#Kauai: A Visit To Koloa

Part of Koloa Old Town’s original buildings, preserved and repurposed from plantation days.

Brett and I, along with the girls, headed down to the south shore last week to visit old Koloa Town and stop in at the Kukuiula Marketplace, an open-air shopping center in the resort area of Poipu. It was a lovely day, and along with some sightseeing we also took care of a couple of purchases we had been wanting to make.

Sueoka Market is the cornerstone of Koloa Town. It’s been open for nearly 100 years although it didn’t move to its present location until 1933. It is still operated by the Sueoka family. There’s a snack stand in back on the right that serves ono (delicious) local-style plate lunches and hamburgers.

Our first stop was old Koloa town. It’s primarily a tourist stop now, filled with shops and restaurants, but the businesses are located in many of the original old plantation buildings, and the small town still gives a sense of what it was like back when the Koloa mill was the center of sugar production on the island. The mill was established in 1835, and was the first successful sugarcane plantation in Hawai’i. The sugar mill and resulting “sugar era” started the wave of immigrants to Hawai’i that continue to make up the state’s diverse and multicultural population, and the names of the old buildings still tell the names of their original owners, and their original purpose.

The Tree Tunnel

Koloa town is also noted for it’s many big, beautiful old trees, beginning with the “tree tunnel” of eucalyptus trees, planted more than 100 years ago – it’s been called “the gateway to Koloa.” As many times as I’ve passed through it, the sight and experience of driving through the tunnel still takes my breath away. Koloa is also home to a giant banyon tree, the biggest ficus I’ve ever seen, and many other impressive and shady trees that always make the town feel cool.

This giant ficus tree is located across the street from old town, on the bank of the Waikomo Stream.

One of the many beautiful, old, big shady trees located throughout Koloa Town

Kauai Nut Roasters is located in what was a hotel back in the plantation days of Koloa. Aloha Roastery is located in the same building, to the left.

The only must-buy for us in Koloa town was a couple of packages of nuts from Kauai Nut Roasters. Their product is amazing, and we wanted to support them after a near-loss of the business due to a former manager copying their recipes and then slandering the business (the theft is currently being litigated – the manager had signed a non-compete contract). The Koloa store is their only shop still open, down from four. We also stopped next door at Aloha Roastery to check it out while the girls were doing other things. The owners are two brothers, born and raised on the island, who had lived in Beijing for several years and operated a coffee shop there, but wanted to come back to Kaua’i. Our coffee/tea drinks were excellent, and we’re looking forward to going back.

Da Crack operates out of a window located in the middle of a small shopping center, but boy do they turn out some fantastic food!

Brett & my burrito, with shredded smoked chicken, black beans, shredded cabbage and pico de gallo. Tasty!

From Old Town we headed down the road to the resort area of Poipu, stopping for burritos at Da Crack, a small shop located in a small shopping center right before the Poipu traffic circle. We had been hearing good things about Da Crack for a while, and about how delicious the burritos, bowls and tacos were, and they did not disappoint. We were lucky to arrive just before the main lunch rush, because the line behind us was enormous by the time we got our burritos, and still long over an hour later when we passed by on our way back home. Service though was quick and friendly. There are a variety of ingredients on the menu that you can mix and match to customize your order. Brett and I shared a chicken burrito with black beans, shredded cabbage and pico de gallo (no rice!) – it was amazing! Prices range from $8.95 for the chicken burrito, bowl or tacos to $11.95 for ones with either fish or shrimp (there’s a kid’s menu too, with smaller portions). We will definitely be returning here!

Kukuiula Marketplace

There are stunning hibiscus located all through the Marketplace.

After lunch it was on to the Kukuiula Marketplace, a sort of high-end, open-air shopping center that caters to Poipu visitors. Shops include Reyn Spooner, Tommy Bahama, Quicksilver, Blue Ginger and Mālie Organics as wells as several other gift shops, jewelry stores and art galleries. There are also several restaurants, from Bubba’s Burgers to Roy Yamaguchi’s new restaurant, and lots of choices in between, as well as a big Long’s drugstore, and a gourmet grocery store which sells great pasteries and coffee, if you’re so inclined. Kukuiula also hosts one of the best farmers’ markets on the island every Wednesday afternoon.

