we stopped in Hanalei at Kalypso. I hadn't heard much about it and didn't know what to expect, but it was very good. I had an "Iniki" which was the strongest mai tai I had on the entire trip.

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Holy Moly.

Matt had the mango BBQ and spicy wings and I had some kind of fried fish and crab salad wrap which was delicious.

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Once we got back to the house, we were full and happy (and I was more than a little "Inikified") so we decided to call it a day.

What a day it was.

Posted by vicki_h 12:53 Archived in USA Tagged beach island tropical hawaii kauai Comments (1)

Kauai, Paradise on Earth: Day 7

Molo-ah-aaaahhh......

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42427255@N00/sets/72157626513840513/with/5681678697/

We got a very lazy start to the day..beachcombing, reading, and snacking. I took some time to get a shot of Kalalea Mountain, which could be seen from Secret Cove Villa. This mountain bears a striking resemblance to King Kong's profile. Can you see it? He greeted us every morning as we came out to start our day.

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"Good Morning, King Kong!" I shouted happily as we piled beach bags and sunscreen into the car, ready to go out and find our next adventure.

Every day on Kauai was an adventure. We'd pile into our Jeep with some general sense of where we were going, pop in some happy sun tunes, and see where the road took us. On this day, it took us to Moloa'a Beach...one that quickly became my favorite beach of the entire trip.

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A bit off the beaten path, bordered by the Moloa'a ranch and scattered with just a few private homes, the beach felt like a secret. I know it's in all the guidebooks and on all the maps, but it still had less than a dozen living souls on it (and two of those were coconut chasing dogs). We were lucky enough to hit it on the right day as well, with light winds and calm waves. It was a perfect oasis for a blissful morning.

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The shallow, clear waters on the left side of the beach were perfect for swimming or just lounging in the cool water. Near the middle, there was a rock ledge, where the waves would crash and then pour over like a waterfall. This might have been my favorite spot to just sit and enjoy all the beauty around me. The right side of the beach (after walking over some lava rocks) was long and stretched into a delicate curve dotted with a few palms and more of that beautiful azure water.

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It truly was paradise.

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I could have stayed there all day. We reached that point in the beach day..you know the one..where your belly starts growling..and you have a bit too much sand in your swimsuit..and you can see your arms starting to turn that angry shade of pink no matter how much sunscreen you put on them..but you are so in love with the place you are that you can't decide.go or stay? Go or stay?

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We almost stayed, but we'd been there for hours and some serious hunger was setting in, not to mention those angry pink arms. I knew it was probably a good time to pack it in.

We couldn't have timed it more perfectly. After spending four glorious hours in relative solitude, we walked up to the car to see four ..yes FOUR buses of senior citizens unloading.

What the????? Where were that many people even going to go? They were a flurry of sunvisors and bright polyester florals as they climbed out of the buses, Instamatics in hand.

I felt sorry for the people on the beach below as we escaped just in the nick of time.

We were only a few minutes from Kilauea so we headed that way to find the Kilauea Fish Market of ahi tuna fame. We found it easy enough and stepped inside a screen door emblazoned with a sign that read, "We don't have public restrooms, but we have killer food!" I stepped inside a small storefront with a cooler filled with fresh fish, a small service counter, and a menu board loaded with goodies like fresh fish tacos and ahi tuna.

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I saw a sign inside that said, "BYOB....we have openers and glasses." I directed Matt to run to the market nearby and grab us something to drink while I placed our order. I handed him $30 and he looked at me like I had come from Mars as he walked away mumbling something about how it wouldn't be that much.

I ordered his fish tacos and my ahi tuna wrap and sat outside to wait for Matt.

He came back empty handed and shrugged, "They don't have sodas," he said.

"Soda?" I asked. "Who wants SODA? I sent you for a bottle of WINE. This is vacation! We need wine for lunch."

Finally figuring out why I had given him $30, he dutifully headed back to the market and returned with a bottle of red wine.

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You can too drink wine for lunch on vacation. Can too.

