Kauai Day 9 – Best of both worlds garden tour

I am going to miss these magical starts to the day. Today we had a very relaxed morning, as the tour we were doing had been pushed back until 12pm, which meant we didn’t leave until 11am.

On the way we passed by this protest. Seems such a giant step backwards that Americans have to protest the right to have an abortion (again). I do hope things work out for them.

We are arrived at the visitors center for the gardens and got checked in for the Best of Both Worlds tour.

Of course I had to take some photos while waiting for tour. Hope you like plants because you’re about to see a whole lot of them :-).

After meeting our guide – who was so energetic and funny and full of knowledge, we headed off to the McBryde Gardens. The drive was incredible – such a stunning area in this coastal location. All the beaches in Hawaii are accessible to the public but you have to trespass to reach this one (though it sounds like it’s okay as long as you park correctly).

Once we reached the McBryde Gardens we got off the bus to have a walk around. Sadly I can’t begin to tell you what anything is. This garden is a “veritable botanical ark of tropical flora and home to the largest ex situ collection of native Hawaiian flora in existence. Our extensive collections of palms, flowering trees, rubiaceae, heliconias, orchids, and many others have been wild-collected by botanists and biologists from throughout tropical regions around the world and transported to McBryde Garden to research, cultivate and thrive“. One thing I did learn (and remember) is that orchids grow on trees.

We stopped at a waterfall for some photos.

Then it was back on the bus to drive over to the Allerton Gardens. There was a chance to use the restrooms and refill water bottles before the next walking section. I had been worried the 2.5 hour tour would be too much for me (with fibromyalgia) but it really very manageable.

The Allerton Gardens “is a paradise transformed through time by the hands of a Hawaiian Queen, a sugar plantation magnate, and most significantly by an artist and architect. Tour the garden to see towering rainforest trees with tall curving roots that grow near bronze mermaids, a grove of swaying golden bamboo, a cut-flower garden, and tropical fruit trees. Here the focus is on landscape design, but among the plantings are botanically important species of the tropics, including varieties of palms, ki (ti), heliconias, and gingers”.

I do think this was my favourite of the two gardens. Partially because of the meandering walking paths and garden “rooms” that were created and partly because there were a lot more flowering plants.

There is also the Jurassic Park trees which are actually Moreton Bay Figs from Australia that are 50 years old (apparently they grow a lot fast here than they do in Australia).

Such a lovely area to sit and enjoy while our guide took photos for everyone. It’s kinda hard to believe that these awesome, impressive, huge trees are only as old as I am !!

The last place we visited was the mermaid room. The fountain is designed to pulse water down the channel to sound like a low pulse rate and relax and calm the visitor.

I highly recommend this tour and if I ever come back to Kauai I will do the more in depth tour of Allerton Gardens. I’m also keen to read a book about the Allertons (a queer couple who in public – back in 1920s – became family by living as father and son).

A few more flower photos before we leave. we even got to try the yellow flower from the bottom photo. It was pretty tasty and is often added to salads. After the bus ride back to the visitors center we had a quick look through the gift shop. I was disappointed since I find gift shops like this usually have some great finds (at least in Australia).

We stopped at the Koloa food trucks on the way home, just in time for final orders since it was almost 3pm. Kevin had fish tacos and I had modified vegetarian tacos. I thoroughly enjoyed mine and Kevin described his as alright.

We headed back to our accommodation. Again, I wanted to have a swim but by the time we’d gotten up the stairs, carrying quite a bit of stuff this time, I just wanted to sit and put my feet up. Plus having to deal with packing a still wet cozzy wasn’t appealing. I spent some time reading and we opted to just have a snack instead a proper dinner since lunch had been so late.

Later we face-timed with the kids and it was great to catch up. Oh, I can’t remember if I updated you about Koda’s leg (not sure I even mentioned his leg) but it turns out he’s ruptured his cruciate ligament and needs to have surgery. At this stage it’s planned for the 25th May but we may get it pushed back till when we are home – since he’ll need a lot of supervision during his recovery.

We watched a little YouTube and I did some packing/sorting before heading to bed. There was a full moon tonight and a lovely reflection on the water. Such a beautiful ending to our wonderful time on Kauai.

Kauai Day 8 – Driving to Waimea Canyon

I do hope you aren’t getting sick of all the photos, especially since there are a whole lot more today. I really am just sharing the best of the best. It’s not my fault that Kauai is so beautiful.

Today we headed off before breakfast. Stopping at the Kauai Bakery to get some of their famous Malasadas. The guava ones were already sold out so I chose a plain and red bean (?) and Kevin chose the red bean and an apple turnover. There was a steady stream of customers so I was expecting good things. We took them back to the car. We had planned to eat as we drove but quickly realized they were a little too messy (from the sugar) to do that, so we enjoyed them in the car. And boy were they good. We both ate the red bean one for our breakfast (yep, it’s a healthy one today). After dinner in the evening I had the plain one and think the red bean malasada was the best. I can’t describe the flavour of the red beans – except the paste was sweet – but it just added a nice taste and texture it.