It is truly difficult to choose a flavor at Lappert’s Ice Cream. Thankfully, they’ll let you sample them all!

We poked around in the shops for a while (I bought a top at Blue Ginger) and then we all got back together for ice cream at Lappert’s. Lappert’s has been making ice cream on Kaua’i since 1983, and they’re famous for their wonderful island-themed flavors. Brett and I each enjoyed a kid’s scoop of Kauai Pie – Kona coffee ice cream with macadamia nuts, shredded and lightly toasted coconut, and rich chocolate fudge – and the girls each had two scoops of other flavors. Lappert’s also sells delicious coffee and pasteries, and makes gelato – they used to make the BEST gelato flavor I have ever had: smoked dark chocolate. It was weird but insanely delicious!

The geyser at Spouting Horn bellows whenever it shoots water up – according to legend it’s the moan of a giant lizard that was trapped in the rocks below.

Since we still had some time left before YaYu had to be at swim practice, we drove the short distance over to Spouting Horn, located just southwest of Kukuiula Marketplace. The drive there is beautiful, with stunning ocean views as well as opportunities to ogle several multi-million dollar ocean-front homes. We spent several happy minutes watching Spouting Horn do its thing, and also enjoying the gorgeous views to both the east and west before heading for home.

The view to the east from Spouting Horn . . .

. . . and to the west. It was a lovely day!

#Kauai: The Bucket List

Kipu Kai Ranch view – part of the ATV tour.

You’d think that after almost four years here on this small island we would have seen and done it all, but with less than eight months remaining before we take off on the Big Adventure, we’re realizing there are several things we still haven’t experienced and would like to do before we go.

Neither Brett nor I are those people that feel compelled to do everything when we visit or live somewhere. We like to do enough to gain a better and/or deeper understanding of a place, but also are OK with leaving some things undone, to give ourselves a reason to want to return (or at least rationalize a reason to return).

Here is a list we’ve come up with (for now) of some missing Kaua’i/Hawai’i experiences we’d like to have before we leave:

Experiences:

Sunset view from the PMRF beach cottages

  • Rent a beach cottage for a couple of nights at the Pacific Missile Range Facility, to enjoy the beach and experience the gorgeous sunsets. This is one of our military benefits, and we’d be remiss not to use it before we go.
  • Hike Waimea Canyon. This is high on Brett’s list. By the way, the reason I don’t hike with him is that while my knee (that I broke over 18 years ago) is OK going uphill, going back down doesn’t go so well – same for stairs.
  • Hike the Stone Dam trail. Brett’s done this a couple of times, but it’s a hike I can do too because it’s flat!

    We plan on getting VERY dirty on the ATV tour!

  • Take an ATV tour out to Kipu Kai Ranch This is the only “touristy” activity we really want to try.
  • Get up early and hike out to watch the sunrise from the Pineapple Dump.
  • Take the tubing adventure tour with our grandson if our son and family visit next summer, through the historic irrigation system of the old Lihue Plantation. Apparently it’s quite the thrill ride!

    The Kaua’i Museum

  • Visit the Kaua’i Museum in Lihue. The reason we haven’t gone before now is that even kamaaina have to pay to visit, but we feel it’s something we should see.
  • Tour the Limahuli Gardens & Preserve. The garden, located on the north shore, contains a wide variety of native and Polynesian-introduced plants, including a 100+ year-old taro garden and terrace system that dates back to the earliest Hawaiians.

    The Limahuli Gardens taro garden and terraces

Food:

  • Celebrate our anniversary this year at Duke’s Kaua’i, down at Nawiliwili in Lihue. We’ve heard nothing but good things about the food and ambience there.

    The view from Brenneke’s Beach Broiler

  • Have a lunch date at Brenneke’s Beach Broiler in Poipu.
  • Have dinner at The Eating House 1849, in Poipu (Roy Yamaguchi is an award-winning chef from Hawai’i), and at Bar Acuda in Hanalei.

    Breadfruit is a protein and nutrient-rich staple in Hawaii and other islands in the Pacific Ocean.

  • Try breadfruit. I can’t believe we haven’t done this yet. WenYu bought a breadfruit at the farmers’ market yesterday (after I had written this post) and cooked it in the microwave. It was delicious! We will be buying it again. WenYu’s friend also bought an egg fruit which we had never had before – it was also tasty!

