[Kauai TR] Day 7: The Kauai Waterfall Safari

March 12, 2007 at 5:00 pm

Ok, the photos from the last day of our trip are up in the gallery!

On our last day on the island, Mark and I packed everything up and checked out of the condo. Because we knew that we’d be sitting on airplanes all night long, we figured it would be best to try to stay clean and dry for the day. We hadn’t spent much time exploring the waterfalls on the east coast of the island, so we spent our last day taking in some beautiful places.

The first waterfall of the morning was Wailua Falls, just northwest of Lihu’e. These falls were huge, and raging, and right off the side of the road! Basically, I took these shots while dodging traffic of all the tourists driving by and gawking. I understand the gawking, it’s a beautiful waterfall!

Wailua Falls

The next waterfall on our tour is called ‘Opaeka’a Falls. Don’t ask me how to pronounce that, I have no idea. These were further from the road, and required the telephoto to get the shot above. There were houses built above it, and the area surrounding was again, relatively urban and busy. Because we’d spent so much time in crowds and traffic, we decided that our last waterfall would be more remote.

To get to Ho’opi’i Falls, we had to park on the shoulder of a quiet, forested neighborhood street, and then hike down into the rainforest for a half-mile or so. As we got deeper into the jungle-like area, we started hearing voices and a “pop-pop-pop” noise. Down by the river, there was a big group of guys playing paintball in the woods. We were a little worried about walking through their battlefield, but they called a cease-fire as soon as they saw us, and we walked through unscathed.

Once we got down to the waterfall, though, we seemed to be all alone. I waded across the river with my camera, and then climbed through knee-deep dense logs and ground cover (boy am I glad there’s no snakes in Hawaii!) to get to the best shot on the far side of the falls. While I was setting up, two boys came back and started diving into the pool below the falls!

We hung out with them for a little while, and I tried to get some shots of them jumping, but the light was too slow to catch the action. After a while we cleaned up and hiked out. A nice dinner, and then we headed to the airport. The trip home was epic, but the trip was awesome and well worth every minute on the plane! We had an incredible time.

Ho'opi'i Falls

[Kauai TR] The Kauai Surfer Project

March 8, 2007 at 6:53 am

Here’s a selection of shots from the gallery dedicated to the pictures I took of surfers on that afternoon at Polihale beach. I highly recommend clicking through all the way, and checking out the original/largest size of each of these shots. Enjoy!

Robbie with the 360

Enjoying the evening waves

[Kauai TR] Day 6: An Afternoon on Polihale Beach

March 7, 2007 at 9:52 am

Check out more pictures of this beautiful beach in my gallery.

After a surprisingly tasty lunch sitting outside at a little burger stand that obviously catered to surfers, Mark and I did a little shopping in Waimea. The town was having a huge festival that day, and traffic was starting to look icky. But every street corner was filled with people selling arts and crafts. It reminded me a bit of any one of the many small-town art fairs I’ve been too, except everything here was made out of teak, taro or types of tea and palm leaves. I met three hilarious ladies who lived in Waimea and were all generally of south pacific descent. I spent a fun-filled half hour hanging out with them, talking about what it’s like to grow up and live on a small, sunny island in the middle of a great big ocean. And I spent a lot of money on their handmade photo-albums, straw hats and shell jewelry.

The drive to the beach was quite a bit rougher than the guy at the lu’au had suggested on the previous night. The paved road around the island ends at the Pacific Missile Range Facility (interesting…) and then it’s five miles on a bumpy dirt road through a huge sugar cane field to get to Polihale State Park. The Mustang was not particularly happy about this road, and we ended up driving very near to 5mph all the way out there. Thus, after almost an hour of bumping and josteling down the road, we parked, and were treated to one of the most beautiful, quiet and pristine beaches I have ever seen.

The beach was beautiful. There were surfers around, a few people fishing near an old wreak of a tank (probably from before WWII), and just a couple families dotting the beach in the distance. The waves, though, were pretty big and intimidating at first. I had wanted to check out a reef in the area for possible snorkeling, but it turns out it was a reef break, and huge 8ft waves were crashing down on the rocks and coral. Not a good place for snorkeling. We had to hike around a bit, until we found a sandier break coming off the southern edge of the reef. This turned out to be the place. Fantastic boogie boarding!!

Mark was able to fight the strong current in the area for longer than I, though. I got out and watched him for a while, and then I had some fun setting up photos of yoga poses on the beach.

Beach Baddha Konasana

In the evening, I brought out the big camera and the long lens, and I started taking rapid-fire shots of surfers enjoying our break. I think these turned out so well, they got their own gallery and will soon get their own blog posting.

We stuck around for the sunset, which was, of course, beautiful. Then, we drove out, all the way back to Poipu, cleaned up quickly, and made it in time for a fantastic late dinner at the local Poipu Broiler. Another wonderful day of vacation!

A Great Vacation

[Kauai TR] Day 6: A Morning in Waimea Canyon

March 6, 2007 at 9:16 pm

There are lots of pictures from this morning in the gallery.

At the Lu’au, the previous evening, Mark and I got a tip that the place to go on the island for boogy boarding was a beach far out west. According to our maps, it was about as far west as you could possibly go on our little island. So, on Saturday, we decided to head in that direction. Check out Mark with the shibby rental car during our morning drive on the sunny southern shore…

By 9am or so, we were driving through the nice little town of Waimea, where the road forks. On one side, the road branches north into a famously beautiful canyon. On the other side was our beach. We decided to take a couple of hours and drive up into the Waimea canyon for a bit of a look around.

