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On our first full day in Kauai (January 10) we drove to the west to visit Waimea Canyon and the town of Waimea. On the way the scenery was beautiful. We stopped at a scenic turnout on Route 50 and were amazed by what we saw – the beautiful mountains and lush valleys. Then, before reaching Waimea, we turned off the main route and drove Route 550 to see Waimea Canyon and the famous Waipoo Falls. On our way, while stopping at an overlook, a Kauai police officer asked us to remain where we were for about ten minutes. There was a helicopter filming a movie and there were to be no moving vehicles on any roads. So, another chance to relax and soak in the surroundings. After seeing both the Canyon and the Falls, we also stopped at Kalalau Lookout. During this time, we were in each of Waimea and Kokee State Parks.
When we left the Parks, we returned to the seaside using our original route until we reached Route 552, a fork in the road. We enjoyed seeing new views on the 552 until we once again rejoined Route 50 along the coast. We went into the town of Waimea. Afterwards we continued north until the road hit a dead end. We then retraced our route back to Lihue staying on Route 50 the entire way. We did stop at the ruins of a former Russian fort which remains by the sea. We had no idea that Russia once had an outpost on Kauai.
The next day (January 11) we drove north as far as we could until the road was closed. We made stops at Wailau Falls and had fun taking our first photo with a “selfie stick” (thank you Suting!). We continued north stopping at a scenic turnout on Route 56 just before Kapaa. Our next stop was the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge. Before going inside, we stopped to take some amazing pictures of the Kilauea Lighthouse. It was really magnificent! Inside the Refuge, we got “close and personal” with the NeNe Geese or Hawaiian Geese. These birds were almost on the brink of extinction but have now recovered somewhat with their numbers estimated to be between 2,500 - 3,000. They continue to be an endangered species. From the Refuge, there were also great views up and down the coast and there was a colony of Red-footed Boobies nesting in nearby trees.
As we continued north, we wandered through numerous small villages and towns, including Anahola, Princeville and Hanalei. We had to turn back soon after Hanalei because the road was closed. So, we retraced our path and saw things from a different perspective. We also made an additional stop at Opacka’a Falls off Route 580.
On our third day (January 12), using a “treasure map” provided by staff at The Garden Island Inn we found ‘Alekoko (Menchune) Fishpond also known as the “King’s Fish Pond”. We also spent time enjoying Lydgate State Park which had a lovely beach as well as great views. We also had planned to explore the southernmost drive on the island (Route 520 South) but we were unable to reach it because of the closure of Route 50 due to a fatality accident. It made us realize that The Garden Island Inn had a great location in that we had alternatives. If we had stayed in Waimea, we would have been stuck there for the majority of the day. Yikes!
On January 13 (our fourth day), we made that exploration to the southern shore of Kauai. The beaches at Poipu were fantastic. We spent time at each of Shipwreck Beach, Brennecke’s Beach and Poipu Beach Park. Then we stopped near Koloa to visit Kanei’olouma. Henry Kekahuna of Maui in 1959 laid out a blueprint for the restoration of a “Genuinely Authentic Village for Kauai”. The area was inhabited in the mid-1400’s and is now in the process of restoration so we could only see the exterior walls and commemorative “kii” or standing stone idols. Afterwards we continued west to reach the Spouting Horn which was amazing! We finished our drive at Kaki’I Point Lighthouse. The day ranged from bright & sunny to having a bit of rain but all in all, it was another great day in Kauai.
On January 14, we decided to try to reach the Ninini Lighthouse. It was quite a challenge as we had to use roads in the Marriott compound as well as the Hokuala Golf Course. Initially we failed and had to return to the main road and start over. On our second try we finally found the road leading to it. The Lighthouse wasn’t open so we could not go inside. It was built in 1906. Apart from the great views including those rocky areas that needed a lighthouse to alert sailors, we got great views of two planes landing on the airstrip since the planes had landing gear down as they went directly over the lighthouse. A bit of a thrill!
On our final day (January 15), we once again headed north. We took time to stop at Ahukini Pier, the first concrete pier in Kauai. Here we watched locals fishing and we could also see Hanamaula Beach Park. We continued as far north as Kapaa. There we spent time shopping and relaxing. Finally, we returned back to The Garden Island Inn to enjoy a final cocktail on the balcony overlooking this boutique property.
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