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!

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!

 

Thirsty Thursday To A Tea…

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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!

On our last day in Kauai, we decided to take a drive–all the way around the island.  Well, as far as the road would let us go (although–we did see the parts we couldn’t drive to by boat, so technically I’d say we made it completely around the island!).

As usually happens in a road trip, we reached a point where we were eager to stretch our legs.  Conveniently, we found a roadside drink truck advertising pineapple tea.  How does one say no to pineapple tea in Hawaii? One does not. 


It was definitely a refreshing & tasty reason to get out of the car!

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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A Yo Ho Ho Thirsty Thursday

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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!

I know, I know: I’ve already featured the Koloa Rum Company on Thirsty Thursday before…and yes, I’m featuring them again.  I mean, is there such a thing as too much rum?  I think not.

Please note that any and all complaints will be actively ignored while drinking from my stash of Koloa…

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Here we are congregated at the tasting bar as our lovely bartender took us through all the rums that Koloa offered: White, Gold, Spiced, Dark, and Coconut.  We all graciously took turns finishing April’s tastes, as she would take a small sip of each for prosperity’s sake and then would slide her glass down to each of us in turn–we couldn’t let delicious rum go to waste!

After running through the line-up, we got a brief lesson on the Mai Tai and Koloa’s version for anyone who wanted one (yes, please!).

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Tastings are daily–but there are a limited number of slots per tasting, so the first thing you need to do when you get there (of course you’re going to go–why wouldn’t you?!?) is sign up for a tasting.  After that, do take the time to walk around the picturesque grounds and visit the gift shop (just don’t miss your tasting!).

For the store and tasting room hours–not to mention directions, recipes, descriptions of their current rum selections, and their e-gift shop can all be found on their website.

The best part of perusing their website is that I noticed that they’ve added a new rum to their collection since we visited: coffee.  Helllllllloooo gorgeous!!!!  Could there be a more perfect rum for me?

My only question (because the previous one was rhetorical) is: who wants to go to Kauai?!?

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Aloha!

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!

 

A Sugary Float

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The most fun we had (in my humble opinion) on any excursion during our entire trip was visiting the Lihue Plantation, an old sugar plantation on Kauai.

I know you’re thinking: what is so fun about visiting an old sugar plantation unless it is now a rum factory?  Alas no rum–what we did was float down part of the irrigation system on tubes.

A little bit of history on the Lihue Plantation: construction started on the irrigation system in 1856 with the Rice Ditch (created by William Harrison Rice). It wasn’t quite what they needed it to be, so in 1870 the Hanama‘ulu Ditch was built–by hand (well, and shovels, sledge hammers, etc!). It is said that it took up to 1,000 workers at one time to build each section of the ditch and it took two years to finish all the sections.  All in all, the Lihue Plantation’s water system is made up of 51 miles of ditches!  You can read more about it here.

We booked our tubing tour with Kauai Backcountry Adventures, who would be guiding us down part of the Hanama‘ulu Ditch.  After checking in, we were weighed (yep….weighed!  I probably should have had less malasadas for breakfast!!).  After weigh-in, we were handed hard hats, headlamps, and gloves.  We were then herded into large vans (nicer than the ones in Ka Lae) and we drove down some tiny backroads until we reached a clearing where we were dumped out and watched helplessly as the vans drove away.

Just as we were about to panic that we had been abandoned in some Hawaiian Lord of the Flies experiment, we were greeted by a younger version of The Rock (that would be Dwayne Johnson, not Rockefeller Plaza or Alcatraz), who explained the rules:

  1. Stay in your tube
  2. If you’re having issues, let one of the guides know
  3. Stick together as a group
  4. Do NOT say the water is cold

We were then given a series of directional code words and what they meant, which were mostly for when we were in the tunnels and couldn’t see.

Everyone in the group (about 20 in total) agreed to all the rules and dutifully practiced our code words while we lined up and proceeded down a little ramp where the younger version of The Rock would select a tube for us and help us into it.

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April was the first in our group, who declared the water to be refreshing.  Although she is from Minnesota and the fact that the water was in liquid form meant that it wasn’t the c-word.

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I walked up and–with all the grace of a hippopotamus learning ballet–managed to get into my tube aaaaand HOLYFUCKINGSHIT the water is uh, uh, brisk/refreshing/invigorating/bracing.  I sounded a little like Rainman with a thesaurus, but I did not say the c-word (yay me!).

I can’t quite remember what the punishment for saying the c-word was, but when someone who looks like the younger version of The Rock tells you not to do something, you listen!

However as I floated by the younger version of The Rock, he noticed that I couldn’t get comfortable, so he called me over.  After a couple of seconds of watching me struggle to paddle back to him, he walked over and towed me back to the shore.  All of this time, mind you, no one else has gotten in the water and were all watching us.  He very politely and quietly whispers, “I think you need a slightly bigger tube.”  At which point, I start laughing hysterically.

Christi, who was next in line, had a worried look on her face “what’s wrong? what’s wrong?”

Through the laughter I roared “my ass is too big!!”

The younger version of The Rock looked slightly mortified and said “I didn’t say that!  I just think a different tube would be more comfortable.”

And he was right, of course…but I couldn’t stop giggling.

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Once everyone was in their tube, we set off–stopping periodically to let the stragglers catch up to the group.

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The irrigation system had a current moving fast enough to keep pushing us along, but not so fast that we felt like we were in white water rapids.  Along the way we came to 4 different tunnels.  At each tunnel entrance we’d turn on our lights, which afforded us to see things nearby our tube, but little else.

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We laughed, we floated, we got to know other people in our group, and along the way saw some spectacular views.  Once we were finished navigating our section of the irrigation ditch, we had a picnic lunch and were offered up in sacrifice to the mosquitos.

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All too soon, we found ourselves back in the van navigating the windy roads back to Lihue.  It was so much fun! And if you find yourself on the island of Kauai, tubing should be on top of your Things To Do List–just don’t forget the sunscreen and bug spray!

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For more information or to book your tubing adventure, click here: Kauai Backcountry Adventure.

Aloha!