Thirsty Thursday Luau Edition

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In trying to find pictures for Throwback Thursday, I realized I have a lot of pictures of adult beverages (that is said with pride, by the way!). As such, I’ve decided that rather than share pictures of me with bad 80s hair and glasses that legitimately covered half my face, I could easily share glasses of a much tastier kind. So without further ado, I present to you: Thirsty Thursday!

You cannot go to Hawaii and not go to a Luau.  Even if you don’t like pork or BBQ or don’t eat [insert random item here]. YOU’RE IN HAWAII–GO TO A LUAU!

We went to the Smith’s Garden Luau on Kauai–I can’t remember exactly why we picked that one, other than the fact that the Smith Family also conveniently ran the boat tours to the Fern Grotto.

It was very much a touristy place and the luau accommodated a large number of people, but it was such a fun evening: the after dinner show was entertaining, the pork was AMAZING!, and the drinks were flowing–especially the mai tais!

Plus we got big chunks of pineapple in our Mai Tais….how can you go wrong with that?!?!

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We laughed. A lot. We got lei’d.  We saw hula dancing.  We learned how to hula dance (much easier after a few Mai Tais, btw!).  And there was a plethora of food items from which to choose (I mean, you know how I am about food!).  Also, if I didn’t already mention it–the Kalua pig was divine!  I may have gone back for thirds.  We were good little tourists and tried the poi–it was interesting, I’m so glad we tried it…but THE PORK! I’m drooling just thinking about it!

Yes, it was touristy and there were a lot of people–but it was such a great way to spend an evening.  Here are a just few more pictures:

Aloha!

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Fern Grotto

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One of the most lush and densely forested places we visited was the Fern Grotto.  The only way to access it (at least for tourists, but perhaps also workers) was by boat.  It is located in the the Wailua State Park, about 2 miles inland up the Wailua River (the only navigable river in Hawaii).

After we disembarked from the boat, we had a short hike through the rainforest to get to the grotto.

There we received a history of the grotto, including why we couldn’t get any closer (falling rock).  It was at one time one of the most popular spots in Kauai for concerts and weddings.  One of our guides happily offered to marry/re-marry anyone who so desired, and assured us all it was legal & binding.

After looking around and taking pictures to our hearts content, we wandered back down the path to our boat–as beautiful as it was, we had luaus to go, hulas to do, and pork to eat…

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Aloha!

Around-ish The Island

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As previously mentioned, our last day we decided to put some miles on the rental car and see where the open road would take us.

Not this open road.

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But the one that follows this map (courtesy of Lonely Planet!):

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We started in Poipu (southern most tip)–as that’s where we stayed.  We drove to Lihue and then took the 56 (Kuhio Hwy) along the eastern and northern coasts as far as the road would take us.  Also since I have the map here, if you were wanting a visual for our snorkeling/boat trip: we departed from Hanapepe westward bound for the Nā Pali Coast–so I wasn’t exaggerating when I said we pretty much circumnavigated the island!

Cartography aside, if you find yourself in Kauai (highly recommended)–then you should carve out a good chuck of time to make this scenic drive along the Kuhio Hwy.  Estimated drive time from Poipu was about 3 hours roundtrip–more if you want to stop and take a shit-ton of pictures…which we did.

And of course, you need to allow yourself even more time if you want to tour the Kilauea lighthouse or snorkel along the way….which we did not.

Not that we didn’t want to but we were flying to the mainland that evening, so our first priority was to make sure that we had given ourselves enough driving/ogling/eating/drinking time to get all the way to the end of the road and back to the airport before our flight departed without us!

For the majority of our trip, the view on our east side was essentially something like this:

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Meanwhile, our western view was almost a 180°:

We soon found ourselves literally at the end of the road and had to make a u-turn (as demonstrated by the red truck below!).

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Okay, so “soon” is a relative term–the scenic views and frequent photo stops made the trip seem a lot shorter than it was (although, I wasn’t driving so perhaps Tracy has a different opinion about “soon”).

