After we got off of the plan in Kauai we grabbed our new rental car from Hertz, a white 4-dr Jeep Wrangler with a black soft top. We didn’t rent this jeep until two days before we left for Kauai, and every rental car dealer was completely sold out except Hertz…so book ahead. As soon as we left the airport and started driving to our hotel, we noticed two things:
1) All of the buildings in Kauai are much older than those in Maui-things don’t seem to be as touristy or well-kept.
2) Kauai is much greener and more lush than Maui-you can immediately see that they have significantly more rainfall.
On the drive to the resort we drove down 580, a street lined with huge green trees with fields on either side. Very, very green fields. Even I felt like I was in Jurassic park, so I don’t have to tell you how giddy Chris was. We checked into the Sheraton Kauai, where Tamra had scored us an unbelievable deal. It was around 2PM when we checked in, and we were starving. We dropped off our bags and headed to the poolside restaurant, Oasis Bar and Grill. Chris had a beer and I had some frozen concoction that was an ice cream lovers dream. It had Kahlua, Bailey’s, Banana vodka and vanilla ice cream, among other delicious things. We had chile and garlic edamame, and if you can handle high heat, it was some of the best prepared edamame I’ve ever had. I ordered the ahi poke, which is raw ahi over a bed of rice with wasabi aoli. Chris had a seared ahi tuna sandwich and fries. Both were delicious and we ended up splitting the two dishes.
After we ate we fell into a food coma and napped in the room for a few hours before heading out to explore. We woke up about an hour before sunset and drove west along the coast to the spouting horn, which is a blowhole in a small lava shelf where waves thrust through the opening causing water and air to force through. We drove up a little further and found a small harbor to watch the sunset.
On the way back we stopped at a little food mart in a new plaza called Living Foods Market, which sold produce, cheeses, and expensive wines. They also had an area to order pastries and breakfast foods. Chris and I were kind of obsessed with this place from the beginning. It was so well put together, had so many interesting and unique items to look through. The menu was written on three huge chalkboards and the table to sit at inside was a huge chopping block with brown leather barstools.
We bought a six pack of Longboard and headed back to the room for some drinks before bed. We weren’t overly hungry so we headed to another restaurant at our resort called:
The Point: Overpriced resort food that tasted like it came out of the freezer.
After a few appetizers for dinner we headed to bed…once again not making it past 9PM.
The next morning we started the day with the resort’s breakfast buffet. You get one free buffet for each day you forego housekeeping, the second one was the standard price of $24.99. Not worth the money-I can’t imagine paying $48 for two people to eat breakfast anywhere, but especially for the runny eggs this place was offering. After breakfast we drove the west coast of the island until you can’t drive anymore. We ended at the Polihale beach at the end of a 4.8mile dirt road. I wouldn’t do it without a 4-wheel drive car; it was a narrow, bumpy, dusty road that led to a fantastic beach with clear blue water and soft sand. We stopped and put our feet in the water for a while, then Chris got excited about our jeep and drove up and down the huge sand piles.
For lunch we went to:
-Toi’s Thai: on Waialo Road before Hanapepe. Our guidebook strongly recommended it. All entrees come with a green papaya salad that was weird. Not bad, but weird. Not like anything I’ve ever tasted before. The pad tai was top notch-definitely better than the one we had in Maui.
After lunch we drove to Waimea canyon, a huge gorge 10 miles long, 1 mile wide, and more than 3,600′ deep. I’ve never seen the grand canyon before so I was pretty blown away.
After exploring the western half of the island (or at least the drivable portion), we headed back to the resort and went for a quick swim in the pool and hot tub. That was short-lived though—a few other couples quickly snuggled in with us. I don’t like sharing that little water with too many people. I know a ton of people go in and out all day, but knowing it and seeing it are two different things. Gross. Dinner was at:
-Naniwa Japanese restaurant: At the Sheraton Resort. The sushi was calling my name, perhaps screaming my name. I even heard it whisper to me throughout the previous nights. I finally answered that call and ordered a bottle of cabernet, edamame, two spicy tuna rolls and two spicy salmon rolls. I actually thought this place trumped Sansei in Maui. Despite being in a resort, it was extremely authentic. Our waitress was an older woman from Japan who was so sweet–I formed a definite grandma-crush on her. The spicy salmon was my favorite here. We ended with mango cobbler, also highly recommended.
Friday morning we drove the eastern part of the island all the way around to the Na Pali coast where you can’t drive anymore. We returned to Living Foods Market to start the day. Chris and I both had egg and cheese sandwiches on freshly baked English muffins. They had just come out of the oven-amazing. I had never even thought about homemade English muffins, let alone seen one. They were huge and scrumptious and I’ve dreamt about them ever since we left Hawaii.
