Kauai: South and West

We arrived on Friday around 1pm. We grabbed something to eat from one of the many food trucks on the island (Taco Libre, which had a tasty quesadilla) and headed to the south side. Our first stop was Poipu Beach. It is one of the most popular beaches on the island. We didn’t realize that it also has green turtles and monk seals that like to rest there. They put up signs and ask you to stay ten feet away. We saw four on our first visit.

After the beach, we headed to Makauwahi Cave Trail. We passed our hotel on the way and right after the Grand Hyatt, the road turns to dirt and it’s rough. You will be fine if you have an SUV, but it was difficult to drive through without bottoming out the car. The deep holes were also filled with water and some sections were small lakes. We did not drive all the way to the walking entrance to the Cave Trail, but stopped next to a horse pasture. We saw a foal that was probably days old. Those spindly legs were adorable. The trail itself was a little muddy and mostly downhill. The views were incredible.

You can see the entrances to both of the caves from the trail. At the beginning of the trail you can pick up a brochure and along the trail there are markers. The brochure explains each of the markers and gives you directions. The view above is the Maha’ulepu area. As you can see, there is the option of heading to the beach on this trail as well. There were very few people on the beach.

This is the entrance to the cave from inside. Only a small child could walk through this entrance. You need to be able to crouch down or you could crawl, but as you can see it is very muddy. The first cave area is pretty open, but the one across the way is super dark.

After crouch walking through the entrance/exit once again, we took the bridge over to the area that had tortoises. There is a fence that you have to climb over, but they make it easy with some steps. We saw two African tortoises. They put them there to eat the vegetation and then spread the seeds with their feces. I love turtles and tortoises so much, so this day was a perfect day for me.

We checked out the beach briefly on the hike back out. Our stay at the Grand Hyatt was arranged with some credit card points that we accrued. I didn’t realize how posh it would be. You always see on tv that when you get to Hawaii, the put a real flower lei around your neck. I had never experienced. I thought it was a myth. They do it at this hotel. The leis were beautiful and smelled so good. I wish I could wear it everywhere without looking like an idiot.

After settling into the room, we walked around a bit. The pool area is fabulous. There are several hot tubs, a salt water lagoon, a lazy river, a waterfall, and an adult pool section. The Grand Hyatt has at least four restaurants and several stores all inside the hotel. It is impressive.

This time of year is the rainy season. It is also super windy. You can see how rough the water is here. There was a red flag and there was still a surfer and swimmer in that water.

We woke up very early the next morning. We decided to head out to drive up the Waimea Canyon Road. There was very little traffic at the time in the morning. We stopped at several areas on the side of the road to take pictures. We found out that the National Park look out areas cost $10 to park your car and $10 for each person! One of those areas had people there to enforce these costs. We wanted to drive all the way to the end of the road, but the potholes stopped us maybe a half a mile from the end.

We had some great food on Saturday. First we stopped for fresh fruit smoothies. My husband got guava, pineapple, and passion fruit and I thought it was too tart. I got a coconut, mango, and strawberry. It was delicious.

We stopped at the swinging bridge in a small town called Hanapepe. We walked across in some strong wind and it was tilted and definitely swung.

We stopped at the Kauai Coffee Plantation. We tried some of the sample coffees. We are not big coffee fans in general and the flavors of this coffee was very acidic to us. We wandered around a little bit, but once we didn’t like the coffee, we lost interest.

When I took the shuttle bus over to the car rental center the driver told us a bunch of places to eat and one of them was Da Crack. They had good reviews, especially for their fish. You can get a burrito, taco, or bowl with choices of rice, beans, meat (or fish or veggies), along with sauces, cheese, olives, and cabbage. It is take out only. I chose the fish special. It was amazing. The spices that they put on the fish made it extra tasty.

We drove out to the spouting horn blowhole. It is located in a park and you stand on an overlook, so you are not on the rocks nearby at all. We saw a green turtle swimming in the pool nearby. I love the sound of the water whooshing through the holes in the rocks almost as much as watching the spouting of the water.

I had my first real Hawaiian shaved ice. I got it at this stand in the same plaza as Da Crack. Waikomo Shaved Ice gives you the option of two different flavors and you can put it on a bed of ice cream if you wish (choosing from vanilla or vanilla macadamia nut) and they top it with fresh fruit, coconut cream, and honey. The owner was there and he said he was a beekeeper, so he wanted to add honey to the top to make it a little different. It added just the right amount of sweetness. We thought we would never be able to eat it all, but it was so good that we finished it easily.

I forgot to mention the tasty treat we tried from a local bakery Aloha Sweet Delights. It was called an ensaymada. It was a homemade roll with butter and sugar on top. The roll was super soft and the butter and sugar made it sweet. My husband also tried a buttermilk donut there and he loved it as well.

For dinner we tried out the restaurant, Friendly Waves. My husband was happy to have a regular cheeseburger, but I wanted to try something different. I got a plate of garden vegetable nachos with homemade taro root chips. It was A LOT of food. I wanted to eat it all. They put the melted cheese and tomatillo sauce in all the right places. It was so good.

On the way back to the hotel, I asked my husband to stop at Poipu Beach to see the sunset. There were a TON of people there standing around to watch it. On the way over to the beach we saw a beautiful rainbow. Even more exciting than the sunset, we saw ten more green turtles resting on the beach as well as four monk seals! We didn’t have to do anything dramatic today to see some amazing sights and have a wonderful time. I love this island.

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