I am grateful that my husband and I were able to take some time off. We decided to book Kauai last minute. Though any last minute getaway during the holiday season are limited by availability and price, we took this time off to reset and dream up for the new year. A couple of years ago, we had an amazing vacation to Oahu, so Hawaii was certainly a place we would like to come back to. We both felt that trip had a good balance of relaxation and active pursuits. I have heard of raving reviews about Kauai – the varying terrain, canyons, mountains and oceans. At the time of our visit, I am 19 (going on 20) weeks pregnant. Since the beginning of my second trimester, I felt my energy level is back (night sickness is gone) and I have been more active compared to the first three months. I respect that I will have physical limitation to how active I can pursue certain hikes and activities. Here’s what we’ve covered during our ‘babymoon’ in Hawaii in 6 days (not counting the transit).
Day 1 - Travel Day
Today was virtually a travel day with some delays from leaving Vancouver and a layover in Seattle. We had a 6+ hour flight from Seattle to Lihue. I must say that the 6 hour flight is probably the maximum time I would want to be sitting in a cramped space from here on out.
It was past 10pm when we landed, the warm air and coconut trees are a nice welcome. We headed straight for the car rental from the airport. While we generally look to public transit as the main mode of transportation (as we did for most of our previous Hawaii trip), it was highly recommended by our hotel to rent a car. We stopped by Walmart to stock up on a few items: US sim card, breakfast (oatmeal, almond milk, yogurt), snacks, bananas. And off we went to our stay for the next 7 days - The West Kauai Inn in Waimea.
Day 2 - Waimea Canyon
We stayed in Waimea firstly as there were no other vacancies for places to stay (in all of the island). We searched all over Airbnb, VRBO, Booking, etc. My husband did find an opening at The West Inn Kauai in Waimea. We booked right away once we decided to go on this trip. I absolutely love this little town! It has a 4 block strip with everything that you really need - grocery stores (Big Save, Ishihara Market), small restaurants and food places - Gina's Anykine Grinds Cafe, Jojo's Shave Ice, Shrimp Station, Thai and Smoothie Place.
After getting food, we picked up some beach towels at Red Dirt where a group of friendly Filipino ladies greeted us. They were so impressed with Corey's Tagalog. There was a craft fair on our first day out. I have been eyeing to get a handmade basket such as this. So I finally purchased one when the lady explained the process of how they are made. This reminded me of handmade baskets they make in the Philippines as well. Isn't it funny that the older I get and the less accessible these handcrafted wares are, that I do appreciate the workmanship and the natural materials that go into them.
First beach stop was Kekaha Beach Park. This was only about a 5 min drive along the coast from Waimea. Fine yellow sand beach with only a few people in the area. We spent a couple of hours here just to relax.
Afterwards, we tried to drive to Polihale State Park, but there are portions of the dirt road that still had water from the rain the night before. Best we didn't take our small rental just in case. Noting to come back here if accessible on later days. The drive itself was amazing, we were in the dry lands of the island with the canyons and mountain on the right side and the wide expansive ocean on the left.
We drove to the Waimea Canyon Lookout. It was a windy drive on a single lane highway. Both Corey and I were both under the weather with cold. The view was certainly worth it. You can see the falls cascading down from afar, and what a backdrop of a nature! Simply stunning. It was certainly a highlight to see this beauty - the red rocks, the line on the canyons signalling time, the feeling of being small and new to the world. I didn't feel the place was crowded, though there were people taking pictures too close to the cliff for my comfort. So certainly I would recommend seeing this from the lookout. There are other hike options I am certain, but this was best for our condition at that time.
Canyon aside, there was a stall selling Banana Apple Lumpia. Yumm...I didn't get to take a picture of the rolls because I devoured them pronto. This reminded me so much of a Filipino dessert called turon back from the Philippines. I guessed that the guy must be Filipino. Or perhaps with the huge Filipino immigrants in Hawaii since early 1900s, this was dubbed a local dessert here. Another stand close to our inn also sells Banana Apple Lumpia. Note to self to try making this at home.
Day 3 - Salt Park Pond/Spouting Horn
Salt Park Pond was only about a 10 minute drive from our inn. I very much liked this beach park. The lady at the car rental recommended we check this out. It was definitely the perfect place to snorkel, the water was warm and calm given large rocks and corals were breaking the waves. We didn't have our snorkel gear, but we spent some time lounging on the beach and people watching. Guess what? These guys have the same idea too! This is the first time I have seen a seal and turtle lounging together!
We checked out the Spouting Horn Park at sunset. The tide was fairly low that evening so we saw only a few high 'spouts'. But nonetheless this is a great spot to watch the sunset.
