ALOOOOHA! I'm home from my big Hawaiian adventure and missing the islands like crazy! I sat down to think back on all the trips I've taken to Hawaii and I just realized that I've now been to ALL the islands (with the exception of Kahoolawee and Niihau...but who goes there anyway). AND...I have taken over a dozen trips to the islands. Yes, REALLY! But the funny thing about it is...I could NEVER get sick of coming here. Plus, this was only my first time on Kauai and I plan to come back many, many more times. Like they all say, "Life is good."
Anyway, the trip was an absolute BLAST like I'm sure you all knew it would be. And you've probably already seen the gazillion pictures I posted on Facebook last week, but here's the play-by-play of how the vacay went down...
THURSDAY: We arrived in Lihue, Kauai at noon on Thursday, grabbed our bags, picked up our Jeep, and headed straight for the beach! We wasted no time getting to know our hotel, The Kauai Beach Resort, and the lay of the land. As you can see the weather was beyond perfect and the place was ALL OURS!
Amazing, right! We finished the perfect first day with an oceanfront dinner at the Grand Hyatt while we listened to the sounds of the ukeleli and waves crashing on the shore. Life doesn't get any better than this!
FRIDAY: By far my favorite day of the trip! Why? Because I found my own little piece of heaven on earth. If you go to Kauai, you MUST go to Kipu Falls. It's actually quite hard to find...sort of off a dirt road in the middle of nowhere and hidden amidst tropical brush. But it's worth it! There's crystal blue waters, a rope swing, and waterfall to jump off. What more could you ask for?
After all the hiking, swinging, and jumping, we were ready for some brunch at the famous Oki Diner. My dear friend Rachel Thurston has been to the island a million times and recommended the banana macadamia nut pancakes with coconut syrup. OH MY GOSH PEOPLE! They were to die for! Exactly what my tummy wanted.
With our bellies stuffed we were ready to hit the beach (kinda gross) so we piled back in the jeep and made our way up to the North Shore of the island and found a sweet beach called Hideaway. Sorry, there aren't going to be any pictures of this part of our adventure. I took a break from playing photog and just napped and enjoyed the view. Can you really blame me?
After nap-time we all had our first snorkel adventure of the trip (and my last). Why you ask? Well, while I was snorkeling around the reefs with the girls, we were really enjoying ourselves, taking in the underwater beauty, when my friend Leanne comes over to us and tells us that she saw a shark! My first reaction was, "Oh, it's probably just a little guy, like you see in those aquariums." So I ask her to show it to me. To which she replied. "Heck no! I'm not going over there! There's a shark!" So she kindly points me in the right direction and I head over to check things out. OH MY GOSH!!! SHAAARK!!! The girl wasn't kidding. There on the bottom of the reef, no more than a few arms lengths away, was a SHARK! Like a 7 foot SHARK! So of course I panic, flag down my girlfriends and make them all race to shore with me. Hahaha!
Of course I can laugh about it now, because after googling it on my phone, I found out it was a White Tip Reef Shark and pretty much harmless. So yah, I saw my first shark in the wild.
Next on the Kauai adventure list was Queen's Bath and the lighthouse. Queen's Bath was really neat because you hike down a cliff, past a waterfall (which we played in on our way back up) and down to a large open formation of volcanic rock that fills up with the ocean water when the tide comes in. We didn't stay here too long. Just long enough to soak up some more sun, watch the locals do flips into the ocean, and check out a family of sea turtles along the coastline.
SATURDAY: Another beautiful day in paradise! Saturday morning Kiele and I slept in while Amy drove Erin and Leanne to the South side of the island for a Sky Diving adventure. They're crazy nuts! So while they went up in a WWII airplane (they claim it was ancient!), Kiele and I happily hung out by the pool, sipping pina coladas.
Luckily the girls survived their jump and we all got in the car for some more adventure. But not without first stopping at Ono Burger for the best hamburgers on the island! Once again, my friend Rachel recommended I try the Local Girl Burger, a big quarter lb. of beef smothered in terriyaki sauce and topped with a giant slice of fresh pineapple. How can you go wrong with a combo like that? It was seriously delicious! A must try on the island.
AND, if you're still hungry for dessert, stop off at Banana Joe's for the best frozen banana and pineapple smoothy you'll ever eat with a spoon! It was seriously the most amazing all natural, no sugar, no nothing added treat I've ever had. Pure bliss!
Once again, full bellies, and ready to hit the beach. This time we drove to the beautiful Tunnels beach, again, on the North Shore. This beach has some of the most beautiful crystal clear waters I've ever seen. I love this photograph of Leanne, just taking it all in.
One can only lay on the sand for so long before the adventure bug bites again, so we piled back in the Jeep and found our way into the Wet and Dry caves. Such a cool natural phenomenon. Isn't mother nature awesome?
We finished off the day with a stop at the Hanalei Valley lookout and a delicious dinner at Olympic Cafe, which is apparently where all the hot guys on the island hang out. If it weren't for all the other restaurants we wanted to check out, I would've made the girls come back here EVERY night! Kidding. Sort of.
SUNDAY: Sunday morning we did some church stuff before making our way outside to enjoy more of the island. With our tennis shoes on, we decided to do a little exploring of the Napali Coast. Amy and Leanne dropped Erin, Kiele, and me off at the trail head so the two of them could go catch some more rays on Ke'e beach (where we would later join them for a beautiful sunset over the ocean).
If you're going to do the Napali coast hike (and you like rugged terrain), I would suggest you do the 11 mile hike up to the waterfall. We however, did not have enough time left in the day (it takes about 5+ hours) so we did the 4 mile hike into a private beach which we called "Our Beach" because we had it all to ourselves. Looking back at the pictures though, we probably should've called it "Yoga Beach" because Kiele had us do crazy poses all over the place. It really was one of the most beautiful and peaceful places I've ever been.
I was so proud of us for hiking all the way in and all the way out, so when we go back to Ke'e beach, I was okay with just vegging out for the next few hours. While we waited for the sun to set, I whipped out the camera again and snapped some pics of my pretty girlfriends. We really did have so much fun that day!
MONDAY: Here we are, on our last day in paradise. Sad! It really went by much too quickly, but it was sooooo fun while it lasted. We all woke up early and joined each other out at the pool for some last minute baking and a trip down the waterslide.
Lucky for us the airport was only 2 miles away and our flight didn't leave until 2:00pm so we fully maximized our time in the sun. One last good burn before getting back in the Jeep. And then, just like that, it was all over.
So there you have it. Five friends, five days, and a whole lot of paradise. I truly fell in love with this island, their people, and it's beauty. It was everything I hoped it would be and more. If you're planning a trip to Kauai soon, let me know! I need to get back there ASAP!