    Egg fruit – the inside is soft and sort of dry, and mildly sweet

Off-Island:

  • Make an overnight visit to the Big Island to visit Volcanoes National Park (Haleakalā National Park on Maui is just going to have to wait until we can get back though).

    Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

This was a hard list to come up with for the reason that the thought of leaving the island, even for a little while, is almost more than I can bear. I will revisit the list in three to four months and check our progress.

 

 

#Kaua’i: Street Burger

The Napa Burger: Point Reyes blue cheese, cabernet onions, port reduction and spinach, served on a freshly baked roll along with hand-cut sea salt fries and homemade ketchup.

The idea of a gourmet burger has always sort of struck me as an oxymoron. By nature, a hamburger is a humble sandwich, just a ground beef patty set inside a soft roll, often served with a few condiments or maybe a slice of cheese. It doesn’t exactly fit with the idea of “gourmet.”

Street Burger however, located in Wailua on the east side of Kaua’i, takes the humble hamburger to a level that is definitely gourmet. The restaurant has become one of our favorite places to eat on the island, and our go-to restaurant when we want to enjoy a meal with friends.

Brett’s half of the bacon-barbecue burger we shared (plus all the fries).

The burgers at Street Burger are HUGE. Half of one is plenty for me these days, and Brett and I usually share (although he gets all the fries). Each burger is a virtual tower of hamburger goodness. There are 17 different burger versions to choose from, from a classic hamburger, cheeseburger or bacon-barbecue burger (my favorite!) to a Greek burger with olive tapenade, feta cheese, tzatziki, cucumber and spinach. Other creative burger examples include the Wailua, (crispy spam, jalapeño-pineapple marmelade, kabayaki glaze and spinach) or the Southern burger (fried green tomato, pimento cheese, greens and buttermilk-chive dressing) or the Italian (prosciutto, bufala mozzarella, arugula pesto, marinara and spinach). A vegan burger is available for those who don’t eat meat, and is just as glorious as their other offerings. Each burger is cooked to order on a big wood-fired grill, served with hand-cut sea salt fries and house-made ketchup, and is a masterpiece from start to finish. Street Burger also offers exciting and interesting salads and sides, including to-die-for onion rings, or one of Brett’s favorites, Texas Poutine: Texas-style chili over fries, with sharp cheddar cheese, a fried egg and fizzled onions.

Beginning with the burger, everything is as local as can be achieved here. The hamburger patties are made from Kauai-raised grass-fed beef, and the produce comes from local farmers. The rolls are made on site. The ice cream is made on Kaua’i (Lapperts) and the coffee served at the restaurant comes from Java Kai in Kapaa. Even the ketchup is made from scratch.

Sitting at the counter and watching these guys work the grill is a great place to enjoy your meal at Street Burger.

For all the amazing deliciousness of their creations, Street Burger is an affordable dining choice. The burgers range in price from $10 to $17, and for that you get a LOT of food. Even when Brett and I share an order, there are still usually leftovers to bring home.

The restaurant also offers a large selection of craft-brewed beers, and has an interesting wine list. Dining is available inside the restaurant or out on the patio, where guests can enjoy a stunning view of the Sleeping Giant. Another fun seating option is at the counter that surrounds the grill. We did that on one trip and had a fun time throughout our meal watching the burgers being made and chatting with the cooks. It’s also worth it to save some room (if you can) for one of Street Burger’s desserts. They are divine, and well worth the extra calories!

One of the most popular desserts is the Street Burger S’more: Chocolate mousse, peanut butter crunch, and toasted Swiss meringue

Street Burger is located at 4-369 Kuhio Hwy, in Wailua, just north of the old Coco Palms hotel on the mauka (mountain) side of the highway. They’re open Tuesday through Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

 

Will It Stay or Will It Go?

The jubako will be stored; the chest they sit on will be sold

A big topic of current conversation between Brett and I these days is over which of our things we are going to store while we travel next year, and which ones we will sell or otherwise get rid of. We mostly agree, but there are few items we’re still haggling over (with Brett usually saying “let it go”). We plan to start the downsizing process fairly soon after Christmas, with our tree the first thing we’ll put up for sale. We’ll start gradually, but end with a big moving sale right before we leave.