The food was superb. The combination of morning sunshine, yummy food, and wine made me feel all warm and fuzzy. My favorite vacation feeling: Post beach, with a little sand on my feet inside my flip flops, my hair warm and salty from swimming in the ocean, my stomach full of some great after-beach food, and a slight lunchtime buzz. Aaaahhhh...vacation bliss.

We decided to check out the shops in Kilauea and walked around Kong Lung and the other neat places in the shopping center. We stopped to say "hello" to Daphne, who just peeked at us shyly from her perch. If you want, you can be friends with Daphne. Just go to her Facebook page (Daphne Kong Lung). I think she wants more friends.

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Everyone should be friends with at least one cockatoo.

Go ahead. Friend her. You know you want to.

With our heads full of sunshine and red wine, we headed back to Secret Cove Villa to CRASH for a while.

That evening, we made our way over to Kapa'a for some shopping and dinner. Kapa'a has a really cool historic district with some very colorful shops like Larry's Music where you can buy your very own ukulele or the Hee Fat General Store filled with puka shell necklaces and sarongs.

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I was eyeballing a really expensive dress in the Island Hemp and Cotton store when Matt dragged me away just before I got the "I gotta' have it" gleam in my eye and headed me in the direction of dinner. Man, that guy is smart. And has great timing.

Dinner was at Caffe Coco, which was definitely one of my favorite restaurants of the trip. It was an eclectic little place surrounded by lush tropical foliage, hidden down a little drive at the edge of a cane field near Wailua. Twinkling little lights blinked happily from the open air dining space and soft music drifted through the air, courtesy of the live band on stage. We ordered at the counter and then headed back into the garden where mismatched bamboo tables were set up, surrounded by flowers, pomelo, avocado, mango, tangerine, litchi, and banana trees, all with a view of the Sleeping Giant Mountain in the distance.

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The trees apparently provide some of the key ingredients that are used in the delicious food that the kitchen prepares. It was a wonderful, laid back, cool place with a great vibe, terrific music, a tropical atmosphere, and amazing fresh food. We kept laughing as we heard what sounded like an elephant making it's way through the tropical growth behind us, only to realize it was the roosters settling into the trees for the night. Every time we'd think they were finished, one would go crashing and flapping about. It was a nice touch to an already wonderful place.

It's BYOB, so we had brought our favorite wine with us. We sipped on it as we listened to the band and munched on greek salads with house made dressing. For dinner, Matt had a Cajun platter that included gumbo, rice, and a Cajun grilled fresh catch. I had the penne d'alba, which was a pasta with mushrooms, herbs, wine, garlic, roasted tomato and parmesan. For dessert, we shared a black mocha cake that was to die for.

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We spent the rest of the fading evening sipping our wine and listening to the sounds of the music, wondering if the roosters had finally found a place to sleep... and thinking about sleep ourselves.

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Posted by vicki_h 13:36 Archived in USA Tagged beach island tropical hawaii kauai Comments (0)

Kauai, Paradise on Earth: Day 6

Tunnels Beach and one Fat Mama.

Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/42427255@N00/sets/72157626506929545/with/5678382264/

The day started off with our usual beachcombing, breakfast on the lanai, and down time at the villa. When we felt sufficiently lazy, we grabbed our beach stuff and headed north.

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Our first stop was Lumahai, just because I love Lumahai. It's where Mitzi Gaynor "washed that man right out of her hair" and it's a deliciously gorgeous beach.

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It's a bit of a haul to walk down to and it's not very swimmable due to strong currents, so we chose only to stroll and leave our beach stuff in the car, opting to head to Tunnels afterward. Despite being one of the more crowded beaches on Kauai, Tunnels doesn't fail to please. The dramatic beauty of it makes the crowds tolerable. The beach is also quite large, so everyone can carve out their own private slice of paradise.

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Framed by the jagged peak of Mount Makena, the beach is dramatic, with water that fades into varying shades of cobalt and turquoise and waves that appear backlit by the sun as they leap into the air and crash onto the sand.

