Having spent most of my life on a Pacific island, I get a little sick of the views of different shades of blue and miles of sandy coastline.
So forgive me if my first impression of Kauai was that it was nice but not unconventional. So Oahu has iconic Waikiki to Diamond Head views, Big Island has alien planet landscapes with black lava fields, and Maui has Haleakala Crater and Kaanapali Bay.
But my first impressions of Kauai were from my first two days of driving north. The coastline was beautiful, but if he saw one white sand beach, he’d seen almost all of them.
There was a coastal cave that gave me heeby jeebee, like when I was caught at dusk on Guam’s river and I could feel Taotaomina coming.
The cave was about 150 feet back into the cliff for the entire time my daughter was exploring the cave. It didn’t matter if the Hawaiian gods didn’t understand CHamoru. I feel better.
But beyond that, Kauai has a lot to explore and enjoy. We weren’t able to visit all the places for the rest of his week, so I’m looking forward to another trip.
After being underwhelmed for the first few days, I wondered if the attraction’s nickname, “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” was so incredibly believable.
No. Not at all.
From the lookout, views of the 14-mile-long, 3,600-foot-deep canyon will amaze islanders. That sucker sucks!
According to NASA’s Earth Observatory website, the canyon that formed when the volcano that created the island collapsed about four million years ago was further carved out by rainwater along one side. The bright red hue that streaks the canyon was originally black basalt, but over time it has weathered to a colorful state.
If you are not with a Hawaii resident, you must pay a $5 admission fee and a $10 parking fee per person to park at the Observatory. After the first observatory he has two observatories, but he pays only once.
Further up the road is Kokee State Park, but before that is Kokee Lodge. This funky building houses a restaurant, bar and a small shop with unique local souvenirs.
Note that the road to Kokee State Park gets progressively worse the higher up you go. Pretty much the same as the road to Gun Beach back then.
So I shouldn’t have gone ziplining on Kauai.
But the wonderful staff of Kauai Backcountry Adventures let me go at the last minute. Since I only wear Zoris, they even allowed me to borrow sneakers to meet the closed-toe shoe requirement.
Our guides, Kaeden and Cody, two local boys, provided us with historical and informative stories and comedy skits on our drive to a mountain site with 7 ziplines.
If the idea of galloping along a cable over a canyon river isn’t a big deal to you, hear it from a 56-year-old woman who drives white-knuckles over bridges. It’s absolutely exhilarating! The hardest part for our group of 11 was trying to land gracefully without bumping into our guides during the descent.
The company also offers tubing tours through the canals and tunnels of former plantation estates.
My husband and I wanted to take at least one dip in the ocean, but when we got to Lydgate Beach Park’s saltwater pools, a local woman whose toddler girl was playing naked under an outdoor shower told us she was a child. warned that they were stung by jellyfish. underwater.
Seeing our disappointment, she suggested going up the road and taking a dip in the Keawa River. Wondering what the heck, we accepted her offer and climbed about seven miles (11 km) up the mountain to reach her one-lane bridge that marked the entrance to Keawa Arboretum.
After parking on the short side of the bridge (there is also a parking lot on the other side), we took a short turn under the bridge and then walked over the bridge to explore the surroundings.
At the end of one trail, I found a family with four children, between the ages of about five and ten, taking turns swinging off a rope into a stream. After yelling at the youngest to make the final turn, they packed up – our big kids were allowed to swing as long as they wanted for the rest of the afternoon.
if you go
To get to Kauai from Guam, you need to fly from Honolulu Airport on Oahu. With the ongoing price war between Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines, you can buy a round trip ticket for about $80 (plus fees) by the end of the year.
Most of the hotels and retail stores are on the more developed eastern side of the island. Short-term rentals like Airbnb are only legal in some visitor-designated areas, and neighbors may report a violation if they suspect the rental you’re staying in is illegal.
The island, like the rest of the world, has been affected by the pandemic and you may find restaurants with staff shortages and limited opening hours. Pack up your patience and be sure to use it while treating your visitors with the same respect you would expect.