Thursday, August 31, 2017

Our Honeymoon: Day 3 // Exploring Kauai

On Wednesday, we woke up with only one goal in mind:  to see Queen’s Bath.  Queen’s bath is a giant tidal pool that you can swim in.  I first saw it on Pinterest years ago and pinned it to my Bucket List board.  I never dreamed that I would actually get to swim in it!!  The guidebook cautioned that on many days, it’s too dangerous to swim in it.  I was neurotically checking the wave heights near Queen’s Bath and the outlook was good for Wednesday!

We started our day at the hotel's breakfast. It was pretty good and I liked trying miso soup for breakfast, but I wouldn't say it was totally worth the money.


As we were driving away, I realized that I forgot something in the hotel, so I went back in while Bill was outside.  A local craftsman was selling tea leaf bracelets in the lobby and I bought one for Bill.  Then, we were off (again!). We followed directions in the guidebook, which led us about 45 min straight along the East and then North sides of the island.  When we got close, we were led through a residential area and golf course.  We were sure we were in the wrong place until we saw signs for parking!  It was insanely hot when we got out of the car, but we followed the directions to a little hike.

First we saw a pretty stream and waterfall.  




We kept going and saw a sign that the guidebook warned us about, stating how many people have died in Queen’s bath.  


We first saw a big frothy, dangerous looking tide pool and I was dismayed – I thought that the tide was too rough to go in, but we kept walking and then I saw it!  Queen’s Bath!  It looked perfect.  The water was actually pretty low that day, but still swimmable.  We found a little spot for our stuff and got in.  We used my dad’s GoPro for the first time and did a little snorkeling.  This was my first time snorkeling, and it was a pretty good first step I would say.  There were a few fish in there, but nothing crazy.  I found a “ghost fish” that the book told us about and a pretty big angelfish that I followed around for awhile.  It was so neat to check something off of my bucket list!  










After we were done swimming, we hiked around the area for a bit checking out other tide pools and on the way back, we discovered dozens of sea turtles swimming near us.  We watched a crazy guy jump into the dangerous-looking waters and once we realized he survived, we headed back.  


Hard to see, but there were lots of sea turtles frolicking in the surf



The hike back up was long for me, and it was so hot.  I was huffing and puffing the whole time.  I kept stopping and backed up the whole pathway.  People had to either wait for me or walk around me.  It was embarrassing but also I felt like my heart was going to explode so I didn’t care.  Eventually we made it back to the car and back into blessed air conditioning.




We decided to keep driving along the North Shore.  We stopped for lunch in Hanalei.  We had drinks at Bouchons, which had a beautiful view.  Then we decided to walk down the road to see if anything struck our fancy for lunch.  We ended up getting fish tacos at Tropical Taco, a little truck-type of restaurant on the side of the road.  We ate on the porch and they were absolutely delicious.  Chickens and roosters came by begging for food as we ate.






After lunch, we shopped around the little town.  I bought some soap and some cool postcards.  We also got some authentic shave ice! I tried whatever was recommended as their best; I think it was macadamia on the bottom and rainbow on the top.  It was really good, but we couldn’t finish the whole thing!




Please ignore my hideous hat


Once we were stuffed, we continued up the North Coast.  It started raining as soon as we got in the car, and we were rewarded with our first Hawaiian rainbow.

Not actually the first rainbow we saw, but the second!


We stopped at some beaches and we saw the dry and wet caves. The dry cave went really far back into the mountain. It was a bit scary, but was fun to explore. There were people going further into the cave through small openings, but we weren't interested in that.







I read online that you can swim, or you used to be able to swim, in the wet caves, but that water was creepy looking!  It was eerie blue and cloudy.  I dipped a toe in, just to say that I did! On our walk to the wet caves, Bill pointed out a pretty pale purple flower.  I decided to smell it and it was the absolute most beautiful smell I’ve ever smelled.  I wanted to pick it but Bill said wait until we walked back by it.  Well, we forgot to grab it on our walk back.



