Waimea Canyon then back to the east end of Kauai

After my day at sea I continued west toward Waimea for the night so I could drive through Waimea Canyon and where else the road would take me. I pulled into Waimea Plantation Cottages for the night to refresh and enjoy the beachfront accommodations.

A bit higher than I wanted to pay for less than 24 hours I ponied up the cash for the studio($184) and enjoyed the surroundings. Since this was the western most part of the island I was staying on I hoped to see a sunset from the beach but the clouds put a damper on those plans.

A bit disappointed with the amount of insects in the room my $25 resort fee was refunded. That’s what you get with arid temperatures near the ocean.

Up to Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park

I woke up energized and made my way up Waimea Canyon Dr. (550) towards Waimea Canyon State Park taking in the views of Waimea area and the Pacific.

Winding roads climb in elevation as this area is where hunters, hikers and campers head to enjoy the outdoors. Many pull-offs to stop to take pictures I make it into the park and view steep green and brown cliffs and waterfalls.

In the distance you hear but barely see the helicopters taking tourists even closer.(See below). After several pictures and “oohs” and “aahs” I exit the park and continue toward Koke’e State Park.

I pass military outposts that take advantage of the farthest west part of the U.S. and high elevations to protect our country. Koke’e State Park offers views of Napali Coast from Kalalau Valley Lookout and  Pu’u O Kila Lookout. There are breathtaking views from high above of steep rock formations spiking upwards. Hiking trails lead to beaches through the green lined cliffs. Shorter hikes can be done and you should always prepare accordingly.

Down the road and heading back east

After two hours taking in breathtaking views I head down to sea level and cruise back through Waimea towards Lihue making stops along the way. First stop was Kauai Coffee Company to taste the locally grown coffee and take a self guide tour. Much what you’d expect of coffee samples, gift shop, a coffee museum, local plants and rows of coffee trees. Free tours are available and so is a small sandwich shop. Definitely worth  a stop to take in the local culture and surroundings.

I was hungry so I made my way to Koloa and grabbed fish tacos from a food truck before I strolled the village. Old Koloa Town is a plantation village with shops, restaurants and rich in sugar plantation history….and filled with chickens roaming and singing. I love the trees in the area as their canopy offers shade and seem very nicely manicured.

I headed back through the resort town of Poipu past small local beaches and condos towards the Spouting Horn geyser. Taking a few minutes to watch the surf erupt through the lava holes forming spouting geyser. A nice stop to view the surf crashing and let mother nature do her thing.

I made my way to Kapaa to Bubba Burger on a recommendation from a friend for dinner. Using local Kauai beef Bubba Burger is tasty and easy on the wallet. Sit above the street and watch people and traffic go by along the beach road. After my burger I U turned it back to Hilue for my night at The Tip Top Motel.

Hiking Hanalei and helicopters

The Tip Top Motel, Cafe & Bakery made for an ok stay as accommodations were fine(as were other places I stayed) but the breakfast wasn’t the 4 stars I saw on Yelp!. An average breakfast and no complimentary coffee other places I stayed have offered. At $120 a night(taxes & fees incl) for basic accommodations a couple of cups of coffee would’ve been nice. They say it’s the little things that matter the most.

Checking out during the morning rain I continued my way east towards Hanalei hoping the rain would end so I could hike that I previously mentioned. As I drove I saw blue sky peeking trough the clouds giving me optimism my hike would happen.

In no hurry I turned off Kuhio Highway often to drive along the beach and hills to see the sights. Not being able to see a sunrise or sunset due to clouds or my location on the island I was glad to see a rainbow over the mountain.

A quick left over the single lane bridge into Hanelai is the road that leads into the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge and the Okolehao Trail. The only car in the parking lot I was skeptical but determined to head up the steep and muddy trail. Grabbing a walking stick I made my way up through the forest trying to keep my balance.

After 25 minutes I made my way to a great vantage point for viewing Hanalei Bay and the farms below. I continued 200 yards through thicker forest, with rain clouds in the distance I figured I’d seen enough and headed down.

On my way down I met a hikers on their way up who mentioned I made it to the best point to see the view. The trail goes higher and steeper I was told that captures a view of the whole island. With the clouds I doubt I would’ve seen it all, perhaps on my next visit.

