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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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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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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Welcome to The Point at Poipu

Monday (August 26, 2013) – We arrived in Kauai late Sunday night and were disappointed that Mr. Rourke and Tattoo were not there to present us with our leis. After settling in at the resort we all collapsed from the sheer exhaustion. It had been 18+ hours since I had left my house that morning. Unfortunately, after only about 3 1/2 hours of sleep, my brain woke up at 4:30 am. Convinced that it was actually 10:30 am and I should be sitting at my desk at that time, it refused to let me go back to sleep.

What’s a girl to do? Well, this girl grabbed her camera to go see what she could see. Without the congestion and lights of a big city, the constant ambient light that exists at home doesn’t exist here. The darkness is incredible. Without the flashlight on my phone, I wouldn’t have been able to see where I was going.

In a “holy bajeezus, what the heck is that?!?!” moment, I nearly stepped on a toad in the grass. Also, despite my declaration in a previous post, I was out there to see the sunrise. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous!! (Also, I am in HAWAII!!) I encountered another couple of creatures on my way back to the room.

The resort is absolutely spectacular. It is right on the coast and the grounds are filled with tropical plants with a group of terraced fish ponds that descend down into the pool area. They are filled with HUNDREDS of Koi.

Here are some shots from the morning sunrises I was up to early enough to enjoy during our stay at the Point at Poipu as well as the sights and various creatures that I encountered around the grounds. Enjoy!

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Garden snail
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You may not realize how big this thing is until you see it in perspective.
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I was out on the rocks taking pictures of the waves. I was so intent on capturing their power as they struck the rocks that I completely missed the fact that they were crashing progressively higher and closer. This is the one that ended up getting me. As I pressed the shutter, I uttered “Oh crap!” and turned just in time to protect my cameras from getting soaked as well.
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