A $350 flight with one stop in the dead of a brutal Michigan winter is tough to pass up. I was only going for 5 days but it was enough to look forward to. I was not expecting 3rd world mystique or remote jungles but just a simple break.
I barely got out of Detroit with a snow storm raging. The airport closed down for a couple hours just after we took off. I got delayed for 5 hours in Phoenix and missed my Honolulu sunset from Waikiki, but that was about the only hiccup in the plan.
Well, that’s not true. Before I left, AirBNB emailed me and said my room on Kauai was cancelled. This left me with no where to stay for under $300/night (I had booked that room for $70/night). Surprisingly, AirBNB let me book a condo for around $220/night and credited me the difference. It is one of the risks with AirBNB but they came through for me, more so than I expected.
After landing and Ubering to my hotel I walked the beach at night for about 30 minutes and grabed a drink at Dukes before collapsing back at hotel with a great deal of back pain and fatigue from not having slept on the 16 Hrs in planes and airports.
The next day, due to time change, I was up at 4am. I did not rent a car and would rely on the Hawaii transit system. This is where the Google Map app proves its worth. It is really amazing, directing you to the bus stops with all the current times. I had printed out some of the schedules before I left but found it unnecessary. I found I could ride as much as I wanted anywhere on the island for $6/day. I headed to Diamondhead for an early morning hike and view looking back on Waikiki Beach. Diamondhead is an old volcano crater that also served as a lookout/defense post for military wanting to know who was coming towards Pearl Harbor.
The hike was easy and quite a few people were around but still a great view
After getting back to town I had breakfast at a coffee shop and talked to a local guy who moved to Hawaii as soon as he finished his tour in Vietnam. He had quite a life story and glad to bend his ear on his experiences.
I checked out of hotel and took my backpack and headed West. I was stopping at Pearl Harbor memorial site before heading back to airport to board afternoon flight to Kauai.
Pearl was packed. I did not have time to wait around for the free tour over the USS Arizona so I opted for a quick walkthrough of the Bowfin Submarine
Very touristy, making it hard to appreciate what happened here to push USA into World War II around 80 years ago.
I caught a quick 28 minute flight. Best flight ever! I did not rent a car on Kauai either, opting for the bus. Kauai is called the Garden Island due to its natural beauty and remote appeal. I figured that was a good spot for me. It took about an hour to get the bus up north to the town of Princeville where my condo was. The bus was full of the less-than-desirables. I would learn later that drugs are even a big problem here.
My condo was perfect. Right next to the main road and grocery but pushed back enough to offer some seclusion. I stopped at grocery store grabbed provisions for 4 days (Rum and mango juice). After showering and settling in I walked behind condo to own beach. Amazing to find this right in your backyard.
Again I crashed early and got up early and caught bus west to Hanalei (made famous by Puff the Magic Dragon, and a recent movie with George Clooney). I was in town early so just scoped it out and waited for bicycle shop to open
I was gunna rent a bike and ride 7 mile to end of road to hike the famous Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast. While waiting for the shop to open I ran into a surfer on the beach.
He said the road out to the trail is pretty tight with lots of turns and I would be better served to just hitchhike it. He told me of a 1 lane bridge just out of town where cars had to slow down anyway and you can guilt trip them into picking you up. I took his advice and not 5 minutes after sticking a thumb out a local scooped me up.
He was a cool guy that owned a landscape business in the direction I was heading. He told me how all the locals could not afford the property taxes and had to sell to the mainlanders. He was one of the few locals left along the shore. But don’t feel too bad cause those locals got a nice payday that I am sure could be transitioned into another coastal property with enough left over for taxes.
We stopped at his house and unloaded some horses and he offered to drive me the rest of the way. Ahhh…the kindness of strangers that you can only find in a spot far removed from the hustle and bustle.
He dropped me off and I hiked 2 miles in and out on the trail. To go any further requires a permit and I was not lucky enough to get one of those on this short-notice trip
Saw lots of these jungle rats.
