Where We Be
|The "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," Waimea Canyon, lives up to the hype on a clear morning
|We found this quiet spot to watch the sun set, had dinner nearby at Brennecke's Beach Broiler, then drove home and collapsed into bed
We took in a whole lot of scenery in one day,
most of it in the southwestern portion of the
island. First up was the "Grand Canyon of the
Pacific," Waimea Canyon, a must-see on just
about everyone's Kauai list. The richly colored
canyon is particularly impressive when you
consider it's tucked away on a small Pacific
island. Helicopters buzz their way up the chasm
looking microscopic against the backdrop of
the canyon, which is a mile wide, 12 miles long,
and almost 4,000 feet deep.
Further up the same road is Koke’e State Park,
where two famous overlooks let you peer down
onto the Na Pali coast at the incredibly remote
Kalalau Valley. We thought the highest lookout
(Pu’u o Kila) offered the best views of the
green pleated cliffs and rugged surf far below.
Our final stop of note was Polihale State Park.
This vast beach hugs Kauai’s western shore
for 17 miles. It is breathtaking in its length and
breadth and for the sheer power of its waves.
The beach ends where the Na Pali cliffs rise up,
impeding all forward progress.
|Kauai really is a beautiful place. It's hard to turn left or right without finding something to celebrate.
|Finally, we parked at the Sheraton Kauai (near Poipu Beach) and strolled the pleasant walkway along the ocean at sunset
|After getting our caffeine fix, we visited Spouting Horn Beach Park where we watched a water spout explode
periodically as the waves rolled in. Unfortunately I put my camera away just as a really big one hit!
|Tables with umbrellas offer a welcome place to sit and relax
|Here you can try as many free samples of coffee as you like. I focused on the flavored ones --
Chocolate Macadamia Nut, Banana Nut, Hawaiian Coconut Caramel Crunch...
|After the vastness of Polihale we needed something small and comforting. The Kauai Coffee Company was just the ticket.
|Don't even think about driving a regular car onto the beach or you'll get stuck. Rental cars aren't supposed to drive the last five bumpy unpaved miles to
Polihale. If you decide to go anyway, stop when you feel the road turn sandy and walk from there. You should be fine as long as you use common sense.
|If you're looking for secluded and spectacular, Polihale might be for you. You can even camp here with a permit.
|This is one of those remote "edge of the earth" kind of places where you feel both big and small at the same time
|This beach blew our socks off -- it felt so remote and wild and vast. We could hear the surf roaring even before we cleared the ridge to the beach.
|As a break from sightseeing, we drove to the town of Waimea and had tasty garlic shrimp at The Shrimp Station.
Scavenger chickens roamed the premises -- one even crowed full-volume on the patio as if to say feed me!
|This unusual shot was also taken at the Pu'u Kila Lookout. Several interesting hikes emanate from this spot.
|The Na Pali cliffs rise up and block all forward progress -- but you still have 17 miles of beach to enjoy in the other direction
|We went in up to our knees but no further -- even then you could feel the undertow pulling at you.
We saw not a single swimmer or surfer in the water on this big surf day and for good reason.
|To-go cups in hand, we took an informative self-guided tour around the property. It turns out this is the largest coffee operation in all of Hawaii!
|A final look at this gorgeous spot before we move on
|This could almost be an overlook at the Grand Canyon -- but remember we're on a
small Pacific island where terrain features aren't supposed to be this dramatic!
|This is the panoramic view of the Kalalau Valley from the Pu'u O Kila Lookout. Again, the earlier you can get here the better -- mist is already rolling in.
|The viewing platform offers an unimpeded view, but get here early in the day -- already by 10 am you can see mist starting to roll in