Archive for January, 2018

*** Check out the first post of our trip to Kauai and read them in order! ***

Wanting to make the most of our last day on Kauai, the three of us (Rose, Robin, and Philip) woke up at 5:30am so we could hike to the bottom of Wailua Falls. We were on the road by 6:15 and were the only ones in the parking lot when we arrived at the top of the falls 30 minutes later.


We were shocked by the increase in water coming over Wailua Falls compared to yesterday. The center section was completely dry just 20 hours earlier but it rained a lot since then.

Philip did a lot of research last night to figure out the legality of hiking to the bottom. There are some signs in certain places discouraging people from scampering down the steep hillside to the bottom. After looking into it, we determined that this is actually a fairly common activity, it isn’t explicitly forbidden, and the danger was quite minimal.

We chose to start our hike at the far end of the viewing area where a low cement wall meets a chain link fence. After climbing over the 3 foot wall, we walked a few dozen feet and saw a narrow trail disappearing down the hill side. As expected, this is a very steep hike. It is more like bouldering than actually hiking but there are lots of tree branches and roots to use as handholds. Fortunately, the numerous trees also make the exposure risk very low. Even if someone was to fall, they are not going to tumble all the way down the hill but would really only slide a few dozen feet in the mud.


Hiking down to the base of Wailua Falls. You can see how steep the trail is, though at least there is a lot of stuff to use as handholds.

Note: Everything we say here only applies to the trail we used. During our research we learned that two girls did fall to their deaths at Wailua Falls a few years ago, though it seems like they were far closer to the actual waterfall itself where the cliff is shear, slippery, and very exposed. By taking it slowly, there was no point at which we felt unsafe climbing down the trail we chose.

The bottom section of the trail has a few ropes tied to trees to serve as handholds, which we gladly used. Even moving very cautiously, we reached the bottom in less than 20 minutes and stepped out into the clearing around the waterfall and its pool.

Our first impression was amazement as we looked up at the waterfall. What had been a relatively calm water feature yesterday morning had become a raging torrent after all of the rain. The two separate falls we saw yesterday had since merged into one massive flow of muddy water cascading down into the pool. The exit point of the pool where water continued its journey downstream was right next to us and was moving terrifyingly fast. We quickly determined that swimming would not be a wise decision this morning due to the current so we elected instead to walk around the rocks on our side of the pool towards the waterfall.


Wailua Falls is far more impressive when seen from the bottom. Note Phil in the bottom corner (with his phenomenal farmer’s tan) celebrating our successful descent.

We only spent a few minutes exploring the base of the falls before returning back to the trail. With all the water coming over the falls, we were absolutely drenched by the mist. In general, this was okay, though Robin had her phone with her to take pictures and it got wet also…too wet it turns out because a few minutes later it turned itself off and continued to be problematic for the rest of the day.

Refreshed, we quickly hiked back up to the parking area, which was a much easier task than descending and only took about 10 minutes. As we climbed back over the wall, we saw a street vendor setting up his easel (he was a painter) as well as a van of Asian tourists pulling up. All in all, our hike to the waterfall only took 45 minutes and was definitely worth getting up early to experience it.

On the way back to the condo, we made a quick stop at Wal-Mart to pick up some macadamia nuts as gifts since we figured this would be one item that is actually cheaper to purchase in Hawaii. Once home, we quickly changed into swimsuits and the three of us walked down to Poipu Beach for one more chance at snorkeling.

While Robin took some pictures and laid in the sun for a bit, we dove into the water with our snorkels and weren’t disappointed. We saw a ton of fish, including some really beautiful rainbow-colored ones. Eventually, Robin joined us and we made our way across the channel to the other side of Poipu Beach. At one point, two ladies pointed out to Philip something that looked like a leaf stuck in the coral. It was actually a leaf scorpion fish and they are supposedly very rare!

Other than some goggle fogging issues, the snorkeling was awesome and a great way to cap off our trip. We hung out for a few minutes on the beach to dry off and give Phil a chance to finally build a sand castle (more like a ruined Mayan pyramid since Phil is not particularly skilled at sand castle construction). We then made our way back to the condo to shower and for everyone but Robin to pack our bags.


The beautiful view right outside our condo. Poipu is a great place to stay when visiting Kauai.

