Mauka Makai — Kauai Day 1

Sunrise near Kauai

Kauai was the island that most intrigued me when I was planning our trip. I knew the least about it, and the pictures I saw were stunning. Kauai seemed to have it all — cliffs, beaches, mountains, a canyon, and a blowhole!

I booked with Noah’s Ark Kauai—https://www.noahsarkkauai.com/#tours—for our cancelled trip in 2020, and never wavered from my plan to spend our first day in Kauai touring with Noah. We anticipated a fun day going to the mountains (mauka) and towards the sea (makai).

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up a couple days. On Monday afternoon when we got back to the ship from our excursion to Haleakala, I had an urgent e-mail from Noah. He had just tested positive for Covid and had to cancel our tour on Thursday.😢

This was bad news for many reasons! Most importantly, I hated that Noah had gotten sick. I hated that Covid was impacting a trip that had been cancelled and postponed so many times. I hated that my “best laid plans” had to be scrapped. Finally, I was worried because I felt responsible for salvaging not just our plans…we had several others from our Facebook group joining us on the tour.

Thankfully when I got the e-mail I had most of the afternoon to spare before we sailed. I called every recommendation Noah had made in his e-mail, and of course nobody had availability on such short notice. I asked everyone I called for recommendations and then called those people. None of them had availability either. I was starting to panic when I reached out to the ship concierge and got a name and number. Several phone calls back and forth with Casey and we had a reservation to tour Kauai on Thursday. Phew!

Do I think our day was the same experience we would have had with Noah? Unfortunately, the answer is definitely not. Noah is a guide, and we anticipated a day filled with stories, planned stops/activities, a lunch break, and being entertained by Noah on his ukulele. What we got was a driver who was very nice and knowledgeable about the island. Casey took us everywhere we wanted to go, but lacked the polish and professionalism of a true guide. That said, we had a pleasant day and we saw a lot. Casey threw in some nice touches and put his personal stamp on our day.

For the most part I’m going to let the pictures do the talking. We were very lucky, and our weather was picture perfect as you will see.

Driving away from Lihue on our first day in Kauai.

Menehune Fish Pond

Menehune Fish Pond

Menehune Fish Pond

Poipu Bay Golf Course at the Grand Hyatt Kauai

We went searching for turtles in Poipu. They were out there, but it was virtually impossible to get a picture at our first stop.

I finally saw Hawaiian Sea Turtles soaking up the sun at Poipu Beach Park!

After we saw the turtles I thought it would be a good idea to get a picture of me and Jim in our beach attire!😂😂😂

When we left Poipu Beach we went to Spouting Horn, a fabulous blowhole. It was mesmerizing…I could have watched it for hours!

Spouting Horn in Action

On the way to Waimea Canyon we stopped in a small town — I think it was Hanapepe — and walked around for a while. This was where I think it would have been helpful to have a guide to plan a place to stop for lunch, make suggestions, and set some times to keep us on track. We got to see a lot of things, but I didn’t feel like there was any real plan or itinerary for the day.

Waimea Canyon lived up to its reputation! One nice thing Casey did was take us off the beaten path to see the canyon instead of going to the very crowded visitor’s center.

It was a pretty long drive back to Lihue from Waimea Canyon, and we made two more stops before we went back to the ship.

The first was at the Koa Store in Lihue. https://thekoastore.com

They carry a great assortment of handcrafted Koa wood products made by local artisans. We are in the habit of bringing home one nice souvenir from each trip and we look for something that represents the local culture. I rule out things that are mass-produced, stamped “Made in China,” or that I could pick up on Amazon. I know those criteria don’t always guarantee authenticity, but I think they improve my chances!

We chose this hand carved Koa wood bowl as our Hawaii souvenir.

After our stop at the Koa Store we went over to Wailua Falls. I’m only going to share one picture of the falls now, because I got MUCH better pictures on Friday.

Wailua Falls

At Wailua Falls

I loved these trees. I think they are called Albizia trees.

We were tired when we returned to the ship, but our day wasn’t over! We walked to Duke’s for dinner. It was delicious and a nice change of pace.

Duke’s is an easy walk from the ship. This was taken outside Duke’s and you can see the Pride of America in the background.

I can’t remember what we had for dinner, but our drinks were fantastic! I had a Lava Flow…

Lava Flow

…and Jim had a Mai Tai!

Mai Tai

Of course, no meal at Duke’s is complete without a “slice” of Hula Pie! The dessert was delicious and enormous! We were both pretty full by the time we left.

Hula Pie

We had seen about as much of Kauai as we could pack into a single day and were excited about seeing it from two different perspectives on Friday!

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