The road ended at one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, K’e Beach.  This was my favorite beach that we found.  The water was crystal clear.  The sun was just about to set, but we thought had time to run back to get our snorkel gear.  By the time we got back, the sun had set and I refused to get in the water, as I know the sharks come out to feed at dawn and dusk.  Bill was disappointed but there was no way I was getting eaten by a shark on our 3rd day of the honeymoon.  We spent a bit of time just enjoying the beach and the view of Bali Hai before we started the journey back.  About 5 minutes into our drive, I remembered the flower and begged Bill to turn around.  It wasn’t exactly the type of road that you just turn around easily on, so we ended up not going back for it.  “Don’t worry, Bill said. “We’ll find another one in Maui,” Bill said.  Let me spoil the ending of this story:  we didn’t find another one.  I’m starting to think it was a mystical mythical flower that only exists on that one vine near Ke’e Beach. We didn't get any pics on the beach, so I found some on Flickr.

Source

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That evening, we decided to dine at the resort’s restaurant, Naupaka Terrace.  I ordered my best fish of the trip, butterfish and Bill got ribs.  They gave us a free bottle of champagne for our honeymoon! A cute little stray cat joined our table for dinner and I kept feeding him scraps of my fish.  We ended our meal just before it rained and turned in a little early on our last night in Kauai.

Burrata appetizer

Butterfish

Our Honeymoon: Planning and Days 1-2 // Arrival and Waimea Canyon

Our honeymoon was amazing and truly the best 10 days we have ever had. It was magical and I can’t wait to go back.

A bit of a backstory on how we ended up choosing our destination.  Due to Zika and the fact that we knew we wanted to have kids within the next two years, nearly every tropical or Caribbean location had to be ruled out. We looked into European honeymoons and we settled on a trip to the Scottish Highlands.  We were about to book when I learned about the midges that descend on the country in summer and early fall.  If you’re not aware, they are black gnat-like bugs that fly around en masse, coating you and everything and worse yet, they bite! We were back to square one. We looked at cruises to Alaska, but that just didn’t seem very honeymoony to us, plus I’ve never been on a cruise so didn’t know if I’d get seasick.

It was only when we were feeling desperate that I looked into Hawaii.  I always just figured it was way too expensive for us.  I literally never dreamed in my entire life that I’d get to go to Hawaii. We looked into deals on a variety of websites and found some good deals on Costco.  We researched all of the islands and settled on Maui, as it seemed to have a little bit of everything, including beautiful scenery but also more metropolitan and resort areas. Right before we booked the trip, we also decided to add on 2 days to Kauai, and that was one of the best decisions we have ever made! Our trip was 9/5-9/14, with the first and last days being travel days. We were in Kauai 9/5 through the morning of 9/8 and then Maui for the remainder. We originally had a lovely travel schedule planned out, but a few weeks after we booked our flights, they got canceled by the airline and rearranged, so it wasn’t as pleasant as we had hoped, but we got there all the same!

Day 1: Arrival

Our flight left at 6:00am, so we had to be at the airport around 4:30.  We woke up after sleeping for a mere 1.5 hrs.  I had to then go wake up my brother and dad and before I knew it, we were off!  I was so tired I felt sick and when we drove past the dog food factory that’s near Dayton, I almost threw up. LOL.

We took this on the plane
I was so excited when we checked our bags and told them our final destination was Lihue, Kauai! Our flights were long and uncomfortable.  We flew Dayton-Chicago, Chicago-Phoenix, and Phoenix-Kauai. As we neared Hawaii, our flight attendant played a game with all of us commoners in the back of the plane.  Our plane was full of honeymooners, so whoever was most recently married was the winner.  We won by one hour over another couple! Our prize was a mini bottle of champagne which we drank right away.  

When we landed in Kauai, we got off of the plane into… open air!  Most of the airport was outside.  They didn’t “lei” us when we got off of the plane (I guess that only happens in movies/private planes), so we bought some leis and the lady selling them taught us that you should never put on your own lei so she put them on us.



