Sunday, April 18, 2010
The garden island
Welcome to Kauai, the garden island of Hawaii. This is my very first visit to Hawaii and I'm super-excited to be here! It was a LONG journey from Portland (5+ hour flight to Honolulu, 1.5 hour layover, but then only a 30 minute flight to Lihue) yesterday. By the time we checked into our hotel, it was almost dinnertime. The weather yesterday was a little cloudy as evidenced in the photo above, but today the weather was PERFECT!!!
We started our day at Oki Diner, which is famous for their macadamia nut pancakes -- Yum! After a hearty breakfast, we set out for the south coast and points west. The southeastern part of the island is very lush and green and there are beautiful flowers everywhere. We visited the National Tropical Botanical Garden, where we saw all kinds of flowers (including my favorite, the Bird of Paradise), trees (such as the Bottle Palm and Rainbow Eucalyptus), and fruit trees/plants (pineapple, banana, papaya).
After wandering around the garden, we headed over to Poipu Beach, where we walked around the beach and watched the surfers. The beach isn't very large, and it surrounds a large array of black volcanic rocks, but the water is very, very clear and pretty.
After our beach diversion, we continued our journey, stopping at the Kauai Coffee Company. I sampled several of their coffees (all grown locally) and tried some macadamia nut ice cream (thumbs up!) KCC has acres and acres of coffee, and it's all within view of the ocean! Must be one of the world's prettiest coffee plantations.
As we headed west, we noticed dramatic changes in the land. In some places the soil was very red. Not like the clay soil we have in some parts of the Carolinas, but more like a mineral red, like I've seen in photos of certain parts of Australia. Things looked dry, and there weren't as many flowers and not as much green. Islands are interesting . . . every island I've been to has a wet side and a dry side, a windward side and a leeward side. But drive a few miles inland from the town of Waimea and you'll discover Waimea Canyon (photo below), a natural formation that will knock your socks off! We stopped at several overlooks to take photos, but the photos don't do this place justice. The camera just can't see what the human eye sees when it comes to things like this!
There are two islands off the southwest coast of Kauai - the larger one is called Niihao, and it's a private island owned by a family named Robinson (are they Swiss? I don't know.) About 200 people live on Niihao and it's not open to visitors. Of course, that makes me curious about it.
I'm also curious about the Kauai chickens. Free range chickens are EVERYWHERE. One of the guys who works at our hotel told me there are more chickens than people on Kauai, and that doesn't surprise me given how many we've seen. There's a constant sound of roosters crowing and hens cackling . . . OK, maybe not constant, but it's noticeable. The chickens are so used to people, they don't freak out when you walk by. It's really fun to watch the roosters chasing the hens. Kinda gives you an answer to that age-old question about the reason the chicken crosses the road . . . she's trying to get away from the rooster!