DAY 4 - North Side of Kauai
We designated today as our day trip to the north. We drove about 2 hours from Waimea to get to the North side of Kauai. The first stop was Kalalau Trail. The drive there was stunning - the changing landscape from the arid southwest to the lush north coast. Kalalau Trail parking situation was a bit challenging as you would spend time looking for parking if you are not here early enough.
We only hiked about .25 mi of the Kalalau Trail given it was muddy. We made it to the first lookout no problem and easily awarded with a stunning view of the beach below. We started to walk to the next stop, however, with the terrain getting muddier and my balance not as good pre-pregnancy we decided to turn around and opted for more beach time.
We drove back and made a pit stop at Haena Beach Park for a few hours.
We had Queen's Bath in Princeville on our list and we did made the trek there. In future, I would skip this in the winter time. The tide was simply to high and too strong to swim. The trek to get to the Queen's Bath was muddy and full of mosquitos. Corey and I both agreed that this was probably an unnecessary risk taking on our end.
Wailua. Stopped by for a coffee, this is a relatively bigger town with resorts dotting the beach.
DAY 5 - New Year's Eve
Our first stop this morning is the Kauai Coffee Company. They offer free tours during the day and we caught the 12pm walking tour. We learned a lot about coffee today! That coffee is the second largest traded commodity after oil, not put coffee bags in the fridge (nudge nudge to Corey), medium roast has more caffeine than dark roast, 2 tablespoons per 1 cup, oh, and decaf coffee are sent to BC, Canada. Who knew that?
We made our way to Poipu beach, but got sidetracked with checking out the Sheraton Hotel. It is great that public has access to beach front hotels as all beach are public. We had lunch at the Lava's on Poipu Beach at the Sheraton. I would recommend them for lunch. We shared the shrimp coconut, chicken and avocado sandwich with salad, and a pineapple juice.
We drove a few minutes to Poipu Beach Park to watch Baby Boss and the New Year's Eve Fireworks. Happy 2018!
Day 6 - New Year with a Luau
Today is another year! 2018! I woke up early again today. One of the weird symptoms I have had this pregnancy is waking up either middle of the night or very early morning. During the first trimester, I was waking up around 2 or 3am hungry and needing to snack. This time around, I am needing to go to the bathroom or feeling leg cramps.
Today has mostly been a rest day in the inn. I did get some walk in around the town this morning and in the afternoon. My changing body needs it. I need to move and stretch every day or otherwise I would feel more aches and pain before going to sleep. On my list of things to do in 2018 is to line up prenatal classes in Vancouver.
In the evening, we went to Luau Kalamaku at Kilohana Plantation. We purchased ticket ahead of time. I would recommend to come in early to check out the grounds, though it had rained just before we got there. We were ushered to a huge dining hall with the stage at the center. The food was meh, but the entertainment was very good - fire dancers and good story. It occurred to me that I should incorporate some Hawaiian dancing in my routine because those has got to be good opening hip exercise. After we got home, I looked up some youtube - Hawaiian and Tahitian dancing, and I must say that I think they work!
Day 7 - Beach Day
We stopped by another small town of Hanapepe. I love this quaint little down where many immigrants settled to in 1900s. We stopped by for coffee.
I called the Marriot Hotel at Lihue today to see if we can purchase a day access to their pool, but they are fully booked for the week. We made a stop by the beach at the Mariott anyway. I had a great time watching a group play beach volleyball. I missed being able to play! But watching is also enjoyable. Another lounge day for us. Not bad at all :)
Day 8 - Polihale State Beach Park
We first made a pit stop at Ishihara Market place as I've read their bento boxes are a must. We packed some other snacks and made our way to Polihale State Beach Park. It's been nothing but sunny days for us the last week. We made our way to Polihale State Park which was at the end of the road from Waimea town. The road ended and we drove about 15 minutes on dirt road.
I am glad we turned around when we did from Day 1 (when there were residual rain on the ground) as I think the road was too long and too bumpy with a small vehicle. There were a lot of rocks as well, so be careful trekking out there.
We finally made it to the beach. This place is wild! I felt I was at the end of the world. The lush mountain on the right and miles of white sand beach. There were not a lot of people on this side of the island as is, and even sparse beach goers early morning here. Throughout the day, more people came in to sun bath. There's so much beach!
The water was choppy, but I wasn't going to go in either way. So much sun and sand! I love it!
Day 9 - Travel Day
Time to say goodbye to Kauai - you will be missed! I highly recommend visiting this island. It was the perfect getaway and 'baby moon' for us.