As we were packing, we got a notification that our flight back to LA was delayed by two hours. Unsure what to do with this awkward extension to our trip, we hung around the condo for a little bit while Philip sorted through his work emails and Robin attempted to triage her now spastic phone. The phone issue was of particular concern since Robin would be on her own on Kauai for an extra day and the lack of mobile communication or navigation ability was quite undesirable.

Just before noon, we loaded up the car and Robin drove us to the Pona Fish Market for our final plate lunch of the trip (making mental notes of landmarks along the way so she could get back to the condo without GPS). To our surprise, the fish market was located next door to the frustratingly slow shave ice business we found after our long hike.

We got our food and drove a mile along the coast to a park with some picnic benches in the shade and views of the ocean. It was a delightful experience eating the delicious food with a light breeze blowing through the trees and the sound of the ocean just feet away. Well, most of the food was delicious anyway. Philip tried “poi” as one of his side dishes, which is a purple paste made from baked and fermented taro root and has an odd texture and absolutely no flavor. We will pass on that one next time!

At about 1:30, Robin drove us the few miles to the airport in Lihue and we bid her farewell. Security was a breeze and we made our way to one end of the terminal to an almost empty gate. Just as we were wondering where everyone else was, we began to hear announcements that the gate for our flight had changed so we walked all the way to the other end of the terminal and found our fellow passengers.


Our path for the day. A->B (white): Drive to Wailua Falls. B->B (green): Hike to base of falls and back. B->A (red…mostly hidden by white): Drive back to condo with stop at Wal-Mart. A->A: Snorkeling one final time at Poipu Beach. A->C (pink): Drive to Pona Fish Market for lunch and eat food at picnic bench by ocean. C->D (yellow): Drive to airport.

The flight to LA was pleasantly uneventful, though the delay in departure time pushed our arrival time back 2 hours to 1:30am. We had booked rooms at a nearby hotel since we had an 11 hour layover. This layover was now only a 9 hour layover but we were still grateful for the chance to get some sleep in a real bed. After a few hours of rest and a continental breakfast, we returned to the airport via the hotel shuttle bus and caught our flight back to Denver.

Our trip to Kauai was, in a word, AMAZING! It is one of the most beautiful places in all the world and we really loved that it felt relatively un-touristy. We can’t wait to come back and do a lot more hiking all over the island. We also really want to experience the north side and the Na Pali coast earlier in the year when the waters are calmer. Add in the inner tube ride that didn’t work out and all of the amazing food we didn’t get to try and we already have the makings of our next vacation to Kauai!


Our total path for the trip. It’s challenging to highlight what paths apply to which days because there is so much overlap of us driving around on the main highway. The key takeaway is that we saw a lot of Kauai on this short visit. Next time, we hope to do more hiking along the Na Pali coast at the north end of the island and to explore some of the swampy interior.


  • A rewarding hike to the base of Wailua Falls
  • Snorkeling at Poipu Beach one last time
  • Robin’s very wet cell phone
  • Two extra hours on Kauai
  • Plate lunches are delicious…poi is not


  • Distance on Foot: 4.93 miles | 7,509 steps
  • Distance Hiking: 0.57 miles
  • Distance Swimming: 2.3 miles
  • Distance in Car: 67.5 miles

Grand Total Stats:

  • Distance on Foot: 43.97 miles | 79,717 steps
  • Distance Swimming: 5.93 miles
  • Distance in Car/Van: 502.89 miles
  • Distance in Boat: 58.3 miles
  • Grand Total Distance: 611.09 miles

We had to put at least one graph in for our trip! This shows how far we traveled each day and by what mode of locomotion.

*** Check out the first post of our trip to Kauai and read them in order! ***

Philip woke earlier than expected and was raring to go, so he took a walk down to Brennecke’s Beach while everyone else got going. When he got back, Robin and Rose had just left on their own adventure to Shipwreck Beach since Robin had not yet been there. When they returned, we finished getting ready for the day and set off at 8:30am back towards Lihue.


Sunrise on Kauai as seen from the rocks between Poipu Beach and Brennecke’s Beach.


Walking past the Grand Hyatt on the way to Shipwreck Beach.

Our destination this time was a busy warehouse building just off the highway where we could check in for our upcoming inner tubing tour. The goal was to ride inner tubes down some canals, traversing through 5 tunnels along the way. We arrived at 9am, a half hour early for our tour, and went inside to get helmets, sign waivers, and other fun things. At 9:30, we hopped into one of two large vans (along with 25 other people) and began the trek uphill to our tubing launch point.

