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!
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