Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Kauai, Hawaii (Day 6)

Today was a rainy day. We drove to Amini beach just a little south of the hotel because we had been told it was a great place to snorkel. We parked at one spot and walked out to the beach, then walked down farther to where there were more people, but didn't really see many people out in the water, and no one snorkling. I think Martin looked on his phone and decided we hadn't quite made it to Amini, so we got back in the car and drove a little more, parked again, walked down another beach, and set down all our stuff and got ready to get in the water. Martin went out and I watched, contemplating going in, but cold even having the water on my feet.
Our view disappeared
Amini Beach
When he came back after a couple of minutes, he said the visibility wasn't good at all, so we decided to leave. From there we started to drive to the end of the road at the north end of the island. Right before we got there, we stopped again at Ha'ena beach because I saw a coconut stand and had really wanted to try one. The girl at the stand asked if we were wanting to drink the coconut, eat it, or both, we said both. She cut it open and put a straw in, and told us to drink it and then bring it back when it was empty and she would cut it open. We walked over to the beach while we sipped on the coconut.
Coconut stop

Ha'ena Beach

When we were done drinking from the coconut, we took it back and as promised, she cut it open, and then scooped out the flesh inside. There was some hot sauce sitting on the table that she said was very good on it, so we tried a bite with it, and she put the rest of the coconut into a bag for us to take on the road.
Coconut with hot sauce
We continued down the road a few more minutes until it came to a dead end at Ke'e Beach and Hanakapiai Trail. Martin wanted to hike the trail so we could see the Napali Coast. It was really muddy from the rain so I was wearing my water shoes for the trail which wasn't great since the soles were very thin... I could feel every rock or branch I stepped on. There were some pretty views though. We made it somewhere between one and two miles down the trail. It was pretty slow going with the mud and grip-free shoes!
Napali Coast

Napali Coast
Martin made it back to the entrance of the trail and Ke'e Beach before me so he went out in the water for a bit. Once I got back to the same area, I checked out the beach and saw a wedding happening, then we headed to the car.

When we got back to the hotel, we went down to the beach/pool area for a bit, then cleaned up, and went down to the hotel bar to make leis. They gave us a bunch of orchid blossoms, a needle and string to work with, and first had us pinch off the stems of all the flowers. Once were done with that, we could either string them from the side or through the center of the flower. I ran the string through the center of almost all the flowers, and Martin did it through the side of his. His lei turned out way prettier than mine! Once we were done, the lady who was helping us (who also taught us to play the ukulele earlier in the week) tied up the ends and had us put the leis around each other's necks. After that, we headed to dinner at Bouchon's, a place the other couple we went snorkeling with had recommended.
Hanalei Bay from the hotel
Lei making
Wearing our leis

Monday, November 27, 2017

Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii (Day 5)

After our breakfast and coffee this morning, we headed downstairs to the bar for ukulele lessons. Oh my gosh, it was very difficult with my nails, also difficult since I've never played anything but a piano! Our teacher taught us three chords so we could play "You Are My Sunshine." I didn't realize the lyrics to the song were so dark! Yeesh.
The view during breakfast

After the ukulele lesson, we walked over to a Hideaways Beach, a beach our snorkeling counterparts had told us about that was between our hotel and Queen's Bath. There was a little trail between a parking lot and a condominium that was easy to miss, that eventually headed down the cliff and had ropes to hold on to as a makeshift railing.

Rope railing
Hideaway Beach
We snorkeled for a little bit at the beach and then headed back to the hotel and I looked up the hours for a thrift store we had passed one day in Kilauea to see if they were still open because I wanted to find some fins. When I looked it up, they were about 25 minutes from closing, so we quickly headed over and made it there with about five minutes to spare. We were able to find some fins for me and a snorkel for Martin since he had just been using my swim goggles by themselves. Yahoo!

From there we headed back north to see Maniniholo Dry Cave and had to go over several one way bridges, like every night that we've gone into Hanalei for dinner. There's a sign that says to yield and that the local courtesy is to let 5-7 cars pass. After exploring the cave for a few minutes, we then watched a beautiful sunset and the waves.
Two one way bridges
Haena Beach
A stream meeting the ocean at Haena Beach
Maniniholo Dry Cave
Once it was dark, we headed back into Hanalei to Chicken in a Barrel for dinner (had some sort of delicious combination plate) and had some fantastic BBQ and then grabbed some ice cream at Pink's Creamery, then went back to the hotel and finished Moana.
Chicken in a Barrel for dinner

Monday, November 13, 2017

Koloa & Hanalei, Kauai, Hawaii (Day 7 & travel days)

On last full day in Kauai, I really wanted to go snorkeling again, so we drove back out to Koloa (all hour twenty minutes) and went snorkeling at the same spot again. I was really excited because we saw turtles again!!! Two of them! And then we also saw these creatures: black durgon, moorish idol, yellow tang, trumpetfish, surgeon tang, surgeonfish, pencil sea urchin, and at one point, I looked up and right at the surface, I saw needlefish. We left after maybe an hour because we had to get back for Martin to watch the Miami vs. Notre Dame game.
Pitaya fruit at breakfast

school of fish
sea turtle
As we drove back across the island, we drove out of the sun, into rainy weather. I dropped Martin off at the hotel and then drove over to Kalypso's for happy hour and had an obligatory-when-on-an-island pina colada.

After that, I walked around the stores at Ching Young Village. Notttt a lot to see there. I went in the few stores there, including the grocery store, while the rain continued. After buying a few small gifts, and stretching my time there as much as possible, there was nothing left to see. So I drove further down the road to see the beaches around the bay and stopped at Hanalei Beach. I stood under the roof of the restrooms at the beach for a while, watching the rain, cold, and then decided to leave since the rain wasn't giving up.