It was raining intermittently as we rode with our guide, Abraham (Abe), and our driver, Thomas. Abe was a bit awkward, but in a fun way, and spent most of the ride telling us about the Kauai plantations and sneaking in jokes and humorous commentary. He was actually pretty funny but the three girls sitting in the first row of the van did not seem amused. Abe also had us all go around and introduce ourselves.

We stopped at an overlook of the mountains and hopped out to take some pictures. In the distance across the valley, we could see the hills rising up towards Kauai’s highest summit, which is the caldera of the volcano that formed the island a long time ago. There is a swamp near the summit as well and this is the rainiest place on Earth (not the wettest place on Earth as Philip accidentally said once…that would actually be the ocean!).


The view towards the “rainiest place on Earth”, the ancient caldera of the volcano that formed Kauai.

After some photos, we hopped back in the vans and drove a short distance further to the launch point. Unfortunately, it was here that we learned that one of the tunnels had suffered a partial collapse that morning and our tour was cancelled! Earlier groups had made it as far as that tunnel but had been unable to get through the debris. Based on the surprised expressions of our guides, this is not a common occurrence and we heard a lot of radio chatter on the way back down as employees tried to figure out what to do.

On the way back down to the warehouse, Thomas shared a lot of his life story with us, and many of his opinions and views on life and Kauai. When we returned to the warehouse, Robin went to the desk and within a few seconds had secured a full refund for our adventure. Seriously, it is a testament to the company that they made it so easy. We will definitely try tubing again the next time we are in Kauai and would recommend this company to others because of it.

It was now 10:45am and we had essentially done nothing but ride around in a car and van all day. With the rain still coming and going, we decided to stop briefly at the nearby Wailua Falls since it was so close. The parking lot area was a crowded disaster but we found a tight spot. The overlook of the falls is right along the side of the road and we could see a large pool at the base about 80 feet below us. The falls itself was split into two sections around a large rock at the top, though was not as impressive as the Hanakapi’ai Falls we saw yesterday on our hike. When we looked closer, we saw 2 people swimming in the pool at the bottom. We instantly made plans to try and come back tomorrow morning to hike down to the base and perhaps go for a swim ourselves.


Wailua Falls as seen from above. Though not as tall as yesterday’s Hanakapi’ai Falls, Wailua Falls was split into two sections giving it a different feel.

From Wailua Falls, we headed back home, stopping a mile or two short of Poipu in the tiny town of Koloa to get lunch at the Koloa Fish Market. The tiny little shop was just what we were looking for for an authentic Hawaiian plate lunch. We shouted our orders across the counter to the workers in the back and in just a few minutes had some enormous to-go containers of food in our hands.

At this point, the intermittent rain turned into full downpour and we scampered back to the car as quickly as we could. Much wetter than desired, we took our lunch back to the condo and dug into the delicious food. Our meals consisted of kalua pulled pork, pork lau lau (pork wrapped in taro leaves), rice noodles, rice, a pile of diced tomatoes (yuck), and a cup of delicious ahi poke. The pork, in particular, was absolutely phenomenal and we all ate more than we should have.


Driving through the green tunnel on the way from the highway to Poipu.

After lunch, we hung out at the condo trying to decide what to do next as it rained on and off. Finally, we decided that we would try going to the botanical gardens just a few miles away so we piled back in the car and set off. Of course, the rain picked up again as we drove, this time accompanied by heavy winds. Stupidly, we stopped briefly at Spouting Horn (the blowhole in rock where water shoots up) to show it to Betsy. Robin, being the smart one, stayed in the car while the rest of us power walked out to the viewing area. In less than 60 seconds, we were heading back to the car cold, wet, and quite certain that we would not be going to the botanical gardens after all because being outside frankly sucked.

We returned to the condo frustrated by the weather but at least confident in our course of action. Rose spent some time trying to check us in for our flight the next day, but kept getting an error message when picking seats. Intending to try again a bit later, we settled in to watch Raiders of the Lost Ark since its opening “Peruvian jungle” scenes were actually filmed on Kauai. Ironically, the entire rest of the movie is set in the desert sands of Egypt (about as different a climate as possible compared to Kauai) but it was still enjoyable to watch while the rain pounded away outside.