Will it go? is the easy part because the answer is: almost everything. We have to no plans to store any furniture other than our big hibachi table, so our dining table and chairs, all bedroom furniture, our remaining antique Japanese tansu, living room furniture, etc. will all go up for sale. Everything except the tansu is replaceable, but after some discussion we decided to let them go as well – they will fetch a good price, and our goal is to eventually live even more streamlined than we do now.

We’ll be storing the KitchenAid mixer, the slow cooker, our set of All-Clad pots and pans, most of the pottery collection, one cake stand (a gift from the girls), less than five Japanese cooking utensils, and a few of our coffee cups; otherwise, everything in the kitchen will be sold as well. We’re going to let Meiling go through the things we’re not keeping (i.e. bakeware) while she’s home and will send what she wants back with her.

We’re keeping all or most of our blue and white Japanese porcelain although there are a couple of pieces I don’t have any strong feelings about and can let go. All of our artwork will be stored as well. Our collection was curated before we moved over here and we don’t want to part with the pieces we kept. A couple of the pictures will go back with the girls this year, but that’s all. We’re keeping both of our wool rugs.

Things like our collection of Christmas ornaments, lovingly collected over the past 40 years, and the few other sentimental items we brought with us will also go into storage. We debated dividing up the Christmas ornaments among the kids this year, but then realized the girls don’t want to have to worry about storing Christmas ornaments while they’re in school, and the cost of shipping our son’s bunch over to Japan would be prohibitive. We still plan to get together for Christmas every year no matter where we are, so Brett and I will remain the ornament keepers for the time being.

We’ll also store our new TV, mainly because it will be less than a year old, and we see no sense in replacing it so soon. However, our washer and dryer set and our freezer will be sold.

The car will be sold too, hopefully around a month before we depart on our Big Adventure. I’m amazed at what people get for used cars here on the island, even ones with high mileage, so we’re hoping our little Honda Civic will bring a decent price with its fairly low mileage. It’s a terrific island car, in pretty good shape, and gets good mileage (34-36 MPG) so we’ve got our fingers crossed that it sells quickly. Both Brett and I are looking forward to not owning a car for a while.

The items we are keeping will be stored here on the island – whether we’ll do that independently or work with a local moving company is something we’re still investigating. Doing it independently will most likely cost less, but the moving company would offer packaging and protection for the items being stored (especially the art work).

Can I admit to being a little bit excited again about downsizing even more? Brett and I grow less and less  sentimental over our things as more time goes on, and feel like we have a lot of stuff we just don’t need anymore, especially because of our upcoming travels and because we won’t have any children living with us full time. But, we also recognize we’re not ready to part with everything just yet. I’ll think we’ll be keeping enough to make wherever we eventually settle, whether that’s back here on Kaua’i or somewhere else, feel familiar and like home, but not enough to tie us down. That’s just where we want to end up.

 

#Kaua’i: Getting Local With Costco

One of the things we love, love, love about Costco shopping here, on top of their prices, is the abundance of local products available. We have visited and shopped at Costco in many different places on the mainland but I don’t remember ever seeing so many things specifically geared to a certain location like they are here. Below are just a few of the many local products available year-round at our Costco:

(Warning: Lots of photos coming up!)

This is just one of many, many locally produced (Honolulu) baked goods and snacks. Brett loves Oahu-made pumpkin graham crackers, and you can also get lots of other kinds of cookies, and things like Kona coffee-macadamia brittle and other macadamia nut treats, wonton chips and much more, all made right here in Hawaii.

There are several Japanese and other Asian products that you would only find in an Asian market back on the mainland (and not in such big packages). Furikake is a seaweed based condiment that is eaten with rice.

Large utility-sized boxes of Asian sweets are also available. WenYu and Meiling LOVE Choco Pie (they’re sort of like a small Moon Pie) – they’ll both be taking boxes back to school with them. We enjoy being able to buy big boxes of traditional Japanese sweets like imagawayaki and dorayaki at Christmastime.

Good, good stuff!

Hawaiian “Winners” – the red color scares me, but these hot dogs are very popular here. Same for Portuguese sausages – you can buy large packages of those at Costco as well.