Of course, I know the real reason you’re here–the photos!  Obligingly, I have a small sampling of a mere 197 photos from our drive.  Kidding…just…kidding… 😉

Aloha!

 

Third Time’s A Charm!

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Despite my first two ill fated attempts at snorkeling, I was willing to try again.  I figured if there was anywhere in the world where I might have a good snorkeling experience, it was Hawaii.

Just FYI:  if you’re searching for snorkeling in Hawaii, there are a plethora of options.  We chose one that included more than just a boat ride to the snorkeling spot and back.  Instead, it included a boat trip up to the Nā Pali Coast.  April wasn’t interested in the snorkeling–just the boat ride, but promised to take lots of pictures of any shark attacks us snorkeling.

This extended tour was definitely the right decision!

The snorkeling was fun.  I saw lots of fish, I didn’t have a panic attack, and I missed seeing the shark Christi saw.  YAY me!

After snorkeling, we continued north up along the western coast. Along the way, we were joined by a curious tortoise and later by a pod of dolphins, who swam along with and played around the boat for quite awhile.

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As the boat sped along, we were treated with some of the most spectacular coastline views of the famed Nā Pali Coast.  As I mentioned before, some of the cliffs are over 2500ft high!


All too soon, it was time to turn around and head back–giving us one last good look at the coast on one side and the expanse of nothingness on the other.

 


It was a great excursion and I highly recommend that if you’re going to take a snorkeling tour, opt for one that includes a bit of sightseeing around the island–it does take up a bigger chunk of your day, but trust me, you won’t regret it.

Aloha!

Watch Me Whip…

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…just don’t feed the nēnēs!


Yeah, I know it’s corny–but I have approximately 12 minutes to post something, I’m not even home yet, and my brain is a bit fried. Plus, every time I see this sign that song gets stuck in my head….

But since I’m also feeling the need to be educational: the nēnē is the state bird of Hawaii and, if Wikipedia is to be believed, is found exclusively on the islands Oahu, Maui, Kauaʻi, Molokai, and Hawaiʻi. In case you’re wondering, we discovered these on Kauai:


Aloha!

Shipwreck…

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It wouldn’t be a Hawaiian vacation if you didn’t spend at least a little time at the beach.  We debated about when/where we wanted our beach day to be (aside from our quick trips to the Black and Green sand beaches).  Ultimately, we decided that it might be a nice break towards the end of the trip to have a few less packed, more relaxing days–so we opted for Kauai and we found a beach not far from where we were staying.

Shipwreck Beach.

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It is in Poipu and (according to the Poipu Beach Resort Association) “during most of the year, the waters here are best for advanced surfers due to a short shore-break.”

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I have to admit waves were a little rough.  Being neither surfers nor advanced surfers, Tracy and I instead tried a little bodyboarding.  The results varied, but mostly ended up in laughter (well, on my part–Tracy was far more adept at it!)

Picturesque and not crowded, it was a great place to kick back and relax for awhile. While it may not look like it, it’s pretty steep from the back of the beach to the water–so our legs got quite the workout walking from our lounging spot to get into the water (not that we were complaining…much!).

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With the somewhat choppy waves and the rocky juts in the shoreline, it wasn’t difficult to imagine how Shipwreck Beach got its name.  But when the waves are right, apparently it’s one of the locals’ favorite spots for surfing.

Aloha!

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Uncle’s!

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In addition to tubing, another thing you must do in Kauai is go to Uncle’s Shave Ice and get, well, shave ice!

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Cool and refreshing shave ice is something that is a must-do when you’re in Hawaii (regardless of which island you visit!) and Uncle’s definitely offered up some tasty flavors.  Okay, yes, it looks like a snow cone.  But an awesome snow cone.  An awesome snow cone that you are eating WHILE IN HAWAII.

Don’t argue, just go–you’ll be thanking me half way through your first bite!

