Dave and Cathy's Family Blog

September 8, 2012

Kauai 2012

Filed under: 2012 Kauai,Vacations/Trips — dave9169 @ 12:30 am

So we finally broke our Lake Tahoe family vacation tradition and went to Kauai instead. This was the first plane trip together as a family. The kids were excited about going to the airport and boarding their first plane. Lilah, as usual, expressed some anxiety about possible things that could go wrong on a plane – namely, crashing — while I did my best to assuage her fears by telling her that we’d be able to land softly in the water if that happened (after all, we were flying over the ocean, right?). The “firstness” of the trip, made it cool in many ways. The kids got to experience the LAX airport and all the little things that go with it. Finding parking, getting on the shuttle buss, rolling their luggage through the airport, passing through the security checkpoint, and, at last, boarding the plane. On the plane I watched as Lilah’s eyes bugged out when we were getting ready to take off. She held her mom’s hand tightly as the plane accelerated down the runway. Luke was okay. I occupied his mind by asking him to tell me when he thought the plane had lifted off the ground. Once the novelty of the take off wore off, it was back to the usual questions — how long will it take to get there? are we almost there? how many hours left? etc.

Poipu Beach

We kicked off our adventure at Poipu beach. It was a beautiful beach with an excellent place to snorkel. I loved seeing Lilah and Luke get so excited as they would spot different types of fish — rainbow fish, angel fish (which we referred to as the Nemo fish), striped fish, translucent fish. With each new sighting they would stick out their finger and point to the spot they were looking at. We communicated our findings with each other by making muffled, high-pitched noises with our snorkel-covered mouths under the water. We spotted sea turtles as well. We also did a little boogie boarding and walked over to the the nearby Waiohai Beach Club Marriott resort where we all had fun swimming in the pool.

Napali Coast Cruise

The next day, we took a 5 hour catamaran ride (through Blue Dolphin Charters) to the Napali coast using . This area of the island is inaccessible by car so taking the cruise is a nice way to see the 16-mile stretch of coastline that features sheer cliffs hundreds of feet high. During the cruise dolphins swam right next to our boat and escorted for a few minutes before peeling off and seeing their next vessel to shadow. In addition, we stopped in some pretty tranquil waters for about an hour which allowed us all to jump off the boat and do some snorkeling. One of the crew members also showed us the right way to canon ball into the water. Essentially you wrap your arms around your legs and right before you hit the water you tilt your trunk back a bit. Luke had fun trying to perfect this technique. In addition to the activities, the cruise also provided a light continental breakfast and deli sandwiches for lunch. The kids seemed to have no problem with motion sickness. Cathy and I did fine for the most part. We remembered that many moons ago we had gone on another snorkeling cruise in Mauai and hadn’t been able to eat because of our unsettled stomachs. This time we had no problems however. Well, not until the way back when the captain cranked up the speed of the boat. The increased speed, combined with the larger swells of the afternoon led to more fun for the kids who insisted on hanging out in the front of the boat which, at times, felt like it completely jumped out of the water when it hit the swell just right. I hung out with them for a little while but then made my way to the back of the boat with Cat where we both closed our eyes and hung on until reaching the shore. We didn’t get really sick, but Cat felt a little out of it and I was starting to get there. We definitely arrived at the harbor just in time.

Waimea Canyon

On day three we took the drive up to Waimea Canyon, which is also known as the grand canyon of the pacific. It’s a beautiful site with large patches of greenbelts decorating the red canyon walls. We didn’t hike all the way down the canyon but we did hike about 3/4 of the way down with the kids. Luke wanted to go to the bottom where the river was, but we were not prepared for that as the descent was pretty steep. So steep that it took us about 20 minutes just to traverse the 3/4 of a mile. Luke didn’t like turning around and held a grudge about it for 10 minutes or so back up the trail, but it was obviously the right call. The weather in Hawaii is wonderful, but I wasn’t about to head down to the bottom of the canyon on an 80 degree day with very little water remaining in our backpack.

Hanalei Bay

During our stay, we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott on Cocunut Beach. This was an excellent hotel and centrally located on the east side of the island in the town of Kapaa. I liked the location because you were basically the same travel distance from the south (Poipu) or north side (Hanelei) of the island. In addtion, we were walking distance from a Safeway, Subway, McDonalds, Starbucks, Panda Express, Taco Bell and Pizza Hut. Sure, these aren’t the epitome of culinary taste, but when you’re traveling to an expensive place with a family, it’s nice to be able to score a few cheap meals in the process. If you are looking for a good deal on accommodations, I would recommend signing up on the Travelzoo website as that is where we received an excellent deal on lodging – $120 per night with a $200 meal credit at a very nice and well kept hotel. The only drawback about the hotel is that the beach it sits on isn’t really conducive to swimming (many Hawaiian beaches aren’t), but Lydgate State beach is right down the road (about a mile away) if you want to snorkel or swim without spending a lot of time driving.

On our fourth day, we took a drive to the North end of the island. The north end is the tropical, wet side and also where our friends Holly and Don live. Hanalei Bay consists of a huge 2.5 mile long horseshoe bay. In the summer months the water is clear and tranquil — perfect for swimming and snorkeling. It is also where many people dock their boats. In the winter time however, the boats disappear as the big winter swells hit and the surfers come from miles around to ride the epic waves of the bay. The kids enjoyed the water at Hanalei Bay and we also had lunch in town at a place called Bubbas Burgers, a pretty well known hangout that’s been visited by all kinds of celebrities, including president Clinton.

After spending part of the day on the beach, we took car ride to the end of Kuhio highway (56), which leads you past several other cool beaches and caves until you get to the end of the road at Ke ‘e beach. After that we backtracked to the town of Kilauea where we had begun our day’s journey by visiting the Kilauea lighthouse. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a good picture of the lighthouse because it was surrounded by scaffolding as part of a summer restoration project. Kilauea is also the town where Holly and Don live. We spent our evening hanging out with them and their friends. It was cool hearing about how Don and Holly packed up their things 8 years ago and moved their family to Kauai.  They did this when their kids were roughly around the same age our kids are right now. By all accounts, it looks like their dream is paying off nicely as they live in a wonderful place with two great kids who look like they will also remain in Hawaii.  We thoroughly enjoyed hanging out with them and it was also a great and memorable way to celebrate my birthday. The kids also liked the visit, including the opportunity to do a little archery in the backyard. Lilah got to pretend she was “Katniss” from the Hunger Games which she thought was cool.

Overall we all had an excellent time and would love to go back again. I joked with Lilah and Luke about moving to the island but they were not ready to commit to that. Lilah has her friends and so does Luke. They both agreed Kauai would be good to visit again so we’ll see. For now, it’s back to the reality of work (I start September 10) and school (the kids started the day after they got back from vacation).

Anyway, enjoy the photos. There are three pages worth images.

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