Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Garden Isle

The oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai, is known as the Garden Isle for a good reason.  The beautiful landscape is covered in rich green vegetation from being one of the wettest places on Earth.
 Although there are hiking trails all over the island, the two biggest sites to hit up are the Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali coast.  Tim and I were lucky enough to get a taste of each of these areas during our vacation.

Waimea Canyon 
The Waimea Canyon is basically like the Grand Canyon covered in green bushes, aka, gorgeousness.  It's 14 miles long, 1 mile wide, and 3,600 feet deep.  You can actually drive up via the Waimea Canyon Drive to a bunch of overlooks along the way through Kokee State Park.  Even if you aren't up for any hiking, make sure you drive all the way to the top for some amazing views!  At the very end of the road, you can actually see both the canyon on one side and the Kalalau Valley in the Na Pali coast on the other side.  In other words...oh my goodness.

Once we got to the top overlook, Pu'u O Kila, we decided to hike the Pihea trail even though it was already after 5:00 (the sun sets around 6-6:30 at that time of year).  The trail is one mile each way, and is actually made from an unsuccessful attempt to build a road along the canyon edge.  

The resulting trail walks along the top edge of the Kalalau Valley, so you can look down the valley to the water on one side, then turn around and see the vast Alaka'i swamp lands behind you.  The swamp basically looks like a big cloud forest and makes you feel like you're back in Costa Rica.

The trail ended up being completely covered in mud after the first half mile.  We tried to avoid it at first, but you have to just give in eventually!  I started jumping in all the mud piles, and even lost my shoe while running through one!  The views don't really change too much as you walk along the edge, but it's so amazing that you could sit there all day long looking at it.  If you ever need reminding of how small you really are in this world, stand on top of a mountain or canyon.

Na Pali Coast
The Kalalau trail hugs the Na Pali coast for 11 miles.  Many people choose to hike the first two miles of the trail to a remote beach, Hanakapi'ai, for a nice four mile roundtrip hike. There's also a two mile side trip to Hanakapi'ai Falls, but Tim was too sick to hike any further than the beach.  So, we made the beach our destination!
 The trail itself was actually a lot easier than I was expecting.  There was very little incline, and the worst part was that there were lots of rocks on the trail.  Supposedly it gets pretty tricky when it's raining because the red clay is super slippery, especially all over the rocks. Thankfully, we had perfect weather for our hike.  

I've read that the scary part of the trail is between the 6.5 and 8 mile mark, when the trail is 8 inches wide and literally hugs the edge of a cliff.  I can only imagine how frightening it would be crawling along with winds and a backpack on!  I sure hope that one day I can see first hand how scary it really is :)

Na Pali Coast by Boat
In addition to hiking the Na Pali Coast from one side, we also took a boat tour along the other side.  It was a great way to see the coast from multiple angles.  And trust me, you want to see this coast line!

A few more highlights from the trip:

Celebrity Sighting!
The fifth season of Mad Men started up while we were away, and you better believe we made a point to watch it even though we were in Kauai!  The next day, we were laying on the beach, quoting some of our favorite lines, many said by Roger Sterling, and then I look up and who do I make eye contact with?  John freaking Slattery, who plays Roger Sterling!  I really hope he didn't hear us quoting his lines!  We had actually been laying next to his group for awhile, because I remember sitting down next to the giant pile of surfboards and boogie boards that he brought down.  Pretty cool huh?
I didn't want to be all stalker-ish and actually ask for a pic or take one when he was looking, so I snapped this one as he was walking away

Yoga on the Beach
I started doing yoga a few months ago after meaning to try it for about 10 years.  I didn't really enjoy it too much as first because we did so many downward dogs that I got dizzy, but now it's turned into a nice lunch break.  In Kauai, Tim and I took took an amazing yoga class on the beach!  You can't beat that view!
 Tim had never done yoga before, but he really enjoyed it!  
Read more about our trip to Kauai here and here, and check more of our travel adventures here!


  1. "I didn't want to be stalkerish so I snuck a photo when he wasn't looking" :)

    Great Trip! Getting sick definitely put a damper on it, but not enough to ruin it.

  2. I agree with Tim! That's great! haha! Definitely not stalker-ish!

    I'm eternally jealous of all of these pictures! So gorgeous! :)

  3. Amazing! I'm so jealous of just the being on the beach. It's gorgeous! Thanks for sharing about the island and your photos!


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