February 27, 2015

Kauai Vacation Part 3 (And Kauai/Maui Comparison)

Day 6

Probably one of our busiest days!  
We woke up early to another beautiful sunrise, rented some boogie boards, grabbed our snorkel gear, and drove the bumpy road to Kawailoa Bay (where Garrett and I had been the day before).

It was probably the hottest day we were there, perfect for snorkeling.  We snorkeled around the bay.  It was great snorkeling to the left so Garrett and I decided to check out the reef on the right side--big mistake!  The waves there were a little rough to say the least.  One second we were enjoying snorkeling in 5+ feet of water above the reef only to be slammed onto the shallow reef the next (like in less than 12 inches of water).  I panicked a little because those waves kept slamming me against the coral and I struggled finding my way off of it.  After what seemed like an eternity, I made my way to deeper and calmer water and continued to have a heart rate of 130bpms for a good 15 minutes.  The poor skin on my hands, feet, and chest were somewhat shredded.  Bummer.
Moral of the story: don't be an idiot and snorkel in unfamiliar territory and rough waters.  Lesson learned.

Garrett's parents, however, were much wiser, snorkeling in safe water and enjoying the sun and company of Garrett's aunt and uncle who we bumped into at the beach. 

After an eventful morning in the water, we grabbed lunch at Puka Dog again (because why not?!) and drove up the Waimea Canyon.

The great thing about Kauai is its incredible diversity of climates for such a tiny island.  The North Shore is wet, lush, and full of jungle.  The South Shore is sunnier and drier.  And then there's the Waimea Canyon--the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific".  Up there I felt like we were in Utah or Colorado or even parts of Arizona.  It was beautiful! 

In the distance of this picture is Waipo'o Falls, a hike I REALLY wanted to do but we didn't have the time for.  Next time.

At the very end of the Canyon road (and over 4000 feet up), was a lookout to the  valley on the North Shore where the Kalalau Trail ends (the trail we wanted to hike but was closed due to the weather).
It was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen.

I look forward to going back someday and seeing the Na Pali Coast up close.
Garrett getting a little sick of posing for pictures. :)

After seeing the Canyon, we drove down and around to the furthest beach on the West Shore called Polihale Beach (again, down a very long and bumpy dirt road because apparently that's where the best beaches are at) to do some boogie boarding. 
It was beautiful and we had the whole beach almost to ourselves.

I'll be completely honest and say that I lasted maybe 10 minutes in the water.  Those waves were a little rough and right on top of another.  I guess I better stick with CrossFit awhile longer as I cannot yet withstand those boogie boarding conditions. ;)

The sunset there was one of the most gorgeous we saw while on Kauai.  

Trying for a "romantic pose" but laughing too hard over its cheesiness.  Fail!

And laughing some more!  Pardon the butt shot, but this photo says a lot about how much fun I had with this guy.  

Day 7

Our last full day together on Kauai. :(

A few days earlier we had seen some people on the beach coming in from sea kayaking (well, I guess technically they are just really long and narrow canoes).  We walked up to them and said, "Hey we want to do that!  How do we make it happen?"  Well, these people were locals who were a part of a canoeing/kayaking club with their own private (expensive) boats, but they were super nice and one of them gave us the number of a friend who would be willing to take us out on his canoe.  

So we got up early in the morning and headed over to Kalapaki Beach where we met our guides, Chris and Ethan.  
They were a hoot and a blast.  We paddled around, laughed a lot, jumped in the water, and then rode our canoe on the waves (canoe surfing?!) over and over and over again.  

Soooo much better than some sea excursion with a tour company.  Those guys were great. 

After some amazing ribs, fish and chips, and hula pie at Duke's restaurant (I mention it because it was delicious and worth every penny), Garrett and I went back out to do some boogie boarding.  This time I lasted much longer and rode a lot more waves. 

Before heading to a different beach we hit up some Hawaiiam shave ice.  (Have you ever heard of "shave snow"?!  We went to Uncle's Shave Ice in Poi'pu, and it was divine!)

We met up with the Hillis family (also vacationing from Alaska) for dinner that night. 
(Yes, Hawaii IS the place for Alaskans to visit!  Plane tickets from Alaska to Hawaii are often cheaper than from Alaska to most other places in the US.  And who wouldn't want to escape Alaska in February, right?!)
They had made a most delicious dinner and we all basked in the glorious, warm, snow-free evening. :)

Seriously love this family.
They are basically like family.