Pulling into Hanalei village I walked to the beach to fill a container with sand for a friend who collects sand(???). I then made my way to Tropical Taco for Ahi tacos for a#TacoTuesday lunch.

Leisurely I headed back to Lihue pulling off Kuhio Highway to see the sights on the northern side of the island. I stopped at Island Helicopters to book a flight and found myself on a flight 90 minutes later. Island Helicopters is the only helicopter company to land at Jurassic Falls. I didn’t take that tour but did take the Grand Deluxe tour ($180 cash/ $187 cc) which lasted 50-60 minutes. I did my research and Island Helicopters offers the best price for helicopter tours on the island.

With a front row view we lifted off from the Lihue Airport heliport and had amazing views of Kauai. Mountains, waterfalls, farms, over the ocean, Napali Coast, Waimea Canyon you see everything and many only visible by air.

Our pilot Joseph is a Kauai native and knew about everything we flew over from who owned what land, what it used to be used for, what movies we’re filmed where on the island(The Descendants, Seven Days & Six Nights and Jurassic Park, etc) and so on. An amazing adventure that I almost talked myself out of.

After the hour in the air I walked to Smiley’s Local Grinds for dinner. A small restaurant in a Lihue strip mall filled with locals and people taking out dinner. Good Hawaiian food ( I had Smiley’s Chicken in Garlic Chili sauce ($11.85) at good prices. Nothing fancy just good food and a smiley face whether you’re on a budget or a big spender. Go where the locals go.

The last two days of my trip will be relaxing though I will be out to see and eat more. See ya soon!

***Check out my Facebook & Twitter @SandyWasserman Instagram @SandyWass #SandyTakesKauai for photos and video.***

 

 

On the waters on and around the Garden Island of Kauai

This is the second part of my journey on the island of Kauai where I did a couple of adventures. This post is about two adventures on the waters in and around the island.

Inland waters of Wailua river

I woke up early in Kapp’a as I had a 8 a.m. call to go kayaking up the Wailua River then hike to the secret falls. My day started at Java Kai for coffee, a breakfast burrito and catching up on the internet. I heard about Java Kai on a Youtube video and it sounded worth my visit. A good crowd followed me in at 6 a.m. as it was one of the earlier places to open around town.

Kai & Blake our kayak guides

I made my way to Ali’i Kayaks just of Kuhio Highway near where the Wailua River meets the Pacific. I met up with our local guides Kai & Blake and the other 11 kayakers going up river. After a brief kayaking lesson we headed up river two to a kayak avoiding a speed boat with a wakeboarder  in tow and other kayak groups. As we made our way up the river Kai & Blake pointed out interesting bits of information of the area and history.

We learned that as we passed several spots on the river many Hollywood films were made there including Outbreak and the opening scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark where Indy is running to the plane being chased by natives. Cool to learn about on of my favorite movies.

Secret Falls

As we made our way up river over a mile we found our landing spot to pull off and start our hike to Uluwahi Falls (Secret Falls) which is only accessible by foot. We learned about native birds, flowers and plants along the way as we walked through a sometimes muddy trail. Crossing creeks as we passed other hikers making their way to and from the trail that was about 1.5 miles from our kayaks. Shortly before we reached the falls we came across a smaller waterfall called King Eoutu’s Bathtub, the king who kept Kauai’s independence from King Kamehameha’s Hawaii.

King Eoutu’s Bathtub

Arriving at the falls we spent about 45 minutes cooling of in the watering hole and taking pictures. We made our way back down the trail to our kayaks where we casually made our way down river to our meeting point. After loading up the kayaks on trailers we made our way across the river to the office where we met and went our separate ways. The $65 cost seemed pretty reasonable for our 5 hour adventure.

Off to Port Allen

After I left Ali’i Kayaks feeling sore in the upper body I drove about 45 minutes to the southside of the island to Port Allen where I was getting ready for my next days adventure. Not much going on in Port Allen I drove a few miles back to Po’ipu which is a resort community with condos and hotels.

I found the famous Puka Dog for dinner, a sausage in fully enclosed bun with a variety of fruit salsa and hot sauces injected for a spicy sweet flavor. After dinner and checking out Po’ipu I went back to Port Allen for the night but not before stopping in for a couple of local beers at Kauai Island Brewery and Grill.