By the time the movie ended, the rain had stopped! Before we headed out to the beach, Philip called the airline to figure out the seat issues and chose the “receive a callback” option rather than waiting on hold. The three of us sans Betsy then went for a windy walk towards Poipu Beach to explore.


Once the rain stopped, it was another beautiful day on Kauai, although a bit windy.

Naturally, as soon as we were a few minutes away from the condo, Philip received his callback from the airline and crouched down behind a palm tree to block the wind. He was soon placed on hold again so we continued our walk. The surf was quite intense from the wind and lots of people were out playing in it at Poipu Beach. When we got closer the water’s edge, we also saw a massive sea turtle laying on the beach just a few feet away and spent some time taking pictures and admiring such a cool creature.


We will probably never get sick of seeing these awesome sea turtles up close…they are really cool creatures!

About that time, the airline finally took Philip off hold and he was able to get the seating arrangements worked out (despite the relative unhelpfulness of the employee on the phone). With that taken care of, we came to the realization that we would much rather be playing in the water rather than walking on the beach, so we powerwalked back to the condo to throw on our swimsuits. In less than 15 minutes, we were back at Poipu Beach and, to our dismay, the waters seemed calmer and most of the boogie boarders had left! Fortunately, we found them nearby at Brennecke’s Beach and hopped in the water to join them.

Based on the advice of a lady on the beach, Robin borrowed Phil’s rash guard to help keep her bikini top in place in the rough water and we spent 15 minutes or so body surfing the waves. The unpredictable waves were a lot of fun to jump over, dive under, or ride in towards shore. It was exhausting, though, and we eventually had our fill of salt water in every orifice and stumbled back to shore. Happy to have finally done something active for the day, we returned back to the condo to shower and figure out our final evening on Kauai.


We’ve been working out a bit since we got to Kauai!

After some debate, we settled on a light dinner out at the nearby Brennecke’s Beach Broiler restaurant. We drove over and soon learned that it would only be a 15 minute wait for a table, which sounded great to us. While we waited, we looked around the restaurant at all of the t-shirts, pennants, and hats lining nearly every inch of vertical wall space in the restaurant. Most pro and college sports teams were represented in the collection and it was fun trying to find the articles representing the teams we care about (Go CU Buffaloes!). There were also large maps in a corner where patrons could stick pins to mark where they came from and we added a pin to Ames, Iowa (Denver and San Diego already had too many pins and one more wouldn’t have been helpful).

Dinner wasn’t as fancy as last night’s but was still delicious. Betsy had grilled shrimp, Rose had coconut shrimp, Robin had clam linguine, and Philip went for his first ever pupu platter. We had heard of the pupu platter before but never knew what it actually was. It turns out that a pupu platter is essentially the most awesome appetizer sampler ever with a seafood theme; it was great! We also had some fruity drinks and even Philip got in the action with a virgin drink of his own.


Rose’s fruity drink (complete with requisite umbrella) at Brennecke’s Beach Broiler.

Our hunger satiated, we returned to the condo and bed followed soon after. Overall, it was a relaxing day, though not because we intentionally made it so. Nevertheless, Kauai is an amazing place and we were still able to enjoy its beauty even in the rain. Tomorrow, everyone but Robin heads back home (she gets an extra day) and we are definitely sad that the trip is almost over. That said, it is hard to be too sad after such an amazing trip!


Our path for the day. A->B (white): Driving to the warehouse for inner tubing. B->C (red): Van ride to the top with a stop at an overlook. C->B (pink): A dejected van ride back to the warehouse once we learned the tubing was cancelled due to a tunnel collapse. C->D (yellow): Driving to Wailua Falls. D->E (yellow): Driving to Koloa Fish Market to get plate lunch. E->A (yellow): Driving back to condo. A->F->A (red): Our ill-fated drive in monsoon conditions to Spouting Horn and back to the condo. A->G->A (green): Walking to Poipu Beach and body surfing at Brennecke’s Beach. A->G->A (pink): Short drive for dinner and back.