Today we are doing another Shaka guided tour – this time the Waimea and Na Pali driving tour. The first stop was the Kauai Coffee Company which is the biggest coffee plantation in the USA. I thought Kevin would be happy to get to try some local coffee but he’s recently cut down on his coffee consumption and wasn’t really that keen. It’s a bit of an odd place (maybe because we entered straight into the gift shop) but I’m sure it’s great if you are really into coffee – plenty of people were buying bags of it to take home. I did seriously contemplate buying this chicken but I decided not too, even though he is super cute.

You are able to walk around the grounds and through the coffee trees but I was more into the beautiful frangipanis that were on the grounds.

We continued on to view what is left of the Russian Fort Elisabeth. Crazy to think of it here on Kauai.

We then drove to Waimea town where we briefly stopped at the Visitors Center for a quick look around (they did have a model of the fort so that was cool to see) and use the bathrooms. Then got some smoothies from Coconut Corner. Funnily enough it was the same girl who served us earlier in the week and she actually remembered us. I had a pineapple & coconut smoothie (which was delicious) and Kevin got a banana smoothie and more of the apple banana lumpia that he loved. We also checked out some of the strange fruits we’d never heard of or seen before.

Then it was time to start our drive up the mountain. We didn’t get out of the car at the first stop since it was just a nice view of the town and ocean (that fact that this is just an okay lookout says everything about Kauai). The next viewpoint was our first of many looking out over the Waimea Valley.

On of my favourite stops was the Red Dirt waterfall. I had seen photos of it but it’s even cooler in real life. Though there are many bigger and more impressive waterfalls on Kauai, this one is special because it runs on the red dirt, making a striking contrast against the dirt and the blue sky. I was nervous of slipping so just viewed from the roadside but Kevin (and most other people) ventured out for a closer view or to pose for photographs. Even if you didn’t want to do the full drive I’d highly recommend coming as far as this.

The road does get quite windy for the next bit so be aware if you are prone to car sickness.

The Iliau nature trail is a fairly easy 15 minute walk out to see over the canyon and a little nature walk. I took LOTS of photos and it wasn’t until we were home that i realized I’d actually photographed the rare flowering Iilau plant – which only flowers once (after 2-10 years) and then dies and is only found on Kauai.

I think we did the nature walk backwards so I only read the sign at the end :-(. So if you find yourself there I’d recommend going right to the nature trail rather than straight ahead to the lookout.

We decided to skip the main viewing area for Waimea Canyon since it was busy and parking hard to find. Instead we stopped a little further up the road at the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout, where I’m sure we had an even better view. It’s so easy to see why this called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

We had little stop at Koke’e Lodge & Museum. Definitely a very pretty place with a large flat grass area – which would be awesome for kids to run around on after being stuck in the car for so long. We bought a snack, had a quick look in the small museum and fell in love with all the baby chickens. It’s amazing how they already know to go to people for food. A fact I’m sure is helped because you can buy a bag of chicken food in the shop.

We were nearing the end of the road. At the Kalalau lookout we had our first view of the Na Pali coast from the ground. And we were lucky to have the most amazing weather today, with only a touch of cloud/mist hanging around the top of the mountain.

Finally at around 1.30pm we reached the Pu’u O Kila Lookout and the end of the road. When I saw the steep walk up to the lookout I nearly decided to skip it since my feet have been very (fibro) sore all day. But then I thought this was my one chance to do it so I’d better give it a go. It honestly wasn’t too bad though I was puffing pretty hard at the top and needed a little rest to get my breath back. Glad I did it though as it really was an amazing view of Na Pali. We soaked it up for a few minutes before making our way back to the car and back down the mountain. I did envy the people I saw having a picnic lunch on the ridge looking over the coastline, but we had plans for lunch back down at sea level.

It was a lot quicker on the way back, with not having to get in and out of the car at all the stops.

Though it was now 2.30pm and we were getting hungry, we proceeded with the shaka guide out to see the Menehune ditch, which wasn’t the most exciting thing but it is in beautiful area.

And Kevin was pretty happy to have a walk along the swinging bridge. I’m not the most keen on wobbling bridges (and thought we’d visit another one) so stayed on solid ground.

After a quick drive past the Captain Cook statue and this adorable home whose story I’d love to know, it was finally time for lunch.

Luckily I’d already made note of a few places that had vegan options and we came across MCs Grill first so that was the one. Not too flashy to look at (outside or inside) but we really loved our lunches. Kevin had an appetizer steak (and still couldn’t eat it all) and I had an amazing oriental salad with tofu.