We like laulau (pork and butterfish steamed in ti leaves), but thought this brand was awful. It’s a very popular item though at Costco.

These barbecue pork buns are huge (and soft and fluffy when steamed). WenYu adores these.

Giant bags of dried skipjack tuna – a local favorite and very tasty. It’s often eaten with poi.

Big boxes of fresh poke, Hawaiian-style ahi sashimi (raw fish), come in several flavors. They sell out very quickly. YUM again!

The BEST granola I’ve ever eaten, made right here on Kaua’i. Our Costco also carries large bags of Kauai Coffee (grown and roasted on the island) and variety packs of Kauai Kookies, from Hanapepe on the west side.

POG – Passionfruit, Orange, and Guava juice – is a true local favorite. Mixed with champagne or prosecco it makes a tasty mimosa.

The following items may or may not have been made in Hawai’i, but they’re most definitely local, and maybe not something you’ll find at Costco in other locations, at least not in the amounts available here or not year-round:

You know there’s always going to be enough Spam available to feed an army.

Aloha shirts at Costco are just $19.99 for a very nice quality piece of clothing. Brett added two to his collection when we came over in 2012 to check things out.

Tommy Bahama chairs are THE beach chairs to have here – our Costco has them as well as beach towels, umbrellas and sun screen in stock all year.

Yes, you can even get your surfboard at Costco, all year long (this nice guy was buying this one for a friend).

 

Finding Your Way On Kaua’i

 

That’s the St. Regis Hotel in the upper left of the picture, and Hanalei Beach in front. There’s no direct walk from one to the other.

Every year on Thanksgiving our family watches The Descendants, starring George Clooney. It’s a wonderful film, and part of it is set on Kaua’i. Every year though we roll our eyes and sigh when he and his family climb into a jeep with his cousin at the airport and head north, and yet somehow end up overlooking the ocean on the south shore at Kipu Kai Ranch, a geographically impossible feat. Or, when Clooney and family walk from the St. Regis hotel in Princeville to the beach in Hanalei, making it look like there’s a seamless beach the entire way. Nope. The St. Regis sits perched on the top of a bluff to the east of Hanalei, and you’d have to cross a golf course, scramble down a wooded cliff and cross the Hanalei River at the mouth before arriving at Hanalei Beach. There are other scenes where locations are out of place, but we chalk it all up to “Hollywood magic.”

A couple of weeks ago, I was alerted to an article in the New York Times: 36 Hours in Kauai, Hawaii. They article listed a lot of interesting places to see, shop and eat at on the Island, but I was worn out by the end of reading just the first day! The author had readers start at the Kaua’i museum in Lihue, on the east side, at 3:00 p.m (after their long flight arrives), then drive out to Hanapepe on the south side to order an aloha shirt at 4:30, followed by driving all the way back  to the Kilohana plantation in Puhi to take in a rum tasting at the Koloa Rum Company at 5:30 before attending a luau at the Plantation and then driving all the way back to Waimea (in pitch black darkness) for the night. The distance from Lihue to Hanapepe might not look like much (18 miles), but in the afternoon you’re going to be mixing with the pau hana (‘quitting time’) crowd heading back home to the south and west side, and that seemingly short drive can take up to an hour. It’s an exhausting schedule, especially if you decide to go with the article’s recommendation and take in some of the Hanapepe art night before heading back up to Kilohana. Maybe for someone from the mainland the driving might not seem all that excessive, but for those of us who live here it’s absolutely crazy.

The other two scheduled days are equally frenetic, and involve an insane amount of driving back and forth from one side of the island to another. The lodging recommendations are bizarre considering how long it can take to get around the island (most of the highway is only two lanes). Most of all, the 36-hour schedule in the Times misses the whole point of visiting Kaua’i. The best reason to come here is not to try to see and do as much as possible and fill every single moment, including negotiating Kauai’s traffic, but to relax, most especially if all you have is 36 hours to spend. Life moves slower here on Kaua’i, and the best and most authentic experience of all is to embrace the slower place. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast, sit on the beach for the day or go for a hike, take a nap, pick a place or two to visit, have a wonderful dinner or attend a luau, but don’t try to squeeze in everything.