  • Morning walks to the beaches
  • We’re going tubing…just kidding
  • A quick stop at Wailua Falls
  • An authentic and delicious Hawaiian plate lunch
  • Rain, rain go away
  • Body surfing at Brennecke’s Beach
  • A tasty dinner for our final night


  • Distance on Foot: 5.41 miles | 10,825 steps
  • Distance Swimming: 0.4 miles
  • Distance in Van: 14 miles
  • Distance in Car: 46.9 miles

*** Check out the first post of our trip to Kauai and read them in order! ***

Sunday started off a bit painful as we woke up well before the sun at 5:15am. In less than an hour, we ate breakfast, made lunch, and the three of us (Robin, Rose, and Philip) were on our way northeast to Ke’e Beach. An hour and a half later, we pulled into the last open spot in the parking lot and got ready for our hike.


We stopped along the road a few times on the way to Ke’e Beach because the views were absolutely stunning!

The first leg of the hike was along the first two miles of the same Kalalau trail we had seen yesterday from the catamaran. It began with a steep ascent, but we had far more oxygen to breathe than we are used to when hiking 14ers in Colorado so we felt good. Rose grabbed a bamboo hiking stick from a pile by the entrance sign for the trail, which was a wise idea because the trail quickly turned to slippery mud the further along we went. Considering that the weather had been relatively dry lately, the amount of mud was ridiculous. The trail is probably not even hikeable immediately after a rainstorm.


This is the mud we hiked through for at least one third of our 8 mile trip.

As we walked, we chatted with a family from Denver who were cruising along impressively with their two young kids in tow. The views of the Na Pali coast were magnificent as we summited the hill and started our switchback descent down to Hanakapi’ai Beach. Frankly, it is hard to imagine a more beautiful place than this and we stopped frequently for Robin to snap some photos.


The coastline along the Kalalau Trail has to be among the most beautiful on earth!

Just before reaching the beach, we saw a group of people taking off their shoes in preparation for crossing a small stream. We opted to just walk across the rocks with our shoes on and easily stayed dry (not sure why everyone felt the need to remove shoes).


Our first view of Hanakapi’ai Beach as we started our descent towards it on the Kalalau Trail.

There were a dozen or so people already hanging out at the beach when we got there. We walked around the sand for a few minutes taking in the beauty, but did not get in the beautiful water due to the numerous warnings we had read about the dangerous currents. There were a few people in the shallows, but none ventured too far out. We also saw a cave at the base of the cliff across the beach but decided not to explore further since it looked like we could see the entire depth of it already.


Hanakapi’ai Beach is a worthwhile reward after two miles of hiking.

For many of these people, this beach was the final destination. Others would be continuing further along the Kalalau Trail all the way to Kalalau Beach 9 miles further. We hope to do that hike someday but it requires a hard-to-get permit and realistically is a 2-day round trip with a night spent on the beach. The rest of us would be heading 2 more miles upriver to find the Hanakapi’ai Falls.

We set off up the trail next to the stream, passing a small bathroom facility on the way and a helicopter landing area. Within a few minutes, we were grateful that we brought bug spray with us and took a moment to douse ourselves before continuing. Throughout our hike, the trail transitioned between varying states of dry earth and extreme mud, but we managed to avoid any major slipping incidents.

About a mile in, we came to an area known as the bamboo forest with huge stands of bamboo right along the trail. Sadly, many of the stalks of bamboo had initials and other graffiti carved into them from years of hikers. We also crossed the stream several times as we hiked. Most of the crossings were easy and we stayed dry but one of them proved too difficult and we just trudged right through the water with our shoes on. It was during one of these last stream crossings that we got our first view of Hanakapi’ai Falls plummeting from the cliffs above.


A small section of the bamboo forest along the trail to the waterfall…sadly, there is a lot of graffiti carved into the stalks of bamboo.

For the last stretch of the hike, we chatted with three girls who live on Kauai, though they left us in their dust before too long. When we broke clear of the trees a few minutes later, we found ourselves at the rock-strewn edge of a small pool with the beautiful falls cascading down in front of us.


Our first view of Hanakapi’ai Falls as we hiked up the stream.

This is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. It felt even more special because there is no easy way to get there. Only if you are willing to hike through 4 miles of muddy trail do you get to experience the beauty and there is something really cool about having to earn the reward.


The view of Hanakapi’ai Falls as we entered the clearing around its pool.

We made our way around to the left side of the pool and sat on some rocks just out of spray distance to eat our PB&J lunch. While we ate, we saw two of the three girls from earlier hop in the pool and go for a quick swim, though they didn’t last too long because the water was apparently really cold. Even the guy from Colorado was only in for a minute or two before he had enough. Needless to say, we were a bit nervous when we finished our lunch and decided to try it out for ourselves.

