First things first, I’ve been struggling with getting videos onto this site, and have honestly been so busy running around that it took me a while to research it. That said, here are a few that would have been in previous posts, but didn’t make it because of the technical difficulties:
Now, back to our regularly scheduled program…
Today we got up, packed up, and headed out to try to beat the crowds at Diamond Head. Thankfully, we made it before the parking lot was full. (We tried to come to the park on our first day on O’ahu, but the lot was full and they told us to pull into the “waiting area”, which looked like it could take a while. Apparently, Diamond Head needs a reservation system like a nice restaurant.) We checked out the information about the park, which was pretty cool. What I found most interesting, aside from the general island creation and volcano stuff, was that, when used for defense, the guns were actually placed on the side of the crater away from the ocean and fired using lookouts at the Fire Control Station at the summit. That way the ships they were firing at could not see to take out the guns. Genius! We walked up the path that leads to the crater for a ways, then headed back down. This entire area is full of trees and grasslands. It is typically very hot and dry, receiving only about 25 inches of rain a year. We can attest to the HOT part! By the time we got back to the car, we were soaked! However, it is a beautiful place, and worth the visit. (I would love to have climbed to the top, but new knee was not feeling it.)
When planning for this trip, we had to take into account three different climates and various dress codes. Finally in Hawai’i, we no longer needed a lot of what was used on the ship (tuxedo and gown, for instance) and the few long sleeved things we brought thinking it might be cool some days. With baggage fees like they are and our island-hopping plans, we figured it was cheaper to ship the stuff. We boxed everything up before we left this morning, so our next task was to find a place to ship part of it to our son, Ryan, in North Carolina and part to Buddy in Seattle (things we would need before getting home). This proved to be a little difficult, because the GPS kept leading us to post offices that were not actually there. We finally found one and got the chore done so that we could finish up our O’ahu visit.
We still had some time before needing to be at the airport, so MW found a drive leading up to Pu’u U’alaka’a State Park. We struck out and ended up finding what has to be the best drive on the island! Round Top Mountain Road twisted and turned up the mountain in the rainforest with the occasional spectacular view looking out across Honolulu and into Diamond Head. Yes, I said “into”. At the park you are well above Diamond Head and looking down into the crater. As an added bonus, it was not crowded at all and about 18 degrees cooler up there. At one point we stopped the car and turned it off to listen…nothing but birds and the breeze! Amazing to be in Honolulu and hear no traffic! This is definitely the road to live on if you have at least $1.1 million to spend. All of the homes are back up in the woods, some with views of the city. Truly amazing!
Once back down off of the mountain, it was time to head to the airport. We turned in the rental, checked in, and after getting the lay of the land, found a place to have drinks and a burger before the flight.
The flight to Kaua’i was a quick, ascend and immediately descend deal, and we were pleasantly surprised at how laid back the airport and island looked compared to O’ahu and Maui. Getting the car was easy, and we found the hotel with no problems. The Kaua’i Beach Resort is great and just a few miles from the Lihue airport. It is right on the beach (although not a good one for swimming with the undertow), the grounds are very lush. The pool area is absolutely beautiful with a waterfall, garden area, and you guessed it, chickens.
After a long day, we were pretty tired. We worked on our plan of attack for tomorrow and settled in for the night.
More photos from today:
We were up at 6:45 AM this morning to get a jump on our day. Good thing, too, because the rental car did not recognize the key fob, so we couldn’t get it started. I called the car company and went through the process, but just as they were finally answering, the car miraculously responded. Our first stop was, understandably, Dollar to exchange the car. (We had the same problem with the Dollar rental on O’ahu, but it only lasted for a minute or two before responding.)
Finally on the road, we headed over to Waimea Canyon State Park and all the way up HI-550 to the highest overlook. The views were amazing, and the drop-offs were crazy. Those mountains are rugged!
After looking around for a bit, we drove back down and into Kekaha, then headed out the Kaumualii Highway towards Polihale State Park. Along the way we pass Barking Sands Pacific Missile Range Airport, then a little further down the road, it suddenly becomes gravel. It is a wide, well-traveled road, so we kept going. (It was very rough in places, though.) About 4 miles further, it gets much more narrow and turns to sand. We figure we are almost there, so what the heck, we keep going. It was a little crazy, but totally worth it! The waves here were CRAZY, and it was clearly not a swimmer’s beach. There were only a handful of people around. The beach had dunes, then dry sand, then it dropped off down a steep hill to the wet sand. (The heavy surf is carving it out.) I went down to the edge to put my feet in the water, and when I reached the edge, a guy walked quickly out into the water to about thigh depth. He was promptly knocked on his butt and struggled mightily to get back up and to the beach. When he was back upright, a woman walked up and said she was thinking about going in. He advised against it, and she listened! Here is my two cents: If the waves are crashing and the beach is eroded into a little cliff, there is a good chance the undertow is outrageous. Make a note. After cooling my toes for a few minutes and walking around a little more, we headed back. Here is a little video, but you can’t see the drop-off on the beach:
Once back on the main road, we stopped at Porky’s, a food truck in Waimea that gets terrific reviews. They were right! We shared their grilled cheese, which had two kinds of cheese and kalua pork with sweet spicy sauce AND the pineapple sausage with kalua pork and sweet spicy sauce. Just WOW!! I’m going to have to figure out how to make that pork!
We continued down to Spouting Horn Park. This is a pretty cool blowhole with great beach views. The area is very populated and is definitely a tourist spot. We walked around a bit, then headed to the best part of the day. Another video for you:
Our next appointment was at Jack Harter Helicopter Tours. We spent an hour looking at canyons, waterfalls, and
beaches that you can’t see any other way. A lot of the scenery from Jurassic Park was filmed in these remote areas. We also saw a vacation house in the middle of the forest that is owned by the Robinsons. They also own the island of Ni’Ihau, which has only about 200 inhabitants, all of them working for the Robinsons. I totally recommend springing for this tour. It is peaceful and beautiful. The one thing I would do differently is take the one with the doors off. A lot of the pictures have some glare from the windows. Here are a couple of video snippets from the tour just to give you a taste: Helicopter Tour I Helicopter Tour II
Back on land, we headed over to Opaeka’a Falls. You guessed it…beautiful. We also saw a lot more chicken! Earlier in the day we stopped for ice cream at Kaua’i Sweet Shop, and they were all over the place, too. As we were leaving, the little train was running across the driveway. Beside the tracks is a large, open lawn area, and running along beside the train as fast as their legs would carry them were dozens of chickens! It was hilarious! Then, when the train passed, one just sat down in the middle of the driveway. Crazy! After checking out the falls, it was time for some dinner.
We found Pietro’s Pizza in Lihue, which was great. Then it was time to go to the hotel and turn in. It was a LONG, but amazing day!
A few more pics from today: