*** 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.

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

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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!).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

Summary:

  • 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

Stats:

  • 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