Monday, February 18, 2013

Kaua'i: Part 3 - Snorkeling, Fern Grotto, & Robinson's Island

Day 3 - Fern Grotto & Snorkeling
Our third full day on the island was designated for water activities. First stop was Fern Grotto, right up the river from our hotel. They used to let you walk right into the Grotto, where a band would play the Hawaiian Wedding Song for you. But after a hurricane a few years ago, they built a platform facing the Grotto and that's as far as tourists are allowed to go. There also used to be a giant waterfall there, but that was diverted to the Taro fields years ago. Now there's just a small trickle. The trip up the river, the short hike, and the view of the grotto were all gorgeous, so it was still worthwhile. And a band still performs the Hawaiian Wedding Song from the platform, so according to Hawaiian tradition, everyone on the platform that day is now married.
A replica of the Smith's Boat we took to Fern Grotto

Us on the Boat

Gorgeous View on the Wailua River

Fern Grotto

Fern Grotto Again

The short hike provided lots of Joe's favorite photo subjects: Leaves + Water

After the Hawaiian Wedding Song, one of the singers was kind enough to take our picture

Our second destination on Day 3 was Wailua Falls, which is famous for being in the opening sequence of the TV show Fantasy Island. I've never seen that show, but the falls were absolutely gorgeous. The first thing we saw when we parked at the falls was this seemingly dead dog. Don't worry though, eventually she got up and ran around greeting people, so she was just taking a little dog nap here:

Wailua Falls up close

Me looking very pregnant
Such a nice little swimming pool beneath the falls
Our next big water activity of the day was snorkeling in Poi'pu, on the South shore. The waves by our hotel on the East shore were pretty big and uninviting, but the water on the South shore was completely calm, clear, warm, and shallow. There were tons of fish right by the shore, so we didn't even have to venture that far out, which was great because I have a fear of sharks and like to stick near the shore with plenty of other shark bait (aka - other snorkelers) between me and the open water. We used a disposable water camera for these pictures, and the twenty-seven shots were gone within a matter of minutes. Next time: bring two cameras! The quality actually turned out much better than I was expecting:
Snorkeling in Poi'pu

Kinda cool with all the bubbles

Underwater Belly Shot - 6 Months Pregnant

Handsome :)

Doggy Paddle

It's worth pointing out that on our drive to Poi'pu, Joe suddenly realized that Ezzy's due date is May 4th. As in May the forth. As in Star Wars day (May the forth be with you). He's had Cinco de Mayo stuck in his head as the due date for months, but now he's 100% on board for a May 4th due date. In fact, he says Ezzy MUST be born on that day. Since I don't really want to be pregnant for more than nine months, I fully agree. So Ezra, if you're listening, come out on May the 4th. I'll remind you again in a few months.

After snorkeling we were exhausted. And starving. While we were in the water it felt like it took no effort at all to float around, but I guess flapping our fins and walking in and out of the water with fins on was actually quite a workout. We went to a nearby shopping center and ordered Caesar salads, truffle fries, and ice cream. Yum! Our timing turned out to be perfect because they were doing their first annual taste of Kaua'i at the center that day. There were dozens of booths with samples of delicious foods and drinks. We wound up buying three jars of homemade jam: Tahitian Key Lime (my favorite - tastes just like key lime pie filling!), Sweet Tomato (which flew off the shelves - we left for awhile to debate if we really wanted the jam, and by the time we came back there were only two jars left), and Lilikoi - which I still haven't sampled. I happened to see the Lilikoi flavor hiding behind some other jars, and the lady running the booth said she wasn't even openly displaying those because she has so few jars, so unless you asked for it by name you couldn't get it. Of course, that meant I had to have it. I'll let you know later how it tastes.

Day 4 - Waimea Canyon and the West Side
While we had successfully completed our malasada mission back on Day 2, we still hadn't given up on the Kmart Malasada Lady. So on our way to the West side of the island, we decided a little detour to Kmart in Lihue was in order. Sadly, her stand was closed when we slowly drove by. But a lady walked out of the side door and Joe braked so I could ask her if she was open that day. She promised fresh malasadas as soon as her oil was done heating up in about fifteen minutes! After our hours-long and several cities-wide mission the other day, fifteen minutes seemed worth the wait. And trust me, it definitely was. Her malasadas were hot and fresh, which made all the difference. We got six and devoured them in the car on the way to Waimea Canyon.

Me finally trying one of the infamous Kmart lady malasadas
Yum - warm, sugary sweet bread
Waimea Canyon was surreal. I've never been to the Grand Canyon, but I imagine it was a prettier version of that. It had the same red earth as the Grand Canyon, but lots of green contrast as well. It reminded me a lot of something out of Jurassic Park:

Proof we were actually there

We drove all the way to the top of the mountain to check out Kalalau Lookout and take a short hike. The trail we wanted to take was supposed to start at Kalalau Lookout, but we couldn't find it anywhere. And we were also running out of gas, so driving around to find it wasn't an option. We were content with checking out the cloudy views, and I also took the opportunity to finally sample my star fruit. 
My first star fruit - juicy & citrusy

Kalalau Lookout made you feel like you were walking in the clouds

On a clear day, you can see the private island of Niihau, which is owned by the Robinson family. That's right, I own an island! I plan on retiring there. Although apparently they still speak Hawaiian, not sure if that will be an issue. It's hard to make it out in the picture below, but the third paragraph is where it explains  how my family owns this island:

After we made it back down the mountain, with Joseph coasting most of the way to conserve gas, we filled up the tank (no thanks to Yelp, who led us a mile in the opposite direction of any gas station) and then went in search of food. The West side is definitely where the residents of Kaua'i actually live and work. There were a lot more factory/plants (not sure what they're for), as well as fast food and residential areas. The West side was also a lot sunnier and warmer than where we were located on the East shore. Overall, other than Waimea Canyon, which was breath-taking, the West side was my least favorite part of the island. All the restaurants seem to close in the mid-afternoon, it was too hot for my pregnant self to enjoy, and it just wasn't as pretty as the other towns we had visited. We actually wound up eating fish fillets from McDonalds because the one other restaurant we found that was open was extremely hot, and they took forever to even take our drink orders. On the bright side, while we were searching for a place to eat, we came across the Hanapepe Swinging Bridge, which we wanted to check out anyway:

Joseph on the swinging bridge in Hanapepe: "This view is beautiful. Now let's get the hell off this bridge!"

Kaua'i Cats
In addition to roosters, stray cats are pretty abundant in Kaua'i. I, of course, favored the black cat in the bottom left corner. I think the two cats on the right are good examples that it's not just the dogs that sleep like they're dead. Must be something about the Kaua'i laid-back lifestyle.

Coming back to work is a shock to the senses after vacationing in Hawaii for a week. It's nice to reminisce with all these pictures. And I promise, I'm almost done with the Kaua'i posts. Just one more about our kayaking and muddy hike adventure.

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