I had two separate work related functions that I had to be at on Kauai. I had the option of either making two round trips, each on different days, or just staying on Kauai for a few days. I chose the latter.
Hawaii is notorious for it’s incredibly high cost of living. Part of what makes the cost of living so high is that you have to fly whenever you commute from one island to another. You can’t drive from island to island because there are no interisland bridges. Cost of living is all relative to what you are used to. If you live in New York, or Beverly Hills, then the cost of living in Hawaii probably won’t shock you. However, if you come from, for example, San Antonio, then the high prices in Hawaii will likely make your jaw drop.
Regardless, it was more economically viable to make one round trip to Kauai and just stay on the island for a few days than make two separate round trips.
Immediately after getting off work in Kona, I headed straight to the terminal at the airport to catch my flight to Lihue. I went to my first work meeting a couple hours after landing, then went to pick up the rental car and headed to the hostel I was staying at in Kapaa.
It was starting to get dark by the time I checked in. I went to dinner with a friend at Kauai Pasta in Lihue. Their pesto pasta was fantastic. The crushed macadamia nuts that it was topped with were a nice touch. I would highly recommend it.
I woke up a bit before sunrise and set out to explore the area and take some pictures. I’ve been to Kauai before, but it was pouring rain for the majority of the last time I was there. Since my current camera is not weather sealed, I didn’t want to risk ruining it.
Kauai is considered by many to be the “prettiest” or the “most beautiful” of the Hawaiian Islands. I’m not sure I agree with that opinion. It’s the oldest of the islands. It’s the least americanized, and its lush green landscapes are definitely second to none, but to say that it’s the THE prettiest island leaves no room for differences of opinion and is too difficult to rationally defend.
After a short exploration of Kapaa, I got on the main highway and drove clockwise toward Polihale State Park,
Every one of the Hawaiian Islands has a wet side and a dry side. Broadly speaking, the east side of each island(windward side) is the wet side. The west side of each island(leeward side) is the dry side. Most people tend to see greenery as more beautiful. Therefore, much of what’s shown in the media about Hawaii is shown from the windward side. The leeward side of each island is beautiful in its own way.
Driving clockwise from Kapaa will take you up the leeward side of Kauai. The leeward side of each island tends to be warmer and sunnier than it’s windward counterpart. I think it’s a beautiful drive.
To get to Polihale Beach, you have to drive close to five miles on an Icelandic style unpaved road. The beach at Polihale State Park is a long sandy beach that you can’t find where I live on the Big Island. It’s remote location makes it great for a nice getaway but if it happens to rain while you’re at the beach and you don’t have a 4×4, you’re likely to be stuck there for a while.
On the way back from Polihale, I stopped at Waimea Recreational Pier for more pictures. Though Kauai is known to have many miles of long, white sandy beaches, dark sand beaches exist as well…..though not in the quantities that that exist on the Big Island.
I’m not sure why, but I stopped for a late lunch at McDonald’s in Eleele and got two large fries. It’s weird because I hate fast food. It’s something that tastes really good when you’re eating it but feel horrible for it after.
After leaving Eleele, I began driving back towards Kapaa. Before going back to the hostel to rest, I drove around the Lihue/Kapaa area and stopped at several areas to take pictures.
At dusk I drove out just north of Kapaa and stopped at a beach on the windward coast for some low light pictures. I parked at the end of the street and then hiked about two minutes down to the shore. The sun went down behind the mountains, not the ocean. Beautiful sunset shots with rain visible in the distance over the ocean.
I woke up early again and started driving, this time, counter clockwise up the windward side of Kauai. The windward side is very green, very lush, and looks more like what most people think Hawaii will look like. It’s also very cloudy and overcast. It frequently rains. That’s why it’s known as the wet side. The frequent rain is a big part of the reason why it’s so green on that side.
Driving up north from Kapaa, I pulled off the main highway and drove down to Anini Beach Park. The park there has campsites that you can sleep at. I did that while driving in Australia and thought about doing that at Anini Beach, but ultimately, I slept at the hostel because I had already paid for it. Next time maybe.
After leaving Anini Beach, I continued on the windward coast and stopped at Hanalei Bay.
Hanalei Bay is a beautiful place and has been featured in a number of publications due to its immense beauty. Though if you want to get a nice shot, you have to get there really early so that other beach goers don’t bomb your pictures. Next time I’ll have to go back at night for a long exposure.
I started driving back to Kapaa after leaving Hanalei Bay. There isn’t a whole lot else to see past Hanalei. There is a lava cave at the end of the road that you can walk into and another state park, but I’d been to those before already and didn’t feel too compelled to go again.
Compared to the Big Island, Kauai is very small. It doesn’t take long to drive around the island. I think it took less than forty five minutes to drive back to Kapaa from Hanalei……and that’s with making a few stops along the way to take pictures.
It started raining off and on once I got back to Kapaa so the pictures I took thereafter were limited to me pulling over and taking the picture from inside the car. Again, that’s a big part of the reason why Kauai is so green.
I hung out at Starbucks in Lihue for a couple hours before having dinner in Kapaa at a place simply called “Brick Oven Pizza.” I initially planned to go to another place but the menu didn’t appeal to me. The pizza was good, but not fantastic. I got a margharita with added mushrooms. I think it would have tasted better had the crust not been so thick and if they didn’t use what I assume was garlic spray.
I had one more work meeting to go to before flying back to Kona. I got up early again drove back to Anini Beach to try to catch the sunrise. I made a couple stops along the way.
The sun had already risen by the time I got to Anini but the picture that came out almost looks like something out of a dream. The scene was beautiful.
After leaving Anini Beach, I hung out in Lihue for a little bit before heading back to the airport to return the rental and catch my flight.
Sometime in the next couple months, it is possible that my job might transfer me to Lihue. About fifteen years ago, such a proposition would probably not have appealed to me since Kauai is small and quiet and doesn’t have much of a party scene.
However, in this day and age, Kauai could work for me since those days are largely behind me. My life in Kona is pretty simple. I go to work and I play tennis on my days off. I rarely go out to a bar in Kona. On occasion I venture out to Hilo for the day.
If I ever did want to go out to a bar, Oahu would only be a short flight away.