We then headed to the car rental place where we were greeted by baby chicks walking around everywhere! These were the first of the wild chickens and roosters that would be our friends for the next few days! When we checked in at our hotel, Aqua Kauai Beach Resort, we were given a warm Hawaii welcome and gifts of shell necklaces! We headed our room, which had a nice balcony overlooking the pools and courtyard.  The room initially seemed a bit outdated, but we grew to absolutely love it.  We then took a walk to the beach and the first thing we realized is that we wouldn’t be swimming at this beach:



We hit the pool and hot tub, which were both so cool!  The hot tubs were made to look like they were natural and the pool had waterfalls! We had drinks and a snack of cheese quesadillas at Driftwood, the poolside bar.  I was freezing. The sun wasn’t out and there was a steady breeze coming off of the ocean, but I didn’t actually mind.  It was kind of pleasant after the DC and Ohio heat!  I called Nanny while we were having our snack to let her know that we arrived safely and were having a good time.  I waded in a nearby pool while I talked to her.  We met with the on-site travel guide lady to schedule some activities and booked a couples’ massage for the next day.  We headed to Walmart for some food and other provisions, like the best hairbrush I have ever used and then went to dinner.  I was so tired I felt delirious by this point!  We went to Duke’s for dinner, where I got the opah, Bill got mango bbq ribs and we both got the unlimited salad bar.  I got my first lava flow of the trip!  I had been dying to try that drink since Amy went to Hawaii the year before and it didn't disappoint! We tried to stay up late to adjust to the time change, but I was exhausted and we passed out early.

Lava flow!






Day 2: Waimea Canyon


On our first full day in Hawaii, we woke up early to watch the sunrise.  The wild roosters running rampant helped us to get up!  It was absolutely beautiful and a few others had the same idea too.  When we turned around to head back inside, we saw people on the balconies of nearly every ocean-facing balcony!








We had a nice bagel breakfast on the patio. While we were eating, we talked about the stuff we wanted to do while we were on Kauai and decided that if we wanted to see Waimea Canyon, that was probably the day to do it!  Without further ado, we hopped in our car and headed towards the canyon, which was about an hour’s drive away.  We stopped along the way for some water and coffee.

Once we started driving up the canyon, the beautiful sights started and just didn’t stop!  The ride was a bit treacherous – there was a steep drop on the right side of the road so I kept freaking out.  We stopped a few times along the ride up just to look at the views.  We saw these cool red rocks with waterfalls, and stopped at what we thought were great views.  





We stopped at a rest area and overlook to see the full canyon and we were just stunned by the views we saw.  I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon or any other canyon for that matter was unprepared for the sheer vastness.  It was beautiful! There was a native Hawaiian at the overlook giving a talk about the canyon.  It was a bit of a general history lesson and cool insight into how his people still live to this day.  




Following our trusty guidebook, The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook by Andrew Doughty, we didn’t stop our trip at that overlook like many do, but kept driving up the canyon.  The road got a little sketchy and I wasn’t sure if we had followed the right path (though it would be hard to mess up since there’s only one road..). When we got to the top, we walked and took a short hike and were rewarded with the most gorgeous view I have ever seen in my entire life: the view from Pu’u O Kila Lookout over Kalalau Valley. The pictures are beautiful, but they don’t do it justice.  It looked like something out of Avatar or from prehistoric times.  I felt like I was looking at heaven!





After staring for a long while and taking a ton of pictures, we made the trip back to our resort just in time for our massages!  I was so excited for our first-ever couples massage, but mine was a little lackluster.  She just massaged sooo lightly.  I asked her several times to use more pressure, but she never did.  Bill’s on the other hand, was amazing.

We then spent some time by the pool.  We had lunch at Driftwood.  I had my first poke bowl which was amazing and Bill had a burger.


The BEST lava flow of the trip!



We then played more in the pool and rested until it was time for dinner.  We went to a horrible restaurant for dinner, Kintaro.  The servers were all great and the fried wontons they give you on the house were good, but the sushi was terrible.  We ended up stopping at Walmart on the way home for some snacks.  When we got back to the hotel, we started watching The Boss, but I fell asleep almost instantly, but Bill watched the whole movie.
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