Before catching a ride back to town I stopped off at this botanical garden
I actually caught a cab that was dropping people off at the coastal hike…tourists. When I got back to Hanalei I had lunch at a spot the driver recommended
I waited for the bus and rode it back to Princeville where I bellied up to the the local Tiki joint
I was a real buzzkill as I again fell asleep by 7pm. The following morning I was up bright and early for a hike just outside of town. I caught a ride with a guy who was taking care of a herd of Bison on the island. I did not have enough time to grill him on the details.
He dropped me off at a bird/wildlife sanctuary where the hike began. It was another couple miles up a hill to a view of Hanalei
Here is the start of the hike
It was about 9am by the time I got back to my condo. I showered, grabbed some supplies and went down to explore the beach behind my place
I took out my swim goggles and found a few fish in among the coral
I then headed out on my favorite hike on the trip. I decided to head west along the beach into an uncharted area to see how far I could get just hopping along the rocks and looking through the tidal pools.
I came across this waterfall…then a bench, guess not as remote as I thought
I finally ended up on this beach when I decided I had pressed my luck far enough
Kinda funny cause there was a family with a small baby. I wondered how the hell they found this remote spot. I came up to them and asked how they got here. They looked at me like I was an idiot and pointed to the trail that came down the cliff right from the resort to this beach. Oh well. I took the road less traveled and that has made all the difference. I also did not continue my scramble because instead of water I decided to fill my Nalgene up with rum, so I was not as sure-footed at this pointed. As evidenced by me banging my head into a tree branch and spilling blood on the rocks. A sacrifice to the gods.
I climbed out and walked through the resort area. Golf carts and fake breasts were all around. I headed over to a spot called Queens Bath. Normally in the summer months when the waves are not as high you can jump off the rocks into a natural pool, but today the pool wall was breached it appeared like a dangerous cauldron.
I headed back to the Tiki bar and made it till 10pm before calling it quits. The next day I checked out of the condo and rode the bus back to the airport. I changed to an earlier flight back to Waikiki / Oahu and rechecked into my old hotel. I headed out for a day along the tourist beach and drinks at Duke’s (a Sunday tradition)
I settled out at a place called the Edge with a perch next to the infinity pool and a view of Diamondhead
The next day I checked out of hotel and caught the bus up to the North shore. There I boarded a 6 person research vessel for a shark dive experience. I was to swim with shark outside of a caged environment. It was a bit strange that the boat next to the research vessel was offering cage shark dives. Hmmmm, what was I missing here.
I took my sea sickness pills but for some reason they did not work and I was on the verge of puking the whole trip out.
Did get to see some whales on the way out to the dive site
I also saw some from the plane yesterday as we took off from Kauai. When we got into the current all these Galapagos sharks showed up. It was a little unnerving. What was I doing?
We had a safety lecture about only staying within an imaginary 10 ftsq area near the dive ladder. Not to reach our hands out and to listen when the guy on the boat yells for you to get back if a tiger shark shows up.
Getting in the water did nothing for my queasy stomach as I had to constantly fight the current to stay in a safe zone, continuously bumping into other divers and the boat itself. Organized chaos.
It was cool to see the sharks, but I could really not dive too far without immediately running out of air and having to resurface. I guess I was not exactly relaxed. Go figure. At one point all the sharks got spooked and darted away and they yelled for us to get back to boat as it usually means a larger predator. I did not see a Tiger shark, which was ok with me.
After getting back to shore I felt much better. I found a beach where people were surfing and fell asleep like a homeless person for 3 hours.
Around sunset I walked over to a restaurant and had my best meal of the trip. I fish called Mong Chong.
I boarded a bus around 730 back to Honolulu and caught a 1030 flight back to Detroit. I slept almost the entire way. Nothing beats sleeping through an uncomfortable long flight. A nice break. Japan in 2 weeks!