The canyon was AMAZING. In the course of less than 20 miles or so, the road wound from the ocean’s edge to over 4000ft above sea level. Everywhere we stopped we saw amazing, green, lush, cliffs and beautiful steep valleys. Many of the Jurrasic Park movies were filmed on this island, and it really felt like I was walking through some kind of paleolithic rainforest at times.

The road winds along the rim of the canyon, and at the end of the road is an overlook and many trails winding along the north shore of the island, also known as the Nepali Coast. This region of ultra-steep and ultra-green rainforested cliff lines are so incredibly beautiful that they just don’t seem real. It feels like you’re standing on top of a movie set!

Some day I want to go back and backpack through this canyon. It is such an amazing place, I’ve never seen anything like it. But on this day of our vacation, we were hungry for lunch and some boogy boarding so we decided to head back down to Waimea for the next leg of our adventure.

[Kauai TR] Day 5: Blow-holes, Beaches, and Boo-Boos

March 5, 2007 at 7:43 pm

Sorry I’ve been so slow to pound these out. There’s more shots from the day in the gallery.

On Mark’s first full day on the island, we wanted to get out and see as much of the area as possible. In the morning, we drove up to Lihue and had breakfast at Oki Diner. It was pretty darn great, Mark’s pancakes had bananas baked right in, and mine had macadamia nuts baked inside!

We then decided to find Maike, who was sitting on a beach on the south side of the island. Her beach wasn’t the best for boogie boarding, so we headed off to find a better one. On the way, we stopped in to check out the Spouting Horn blow-holes.

Next, we headed to Sheraton beach in hopes of better surf. There was a sandy break, but it was too small to ride. A larger break down the beach was totally dominated by a surf school. So, we gave up after a while and decided to snorkel.

I thought this was one of the coolest things I have done in quite a while! I don’t have a camera that works underwater, but I really wish I did. The fish were everywhere, and they were soooo colorful, and funny shapped! I’ve seen fish like these in aquariums, but I never thought I would be able to swim with them in real life! We have a friend who dives all of the time, and he’s been trying to convince us to dive as well for years. I always blew him off, because I never felt there was all that much to see under water. Wow was I wrong! I really want to go some place where I can snorkel again, it was awesome!

So, I was having a lot of fun, and I started diving down to the sea floor to touch or check out things. At one point, I see this giant black sea urchin, and I think “Wow, can I pull that up?” Yes, evidently my oxygen-deprived brain thought that grabbing the huge black sea urchin was a good idea. Needless to day, the sea urchin bit back, and in a split second my snorkeling was over.

After soaking my fingers in vinegar for a couple of hours, I was fine to go to the big event of the week, the Lu’au that we made reservations for back in January. It was a great evening, and open bar with all the Mai-ti’s we could drink pre-paid! A HUGE buffet including fresh local fruit, Kalua pork, grilled fish, and even poi! Mark and I both tried the poi, and while I enjoyed it, Mark thought it was the most disgusting thing he’d eaten in a really long time.

The dancers were fantastic all night long. I got a whole bunch of blurry shots, but the experience was fantastic. At the end of the night, a Maori fire dancer came out and performed. This guy was incredible, and really topped off a great show. For future reference, Mark and I definitely recommend the Sheraton Lu’au.

Maori Fire Dancer

[Kauai TR] Day 4: The End of Work, The Begining of Vacation

March 1, 2007 at 7:26 am

More shots from the day can be found in the gallery.

On Thursday, we finished up at the conference, and adjourned an hour or so early so people could make their flights. Tak and Kaz were gracious enough to let me tag along as they drove south to their next hotel, and eventually, they would drop me off at the car rental place so I could get the car and pick up Mark at the airport.

The sky above the north shore was doing that thing where it was sunny one minute, and pouring rain the next (repeat as necessary). Looking back on my shots, this rapid and repeating transition made them all very mutable, one minute clear and colorful, the next dark and ominous.

Our first stop was a small beach down a steep (STEEP) wet and muddy trail. The maps called this one “Hidaways Beach” or Pali Ke Kua Beach. It was a beautiful little spot of sand and clear blue-green ocean wedged in between two hundred-foot-tall sea cliffs. Beautiful.

The next stop was called “Queen’s Bath” and required a longer, but less scary, hike to get to. The trail wound through dense rainforest and then out onto a black, volcanic rock coastline, with huge waves crashing all around us. There were waterfalls pouring over the rocks, waves crashing 50ft into the air, and supposedly turtles swimming just off the rocks (I never saw one).

The Queen’s Bath itself was a large pool formed in the rock, and as the waves crashed over the edge, they filled across the pool in a beautiful way that I think I was completely unsuccessful in capturing in the camera.

Our final stop on the road to the airport was Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. While you couldn’t (or maybe we just didn’t) hike through the refuge, there was a great overlook where you could see hundreds of birds swirling through the air. They were all carrying sticks and grass for nest-making, I guess it’s that time of year!

In the evening, I stopped in at the car rental place, and was plesently surprised to find out that the “Toyota Corrolla or equivalent” that I had reserved turned out to be a charcoal grey 2007 Mustang coupe! Vroom! When I saw Mark’s smile as he walked out of the airport and saw me in this car, I knew it was going to be a fun weekend!