This is why you need a GLASS straw:
From breakfast we started the drive, heading from Koloa/Po’ipu where we were staying up rt. 50 to 56. We stopped at Wailua Falls, only 4 miles off the main road. The falls are 173 ft high, actually taller than Niagara Falls though obviously much less water.
We continued our drive up the coast with our next stop at the Kilauea lighthouse. We stopped at the lookout point and grabbed a few pictures, but I have a thing for lighthouses so we paid the $5 per person to drive up to it. It was under construction/renovation, so unfortunately we couldn’t get that close to it anyway.
After walking around for a bit we drove to:
-The Fish Market: This lunch was the BEST food we had in Hawaii, and up there for the best lunch I’ve had, maybe ever. I’m serious. Look at the reviews online-they’re as remarkable as the food. I actually found this place googling for the best food on the island, and it lived up to and exceeded all of my expectations. It’s in a small plaza on the road leading to the lighthouse, and it’s BYOB-so stop at the little market next door for some booze if you please. Everyone raved about their ahi tuna wrap and it was….orgasmic. Chris had the Korean BBQ chicken plate, and it was a plate of fantastic local flavor. I can’t put into words what a gem this little find was, but if you are ever on Kauai, you HAVE to go here. Believe me.
After a very satisfying lunch we drove the rest of the north shore to the Na Pali coast. We had plans to hike the non-driveable portion Sunday, so we didn’t stop to look around much. We did stop at one beach where a sand bar separated a small fresh water pond from the ocean. There was a group of very thin, beautiful women with children surrounding them. A few of them were nursing and a few were pregnant. They had very strange yet flattering swim suits on—a cross between a thong and a string bikini in the back, somewhat like a lycra triangle covering only the essentials. Chris and I decided that they were in a cult and played out scenarios for the next half hour. I settled on the theory that they all live in a beautiful mansion in Kauai with only one man who hides them away and spreads his seed, forcing them to run on the treadmill four hours a day to keep in shape while he flies back and forth to the mainland for investment banking. I’ll probably write a novel about it one day—it was very intriguing.
After the drive back to the resort we showered and got ready for the luau we finally succumbed to. We were on the fence about this up until the last minute, and used Scott Nolan as our lifeline who told us “you just gotta do one once”. So, for $99 a person we headed to the Sheraton Kauai Luau. WASTE. OF. MONEY. When you dread going to something you paid that much for, you should know ahead of time that you’ve made a bad decision. We were served Mai Tais as we waited in line to check in, then we had to choose a place to sit among five long tables. No one already seated looked that fun, but they told us not to skip seats so we reluctantly found a spot next to a peculiar looking couple staring into space avoiding one another. I’m not sure they could talk, they were mute most of the night with wide eyes at the amount of alcohol Chris and I consumed. We headed back to the bar for more mai tais—we realized by this point that in order to get our money’s worth we would need to drink our way home.
Once we sat down again the MC asked honeymooners to come on stage. If I were to list all of the things I wanted to do the LEAST at that moment, getting on stage would have been at the top of that list. Chris, on the other hand, stood up and announced to our section that we were newlyweds and put his hand out for me to go up with him. I glared at him with eyes that definitely said “sit down or you’ll pay significantly for this”, but he was persistent in telling everyone we were going up. It got so embarrassing denying him in front of the surrounding couples that I eventually succumbed. I told him the entire way to and from the stage that I was going to kill him. We had a “couples dance” in front of the other 160ish guests that topped the most embarrassing/least enjoyable moments I’ve ever had. They did a few more cheesy things involving the audience and then a buffet dinner. There were a bunch of options like mahi mahi, mango chicken, pork and beef, but I felt like herded cattle waiting in line amongst hundreds of other tourists. Chris and I continued to drink our way through the awkward environment and mediocre-to-poor buffet food and just started obnoxiously making fun of everything around us to ease the pain of the $200 down the drain. We were those people. Among my favorite games we developed that night were “R or F” (real or fake boobs) and “cable or no cable” growing up. You should try these some time, they are extremely entertaining, especially 8 or 9 mai tais in.
There were only maybe 8 dancers at the luau, none of them even near as good as those at Betty’s beach cafe, and I think it was one of the guys first nights. He didn’t know the moves at all and didn’t take his eyes off of the more experienced male dancer. We called the new guy “Hawaiian Jay” because he was really cut like Jay. We also gave him an A for effort and decided he deserved some drinks at the end of the night for all of the stress he must have been under. This was the only major failure of the trip, which is pretty good. I guess we can’t complain too much.