Kauai Island was filled with local fishermen and those that work on the nearby Army base and is considered the World’s Westernmost Brewery. A couple of beers and chatting with locals and catching up on the day’s college football games I called it a night for my early wake up for my next day’s adventure.

Heading to the Napali Coast

6:00 a.m came pretty quickly and loud with the rooster waking up the town as we met at Holo Holo Charters at 6:30 for our day trip. After meeting Captain Drew and his crew we launched for a 7 hour trip out across the channel towards the Forbidden Island of Niihau and snorkeling off nearby Lehua Crater. Snorkeling in beautiful blue waters with fish and a lone seal made the snorkeling cool to see. Not cool was the choppy surf making it a little challenging. After an hour of snorkeling we pulled up anchor and circled the crater to see the full view of the now bird sanctuary.

Lehua Crater bird sanctuary

The choppy waters made for an exciting and wet return across the channel as we head toward the 16 mile Napli Coast. If there is a roller coaster on water this would be it. Hold on everybody! The 4 person crew was good at keeping us informed on the trip pointing out local birds, fish and the occasional dolphins.

We made it to the Napali Coast after an hour which is full of steep cliffs up 4,000 feet high. The lush green comes from all the rain this side of the island gets. Isolated beaches and caves are seen and many are only accessible from the water. Certain areas can be hiked to from Waimea Canyon.

We got a close up look cruising our catamaran close enough you could touch the rocks and get wet from a small waterfall dropping to the sea. A long day but well worth seeing the beauty of the sea and rugged coastline.

We sped back to port in calmer waters after an amazing adventure at sea and said our good byes. I look forward to seeing the rugged mountains from my visit to Waimea Canyon in coming days. Stay tuned.

***Breakfast, lunch, beer and wine(beer & wine after snorkeling) were provided and all snorkel equipment was supplied for the trip.***

Follow me on Instagram @SandyWass for pictures and see my post about my first couple of days exploring the island http://pullingcorksandforks.com/sandy-takes-kauai/

 

 

 

 

The Vig McDowell Mountain to open June 5th

After months of searching for the right location and construction Genuine Concepts is ready to open its new location of The Vig in north Scottsdale. With the McDowell Mountains serving as a backdrop the restaurant is set to open June 5th and will be the 5th location of the successful modern tavern and the 2nd in Scottsdale.

At the intersection of Bell Rd. and Thompson Peak Parkway is where excited residents and visitors will be headed to enjoy the lunch, dinner and brunch in this spacious restaurant of over 13,000 square feet indoors and out.

Frank Lloyd Wright inspired design

The natural desert setting and straight lined designed building was inspired by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Tucker Woodbury, a partner in Genuine Concepts says “I had the pleasure of once again collaborating on the design of the property with Artie Vigil and his team atAV3 Design. We both love the simplicity of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West’s iconic structure and the Usonian style of architecture it represents, which was the inspiration of the design. With a lot of help and collaboration with our development team” YAM Properties, Alexander Building Company, K&IArchitects, the City of Scottsdale and our Genuine Concepts team, we were able to bring our vision to fruition. The end result is an astonishing property and we can’t wait to show it off! “

The Vig McDowell Mountain location

The Vig McDowell Mountain’s location will satisfy all whether your coming of one of the trails of the nearby Sonoran Mountain Preserve, any of the annual events that take place such as the Barrett-Jackson Car Auction or Waste Management Golf Open Tournament. Also an idea spot for residents and visitors to come out to mix and mingle and enjoy the newest member of the community.

Community involvement

Genuine Concepts is a locally owned restaurant group and is committed to to the communities in which there restaurants are located and north Scottsdale will benefit from their new neighbors. The Vig McDowell Mountain will be making an ongoing contribution to the Sonoran Mountain Preserve with sales from its “Bitty Cocktail”. Named after the Bitty Cycling Club, 50 cents from each rum & Coke style drink will be donated to help keep the trails of the McDowell Mountain Preserve safe and maintained for its users.

VMM is located at 10199 E. Bell Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85260. Hours of operation are Monday-Thursday 11am-11pm, Friday 11am-1am, Saturday 10am-1am & Sunday 10am-11pm