I drove back to the neighborhood our hotel was tucked away in, and decided I would go back to Queen's Bath since I had really wanted to return to see it again and swim in the bath. This time, thanks to our kayak/hike experience, I noticed a pile of walking sticks off to the side at the top of the trail. Good thing, because it had been raining all day, and was still raining, so the trail was as muddy as mud can be.

The trail down to Queen's Bath

There were two or three cars left up at the top of the trail so I hoped that meant there were other people at the bottom since I was going by myself.
Queen's Bath
Sure enough, once I got down, there were two couples there, one at the bath where people swim, and one farther down. I sat and watched the bath for a while, really wanting to get in but knowing I couldn't.. just wasn't a good idea by myself. The girl who was there carefully climbed down and went for a swim. She had her boyfriend watching for any big waves so he could warn her to get out. Then once she was done, he waited for a big wave and jumped in.. hah. He asked a few times if I was going to get in but I told him no. I wanted to so bad.

I snapped pictures like crazy on my phone while watching the sunset and feeling rain start to come down again. I had one favorite picture I'd ever taken up until this moment... I think this one tied. It was so, so beautiful, fierce, and lonely.

Once the rain started coming down harder and light was quickly fading, I decided I needed to quickly make my way back up to the car before it was too dark to see, and before I was the last one left. When I got back to the hotel, I went straight down to the pool and sat in the hot tub for a while, then went to the room and got ready for dinner. 

While we were at dinner, we arranged to have a butler pack our bags since it was one of their services that came with the room. When we returned they were all packed for our departure the next day and they had decorated.

On Sunday morning we went down to the beach and pool for a bit, then headed out for the airport. When we were almost to the airport, we went back by Konohiki Seafoods and I bought an ahi poke bowl and scallop don to take on our flight to LA. After a long security line at the airport and slight delay due to plane troubles, we were off. We landed in LA sometime around midnight and Ubered to Martin's cousin Pat's house.

beach at the hotel
scallop don
ahi poke bowl
The next morning, I worked remotely until Martin's cousin drove us back to the airport for our flight to Dallas, then picked up working again when we settled after security. We arrived in Dallas around 3 and Ubered home so Martin could grab a bag, then got in my car and I drove him back to Love Field so he could leave for New York. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii (Day 4)

Today we had our snorkeling tour! We're told in the summer, the north end of the island is very calm and great for snorkeling, and in the winter, the south end is very calm. Our guide, the owner of Reef Guides Hawaii, gives snorkeling tours from the St. Regis Princeville beach in the summer, but since it's almost winter, we had to drive an hour and a half to the south end of the island to Koloa Landing. We got a little lost trying to find the right spot since we were given an address instead of the name "Koloa Landing," but eventually found it. By the time we were ready to get in the water, there were several scuba instructors with students and divers going out as well.
Koloa Landing
We sat with the other couple and our snorkeling guide for maybe 30 minutes while he asked us about our swimming skill levels and talked us through a chart showing fish we might see. He said that this area was particularly good for seeing fish because there was an unwritten rule that fish can't be taken from the area. People frequently take fish to sell from the other beaches around Hawaii, so there aren't as many of the ones that are bright and popular for tanks anymore.

He then told us where in the water we were going to go, and we started getting fitted for our gear. He provided us with rash guards so we wouldn't get a sunburn, and explained that most sunscreen is toxic to coral which is why he provides the shirts. Then we had life vests that we could air up if we wanted, but I think we all left them flat. I had thought we would go out in a boat, but we walked out into the water from a boat ramp. Once we were in the water about waist high, we held on to a big floatie he had so we could put on one fin at a time, and then put on our masks and snorkels and took a few pictures. I didn't really smile in the pictures with the mask because I had just tested the mask, knew it didn't leak, and was afraid if I smiled I would mess it up! I wore my nose clip under the mask just in case since water ALWAYS goes up my nose.
Putting on the fins
Martin and me
New to swimming, I'd never snorkeled before, so I was pretty nervous and held on to the board the whole time, convinced I'd float out to sea otherwise.

It was so amazing! The water looked a little crazy to me from above, but when I put my face in the water, it looked so calm and beautiful. Unfortunately, my waterproof camera died after a few minutes, it's about 13 years old and water got inside of it, but our guide had a little tank so he could dive and take pictures of the fish and of us snorkeling. We saw turtles!!!! So cool!!! It really was amazing. The coral, sea urchins, fish, turtles. So. Cool.

Longnose Butterfly
Martin diving to check out a turtle

Martin, me and the turtle

School of Convict Tang
Sea Urchin

Trumpetfish, I guess eating
After maybe an hour or so, we headed back to the shore, took off our gear, then drove up the street to rinse off and restaurant for lunch. During lunch our guide showed us the pictures he'd taken. Once we parted ways, we headed up the road to Spouting Horn. We took a few pictures, then got in the car to head back to the north end of the island.
Spouting Horn
Tree Tunnel on the drive back
View of Wailua River
Kilauea Lighthouse
When we got back to the hotel, we cleaned up and then went to the bar for the sabering ceremony and to try the St. Regis' Aloha Mary. Each St. Regis has a bloody mary cocktail specific to the area of that particular hotel, so we had one. The hotel also has a sabering ceremony each night at sunset. The head butler comes out and sings, and then a bottle of champagne is sabred.
Sunset from the St. Regis bar's balcony
For dinner, we went Pinks and had Hawaiian grilled cheese sandwich, a kalua pork, cheese and pineapple panini. It was really good, and even better when you added hot sauce.
Hawaiian grilled cheese
When we got back to the hotel, we started watching Moana, but ended up getting tired and deciding to finish it the next day.