Visitors are always welcome on Kaua’i, and there are lots of things to see and do here. But finding your way on Kaua’i takes a change in how one experiences time and place. Geography is more than just places on a map, or distances between towns, or times posted on Google. It’s more than pretty scenes in a film. The geography of a place is about how and where people live, and how they use the mountains, beaches, towns, roads and the surrounding environments. It’s about how local residents spend their time, and what they value about where they live. Even a small amount of knowledge about these things can make a visit anywhere more enriching.

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A Fall Morning At Casa Aloha

The autumn view from our bedroom window

We’ve been enjoying some wonderful fall weather here at Casa Aloha lately, much appreciated after our hot, humid Kaua’i summer. We’ve had a few good soaking rains in the past few weeks which have washed the dust away, and our yard is thriving again. Rather than changing color to red or orange or yellow, the leaves on the plants have been changing back to their normal deeper shades of green, and the grass is thickening up. There are still a few bits of fall color to be found though . . . if you look for them.

The lanai is cool and inviting, the perfect place for a morning cup of coffee.

After a hot, dry summer the asparagus fern hanging on the lanai has perked up again, and is sporting a few (somewhat hidden) red berries for fall.

The side yard and hillside are cool and shady in the morning, and filled with lots of green. We thought we were going to lose the wedelia on the hillside from heat and thirst this past summer, but after the rains it’s come back richer and greener than ever, and it’s blooming like crazy.

The aloe vera that Brett planted right after we moved in was a washed-out yellowish-green for most of the summer but are now sporting their true green color again. One plant has even produced a lovely fall-colored blossom, which has been attracting little birds (Japanese White Eye) from time to time.

No changing leaves here, but the avocado and guava trees on the back hillside are completely leafed out, and have grown quite a bit. We did get to harvest some lemons from our tree.

This little fellow, looking ready for fall with his orange feet and tail, was waiting for us by the front door.The ti plants across from the lanai seemed listless by the end of the summer, like they’d had enough of the heat and humidity as well, but these days they’re standing tall again.

The change of seasons is hardly noticeable here in Hawai’i; they all seem about the same and one segues right into the next. But, after three years here now we can notice and sense the subtle changes when they arrive, and appreciate more what each season has to offer.

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#Kauai: Hanalei Lunch Date

Looking out to crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay before descending into the Hanalei valley. The mountain in the background is Bali Hai.

Every single time I’ve visited Hanalei, located on the north side of Kaua’i, it’s rained. Every. Single. Time. Sometimes it’s been a gentle rain, other times it’s poured, but every time I’ve gotten wet and the visit has been a miserable experience. But, Brett and I decided to try a lunch date there last week, and lo and behold . . . my losing streak ended! Oh, a few drops tried to start something, and although there were plenty of clouds around, actual rain never materialized. We had a wonderful time, and I finally got to visit several places in the small town that I’d been unable to see before because of the weather.

Hanalei Bridge

To get into Hanalei, the highway descends into the Hanalei valley, and crosses the Hanalei river by way of the historic one-lane Hanalei bridge. Vehicles go single file, up to five at a time, and then stop to let those on the other side cross over. Sometimes after heavy rains the river will flood and the bridge is closed, effectively trapping everyone in Hanalei and beyond until the water subsides.

Tahiti Nui restaurant and bar. They have great food, great drinks and great live entertainment in the evening.

We arrived in Hanalei just a little before noon, and decided to have lunch at Tahiti Nui. This is the restaurant in The Descendants where George Clooney’s character runs into his cousin (played by Beau Bridges) and they chat briefly at the bar about the upcoming family meeting concerning the sale of the family trust on Kaua’i.

Brett peruses the menu at our table out on the lanai.

We peeked inside the restaurant and thought it was kind of dark, but because we had fortunately arrived before the main lunch rush, Brett and I were able to snag a nice table out on the lanai.

Our drinks were VERY delicious and VERY refreshing.

Brett ordered a cucumber mint mocktail; I had a passionfruit sun tea with lemonade. Both were amazing.

We brought home half of our pizza for YaYu, who said it was divine.

The waitress recommended the huli-huli chicken pizza, and it did not disappoint. So good! Yes, I ate carbs . . . and they were delicious..

Hanalei Pier, with Bali Hai in the background.

