The Sun Sets on Our Last Day on Kauai

Wednesday (August 28, 2013) – We took the scenic route back from Waimea, stopping along the way several times. First stop was the Russian Fort Elizabeth. The Fort dates back to 1817 when the Russians came to Hawaii. After the Russians were forced to leave later that year, the fort fell under the command of the Kingdom of Hawaii. It was abandoned in 1853 and eventually dismantled about a decade later.

We had passed these huge fields of bushes several times and finally had a chance to stop and see what they were. COFFEE BEANS!!

As we continued along the winding coast road, we happened upon an area of Koloa where there were lots of people sitting along the wall by the water. We stopped to check it out and were rewarded with the best sunset yet.

Below are my favorite shots of the evening. Enjoy!

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Waimea Landing State Recreation Pier

Wednesday (August 28, 2013) – After our visit to Spouting Horn, we headed back up to the Waimea area. We had been told that there was a black sand beach in the area and we were determined to find it. After Cook “discovered” Hawaii in 1778, Waimea became important to the Pacific trade routes. A wharf was built at Waimea Landing in 1865, followed by a railway route in 1898 that  connected all the sugar and rice plantations between there and Polihale to the shore. The original pier has since been replaced with a smaller version now only used for fishing and other recreational activities.

The sand was not as black as I imagined. The fine grit of the ground up black lava is mixed with the yellow/tan of the regular sand of the area, creating more of a grey-toned sand. It was very soft and warm.

Below are some shots from our visit to our first black sand beach of Hawaii. Enjoy!

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Red-crested Cardinal (Paroaria coronata)
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Spouting Horn

Wednesday (August 28, 2013) – Just up the road from our resort is a County of Kauai Park area called Spouting Horn. It is a formation of volcanic rocks down below the cliffs. Here is why it is referred to as “Spouting”. When the waves crash into the rocks, the holes, crevices and tubes in the rocks fill with water. When the next wave comes in, the force of that water crashing into the rocks forces the water and air in the tubes up and out holes in the top of the rock formation. Because the hole in the top of the rocks is so much smaller than the hole that the water enters through, it creates an incredible amount of pressure, sometimes shooting the water over 100 feet in the air.

There used to be two spouts in the rocks, but years and years ago there was a plantation owner nearby that was not happy with the salty spray from the water spouts blowing over onto his crops. So one day he went down to the spout with a bit of dynamite and blew one of the small holes into a great big one, ending the second spout forever.

If you head to the left of the blowhole and you stand at just the right angle, you can hear a groan of air getting pushed out another hole in the rocks with each spouting wave. Of course in true Hawaii form, there is a legend that goes along with the natural phenomena. There was a great lizard that lived in the cliffs, terrorizing the inhabitants of the area. One day a young boy confronted the great lizard and stabbed it with a stick. The mighty lizard gave chase to the young boy who took refuge in the caves of the cliffs. The lizard chased after him and subsequently got stuck in the caves, unable to escape. Now as waves crash you can hear the lizard roaring in anger after its lost prey.

Below are selections from my visit to Spouting Horn. Enjoy!

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Weird fruit from a tree.
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Salamander (I think)
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Bougainvillea
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Kukuiula Boat Harbor
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View of Spouting Horn from Kukuiula Boat Harbor
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Common Myna (Acridotheres tristis) Looking a little windblown
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And like everywhere else on Kauai, chickens everywhere!
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Na Pali Coast

Wednesday (August 28, 2013) – Today’s adventure took us out on a 60 foot catamaran to snorkel and view the Na Pali Coast. We had heard good things about Capt Andy’s and our resort was able to get us a great discount. We left out of the Port Allen Marina in Hanapepe Bay and headed up the coast past Waimea. When we reached the point, we had to wait about 20 minutes for the Navy to complete a test missile launch out of the Pacific Missile Range Facility. They told us we would be able to see the vapor trail from the launch, but we hadn’t seen anything when we got the “all clear”, so it must have been a dud. While we waited, we got to see some flying fish.  At first, my thought was that they were hummingbirds, but why would hummingbirds be out over the ocean? They were small and fast and impossible to get a shot of.

As we rounded the bend, we got our first view of the Na Pali Coast, beyond Polihale State Beach. To see the coast from the water is a completely different perspective from seeing it from land. Either way, it is beautiful. After a bit, we were joined by some Spinner Dolphins. There were a few babies in the pod and a couple of adult dolphins were even (ahem) “fighting” (ahem). Yeah, that’s it. Fighting.