Rose elected for the dryer option of just dipping her toes in the water, while Philip and Robin went for it. Navigating the slippery rocks just beneath the surface was challenging (and led to a bruised shin for Philip), but we soon made it out towards the center of the pool. Yes, the water was cold. But in just a few minutes, our bodies acclimated and it actually became quite refreshing (those other people are wimps!).


Phil and Robin braving the cold water to swim in the pool in front of Hanakapi’ai Falls…it really wasn’t that cold after a few minutes of acclimation.

We swam across the pool and around the left side of the waterfall to get behind it. Heeding the advice someone had given us, we avoided swimming directly beneath the falls because you never know when a rock or a tree branch or a wild pig is going to come tumbling over the edge. Our idyllic vacation plans do not include a pig-induced concussion from 100 feet up!


Phil and Robin sitting on rocks behind Hanakapi’ai Falls.

Rose attempted to get some pictures of us swimming but the mist coming off the falling water made that challenging. Eventually, we made our way back across the pool and climbed out. While we were drying off, two other guys got in the water and swam over to the waterfall as well so at least we weren’t the only brave ones there that day.

The hike back to the beach was enjoyable and made more so because we realized that many of the trees lining our path contained guava fruit. It was actually sickening at some points due to the smell of all the rotting guava on the ground. However, we now had a quest to obtain some fresh guava from a tree that we could eat…a quest that was far harder than we imagined given the fact that these fruits seemed to drop frequently all on their own and often shatter upon impact.

Our walk back down the stream was a bit slow, primarily because Robin kept stopping to shake trees that looked like promising candidates for dropping some fruit for us. This was harder than we imagined to both shake a tree and also correctly guess where the fruit would fall so Philip or Rose could catch it. At one point, Robin had walked off the path a few feet to shake another tree before she shrieked and came scurrying back, surprised by both a large spider and an enormous frog.


Guavas in various stages of rotting littering the ground along the trail to the waterfall.

Finally, after much trying, we managed to obtain a few guavas and snacked on those as we continued our hike. We also spotted what appeared to be a lime tree, though it was unyielding of any fruit no matter how hard Robin shook the trunk. On a less joyful note, while hiking back with our wet shoes, Robin came to the realization that she was down to nine toenails, which given the fact that she has all the normal digits on her feet is one less toenail than desired.

We only stopped at Hanakapi’ai Beach for a moment to take in the view before continuing back along the Kalalau Trail towards the car. The sun was high in the sky and beat down hard on some portions of the trail, drying out the mud in places. However, the heat was intense and Rose reached her limit as we trudged up the scorching switchbacks, though she persevered. She also stepped in the slightly wrong place while we were taking a break during the final stretch of the hike and slipped in the mud (though impressively only got her hands and legs dirty). Despite Robin’s frequent stops to take pictures, we made it back to the parking lot and celebrated our accomplishment.


We can’t wait to come back to Kauai and hike the rest of this trail someday all the way to Kalalau Beach!

We were all incredibly muddy from the knee down so we used the shower spigots at the parking lot to wash off. This was a very inefficient process and thus it took 15 minutes or so to get through the line and get clean. Phil’s shoes and Robin’s socks began an early retirement in the garbage can since they were just too dirty to be worth saving.


Our hike to Hanakapi’ai Falls. A->B: Hike from Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Beach along the Kalalau Trail. B->C: Hike along the stream to Hanakapi’ai Falls. Return journey goes in reverse.

Once back in the car, we set off back around the island in search of some snorkeling. We first tried Ha’ena Beach but only stayed for a moment since the water was obviously way too rough to be snorkeled. We also may have scraped the bottom of the car a bit getting out of the parking lot but didn’t leave any pieces behind.


Ha’ena Beach is beautiful but did not seem promising for snorkeling so we quickly moved along.

Tunnels Beach was our next stop and was one of the places that was highly recommended for snorkeling…though apparently only in the summer as we would soon learn. After struggling to find parking, we quickly realized that the surf here was just as rough as everywhere else on this side of the island. We will have to come back in a different season next time and experience the north side of the Kauai in its optimum time.

We drove a bit further along and reached the famed Hanalei Bay (presumably of Puff the Magic Dragon fame). Hanalei Bay has a gorgeous curving beach with wide swaths of sand and large waves rolling in. Unlike many other spots around Kauai, the bottom here seems quite sandy and we saw a lot of boogie boarders and surfers playing in the water.

