Thursday, July 12, 2012

Adventures in Kauai

TJ and I have racked up a bunch of Marriott and British Airways points recently, so we decided to cash them in on an 8 day, 7 night trip to Hawaii before the baby comes. I mean, why not squeeze in one more adventure while it's still just the two of us? Because in about 8 weeks, we're officially a family of 3! Unfortunately, though, we could only book the trip during my third trimester. I wasn't able to do as many fun activities as I'd hoped because I was too big and too far along in my pregnancy. I had also deluded myself into thinking I wasn't showing "that much" - until our pictures brought me right back to reality. YIKES. Nope, we didn't see any beached whales on our vacation - that's just me in my swimsuit. :)

Don't get me wrong, though. We had an absolutely amazing time. I really regretted not taking more pictures during our Oahu trip last year, so I set my photo-phobia aside and put the new camera TJ got me for my birthday to good use. It takes some really beautiful pictures! Just posting these makes me want to go back right away.

The first day, we arrived at our hotel and were a little dissatisfied with the room. It had a lame garden view and didn't seem to be kept up as nicely as the other rooms. TJ was able to somehow get Marriott gold status the day before our trip, however (I don't know how he does it - he has a gift for these things). Gold status means you get a bunch of perks - one being priority when it comes to room upgrades. The next day, lo and behold, we were upgraded to a beautiful ocean/pool view room near the top floor. 

Isn't it beautiful?

This kid's pool looked SO FUN! I can't wait to take our little one here one day to enjoy it. 

We started our tour of the island by heading to the North Shore to see the sights. The North Shore is the most lush and green on the island, and the pictures prove it. Below is the Kilauea lighthouse, built in 1913 and still used today. The view is breathtaking.

...not this view though. Apparently, yellow is not my color :) 

There are wild chickens all over the island. It's so fun to see them scurrying around everywhere you go. The roosters aren't very bright, though, and crow throughout the day, regardless of sunrise/sunset. 

This is the Hanalei Valley lookout - a really pretty view of the plantations where they grow most of the taro root on the island. Taro is a staple in Hawaiian culture and apparently one could get all the nutrients he or she needs and be completely sustained for life from just fish and taro alone. I'll pass, though. :) 

TJ's just acting bored. He always makes that face when I ask him how he likes something just to tease me.

After that, we headed to Tunnels Beach. This is a really pretty area of the island and great for snorkeling, though we just ended up relaxing on the beach and playing in the ocean. I think it's called Tunnels Beach because of the cool caves right next to it.

The waves were very strong, as I found out the hard way. TJ and I were so excited to get in the water that we ran in without really paying much attention. I had noticed the waves were pretty intense, but I wasn't too worried because I was just hanging out in the shallower portion. You know the saying - never turn your back on the ocean - well, I must have had pregnancy brain because I did. And got completely hammered by two 12 foot waves. TJ was so scared and rushed in to help me get out. I was really embarrassed! He was worried something happened to the baby, but this little guy was kicking around and moving just fine the rest of the trip. I decided that I needed to be much more careful from then on, though. It's actually really frightening how powerful the ocean is. I was completely helpless and immobile when those waves hit and just had to wait for them to sweep me near shore. Scary. 

Luckily, all our fears were soothed after feasting on some delicious fish tacos at this local marketplace. So tasty! Then we grabbed our first shave ice of the trip. I feel like shave ice is only good in Hawaii because the salty sea air makes the treat extra sweet and delicious. 

It was fun to feed the koi fish back at the hotel because they go so crazy when you drop the food pellets in the water. The gardens at our resort were so beautiful and well-maintained. It was nice to just walk around and explore.  

The next day, TJ and I set out to kayak the Wailua river. It was raining in the morning, so we stopped by Kmart to get some awesomely fashionable ponchos! I don't think TJ was a huge fan of them, though. :) On our way, we checked out Opaeka'a falls, a really beautiful waterfall right along the river. 

Below is our first glimpse of the Wailua river.  

I made TJ do the majority of the kayaking. Pregnancy is a great excuse to get out of things. :) We started to scare ourselves by pretending we saw crocodiles along the way, and even though we both know that they don't exist over here, we started getting legitimately worried. It reminds me of how we freaked ourselves out in Oahu by reading stories of shark attacks that had occurred near the island. Who knows why we torture ourselves like that.

Our first stop while kayaking was Fern Grotto, a sacred place in Hawaiian culture. That didn't stop TJ from jumping over the fence and climbing up to the Grotto himself. We're lucky no one else saw us there, because I'm pretty sure the penalty for setting foot on those grounds if you're not a tribal chief is execution.

Our next stop was the Secret Falls, a waterfall at the end of a short hike along the river. It was really beautiful and TJ jumped right in - of course. :)

Along the way back are two small pools that pour into each other called the King and Queen's bath. TJ somehow talked me into getting in because I'm a "queen", so it was mandatory. I made him get in, too. The water was cold but actually really refreshing after all that hiking.

We figured we'd earned ourselves another shave ice, so we hit up Kalapaki Shave Ice on our way back. We then just sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed our snack at the resort as the sun went down.

We headed toward Waimea Canyon the next day to explore the sights there. On the way, we drove through the "Tree Tunnel", a really pretty group of trees that lines the road. 

The canyon is famous for its red dirt, one bucket of which dyes up to 500 shirts that are sold at local stores. We had to stop at this little stream along the road because it was so pretty.