I was excited to visit Hanapepe since it was the town used as inspiration for Lilo and Stitch but it’s an odd town and definitely not what I was expecting. There are a number of gift shops and art galleries and a famous bookshop (because it’s the Western-most bookstore in the US). I was looking forward to seeing the Lilo & Stitch mural but I was really disappointed in it. Oh well. I’m sure it’s had a few versions over the years.

We had a quick wander around the town, took photos of more flowers and got back in the car for the drive home.

Upon our return home I debated going for a swim but with very sore feet (and Kevin not too keen) and the thought have having the walk back up the stairs a second time, I just settled on the couch with an ice cold water. Later we did have our first rain on the week (when we’d actually expected to have some every day).

Since lunch was so late today we obviously had a late dinner – using some of the leftover food we had in the fridge/freezer. Later we had the last of the vegan mochi (It’s a good thing they don’t sell these in Australia as they are too darn delicious).

Kauai Day 7 – Flying over Kauai & visiting the South Shore

Today started with one of the best sunrises we’ve had so far. My morning routine is pretty well established at this point. Go out on the lanai, take a photo and start a time lapse, put the kettle on, take my pain meds, make my cup of tea and enjoy while working on the previous days blog post. Repeating the last two steps a number of times.

After breakfast on the lanai we headed off to the airport, for another of this weeks highlights – a scenic air tour with airventures. We were booked in for 10am but were there early, as was the other party on our plane so we were able to leave a bit earlier. Kevin got to sit in the front, lucky for him because it was a little cramped in the back. That combined with the tight headphones, meant my fibro body was not too pleased. Luckily the views made up for any pain I was experiencing.

We opted to pay extra to get a gopro fitted to the planes wing for photos and video. The above are just a few of the 750 photos that it took on the one hour trip.

The plane trip was awesome. We flew right around the island (which we hadn’t expected) and over many of the places we had already visited this week. Flying out over the Na Pali coastline was incredible as you really see the steepness of the cliffs. Although we couldn’t get in and out of all the valleys that helicopters can, there was one we were able to fly into. The main reason I chose the plane instead of a helicopter was that you were guaranteed a window seat.

It was amazing seeing just how much of the island was covered in greenery over the red dirt. And SO MANY waterfalls – I honestly couldn’t count how many we saw. I highly, highly encourage anyone coming to Kauai to see it from the air esp. after you’ve already seen some of it from the ground. It was really cool identifying places that we’d already been and seeing it from a very different perspective.

Back down on the ground we collected the gopro card with our video and photos and set off on another Shaka guided tour – this time the Poipu and Koloa driving tour. First up was driving through this stunning tunnel of trees – which are Eucalyptus trees from Australia planted 150 years ago.

We then stopped in Old Koloa Town and had a stroll around. It’s a very cute little town but we aren’t much into shopping these days.

Though it wasn’t quite yet 12pm our planned lunch stop was in this town and luckily enough we were hungry. I was very excited to eat here.

I ordered the Baja Bowl and Kevin got Surfer Tacos and a Pineapple Express Smoothie. We made friends with some chickens while we waited. They only have two tables to eat at and they were occupied by people who had just finished a drink (I thought it rather rude they remained there while other people were ordering food to eat). The only other options were in the sun or at bird poo covered tables so we instead ate in the car. At least we had comfy seats. Kevin really enjoyed his lunch (which I forgot to photograph), mine was nice but a bit spicy for me. In the end I ate all the brown rice at the bottom and avoided the dressing. Felt good to eating something so healthy. And helps to balance the not so healthy treats we’ve been having.

With a too full belly (mine not Kevins) we stopped at a lovely little outdoor shopping center. We’d been hoping to get some underwear for Kevin from Tommy Bahamas but they didn’t have any – we’re actually not sure they still sell it which will make for a very sad Kevin.

We walked around the complex, having a browse in a few stores (the old me would have bought quite a few things). We then continued on with our tour.

Since this area is super touristy and FULL of resorts, Bobby (our guide) tells us stories about the old Hawaiian ways and people (like at Prince Kuhio Park) and stops at the few historical sites that are in the area.

Seeing as we have a rather impressive blow hole not far from our home I wasn’t too worried about seeing the Spouted Horn but since it was on our tour we decided to stop by. At least it was blowing somewhat so it was still good to see. I’m sure it’s really cool if you’ve never seen anything like it before.

Our tour then took around different locations – including beaches. We admired the gardens and (newer build) homes. I would like to have stopped at the beaches for a swim but parking was difficult and neither Kevin or I felt up to a big walk so we didn’t bother.

On the way home we stopped at Uncles Shave Ice (since I’d missed the one I’d planned back at Koloa Town). The staff here were lovely and the lady was chatting away to us. My shave ice had mango, watermelon and pina colada flavour with coconut milk. It was so good but a bit too big (they only sell one size). We sat in the car to eat them and then continued on home.