By this point, we were realizing that snorkeling probably wasn’t going to happen (and frankly we were tired from our morning excursion anyway) so Robin and Rose laid out their towels to soak in some sun and Philip went for a walk along the beach. On his way back, he met a sopping wet golden retriever who was having the time of its life…with few exceptions, a wet dog is a happy dog! As he drew closer to the girls, rain droplets began to fall and we quickly gathered our things and scampered back to the car.

The rain was short lived and we were soon driving in sunny weather again. A stop for gas failed miserably due to the ridiculously tiny parking lot and bad drivers so we gave up and continued further. We found another gas station with a better layout and successfully filled up the car. Interestingly, the car was designed to have no gas cap, which is something we have never seen before.

At this point, we all began to crave a treat so we backtracked a short ways to an ice cream shop but learned that they did not have shave ice. Yelp informed us of a different spot a bit further back and we soon rolled up to an outdoor shave ice shop with a lot of people standing around outside (good sign, right?)


The three of us raring to go before we started our long hike…we were far more tired and muddy by the time we got our shave ice in the afternoon.

Thus began one of the more frustrating food experiences of our lives. The girl behind the counter taking orders was very nice…and utterly incompetent at her job. We placed our orders with much difficulty and then found out from her that the credit card machine was down. We only had enough cash on hand for one dessert so Robin cancelled hers and we paid for the other one. The other worker in the shop was the one actually making the shave ice, but this painfully slow process became even more aggravating because she kept stopping her work to help the girl at the counter. While we waited nearly 20 minutes for our shave ice, another customer came and ordered and the credit card machine magically worked…though we were too frustrated by this point to want to place another order and wait even longer.

Finally, our treat was ready and we shared the pineapple and coconut shave ice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a coconut milk drizzle. Unlike the shave ice from Friday, this one had the ice cream sandwiched in the middle rather than at the bottom. It was tasty but not really worth the wait.

At 4:45, we made it back to the condo after our long day. After some showers to remove the remainder of the mud from our bodies, we decided that it would be a good night for a nice dinner out on the town. We drove to Lihue with the intention of visiting a restaurant called the Barefoot Bar. The parking situation was very confusing but after turning around three times we finally located the alley that took us to the free valet area.

When we got to the restaurant, we learned that there was a wait of 45 minutes for a table, which was more than we had anticipated. Above the Barefoot Bar is a restaurant called Duke’s, which is a nicer dining establishment (and pricier) and it only had a 30 minute wait. We decided to go with that option and hung out outside the restaurant on a grass area near the beach where we could watch some beach volleyball players.


The sunset view of Kalapaki Beach outside of Duke’s restaurant.

Dinner was fantastic and well worth the wait and price. Duke’s is known for its Mai Tai’s and everyone but Philip ordered one. They also have a salad bar that is a trivial extra cost when you order an entrée so we all partook of that as well, along with an appetizer of calamari. The entrees did not disappoint either (7 spice ahi tuna with fruity mustard sauce and black rice for Philip, Mahi Mahi with lemon basil ginger sauce and basmati rice for Rose, fish and shrimp pesto pasta for Robin, and teriyaki chicken and sirloin for Betsy).

Overall, it was a lovely evening and we returned to the condo stuffed and exhausted. Bed followed soon after for all of us. Tomorrow is our last full day on Kauai before we have to return to the mainland and leave this island paradise.


Our path for the day. A->B (white): Drive from condo to Ke’e Beach. B->C->D->C->B (blue): Hike to/from Hanakapi’ai Falls via Hanakapi’ai Beach. B->E (red): Drive to Hanalei Bay. E->E (green): Walk along beach at Hanalei Bay. E->F (red): Drive to gas station and shave ice. F->A (purple): Drive back to condo. A->G->A (yellow): Go to dinner and return back to condo.


  • An early morning drive to Ke’e Beach
  • Hiking through mud to a waterfall in paradise
  • The treasure hunt for guava fruit
  • Searching for snorkeling in north east Kauai
  • Shave ice fail
  • A delicious dinner at Duke’s


  • Distance on Foot: 11.02 miles | 23,140 steps
  • Distance Hiking through Mud: 8.34 miles
  • Distance in Car: 129 miles