Waimea Canyon is absolutely breathtaking. They call it the Grand Canyon of Hawaii, and I can understand why.

TJ made the mistake of feeding the chickens at the canyon, and they wouldn't stop following him until we left.  They followed us to the lookout and everything!

This area of Kauai is supposedly the wettest spot on earth. It rains something like 450 inches a year! The clouds were covering the view of the ocean, but we were still able to get some good pictures in. What was scary was the sheer cliff drop at the edge of the red dirt you see below - the clouds masked it so it looked less treacherous than it really was. TJ scared me to death by walking right up to the edge and peering down. Heights freak me out!

Note to self - a camera on a strap does not adequately conceal an 8-months-pregnant belly.

We'd earned another shave ice after all that walking. Jo-Jo's is famous on the island as supposedly being the very best in Kauai. We thought it was good, but a little too chunky. Didn't stop us from consuming the whole thing. :)

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped by Poipu beach on the South Shore (TJ lovingly nicknamed it "poopy" beach just because that's how he thought it looked like it was pronounced at first). It was so beautiful and had very calm waters. We decided it was time for our annual sand castle contest. I had won last year's, but I think TJ beat me this time with his sand-snowman-guard and moat. :) 

TJ tried snorkeling without a snorkel... epic fail.

For dinner, we got Puka Dogs. I had seen a show on the Travel Channel about these a while back and had wanted to try one for years. They are delicious, crispy hot dogs baked inside a hollowed out bun and then filled with mango chutney and spicy mustard. They were really delicious! In addition to the hot dog, they make you fresh-squeezed lemonade on the spot that was so yummy. They need a Puka Dogs in Utah!

As you can imagine, the sunsets in Hawaii are spectacular.

The Napali Coast on the Northwest side of the island is one of the most famous sights in the world. Lots of movies, like Jurassic Park and Six Days Seven Nights, have been filmed in Kauai because it is such a lush, green island. TJ took a special boat tour out to the coast because it is only accessible by sea, hiking, or helicopter. I opted out because I knew I'd get seasick, and I didn't think the bumping up and down would be good for the baby. Plus, most boat tour companies won't take pregnant ladies at all. :( 

TJ said it was a blessing I didn't go, however. The waters were extremely choppy and everyone aboard was seasick. The captain even came across such hostile waters that a young girl flew high into the air and landed hard on her back. The parents were so upset that they demanded the whole boat turn around and go back right away so they could go to the hospital. They had to cut the cruise short - before the snorkeling, sea caves, and prettiest part of the coast. Sad.

Before that happened, though, TJ was able to snap a few great pictures of the dolphins, sea turtles, and beautiful cliffs.

We took a day to tour Old Koloa Town, a pretty little village in Hawaii where they used to have a taro plantation. Now it's mostly just tourist shops and eateries, but it was charming nonetheless.

Another "TJ, are you having a good time?" picture. :)

Once I told him he had the chance to steer the whole town, he perked right up!

My island boyfriend. He has a thing for pregnant women.

This tree's branches are crazy cool and extend really far out. It'd be perfect for a tree house!

We also stopped by Shipwreck beach, a really pretty cove on the South Shore. TJ and I climbed up to a small cliff on the side where some crazy people like to jump off. I wouldn't let him though! I'd like this baby to meet his dad, thanks very much.

Awww.... :) 

This is the Spouting Horn, a cool little blowhole in the lava rock that makes a weird moaning sound as water rushes through it. I guess Hawaiian legend says some kind of lizard-god lives down there and moans because he's always hungry. TJ suggested we throw food down there to shut him up. :)

All that hard work earned us another shave ice. I just can't get enough, people! This one had macadamia nut ice cream on the bottom. So delicious.

Our last day, we set out to snorkel a little bit. Again, something TJ indulged in while I stayed on the sidelines. This little beach has a lot of cool fish and sea turtles to check out, so we went there. I still can't get over how blue the water is! Kauai is just gorgeous.

We also checked out Wailua falls on our last day. Apparently, old Hawaiian tribesmen would prove their manhood by jumping off this waterfall and landing safely below. It's a 175 ft drop, and there are some crazy jagged rocks at the bottom. Thanks, but no thanks. I'll check it out from above. 

Although, one crazy lady scared me and TJ by scooting super close to the edge. What was she thinking?! We were ready to witness her imminent death, but luckily, she came to her senses and backed away. So insane though. You couldn't pay me money to do that.

And so we bid goodbye to Kauai. What a fabulous trip! We had so much fun. I am glad we got to have one last adventure as a couple before our craziest adventure yet - parenthood!


  1. Oh my heck!! So gorgeous! Looks like you two had so much fun. Kevin will be so jealous when he sees all these amazing photos! We all need to go together sometime!

  2. What a great trip! We need to go again, cause you guys saw some way cool stuff that we didn't even get to see. I loved all your pictures and everything you had to say about it. I'm so happy you guys got to do something so fun together before the baby comes. SUCH a bummer that the boat tour got cut short. I feel so bad for TJ. I should have some sympathy, but stupid girl and stupid parents for ruining EVERYONE's fun. I'm sure you can't get a refund, but I would have insisted the parents gave me a refund just so they feel like idiots. I have no heart. I'll go repent now. When it involves the back I guess it's a "slightly" serious. Okay, maybe they are right, poor girl.

  3. That was so nice of you guys to go back and photograph our honeymoon for us! :) JK. It looks like you had a blast. I am glad! Isn't Kauai magical?