Day 8

We woke up for our last Hawaiian sunrise and took Garrett's parents to the airport.
Felt a little weird to finish our adventures without them.......
Since our plane didn't leave until midnight that night, Garrett and I went back to Kawailoa Bay. 

 We hiked along the cliffs around the bay.
We saw a monk seal swimming around below us. 
The scenery was gorgeous.

Our destination was (in our opinion) the best beach on the island, Ha'ula Beach, which we had found while hiking around a few days earlier.  

When we first saw it, a local who was also there told us that this beach is usually unswimmable and covered with sharp coral, rocks and rough waves, so no one really goes there.  However, thanks to some winter storms the beach is currently nothing but smooth, soft sand--perfect for swimming and body surfing!  
The best part?
No one really goes here so we had the beach to ourselves 90% of the time. 
I told Garrett that we REALLY needed to just spend some time laying on the beach, relaxing, and soaking in the sun since we hadn't really done it at all during our entire vacation.  We had pretty much been on the go from before sunrise to after sunset.  So after a few hours of swimming and bodysurfing, we laid down to relax on our private beach........again, it probably lasted about 20 minutes before we looked over at each other and said, "So, you ready to go and do something else??"  
(As much as I'd like to be, I guess we are not relax-on-the-beach type vacationers?!)

In a small streak of rebellion, we decided to crash the Grand Hyatt's swimpool area for some of the afternoon (shhhh).  

Have I mentioned how gorgeous the hotel's ground are?!

Then we swam for about 35 seconds in the pool at our condo complex, watched our last Kauai sunset, ate dinner, pigged out on some more Lappert's ice  cream, and headed to the airport where we got to fly all night experiencing the worst turbulence of my life (I honestly thought the plane might fall apart and/or we would all die.  No, seriously.).  
Minus the turbulence part, doesn't that sound like a dream Hawaiian vacation?! :)

Maui vs Kauai

Since we were fortunate (and extremely spoiled) enough to visit two Hawaiian islands within 15 months of each other, I've had a lot of people ask me which island I liked better........and it's really hard to say!
On one hand, weather prevented us from seeing what is supposedly the most beautiful part of Kauai (Na Pali coast), but I still loved Kauai! 
On the other hand I was incredibly sick during our stay on Maui , but I still really loved Maui!  

Maui has much more of a nightlife.  More people.  More shops.  A little more noise.  Endless restaurants.  Stores are open later.  Really long, sandy beaches. We were there in November when the seas were calmer, so it was perfect for snorkeling but not so much for surfing or whale watching.  

We were in Kauai during the peak surfing and whale-watching season, but the snorkeling wasn't as great because the ocean isn't as calm right from December-March.  Kauai's beaches aren't as long and big as in Maui, but the endless tidepools full of sea life and the amazing rocky shorelines were beautiful to wander around at sunset and dusk.  The towns are quaint and quiet.  Stores close earlier in the evening and there isn't as much of a busy nightlife. 

I really loved both islands.
I kept thinking the whole time we were in Kauai, "I would LOVE to bring the kids here!"  The laid-back atmosphere, smaller crowds, and smaller beaches are really ideal for a young family.  And who cares about spending the night "out on the town" when your kids are exhausted and ready to go back to the condo/hotel and sleep anyway, right?  So I'd definitely say Kauai is a perfect island for families to visit.  It also takes less time to get around the island, and the less car time with kids, the better!

Maui, though gorgeous, is probably better for couples and a perfect honeymoon destination (though we did see plenty of young families there).  I'm not sure how much kids would love the long drive up Mt. Haleakala or the 3+ hour (but completely beautiful) drive to Hana, and both of those were some of my favorite parts about Maui.  Plus, we loved Maui's fun nightlife (especially around Lahaina). 

So there you have it.  I would love to go back to either island if afforded the chance, but which one I would choose would highly depend on whether or not I was bringing my kids with me.  
We love Hawaii.  Plain and simple.  :) 

1 comment:

Taffy and Tony said...

Finally just read all about your vacation! Wow! What a great time you guys had! I sure hope to go to Hawaii someday. Thanks for the island comparisons. I may have to revisit your posts sometime. :) Oh, and you look amazing and have the cutest suits!

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