Saturday morning we woke up early to grab breakfast before our 9am couples massages compliments of Tamra and Joey. We went to Living Foods Market again-we couldn’t resist. We’d developed a huge crush on this place, we had to give them our business. We ate outside and discussed Rhode Islands lack of quirky hangouts-unless you’re in Providence where they’re all too busy or coastal towns too far to drive to regularly. It got me amped up to move back to Connecticut. We then headed back to the resort for our massages, where Chris had the “best massage of his life” (note that this was the second massage of his life, the first of which was in Nantucket a month ago, which was then the “best massage of his life”). It was extremely relaxing and an awesome wedding gift. It was a little weird both being in the same room. In the entire 50 minutes, I didn’t say a word. During those same fifty minutes, Chris repeatedly prompted his masseuse with comments like “amazing,” “unbelievable,” and “that feels perfect”. Kind of weird.
After our massages we drove around a bit taking pictures and video. I was recording Chris in the middle of a restricted field owned by the Botanical gardens when two tour buses started driving in. We freaked out and ran to the jeep and drove away as quickly as possible to the closest parking lot where we ducked and hid in the jeep until the buses passed. What Chris will do for a good shot of Katy Perry. Shortly after that I got the worst cramps I’ve had since sophomore year of college. I waited in the car while Chris rented snorkel gear for us, followed by three hours editing our Katy Perry footage and making the video. For lunch we headed back to the Oasis Bar and Grill by the pool, and had pretty much the same meal. It was delicious again.
At 4PM we went and snorkeled for an hour or so locally, then went back to the room to change for dinner. While we were getting ready I ordered room service for the first time ever-just because. We ordered a fruit and cheese platter. I expected it to promote the same excitement Julia Roberts felt on her first upscale shopping excursion in Pretty Woman, but it felt disappointingly normal.
For dinner we were craving Italian, so I did some research that led us to:
Kauai pasta: great hometown Italian feel to it, great service. We had a bottle of Mobius 2007 cabernet that they only made 500 bottles of-it set the mood. It was smooth, oaky, and delicious. Chris had fettucini pesto with grilled chicken, I had chicken parm. His dish trumped mine, but both were great considering we were once again ordering Italian in Hawaii. The bananas and apples foster for dessert was phenomenal.
Sunday morning we woke up at 7am with intentions of hiking the Na Pali coast fairly early. We drove to Hanalei, the second to last drivable town before the hike begins. We wanted to go to a breakfast place Gretch had gone to, but it was closed when we got there. We went across the street to Kalypso. After being seated following a ten minute wait we realized why service was so slow-with the 6 hr time difference, Sunday night football is Sunday morning football in Hawaii. Everyone was already drinking and cheering. The food here was pretty good but the service was slow, so our hike started a little later than expected. Once we finally got out of there we drove to the trailhead, parked, and began our little adventure. We did the first 2 miles of the 11 mile Kalalau trail. After the first 2 miles you can either hike 2 miles to an inland waterfall or get a permit to hike the remainder of the coastal trail. We opted to do neither since the 2 miles took just under 2 hours to the Hanapai’ai beach, and Chris’s knee was bothering him ever since the cliff jumping in Maui. The hike was gorgeous and only mildly challenging-like Cinque terre in Italy. Chris entertained himself by climbing guava trees along the way, and we snacked on probably half a dozen a piece (only after noting several other hikers eating them and surviving).
On the way back we stopped at a surf shop that advertised water skiing and booked a time for the following day. There was a Mexican place next door called:
-Monicos Taqueria: Really good, authentic Mexican food, large portions. First round of chips and salsa is on them. I ate myself into a serious food coma. It was sort of expensive for lunch-$39 out the door with 2 beers, a burrito and an enchilada plate.
We headed back to the hotel, snorkeled and swam in the ocean a bit, watched the sunset, finished our bottle of wine, and took in our last night in Hawaii.
Monday morning we went water skiing at 10:30–it was so. much. fun. There aren’t snakes or creepy things in Hawaii, and the river was narrow and clean with mountainous views on one side and a rainforest-like feel on the other. Our driver, Kenny, was really chilled out and gave us each a good run. We rented half an hour for $70. One run is 10 minutes; Chris attempted a full second run, but was exhausted half way through. It was such a welcomed surprise to get one last run in for this year—we thought the season had ended long ago.
We took a red-eye home that night from Kauai to L.A., L.A. to Boston. We were up the entire time due to our unfortunate seats next to the only passenger who kept her reading light on throughout the night, but it ended up being a blessing in disguise. We didn’t sleep until 9PM our time that night, and it re-set our clocks since we’d been up more than 24 hours. We slept 12 hours that night and woke up relatively refreshed afterwards.
Hawaii was a real-world paradise, and I can’t wait to go back. I’ve never craved going to the “must sees” like Hawaii, Vegas, New Orleans….at least they haven’t topped my list. This place really is a “must see” though, and I can’t say enough about how perfect our trip was. It was the most one-on-one time Chris and I have had since we met, and we came back getting along better than ever. A perfect start to this thing called marriage.