Hanalei Bay

A wildlife encounter along the coast trail near Kapaa

We spent the last few days of our trip at the Kauai Beach Resort on the east side of Kauai, just on the edge of Kapaa. With 10,000 people, it's the largest town on Kauai. Even though it's larger than Lihue it seems smaller. Lihue is the commercial center of Kauai, with an airport, harbor, and businesses like car dealers and banks. Kapaa is more about tourist shops and art galleries and unusual restaurants. In other words, it was a lot more fun.

One example of this, the town has constructed a trail for walking and biking right along the coast. It's called the Ke Ala Hele Makalae, also known by it's more boring English name of Kauai Multiuse Path. Each morning we would take a short drive downtown to Kapaa Beach Park and walk along the path for an hour or so. It's used a lot by both tourists and locals. We certainly thought it was great. It currently stretches for eight miles and there are proposals to extend it along most of the east coast of the island.

A beautiful day at Hanalei Bay

We parked just off the main highway through Old Kapaa Town, right behind Kela's Glass Works. After our first walk we stopped to check it out. They had a lot of fascinating glass art that wasn't very expensive. We decided not to get anything though because it would be tough to get it back home safely, especially since we had already added a lot of stuff to our luggage from previous shopping. Sandy did get a pretty pair of earrings. We figured that we had room for them. They were made of fused glass that changed colors depending on the light and the angle that you looked at it. Very unique.

We stopped at The Coffee Bean on the way home. Sandy used to go there a lot when we lived in Singapore but they aren't commmon in Boise. It was a bit of nostalgia for her. After that we picked up snacks and headed home. It had clouded up and the forecast was for showers off and on through the day, so we took a day off from hard vacationing. We hung out at the condo and watched football most of the day. Sandy did some school work for her class next semester and I worked through several levels of Tower Raiders II on my Kindle. In the evening we walked over to Coconut Marketplace and had a nice dinner at Bobby V's Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria.

A rocky headland at the end of a beach

The forecast was good for our last full day on the island so we decided to make a trip to the north side. We got up early and did our walk along the coast and grabbed breakfast before heading north. It was indeed a beautiful day so we made a quick stop at Kilalau Lighthouse to take a mulligan on the poor pictures that we got on our first visit there. Then it was on to Princeville, the largest (but still not very large) town on the north side. The highway doesn't really go into town but there was a shopping center that we decided to check out on the way back. Plot Spoiler - there was nothing there. From that point on the highway narrowed considerably as it circled Hanalei Bay, beautiful blue water ringed by beaches. It's not a sheltered bay though. It's exposed to the prevailing winds from the north and the surf is high here. It's a place for surfers not swimmers, and only very experienced ones at that. We were content just to stop at the various beach access points and take pictures of the big waves. They looked and sounded spectacular.

Wai'oli Hui'ia Church in Hanalei

Soon the road narrowed even more and we had to cross a series of one lane bridges that Hanalei Bay is famous for. Most people were polite and there wasn't much traffic so it wasn't a problem. I've read that in high tourist season the road is a real mess. We hadn't reached the end yet though.

Eventually we did reach the town of Hanalei, a famous tourist destination, but we didn't see any shops or food places that looked interesting. We did stop briefly to take pictures of Wai'oli Hui'ia Church, a historic mission built in 1912.

After that we were hoping to reach the end of the road at Kee Beach. From there the cliffs of the NaPali Coast come right down to the water so there is a twenty mile gap in the highway that circles the island. Where the road ends the Kalalau Trail starts and goes eleven miles into the unroaded wilderness to Kalalau Beach. Way back in 1981 on my first trip to Hawaii I had solo hiked all the way to the end and back in one day while my (ex)wife and climbing partner took surfing lessons. It was a long hike. A very, very, very long hike.

Haena Beach near the end of the road

I wasn't that determined on this trip. As we got close to the end the road was parked up on both sides and people were walking to the beach. Not knowing how far it still was or how long it would take, we turned around while we still had the chance.

We got back to Kapaa in the middle of the afternoon, long overdue for lunch. We made up for lost time by stopping at Bubba's for delicious burgers. The slogan on their tshirts is "We cheat tourists, drunks and attorneys". It's probably not a good place to stop if you are a lawyer on vacation who has had too much to drink.

After eating at Bubba's it was time for us to head back to our condo to pack for the trip home.

We were up early the next morning and it was still dark when we drove to the airport. We had a long travel day and even though all our flights were on time we didn't get back to Boise till 11 pm. We had only carried light jackets with us so when we walked to the car the cold hit us like we had arrived to the arctic. It had been a great trip but now we were back home.