West Side!

Kauai Travel Blog

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Today we went on an adventure through the West side of Kauai. We set off after a morning spent lounging at home to go check out Waimea Canyon and the Pu'u o Kila lookout (as well as Pihea trail, which was beautiful as well as treacherous).
On the way out we stopped in the town of Waimea and got shave ice from a little shop run by the most adorable little old Hawaiian lady I have ever seen in my life. I chose a combination of strawberry and watermelon flavors, and they did not disappoint. After enjoying my frozen treat, we continued on our way to Waimea Canyon.
What I found to be interesting about the west side was that after driving for a little while you feel as though you are in a completely different place.
The Southwest side of the island is dry and rather desert-like. Much like California, actually. There were times when we were driving and it almost felt as though we were back in San Diego or Rancho Palos Verdes. As we drove up Waimea Canyon Road, however, it quickly changed from dry brushlands to spectacular canyon views. The nickname "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific" is a very fitting one for Waimea Canyon, as it is quite similar to its famous mainland cousin. We had our sandwiches at the canyon lookout and sampled some cut local pineapple as well (It's true what they say....the pineapple really does taste 100 times better in Hawaii).
From what I understand, there is an awesome hike to the bottom of Waimea Canyon, but we didn't do that one today, because we had our sights set on the Pu'u o Kila lookout at the end of Waimea Canyon Road.
The road to this lookout was sometimes quite nice and newly paved, and sometimes contained potholes the size of small bathtubs, which is quite an adventure when you are driving a Kia Rio. Still, our little engine that could made it to the end of the road to the Pu'u o Kila lookout, which awarded us for our efforts with a spectacular view of the Na Pali coast and Kalalau Valley. I have taken pictures, of course, but what I can say about it is that no photograph will ever do it justice. The colors were so bright and vivid. There was no way our little camera could ever capture it in a way that shows its true beauty and splendor. My breath was literally taken away. For a while, I just stood there with my mouth wide open, gaping at the beauty in front of me.

When I was finally able to pull myself away from the lookout point, Norwood and I decided to brave the Pihea trail, which is a one mile trail that winds along the cliffs, which awarded us more spectacular views of both the jungle interior of the island, as well as the Kalalau Valley. One mile (2, if you count coming back) may not seem like much to you. It surely didn't seem like a big challenge to me at first, but I quickly changed my tune when I realized that the entire trail was covered in deep, thick, slippery mud. Did I mention it was steep and treacherous on top of that? Well, it was. We had a great time navigating the trail and trying to figure out how to continue without killing ourselves. There were times when I wasn't so sure, but the views were spectacular, and it was an amazing adventure.
We made it the full mile. At the end of the trail, there was another trail that led up a very sharp ridge. I started to climb it, but when I realized that by climbing it, I would probably be stuck on that ridge forever (because there was no way I could have made it back down the slippery, steep, terrifying mud slide), we decided that it was a good turning around point.
Actually we did encounter a lady on her way back to the parking area when we were heading out on the trail who had her arm in a temporary sling made out of a t-shirt. Her wrist looked horrible and bent in a strange way. Her husband asked jokingly if we had any vicodin on us. I didn't, of course, but I did offer them some of the ibuprophin I was carrying on me, which they were happy to accept.
I suppose the good karma from helping those people out a little contributed to my not eating crap spectacularly on the trail, because I very likely could have.
When we got back to the car we were exhausted and covered in mud, but quite happy and proud of ourselves for conquering the trail. One thing is for sure: I am very happy I bought those trail running shoes before this trip. I don't think my regular running shoes would have had as much traction.
After the trail, we were exhausted, so we headed back down to the coast for a relaxing hour at a nice sandy beach on the Southwest side of the island. The beach had great sand and calm, gentle waves. It also boasted a spectacular view of Niihau on the horizon, and some beautiful skies. There were several groups of locals having BBQ's in the picnic area, and the crowd was mellow and relaxed.

We decided that we would stop and check out the town of Hanapepe on our way back to Kalaheo (home), so we took the detour down "Historic Hanapepe Main Street". We were quite glad we did, because it turns out they were having their weekly art walk. Lucky us! We parked and walked around and peeked in the windows of all the galleries, and crossed the awesome, yet slightly scary and rickety Hanapepe Swinging Bridge. We walked across it and wondered if we would be soon plummeting into the river below. We didn't, of course, but the slight danger of it made it fun and exciting.
There were several food trucks and tents around as well, and we decided on the pie tent, which had amazing pie flavors such as Mango, Banana, Chocolate Coconut, Macadamea Nut, and many other amazing sounding pies.
We decided on a slice on mango and a slice of banana, and they did not disappoint. After eating our amazing pies, we followed the sweet sounds of reggae music to a small outdoor patio area where the local band 'Boarderline Cool" was playing. They were quite good. Upon entering, they asked us if we wanted to make a $5 donation to the band and enter to win a "cool prize", so we said sure and filled out a raffle ticket. We then walked in and bobbed our heads to the music. The crowd was great and there was a fun, pleasant vibe in the air. Children ran around laughing, playing, and dancing. Local guys hooted with excitement after every song. A few people kicked back and relaxed in lounge chairs, and yet others were enthusiastically dancing to the beat. I caught a small whiff of pot wafting through the air, as no reggae show would be complete without.
The band was excellent and I had a great time enjoying the music and the vibe. Then came time for the drawing, and hilariously, I was the winner. The prize was a gift certificate to one free round of golf (cart and range balls included) at the PGA Tour Poipu Golf Course. Whoa. It's for one person, though, so we are going to see how much it costs for a second person. If it's worth it, I might be doing some world class golfing, hahahaha....if it's expensive, we're probably going to find a local who would really like to play a round of golf. Gotta spread the love.
When we got back to our apartment, we looked up to see an incredible night sky with more stars than I've seen in a very long time, possibly ever. After all, you can't get much more isolated from the big city light pollution than out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

Amazing day.
travelman727 says:
Great blog! Your pics bring back happy memories of gorgeous Kauai :-D
Posted on: Jul 26, 2010
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photo by: hauteboy