I've heard great things about Hawaii for most of my life. My Dad was stationed at Barbers Point when he was in the Navy. His sister, my Aunt Mary, was born there. My sister and I sent my parents to Hawaii for their 30th Wedding Anniversary. You can imagine my excitement when Trish sent me an email on January 25th:
It's only 40,000 miles for both of us to fly to Kauai!! I picked the week after Labor Day just for fun :)
She booked it that night. For $10.
We left for Kuaui the morning after the disappointing Broncos home opener and a fun sports weekend with Abbie and Jack. Our trip started out great, sneaking into the Red Carpet Club for free at LAX and getting a slew of free drinks from a super-cool flight attendant (Anthony) on our flight from LAX to Kauai.
After landing and marveling at the open-air airport, we picked up our rental Jeep and drove to the north side of the island. A friend recommended we stay at the St. Regis Princeville Resort and we were very impressed when we checked into our room overlooking Hanalei Bay.
The next morning, we vowed to do nothing but relax by the pool. We enjoyed a scrumptious breakfast at the Mekana Terrace, complete with Bloody Mary's. We had to have Bloody's since the St. Regis in NYC claims to have invented them. We spent the rest of the day napping, swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling and sipping on Mai Tai's.
After enjoying a beautiful sunset ...
... we visited the concierge to book some activities for the rest of our trip. We wanted to take things up a notch and enjoy all the cool stuff Kuai had to offer. So we arranged for Stand Up Paddling and the Mailani Dinner Shown on Thursday, golf on Friday, a doorless helicopter ride on Saturday and a kayak trip along the Na Pali coast on Sunday.
We woke up Thursday refreshed and ready to go. Our view out the window was exceptional.
After a delicious room service breakfast in our room, we wandered down to the beach to meet our SUP guide. He warned us that girls were generally better than guys at SUP and we proceeded to prove him correct. Trish never got her hair wet and I had to abandon ship several times.
That afternoon, we headed to the The Kalalau Trail for a hike. Our SUP guide recommended it and said it was "so easy, your grandma could do it". His Grandma must be a lot younger than most, because the trail was not easy, but we certainly enjoyed the challenge.
We were rewarded with some spectular views at Kalalau Beach.
We made it back to the hotel just in time for the dinner show and another marvelous Hanalei sunset.
At the dinner show, we sat with honeymooners from Houston that worked at NASA. Since they both spoke Russian, we had fun discussing Russia, our trips there and how we learned the language. The dinner show was great and they featured quite a few of the top Hula dancers in Hawaii.
The next morning, we grabbed Huevos Rancheros in Princeville and headed to the Makai Golf Club for a one-of-a-kind experience. Not only did they let us bring our full-stocked cooler on the course, but they rented us some fantastic Callaway clubs. We golfed for hours with no one in front, and no one trailing behind.
Trish's photo of the Bougainvillia on the back nine is one of my favorites.
We enjoyed some Blue Hawaii's at the St. Regis afterward, in a cabana that's normally reserved for $1000/day. We snuck in and even got the honeymooner's discount from a hometown waiter.
On Saturday, I booked a tour at the Ahonui Botanical Gardens. The gardens where amazing, built by Bill and Lucinda Robertson. They converted a jungle of 8 acres into an elaborate garden with trees, flowers and plants from around the world. Since you can grow almost anything on The Garden Isle, they planted many exotic fruit trees that we had the pleasure of snacking on throughout our 3-hour tour. About halfway through, Lucinda treated us to an adventure in making and tasting delicious chocolates.
We rushed from the garden tour to the helicopter ride on the other side of the island. The concierge had booked us with Jack Harter Helicopters, because they were the only ones that flew without doors (for better pictures). As soon as we lifted off, I knew it was going to be an experience of a lifetime. We flew over the Waimea Canyon, along the Na Pali Coast, over Hanalei Bay and back into the mountains to the wettest place on earth. It felt like an amusement park ride combined with an IMAX movie. Our pilot was a Hawaii native that knew the whole island and gave us an excellent tour of its features. I cannot recommend this tour enough if you're ever in Kauai.
The next morning, we had to get up early for our kayak trip. We had a wakeup call at 4:30, breakfast via room service arrived at 5 and we were packed and checked out of the hotel at 5:30. We arrived at Na Pali Kayak at 6 and quickly realized we had our work cut out for us. Both Trish and I expected the kayak trip to be like paddling across a lake and didn't know we were in for the Everest of kayaking - a 17-mile journey that would take most of the day.
We borrowed some sea-sickness medication, bought some water from our hosts and got ready for a good challenge. Unfortunately, we couldn't take Trish's camera, and the waterproof camera she bought took mediocre pictures. However, we did get to see two schools of dolphins (one even jumped into the air for us) and a couple turtles along the way. Having to paddle in unison turned out to be great couples therapy too.
We enjoyed lunch on a beach along the coast around 1, took a nap and hopped back in the boats for the last 5 miles. We pulled out around 4 and were on the road by 5 for the 2.5 hour drive back to Hanalei Bay. It was country dark when we arrived. We hopped in the Jeep and drove an hour back across the island to stay at the Sheraton Kauai (the St. Regis was full) for our last night.
At the Sheraton, we had one of their best rooms and enjoyed awesome views and a final relaxing day before heading home.
The Tunnel of Trees on the way to the airport was one last reminder of how beautiful Kauai is.
Mahalo Kauai. You are one of the most breathtaking places I have ever been too. Your views, your waves, your rainbows - all spectacular. Trish and I will be back, you've made an impression on us that will last forever.
If you'd like to see many of the places we visited in a movie, check out Soul Surfer. It takes place in Hanalei Bay and we recognized many of the locations while watching it. For more pictures, see my Shareholders Meeting in Kauai or Trish's magnificent photos.