After lunch we drove over to see the Hanalei Pier, which I had never seen before because of rain. We strolled out to the end to enjoy a spectacular view of Hanalei Bay, Bali Hai (the mountain in the distance), and also got to watch several kids doing flips into the water.

Hanalei Beach

The pier also gave us a great view Hanalei Beach (also featured in The Descendants). Even though it was cool-ish and quite breezy there were several people swimming or lying out on the beach.

Threatening clouds appeared while we were viewing the church, one of Hanalei’s most famous landmarks.

Leaving the pier, we drove slowly by and ogled as many of the beautiful beachfront homes as possible (some owned by people in the film industry), and then drove over to see the beautiful Wai’oli Hui’ia Church, founded by missionaries in the 19th century. It’s the oldest church on Kaua’i, and is listed on both the state and national registers of historic buildings. This was another site I had especially wanted to see, but had never been able because of the weather on previous trips.

Someone’s happy with his coffee and biscotti!

While we were at the church it began to look like my streak of bringing rain to Hanalei was going to continue after all, so we headed back into town and to the Hanalei Bread Company, a bakery and coffee shop, where Brett and I both got coffee and he enjoyed a tasty biscotti.

A little friend joined us for coffee!

This little red-crested cardinal (or as we call them, Hawaiian cardinals) settled himself nearby while we sipped our coffee, ready to catch any stray crumbs that customers might supply.

The Old Hanalei School is located in the center of town, right across the street from the I Ching Shopping Village.

The rain thankfully never showed up! We were ready to go home though, and as we headed to our car we walked past the Old Hanalei School which now houses shops and a great restaurant, Hanalei Gourmet (where we’ve eaten before). Hanalei’s full-time population is around 450, but there are probably at least three times that many tourists in town at any given time, and more shops and stores where they can spend their money than you can count. We were sad to learn though that our favorite Hanalei business, Kaua’i Nut Roasters, had closed.

The taro fields of Hanalei Valley.

Once back over the bridge, up the hill and on to the highway, we stopped at the Hanalei Overlook, one more place I had never been able to see because of rain. There were lots of clouds around but the views were absolutely stunning. The valley is home to numerous taro fields. Taro is an important food to native Hawaiians, and is used to make poi.

The view across the valley to the north, to Mt. Wai’ale’ale.

We also had a terrific view to the north from the overlook, of more of the valley and of Wai’ale’ale. Looking out at the view, it was perfectly clear why Kaua’i is called The Garden Island.

Brett and I had a lovely day, and a fun lunch date. Now that my Hanalei rain spell seems to be broken, I’m actually looking forward to returning again, to enjoy the beach and take in more of the gorgeous views.

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#Kauai: Hidden in Plain Sight

After hiking most of the shoreline from Hanamaulu Bay to Anahola Bay it dawned on me that an interesting geologic feature that nearly escapes notice was a constant companion most the way. Though discontinuous in places, and often only visible at low tide, a naturally formed limestone shelf, a barrier between reef and shore, surrounds the island of Kaua‘i.

For commercial reasons, the shelf was obliterated at Hanamaulu Bay, to provide a sheltered harbor and pier at Ahukini Landing. By contrast, the limestone formation appears to extend forever northward from the south end of Nukoli‘i Beach. In reality, it vanishes briefly adjacent to the Wailua Municipal Golf Course, and is only visible intermittently near the mouth of Wailua River.

“Baby” Beach exists because of the tidal trough between an extent of the limestone formation and the seawall along Moanakai Road In Kapa‘a Town. Google Maps calls this Fuji Beach, but everyone in town knows it’s Baby Beach.

Fuji Beach, Moanakai Rd, Kapaa 96746

Low tide at Baby Beach

An appreciable portion of the limestone formation rings the second embayment north of Donkey beach. This beach is popular with monk seals because it’s nicely sheltered and the fishing is good, but if you see them on the beach, just move it along because they absolutely need their rest, AND it is against the law to approach or disturb them. You can see an isolated chunk of limestone submerged in the first photo, and the remainder of the formation at water’s edge in the background.

As the old right of way veers inland beyond Donkey Beach, each of the little bays onward to Anahola  Beach State Park are only accessible via dedicated dirt roads and recent motocross trails, or at low tide by rock-hopping along the shore. The next photos show isolated hunks of the bar overlain with younger volcanic debris or thrust up along the shore nearer to Anahola.