We got back about 3.30pm. I had wanted to go for a swim but Kevin wasn’t feeling the best so I waited for him. Then of course I didn’t end up going in.

Tonight we watched Lilo and Stitch as tomorrow we will be visiting the town used as inspiration for the movie. Kevin was kind enough to make the Gardein Chick’n and rice again while I was sorting out photos.

Kauai Day 6 – Hawaiian chocolate tour

Thankfully when I woke up this morning I was feeling SOOOO much better with just my normal fibro pain, which went away quickly after taking my pain meds. I enjoyed another sunrise from our apartment but I must say they haven’t been as spectacular as I had imagined.

For breakfast today we enjoyed the frozen bowls we bought at Target yesterday. Kevin had a banana & peanut butter smoothie bowl and I had an acai bowl. Both were delicious.

We left home just after 8.30, stopping briefly to have a look at this double waterfall, Opaekaa Falls, before driving on to todays destination. It was so easy to see from the car park – which is not normally the case.

We were running just a few minutes late but weren’t the last ones to arrive, and were there in time for the introduction to the Lydgate Farm Chocolate tour. The farm is is a lovely area with some pretty stunning homes.

There are also lots of fruits and other plants around the property as they do their best to look after the land. This cherry tree had just started to have ripe berries and we were able to pick and enjoy as many as wanted / could reach. The one I had was pretty nice but not so juicy and fleshy as the ones I’m used to.

We were there just at the right time to see some vanilla bean flowers get hand pollinated (as the flowers are only open for a 10 hour window). The plant actually grows on another tree.

We then headed down the hill (there is a cart available if you need assistance since it is quite steep and gravely), stopping at different plants to learn more about them and how they were/are used. It’s quite amazing to learn all about it. And as you can see the grounds are just stunning.

Kevin, and some other brave souls, tried peppercorn right off the vine. Kevin said they were very, very, very peppery and spat his out.

Finally we got to the fruit trying portion of the tour. We got to try things like apple banana (which was really yummy), pawpaw/papaya and more exotoic fruits (the name of which I can’t remember). All are grown of the farm.

We also tried a delicious farm honey and some honey coated macadamias – which they are just testing and were definitely the highlight for me.

Then time for the main event – the cocoa pod & seeds. We got to taste it just after opening and though the white coating was pretty delicious ( you just suck it off the seed), the seed itself was pretty bitter (I fed mine to the chickens – two of whom were name Russell (Crowe) and Sheryle (Crowe).

I love how some of the pods just grow right out of the tree truck, while others grown off the branches.

We had time for a little photo shoot among the cocao trees, then a very short walk over to the chocolate tasting tent. Our chicken friends joined us in the hope of more treats.

Isn’t this flower just stunning?

We then learnt about the way chocolate is made and about what happens during the making of cheaper chocolates ( the cocoa butter is removed and sold off and replaced with castor oil). We also got to sample 10 different chocolates from the farm and a few other places and honestly by the time we got to number 10 I was over chocolated. My favourite had surprisingly been the 75% dark with rum – but when I had another piece after all ten samples I didn’t like it as much. This tour was great and I highly recommend if you’ve got time (it goes for 3 hours).

We then walked back up the hill. Being pretty unfit I was puffed by the top but it wasn’t too bad. We had the chance to buy some chocolate from the gift stall but as I said I was over chocolate by that time…

Back in the car we drove back via Kapaa’ as I wanted to stop in at the Glass gallery buy some earrings.

We did that and then headed to Papaya’s healthy grocery store. It doesn’t look like much from the outside and Kevin really wasn’t convinced it was what I thought it was. But it’s much bigger on the inside (not that I took a photo). We gathered supplies for a few more meals and had fun exploring. It was cool seeing taro since we’d driven through the fields a few days ago and I had no idea what it looked like.

I also bought a big salad which I turned into lunch with some freshly cut Dole pineapple, vegan potato salad and leftover pasta from dinner a few nights ago. It was pretty good but a different dressing would have made it awesome. Kevin had a chipotle and turkey wrap (also bought from Papaya’s) and we sat out on the lanai to enjoy.

We moved back inside since it was more comfy on the couch and when I had kept drifting off to sleep we decided to go have a nap. I very rarely nap during the day and was quite surprised when I slept for almost an hour. I then proceeded to read on the couch for another few hours – which is lovely holiday indulgence. We had planned for a swim but with the breeze you get through the apartment it never feels that hot. I also managed to get my first video up. It’s definitely hard finding time to both blog and vlog and sort out all the photos.

We had frozen pizza for dinner which was nice but nothing amazing and watched some YouTube. We even got a bit of a sunset tonight, even though we are facing East.