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Despite the name, Uncle’s offers up more than just shave ice.  And one of the most interesting things on the menu was shave snow.  Shave snow is similar to shave ice but rather than adding flavoring to ice, shave snow is a mix of flavoring, milk, water, and sugar which is then frozen and shaved into ribbons and served topped with condensed milk.  They liken it to Taiwanese shave ice and it tastes like the shaved ice you get here in Koreatown.  But honestly, they had us at “topped with condensed milk.”

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Uncle’s has two locations: Lihue & Koloa.  Since we were staying about a 6 minute drive from Koloa, that’s where we went..and I’d be lying if I said we only went once!

We all got different flavors and then shared so we could try as many flavors as possible.  We stuck to mostly flavors that reminded us of Hawaii: Blue Hawaiian, coconut, pineapple, and piña colada to name a few.  It was hard to narrow down the flavors (thus multiple trips and sharing!), but regardless of what you order–it’s going to be great!

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Aloha!

 

The Garden Isle

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The last Hawaiian island that we visited was Kauai.  It is the northernmost island in the archipelago, as well as the oldest–some sites say 5.8 million, other say over 6 million years old, I say potato, potahto!  We stayed there the longest of all three islands–and for good reason, there was a lot to see and do!

But before I get into our activities, I thought I’d share some fun/interesting facts about Kauai!  My sources can be found here, here, and here.  For full disclosure, I pretty much just copied and pasted the points–so do check out the source sites because I will be ignoring any and all accusations of plagiarism!

  • Known as the Garden Isle, it is the fourth largest island and has a population of about 65,000 people.
  • Kauai covers 552.3 square miles of land and is so small it is measured in acres = 401,280 in total.
  • Kauai’s coastline is 111 miles and over 50% of those miles are sandy beaches.

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  • Over 97% of the land on Kauai is used for conservation and agriculture.
  • 70% of the island is inaccessible by foot
  • Kauai Coffee is the largest coffee plantation in the United States.
  • Kauai grows more taro than any other island.
  • Some of the cliffs along the spectacular Napali Coast reach heights of 2,500 feet.

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  • More than 60 movies and tv shows have filmed on Kauai.
  • Kauai is the legendary home of the Menehune, a mythical race of very small people who performed legendary feats of construction and engineering.
  • By law, no building on Kauai is allowed to be built taller than a coconut palm tree.
  • Kauai has the only navigable rivers in the state of Hawaii.

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  • Kauai’s official color is purple and the official flower is Mokihana.
  • It has 7 (yes–7!) microclimates throughout the island.
  • Mount Waialeale (elevation 5,148 ft) is one of the wettest spots on Earth, averaging about 450 inches of rain each year!

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Aloha!

A Hawaiian T.G.I.F.

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I don’t know about you, but it has been one of those weeks and I am so very glad the weekend is here!  I’m looking forward to doing a whole lotta nothing and adding in a few trips down to the pool.

Naturally at 4 minutes to midnight, I remembered that I didn’t actually schedule anything to post today.  And then of course my laptop picked that very moment to randomly freeze and had to be restarted.  And in not wanting to miss out on the fun, my phone was blatantly refusing to connect to the interwebs…so yes, this post is a little late, but since I’m posting a picture of Hawaii and it’s still early evening in Hawaii (thank you time zones!), I’m totally proclaiming it still to be Friday!

Furthermore, I totally know that you stopped whatever you were doing to read this–so I’m going to keep it short & sweet in order for you to go back to drinking/eating/dancing/sleeping/dozing on the couch while pretending to watch a movie.  This is the view from our balcony in Kauai…and perhaps the moment when I decided that I wanted to stay in Hawaii forever (spoiler alert: I had to come back–no one was willing to send the pupcicle to me!).  Have a great weekend!

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Aloha!

Day 32

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I just realized that I’m approaching the ⅓ mark of my 100 Days of Blogging Challenge and I can’t believe it’s already been a month since I’ve started!

Today I’m finding myself short on words (aka what I really want to work on are posts for other days, like Thirsty Thursday or Sunday Comics), so I thought it might be a good day to share with you some (or perhaps a lot of) pictures of Waikiki.

 

Aloha!