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When the hunger monster began to take over, we packed it in and headed back the way we came, stopping at Red Hot Mama's in Haena for a quick post-beach bite. A "blink and you'd miss it" kind of place, Red Hot Mamas is nothing more than an open window hidden next to the old Wainiha General Store. However, if you drive on by, you miss out on one of the best burritos of your life.

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We went to the window to place our order, and realized quickly that flexibility is sometimes necessary when your lunch destination isn't exactly conveniently located relative to supplies.

"I have everything. But no shrimp and no chicken today," she said.

"No problem," I say, "I'll have the Lip Smacker. A Fat Mama." (that's Red-Hot-Mama-Speak for supersize it.)

"Okay. Good. One Big Mama Lip Smacker. Oh. Wait. I have no ground beef. You want pork? I have pork."

"Pork's good," I say, knowing that after catching a whiff of the wonderful smells coming out of that place, I'd have agreed to grilled shoe leather if she had said that's all they had.

While we waited, we stepped next door to the general store to grab some soft drinks and browse around while our food was prepared.

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This burrito was seriously HUGE. My eyes may have been bigger than my stomach, but man, oh, man, was it good. Is it just me, or does everything taste better after the beach, when your hair is still a little damp and salty and you have sand crusted all around the edges of your feet? I washed that big mama down with an orange cream soda and it couldn't have been better.

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As we neared Hanalei, headed back toward the house, I noticed a brightly painted sign, proudly proclaiming, "FARMER'S MARKET TODAY!"

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"Ooo.... stop, stop!" I said, hopping in my seat, as excited as a kid outside a Toys-R-Us with a dollar in her pocket.

We stopped and I noticed about 50 people were lined up at the entrance listening to someone. "There must be music or something," I thought to myself as I got out of the vehicle.

As I walked toward the entrance, I heard the man saying, "Everyone be civil, take your turn, and have a great time."

"What time is it?" I asked Matt.

"It's 2:00," he replied.

That's when I realized that I was about to get the opportunity to witness a Kauai event I had only read about and thought couldn't possibly be true. The entry rush at the opening of a Farmer's Market.

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Apparently, the goods are so fresh, so wonderful, and so limited, that folks literally line up and wait for the gate to open. They then rush in buy up whatever they can as quickly as they can. This was great fun!! It was like a race, only the finish line was a pineapple.

As they opened the market, people did, indeed, rush inside, but it was a gentle and happy affair, with everyone driven more by excitement than greed. There was plenty to go around and there was nothing about it that screamed "Macy's After Thanksgiving Sale." Everyone took their time and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine and fresh offerings.

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It was truly a delight just to walk around and look, but there were so many wonderful things, we couldn't help but buy.

"Ice Cold Coconuts - $3" the sign said.

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I had to try one, now didn't I?

"One coconut," I told the petite young girl beside the truck.

As I got out my $3, she whipped out a machete, hacked off the top, and stuck a straw in it.

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I love Hawaii.

We bought flowers and pineapple, sipped on our coconut, and then we saw the pie lady, so we had to go grab a slice of blueberry pina colada.

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We headed back to Anahola with an armload of treasure. After a restful afternoon at the house, we drove to Kapa'a for dinner at Hukilau Lanai. With a name like that, the food doesn't even have to be good. Just saying the name makes you feel happy. Come on, say it with me. Hukilau Lanai, Hukilau Lanai, Hukilau Lanai. Don't you feel good?

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We opted for their tasting menu, which came with 5 tasting courses each paired with a wine selection. The first was a sweet potato ravioli with feta cheese and a lemongrass cream sauce; second was a mixed green salad with fresh beets, corn off the cob, cherry tomatoes and a basil vinaigrette; the third course was our favorite and was a fresh grilled mahi mahi with wasabi and local mushrooms; the fourth was island raised beef meatloaf with red skinned smashed potatoes, brown butter sauce, and a corn fennel relish; and finally, an artisan cheese plate with local cheeses, honeycomb, macadamia nuts, and baguette.

What a perfect way to say good night.

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Posted by vicki_h 11:27 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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