Just south of Anahola Bay lies another little ring, tilted up somewhat like the formation at Baby Beach. Coincidentally, that similarity is what awakened me to the fact that I had “seen this somewhere before.”

While this formation certainly is not all there is to see between Nukoli‘i Beach and Anahola Beach, it’s been more of a companion. Running, hiking, and rock-hopping Kauai‘i’s eastern shore is never boring.

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Laura vs. Humidity

Spoiler alert: Humidity is winning.

To say I don’t deal well with humidity would be a gross understatement. In fact, after three-plus years here on Kaua’i, the humidity here has become more of a problem than the cold and wet ever were in Portland. It’s really the one and only thing I truly dislike about living on Kaua’i.

We were expecting to deal with some humidity when we moved here, but all our pre-move sources told us that it wasn’t really that bad, and that the near-constant breeze from the trade winds erased most of the effects of humidity.

What we’ve experienced over the past three summers has been anything but comfortable though; in fact, it’s been downright miserable, mainly because each summer we’ve gone through long spells each day with no trade winds blowing  . . . at all. During the first and second summers here the breezes seemed to stop in the late afternoon, just when it was time to prepare dinner, but pick up again in the evening. This past summer, the breezes have been stopping in the early evening, around 8:00 p.m. The temperature does cool off a bit, but when there’s no air moving slightly cooler temperatures don’t mean all that much. The air still pretty much feels like a warm, moist towel has been laid on your back.

Part of my problem with the humidity here is physical: I am post-menopausal, and my body now operates at a higher temperature than it did when I was younger. Remember the old saying, “Horses sweat, men perspire, and women glow”? Well, I sweat these days . . . a lot. I am perspiring constantly. Even though we have a powerful ceiling fan in our bathroom to mitigate the humidity, when I get out of the shower I start sweating. I haven’t taken a hot shower since we moved here – lukewarm to swimming pool cool is more my style these days. I can break out in a sweat just walking across the room, or washing the dishes, or sweeping the floor. I often feel like I’m drowning when I cook dinner on the stove, and I’m completely drenched after a five-mile ride on my exercise bike, even though I have two fans on high speed blowing directly on me, and I’m sitting right in front of the open garage door. It takes a long time to get my body cooled off as well, even with the help of cool towels or ice packs. I wish I could blame it all on something like my thyroid or some other hormonal issue, but I’ve been completely checked out by my doctor and everything is well within normal ranges. I drink more than enough including at least 64 ounces of water each day as well as other beverages, but I still retain a lot of liquid – during the summer I often feel like an over-wet sponge. I will admit my skin love the moisture – no lotion needed these days, unlike when we lived in Portland and I had to drench myself in it every day.

The high humidity here also affects us in other ways: glasses and bottles start sweating the instant you set them down. Our freezer cakes over with frost in less than a couple of weeks as warm, moist air rushes in every time we open it. Food can lose its crispness quickly, even in sealed jars or plastic bags. Clothes take longer to dry outside, even in the sun. We’ve discovered the humidity also has affected some man-made fabrics. We’ve had a couple of shopping bags disintegrate on us, same with the fabric on the bottom of our chair and sofa.

Yes, we could get an air-conditioner. But, electricity is expensive here – very expensive – and the cost of running even one air-conditioner would mean there would be much, much less left in our budget for other things. We want to travel, we want to be able to afford to bring our children home for the holidays, and so forth. On our income we can either pay to stay cool but stay on Kaua’i, or suffer a bit but go out and see the world and see our college-age children once in a while.

It’s also been suggested that we move to the north side of the island where it’s cooler by a few degrees, but YaYu is still in high school and none of us wants to deal with a daily 40 minute or more commute (each way) to school or her other activities. We like our little house and where we live now.

Most people in Hawai’i live without air-conditioning. And, I know that the humidity has been or could be far worse in other locations either in the U.S. or otherwise. Fall is coming, and then winter, and both will bring cooler temperatures and lower levels of humidity. The sun will continue to shine, and for a few months I will be able to forget my daily battles with humidity and its effects. Still, I know my nemesis will be returning next summer, and I’ve got to figure out ways of better dealing with it.

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