This post covers my trip to Kauai and Oahu with my Mom to celebrate her 70th! This was our 3rd trip to Hawaii, after visiting Honolulu when I was 15 (we took 1-day trips over to Kauai and the Big Island), then again when I was 25 to Maui (just a few years ago – he he!) For all of our trips we have met up with Carole and Bill, longtime family friends who decided to move to Hawaii in their 30s, giving up the NYC rat race, long commutes, and stressful jobs – and they never looked back!
Kauai – Wed 4/6-Tues 4/12
Landing in Kauai – amazing!
We stayed in Princeville, on the north side of the island. While breathtakingly beautiful it is close to the mountains, and therefore close to the rain, of which we had a bit. The hotel, St Regis Princeville, was spectacular – the views, the service, and the room upgrade (to an ocean view) were all very memorable!
With the rains come rainbows!
A few shots of our room, our view from the patio, and external hotel shots. You may wonder why there’s a shot of the toilet paper – not only was the paper folded into a little diamond, but it was stamped with the hotel logo – it was worth a shot. We also got the little chocolates on our pillow every night (very old school and something I love!) This place was very much over the top!
The beach! I loved watching the sun (when it did some out) reflect off the mountains, showing deep hues of textured emerald green. Rugged, raw, and otherworldly! You’ll note that there are a few obligatory shots of the pool – my Mom and I have a tradition that just evolved naturally in that we NEVER go into the pool when we’re on a beach vacation – it’s not that we don’t like pools, we just only go in the water at the beach! I am a beach freak, no doubt about it. However, when in the desert – you go into the pool!
Kauai has no natural predators, and unlike the other islands, the mongoose was not introduced on the ‘Garden Isle’. This means that chickens replicate and roam free wherever they’d like. They are EVERYWHERE and I’m amazed there aren’t tons of them dead on the road! My Mom had a very memorable breakfast when one misbehaving chicken flew expertly over her plate, snatched up a piece of bacon (yes!), and flew off without touching her, disturbing her coffee or anything else on her plate. It happened so fast it was just a blur of feathers! There were so many of them on the island, they really were annoying – though the hens with their chicks were cute!
Bali Hai (Makana Mountain) is the pyramid-shaped peak to the left of the smaller peninsula and forms the beginning of the Na Pali coast. Makana means a reward or “gift from heaven” in the Hawaiian language. The movie South Pacific released in 1960 featured this mountain as a forbidden but exotic island called Bali Hai. From then onwards, the name “Bali Hai” has stuck on and most people forgot its original name.
Amazing views from the 9th floor lobby area
The bar and lobby – the lobby is huge, gorgeously decorated, and offers a panoramic view of the picturesque surroundings. We enjoyed a few sunset views from up here! We also saw their interesting tradition of a sunset champagne sabering where the blunt side of a saber is used to slice the top of the ‘neck’ away from the bottle, leaving the bubbly ready to pour – and the cork intact inside of the neck. I think the St Regis carries this tradition on regularly at its other hotels around the world – check it out but don’t attempt at home!
Sunset from Lobby Bar
En route to Waimea Canyon! Sat 4/9
We passed through the Canopy of Trees:
Visited the Spouting Horn, a famous blowhole in the Koloa district on the south coast. Legend has it that the hissing and roaring sounds that can be heard near the spout were once believed to be the cries of a lizard trapped below the rocks.
Ni‘ihau Shell jewelry – rare and pricey jewelry made from tiny pretty shells from the nearby ‘Forbidden Island’ of Ni‘ihau (according to legend the volcano goddess Pele created and made the island her home.)
The island today is a modern Gilligan’s Island – There are no paved roads. No cars. No stores. No restaurants. No doctors. No police. No fire department. And no indoor plumbing. There is a school, fully powered by solar energy.
Waimea Canyon (dubbed ‘the Grand Canyon of the Pacific’ by Mark Twain): Nothing like visiting 2 major canyons in 1 week! While Grand Canyon was spectacular Waimea has its own special something to offer too – smaller (10 mi long, 1 mi wide, and 3500 ft deep), greener, more colorful. And we got to see a little goat!
Wailua River Cruise & Fern Grotto:
Around the grounds and Princeville:
Thurs 4/7 – We went to the little town of Kapaa for some lunch, pina coladas, and shopping (and to escape the rain in Princeville)
Sunset view from the beach:
In general we were not overly impressed with the dining options on Kauai – surprise, surprise! I always tease my Mom and Dave that they are very hard to please when it comes to eating out, but in this case I’m in full agreement.
The exception was the Kauai Grill at our hotel – I had one of the best filet mignons ever there and the service was impeccable. We should’ve gone more than once!
We ate at Makana Terrace – great for brunch, dinner was eh. Nice views though!
Sunset view from our patio:
Oahu (Honolulu/Waikiki) – Tues 4/12-Fri 4/15
Because a few of you have asked – the island is Oahu, Honolulu is the main city, and Waikiki is the popular beach/tourist area in the city! 🙂
Shocking park full of homeless people in tents. The state appears to welcome this sort of behavior, and apparently, some states (WI, OR, among others) give their homeless an airline ticket to come and camp out in HI. What’s wrong with this picture people? So much!
Views from our room at the Royal Hawaiian:
North Shore Day (Wed 4/13)! The prettiest part of Oahu:
Diamond Head Lookout
Halona Blow Hole – not much action but pretty views!
Malaekahana Beach – really breathtaking and beautiful!
Mokoli ʻ i (formerly known as Chinaman’s Hat!)
Laie Point State Wayside Park
Sunset Beach, in Haleiwa – surfer’s paradise, home to international surfing competitions
Waimea Valley & Falls – Definitely a hike from downtown Honolulu – I would visit only to cap off a drive around the North Shore prior to cutting back to Honolulu. Waimea means ‘reddish freshwater’, named after the iron oxides in the volcanic iron-rich soils, and the waterfall was believed to have healing powers. Each of the neighbor islands also has an area called Waimea.
Pre-luau get-together at Carole and Bill’s
Beautiful sunset at the Waikiki Aquarium/Diamondhead Luau
Diamondhead Luau – very entertaining! Thanks to Bill, we had the best seats in the house!
More shots around the hotel and on Waikiki Beach!
Waikiki Beach and around town:
Entertainment at Royal Hawaiian Shopping center:
The Honolulu airport departure experience is terrible and time-consuming, at least it was in the Hawaiian Airlines area. Highly recommend flying another carrier. After check-in we had to wait more than 30 minutes just to drop bags! This was for First Class too, yikes! Then add a long wait on TSA Pre and a cross-airport trek to the gate and you have a stressful end to your vacation!
Nice views on departure!
Next post includes a farewell to Phoenix, followed by our first few weeks in Vancouver, BC! Enjoy!