Our first few days of the trip were spent on the North Shore of Kauai. Our air bnb was a condo in a nice quiet area in Princeville. The North Shore of Kauai was our favorite place we stayed during the trip. Everywhere is super green and lush. It’s beautiful, and relaxing, and not very crowded (considering it’s a popular destination). A mountain in the center of Kauai is said to be the wettest spot on earth.
Sat Jan 27
Since we had arrived at dark the night before, we were all anxious to see what the area looked like in daylight. We headed out to the grocery store to stock up on snacks and meal supplies for the week, and stopped at a small Farmer’s Market to get some fresh fruit.
There was a beach within walking distance of where we were staying, so we spent some time there in the early afternoon. There was a short hike to get to the beach - maybe 0.25 mile or so, down a steep hill - but the beach was almost empty. It was really nice and quiet and peaceful.
We drove around and explored the area in the afternoon to get an idea of where we would want to go. The island is small and there’s pretty much just one road that makes a “C” around the perimeter of the island (there is a section of the island along the Na’Pali coast that you can’t access...no roads). We drove to the end of the main road on the north side, which ends at a park called Ha’ena State Park. We tried to watch the sunset there, but it got cloudy. It was still beautiful though - a pretty long beach, with quite a few people there.
Sun Jan 28
The time zone change going to Hawaii is kind of nice - they are 5 hours behind New York. Most mornings of the trip everyone was awake by 6 or 7am, so we had the whole day to do stuff. I got up early and went for a run by myself. I hiked down the short path to the beach near our condo, and followed a quiet residential road from there for 2 miles out and back. While I was running I had the ocean on one side of me and jungle to the other side. It was really pretty. This was early enough in the trip that I just kept thinking “I can’t believe I’m here!”
After the run all of us went to a place called Queen’s Bath. As with most places in Hawaii, there’s a short steep hike to actually get to the attraction. After hiking down, you are on lava rock right next to the ocean. Small pools form between some of the rocks, and some people swim in these pools. It’s kind of dangerous - the lava rock is pretty sharp, and the levels of the pools change drastically depending on the tides. But, lots of people just walk around there and sit and look, which is what we did.
Next we headed back to the Farmer’s Market to do a hike that started there - a 5 mile loop called the Wai Koa loop. It was really flat on big, wide trails - so a very easy hike in that sense. It weaves through a large mahogany plantation - that was cool to see so many trees in perfect rows. The hike is almost all on private property, but it’s free to do it. There’s another area that is very park-like, with a waterfall and beautiful plants and vegetation. After the park area, we spotted several horses up ahead on the trail. When we got closer we realized they weren’t fenced in - they are loose, just roaming around.
It rained a bit while we were hiking - it rained almost every day for at least a few minutes, which is very common. Bring rain gear if you ever go there, and keep it in your car all the time. The air temperatures are almost always 75-80F with a light breeze, so you dry quickly after the rain.
After the hike we went to Kealia beach and relaxed there for a few hours. The waves were really big so we didn’t get in the water, but a lot of people were surfing and it was fun to watch them. (There were actually many beaches we visited this trip that had large waves, too big for us to swim in).
After the beach, we did a little souvenir shopping, then made tacos at home for dinner. It was a pretty busy day.
Mon Jan 29
This was our big hike day. We drove back out to Ha’ena State Park to hike the Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail, which turned out to be about an 8 mile round trip. We arrived there I think around 8am, because the parking is limited, and it was already quite full (parking area is the same for the beach and for hiking, and it’s a popular spot). The hiking terrain varied greatly on this hike - dry parts, really muddy parts, stream crossings, bare rock. It was fun. There were really beauitful views of the Na’Pali coast along the hike. We could see whales jumping out in the ocean while we were hiking.
The first destination of the hike is a beach, about 2 miles in. Lots of people just hike to the beach, hang out there, then turn around. We sat at the beach for a few minutes but then continued on the trail, with our end destination being a 300’ waterfall at the end of the trail. The trail to the beach had a lot of elevation change, but it wasn’t technically difficult. The trail after the beach got more challenging, as the trail narrowed and was muddy in a lot of spots. We had to cross streams 2 or 3 times. You could hop across the rocks to avoid getting your feet wet, although if you didn’t have good traction on your shoes you would end up falling in as the rocks were slick. A lot of people just walk across, which is what I ended up doing - the highest the water got was probably to my knees. It was kind of refreshing to walk in it, and my Keens dried really fast so it wasn’t uncomfortable afterwards.
We reached the waterfall and it was an awesome view. You can hike right to the bottom of it. Lots of people sit on the rocks around it and eat lunch and hang out. A few brave people go for a swim under it - but the water is very cold. You could hear everyone who jumped in the water gasping. After hanging out at the falls for a bit, we headed back to the trailhead. I really enjoyed this hike.
After we got back to the parking lot we were all hot and had sore feet. There was a guy in the parking lot selling fresh coconuts so we got one. It’s hard work to eat those. First you drink the coconut milk from the center with a straw. When that’s done, you give it back to him and he chops it in half with a machete, then you have to get the coconut flesh out with your fingers, which I was not very good at.
We were all ready to relax after this hike, and we went to Tunnels Beach. This was a really nice beach. There were 2 large seals sleeping on the sand. We sunbathed here for a while then went swimming and did some snorkeling. This was the first time using my new snorkel - a full face mask. It was awesome! Highly recommend these kind of masks. They look kind of goofy but they don’t fog up at all, don’t leak, and it’s really easy to breathe with them.
We made dinner at home again this night and went to bed early, after a long, busy day.
Tues Jan 30
We woke up early and packed up all of our belongings, and left Princeville. We had lunch at a brewery called Kauai beer. The beer wasn’t that great...but the food was good and it was still fun to try something new. We drove to our new air bnb on the South Shore of Kauai. Will write a separate post about that...