Tuesday, August 10, 2010

14 days in Paradise (aka Kauai) -- Week 2.

I am starting to feel as if I've gone on too long about how wonderful Kauai was. I am now fully immersed in reality and I'm even starting to hate myself for going on and on about my lovely vacation (see how quickly I return to jaded me?!).  I feel an obligation, though, to post week 2. I promised a week 2.  So, here it is, albeit edited a tad more than week 1.

Day 8 - Monday
St. Regis beach or Hideaway Beach (we came down the public steps instead of traipsing through the lobby this time). More snorkeling. We learned if you go way out beyond the point there is much, much more to see. Kaden stayed out in the water for hours. Olivia found a starfish in the rocks right along the shore.  
Long day at the beach, but we are clearly settling into our trip and don't feel the need to make every day into an outrageous adventure.  Or do we . . . 

Day 9 - Tuesday
Rock Star Hawaii day. The kids were amazing champs and lasted all day with absolutely no complaints. This is nothing short of a miracle.

First up -- Surf lessons. We met Marianna, our instructor, in Hanalei and we followed her to a stretch of beach right in Hanalei.  She deemed the waves to small and the water too crowded. We loaded back up and headed to Rock Quarry Beach (Kahili - 2 miles past shell station at Kileau, left at road for Botanical Gardens, turn off onto dirt road on left immediately before road bends to right). This is the perfect beach for surf lessons with a Brazilian instructor.  It is totally off the beaten path and required us to hike down an incline (no path) carrying a surf board on our heads. The surf board you are likely imagining is not so big, but the boards we carried, well they are ginormous. Ginormous, of course, because that makes it easier for a beginner. Very well. The beach was spectacular and I was entranced simply by listening to Marianna speak (great accent mixed with surfer lingo). Within 30 minutes we were all up on a wave. The kids thought I was a total rock star when I got up on my first wave.  Did I mention the boards were ginormous?!  That helped. We all laughed, took in copious amounts of salt water and enjoyed the morning immensely.  Marianna presented us each with a surfing diploma. Kaden is still upset she spelled his name wrong (which is easy to do).  She spelled it Kedan.  Did I mention she was cute and Brazilian?!

We didn't want to leave Rock Quarry Beach, but the waves prevented us from lingering too long without a board. It is a beach for surfing, not snorkeling. And our snorkel equipment was due the next day so time was of the essence.

This may seem strange, but we stopped at Kileau Fish Market for lunch (yes, this is the 3rd time). The seared Ahi wraps are that good.  And while we were there, more amazing ice cream from Kileau Video and Ice Cream. We had, after all, surfed all morning and were deserving of a treat.    

We were all beat, but lunch provided the energy we needed for an afternoon of snorkeling.  So we headed to Tunnels Beach.  Best snorkeling by far. I was immediately taken by the amazing lava rock tunnels and formations right off shore. The fish were abundant and colorful. This was also the first time we saw colorful coral. Pristine. One on of my trips out, I was able to swim with a sea turtle for a bit.  He was not huge, but big. I just glided along with him for a while. It seemed for those few minutes that we were out there all alone. The epitome of peaceful.  Of course then the sun started to fade and I knew it was time to head back.

We were completely exhausted as we all sat on the beach watching the sun sink behind the Na Pali coastline.

As we drove back to Princeville over the eight one-lane bridges in and around Hanalei, we debated what to do for dinner. It was late and we were starving.  The Concierge had recommended pizza from Princeville Chevron. As you may either know or have guessed, I'm not a girl who gets her dinners from a gas station. But it was recommended. And we are exhausted. So we stopped in and sure enough, they have a brick pizza oven and fresh ingredients inside the Chevron.  Well that settles it: everything is better in Kauai, even the gas stations. We did, however, miss the $10 large Monday night special, but we were starving and happy to pay full price (no one said gas station pizza was cheap - we are still in Kauai).

Day 10 - Wednesday
I enjoyed the Wednesday morning yoga class again. We all needed a down day after our long beach day on Tuesday.  We also needed to stay out of the sun for at least a few hours.  So, we sent the kids to  Kids' Club and mom and dad enjoyed a few hours alone. After lunch we played cards in the shade but by the pool.  Then we hiked (I use this term loosely) down the bluffs to the beach near the Westin.  We found a lovely stream that was completely shaded and enjoyed a quiet afternoon.  Later the kids watched another Wednesday movie on the lawn (Spy Next Door). Even our down days are great. 

Day 11 - Thursday
The surfing bug bit Kevin hard.  He was up early and ready to rent a board so we could spend another day hitting the waves. I was leery of his plan, but we packed up and headed back to Kahili beach.

Kaden and Kevin spent most of the day in the water.  Kaden is a natural and loved every minute of it despite the punishing effect of his board smashing up against him each time he headed back out. He received a nice cut on his chin (luckily no stitches required) which will inevitably scar. He now shows everyone his surfing scar. Quite proud. There is no doubt: he earned that scar.

Another long, but fulfilling day. We topped it off with dinner at Hanalei Dolphin Sushi Lounge.  Succinctly:  sushi heaven.

Day 12 - Friday
We realized at this point that the trip was coming to an end. I'm not one to bring much home from vacation (unless in NYC, of course), but the kids wanted a few things to remember the trip (read: stuffed animals and t-shirts). So we spent the morning shopping in Hanalei.  We stopped by Pat's Taqueria one last time and did not regret it a bit.  We sat just staring at Hanalei Bay and eating our carne asada tacos wondering: what did we do to deserve this?!  We also took note that we have never been on a vacation with a day 12. That alone made us thank our lucky stars. Of course, it was only moments later when we dashed off, having realized we still had a must-see on our list: Queen's Bath.

Queen's Bath is a "pool" carved into the lava rocks. It can be a dangerous spot in the winter months when the waves crash over the rock walls and can literally sweep you out to sea.  Yikes. Luckily for us, it was a beautiful summer day and the water was clear and calm. The kids (all three of them) jumped off the rock cliffs into the pool.  We also explored all the sea life living amid the rocks. The views of the rocks and shore are amazing.  Even though the surf was fairly calm, waves would crash on the rocks shooting spray high into the air. Another breathtaking view.

Day 13- Saturday
I previously blogged about this day.  At home is the title of the post if you missed it.  We were completely at home and did nothing extraordinary.  It's not that there was nothing left to see -- we hadn't even ventured to the South shore -- it's just that we were so relaxed and satisfied by our experiences that we enjoyed a day to process all.  Or drink by the pool -- call it what you will.

Day 14 - Sunday
Back to Anhini Beach for our final few hours in Paradise. We saw Matt Damon running along the road on the way to our little spot next the the tree with the swings. Finally a star sighting opposed to our many near misses. Of course the kids were totally unimpressed. They were hoping for a Jonas brother.

Our plane departed Lihue (LIH) at 10:00 PM on Sunday night so we enjoyed our entire day before showering off and heading to the airport.  And kudos to the Westin Princeville Villas for offering a complimentary suite (booked in 45 minutes intervals) for showering and changing on the day of departure. Brilliant.

Well, there you have it: our experience in paradise. We feel so blessed to experience such an amazing island and to enjoy so much quality time together. I have not one regret or complaint about the entire trip. Well, of course, other than having to go home.


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