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).