Two years ago my wife Jacquie and I went to Kauai for our honeymoon. We had an incredible two weeks of surfing, hiking, snorkelling, running and relaxing on the beach. On the way to, and in the airport I bawled like a baby because I didn't want to leave. Ever since that moment we have been making plans to get back there.
A couple months ago we booked it and although I couldn't contain my excitement I wondered in the back of my mind whether it would live up to the magic of our first trip...
It did. And then some.
The drive up the 18 miles of the Waimea Canyon is incredible. You can literally drive up to lookouts that take your breath away. The canyon is so incredibly massive that you lose a sense of scale and only when the occasional helicopter flies over it looking like a tiny bug- do you realize the immensity of it all. As you get to the end of the road past the 18 mile marker you hit the Kalalau Lookout and then hike out on a ridge overlooking the Kalalau Valley. I don't think there is a more beautiful view anywhere. Hikes shoot out all along the road and our favourite was the Awaawapuhi Trail.
The beaches in Poipu are amazing but our favourite beach to both swim and watch the sunset at is Hanalei Bay. Locals fish off the pier and at one point we got caught in a downpour and had to hide under it. The great thing about the rain on Kauai is that it is warm and it never lasts very long. Just across the Hanalei River is another spot we discovered containing ruins from a resort whose construction was abandoned in the 70's. No one seems to ever be around the ruins and they are a beautiful vantage to watch the sunset from.
As you go past Hanalei the road winds and ends at Ke'e Beach. The waves this time of year were incredible to watch. Ke'e is also the start of one of the worlds most famous hiking trails- the Kalalau Trail.
We had heard that something like only 20% of Kauai is accessible because of the rugged terrain. This time we had booked a helicopter ride to see the rest. My parents who had joined us for our second week of the trip and who didn't know what I had signed them up for, got to see Kauai from the air within their first few days there. It was an incredible experience. With the doors off flying at 120 miles an hour we whizzed around the island exploring the canyon and the Na Pali Coast. You are so in awe of what you are seeing that you don't have the presence of mind to be scared about flying with doors off. It is amazing.
But Kauai isn't just beautiful beaches and spectacular cliffs and waterfalls. There are amazing people and organizations there as well. The Kauai Humane Society actually lets you borrow dogs for the day to take on hikes or to the beach. While I realize this wouldn't be possible in a bigger city- its an absolutely brilliant way to get the dogs out for exercise and let members of the public meet them. We took 3 dogs out on day trips and they were all unbelievable. The people who we met were also amazing. Whether it was giving tips on secret spots only locals know about, or giving recommendations on the best places to eat- locals really embraced outsiders with open arms. The great thing about the people of Kauai is that they all know what they've got and how lucky they are. They have a deep appreciation for the land and ocean and with it a real sense of humbleness.
Overall it was an amazing trip and although there were some tears again at the airport, I realize how lucky I am to have been able to spend time there. Like so many others I'm already trying to figure out when we can get back there...
We will be back.