We stopped just past the beach in a small cove area to do some snorkeling. There were hundreds of fish, but not much variety. I hear there was a turtle there, but I seemed to keep missing it. I took this time to try out my new underwater camera. Snorkeling was a lot of fun. The wind and current were very strong, so I just kinda floated wherever the water wanted to take me.

After snorkeling, we continued up the coast for more magnificent views of the Na Pali Coast. The Captain and crew told us some stories and legends handed down through the Hawaiian people.

The day was great and I didn’t even get sunburned. That SPF 100 really works!

Below are a few of my favorite above water and underwater shots. (Sorry about the volume. There were so many to choose from, it was hard to narrow it down to even these.) Enjoy!

Polihale Beach
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Kalalau Valley (View from the top can be found in Waimea Canyon post)
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Lehua – Uninhabited – As a Hawaii State Seabird Sanctuary is home to at least 16 species of seabirds.
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Ni’ihau – Privately owned by the Robinson family since 1864, only descendants of the family with Hawaiian blood are allowed to live on the island.
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Spinner dolphins
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Underwater shots from snorkeling
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Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge

Tuesday (August 27, 2013) – On our drive back down the coast we made a stop at the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge is home to hundreds of birds that nest in the cliffs. In the winter months hundreds, if not thousands, of migrating humpback whales can also be found in the waters around Kauai. Unfortunately, during our trek to the Islands, they were all up in Alaska for the summer.

The Point is also home to the Kilauea Point Lighthouse. Built in 1913 to guide ships on their voyages to the Orient, it is the nation’s westernmost lighthouse. It was rededicated in May of 2013 to Hawaii’s beloved Senator, Daniel K. Inouye. Until his death in December of 2012, he had faithfully served the people of Hawaii in the U.S. Senate since 1963, “illuminating the voices of Hawaii citizens”.

Below are some of my favorite captures from my visit to Kilauea Light and Refuge. Enjoy!

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This Wedge-Tailed Shearwater (‘Ua ‘U Kani) comes back every year to nest at the lighthouse. She had a new fledgling when we visited, but kept it tucked snugly underneath her while we were there.
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A Red-Footed Booby (‘A) posed for us on the fence.
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Ilima (Sida fallax)
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Beach Naupaka (Scaevola sencea)
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Ke’e Beach

Tuesday (August 27, 2013) – One of the great things about Hawaii is that all beaches on all of the Islands are public and access cannot be restricted. Even if there is beachfront private property, there must be public shoreline access somewhere along the property. However, there is no guarantee of public parking. In fact, there is limited parking at most. People park along the road leading to Ke’e Beach, many walking up to a mile to get to the beach once they have parked. However, the parking gods were looking down on us and there was someone leaving just as we arrived, so we were able to secure a spot close to the front. Ke’e Beach is in a cove, perfect for wading and snorkeling, nestled at the foot of the northernmost point of the Na Pali Coast. The water is crystal clear and blue as the sky. There are these really cool trees along the shoreline. The sand around their roots has been washed away over time and their roots stand free supporting the trees.

There a are also a lot of chickens.

Below are my favorite photographs from Ke’e Beach. Enjoy!

Looking towards the Na Pali Coast.
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360 degree view of the beach from the water
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The Windward Coast of Kauai

Tuesday (August 27, 2013) – Because of the geography of the island, one cannot drive completely around Kauai. The most northwest corner of the island has never been and never will be developed. Monday, we did the leeward side and today was dedicated to driving up the windward side of the island. The areas around Lihue, Kapa’a and Princeville are more developed than the rustic area that surrounds Waimea that we explored yesterday. We drove up Kuhio Highway which hugs the coast for most of its length. We headed to the furthest point along the route, where the highway ends, at Ke’e beach, literally less than 100 yards from the Pacific Ocean.

After a relaxing lunch of PBJs and pretzels on the beach, we moved on, retracing our steps back down the Kuhio Highway. This time, we stopped often to admire the sights along the way. Some of our stops will be their own post. There was just so much to see and take pictures of that there is too much to include in one single post.

Below are my favorite shots from our travels along Kuhio Highway. Enjoy!

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Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge
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On the horizon, to the far right, are Mount Kawaikini (the highest point on Kauai – farthest peak to the right) and Mount Waialeale (the original volcano that created the island – flat peak just to the left of Kawaikini)
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Kealia Beach
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Looking down to Hanalei Bay from Princeville area
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