After a few busy days, the kids opted to stay on the ship for the morning when we had arrived at the port of Nawiliwili in Kauai. Denis and I had breakfast and then Ian came down with us to the terminal so we could determine a location for meeting later. We were looking forward to this overnight stop so we could enjoy the island of Kauai during the evening.
The line up for the shuttle buses was very long and it seemed that the buses weren’t picking up very often so we went over to where the taxi line up was located. It was very frustrating since many of the taxis were only willing to pick up people wanting a tour, not for a single destination ride. They also wanted a minimum number of people so it made getting a driver difficult. After talking to some people in the line up we found 2 people who were also going to the Lihue airport to get a car rental and 2 others that were going to a golf course that was in the same general direction. We decided to take the taxi together so we could get going. After a quick 10 minute ride, we arrived at the airport rental depot. The wait at (Dollar Rental Car) was pretty long but eventually we were on our way.
Our destination was the Waimea Canyon State Park. The ride took us about 1 hour. We knew that Kauai was the rainforest island but we weren’t really prepared for exactly how mountainous and green it would be. There was intermittent rain but for the most part the dark clouds seemed to stay ahead of us. We drove along the main road that took us through small towns spread out along the way but more of the drive was through green, lush hills. Once we started up towards the Canyon, the views were spectacular. The scenery started to look similar to the Grand Canyon but was far more colourful.
We stopped a few times to take photos but the road became more twisty and there weren’t many pull offs as we ascended higher. When we entered the park, there was a large parking area where you could leave the car and walk out to the edge of the look out. Immediately after exiting the car we were greeted by many roosters. We had seen them all along the road but here they were very interested in the loads of tourists coming to see the canyon. The rooster is a signature of the island of Kauai as we would come to learn – they are absolutely everywhere.
The views of the Canyon were incredible. Shades of green, orange and red were breathtaking even with clouds looming over the peaks. We walked around taking both photos and video to try to capture the beauty around us.
Back in the parking lot was a booth where a local man was selling Hawaiian treats. We purchased some fresh pineapple and fried banana fritters that his mother had made that morning. He told us about even more views of the Napali Cliffs if we continued driving up the road about 30 minutes.
We decided to drive the extra distance as this would be the only way for us to see Napali since the only other option is by boat. It was a windy road and was slow going. And as we went higher in altitude, it became even more cloudy and rainy. Unfortunately by the time we got to the viewing area it was a blanket of fog. You couldn’t see anything! This was of course disappointing but you never know what the weather will do when in the rainforest.
It was getting quite late for us so we started to head back down to the ship to get the kids. They met us in the terminal and we were off to explore the eastern side of the Island.
Our first stop was Opaekaa waterfall – the name means rolling shrimp. This is a very tall waterfall (150 feet) located back from the road in a forested area. The falls cascade into a pool that you cannot see due to the numerous trees. Again, the views were gorgeous with most including a look at the Wailua river.
We had a reservation for 3:30pm to go take a river cruise on the Wailua river to see the Fern Grotto. The company we chose is the Smith Family who have been offering tours for many years. It was a delightful ride down the river where they described the area, vegetation and animals. They also played Hawaiian music and attempted to teach us how to do the hula. We were pretty uncoordinated but it was fun to try. The professional dancer on the ship was graceful and made it look so simple!
Upon our arrival at the Fern Grotto it started raining but we proceeded with the walk on a path bordered by plants and flowers and were kept relatively dry under a canopy of trees. The base is a lava cave and covered in ferns that grow upside down from the roof. The grotto was formed millions of years ago and was so pretty. Once we got to the Grotto, the family played music that sounded fantastic due to the incredible acoustics of the area. In the past many people have chosen this spot for their wedding ceremonies.
After our tour, we boarded the river boat once again and were serenaded by the band with beautiful Hawaiian music all the way back to the pier. Thankfully by the time we arrived back it had stopped raining.
Our last activity for the day was a planned Luau at the Smith’s Tropical Paradise. We were there right when the doors opened at 5:00pm so we had plenty of time to wander the spectacular grounds. The 30-acre botanical garden with bamboo forests, tropical birds, bridges and statuary made for a stunning place to experience this Hawaiian tradition. After receiving our shell lei, we started with a ride on the tram where the driver pointed out the plants that were from all over the world. Following the ride, we walked around on our own looking at all the lovely flowers and taking photos of the surrounding beauty.
The Luau dinner is set up under a covered area with long family style tables. We chose our seats and then went to the imu ceremony. This is a special Hawaiian underground cooking process where the pig is roasted in an earthen imu oven for the entire day. There is quite a lengthy process involving chants and singing as the pig is raised from the ground. We were excited to try it for our dinner.
The Luau included all the drinks as well as the meals and entertainment so we leisurely made our way back to the table with mai tai drinks to start. We met a very nice couple from California who was just finishing up a 2-week vacation on the Island. They were fun and interesting to talk with during the evening.
The buffet dinner was expansive with traditional Hawaiian dishes such as kalua pork, beef teriyaki, chicken adobo, sweet & sour mahi mahi, lomi salmon, fresh poi, namasu salad and tropical desserts including fruit, rice pudding and pastries. There was so much food, it was incredible. Everything was very tasty and it was great to try some local dishes from the region.
The highlight of the evening was of course the Rhythm of Aloha Show. Everyone moved to find seats in the wonderful open-air lagoon amphitheatre that was lit by torches. The show highlighted the numerous dances within the region since Hawaii has so many different nationalities that have influenced the culture over the years. We watched traditional dances from Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, Philippines, New Zealand, China and Japan. All were unique in their own way. The costumes, music and stage production was top notch. They even had lasers and an erupting volcano – it kept us entertained the entire time.
After an exhilarating evening, we drive back down to the pier and found a local shopping plaza (Anchor Cove Mall) that offered overnight parking for $20.00. From there it was about a 10-minute walk back to the ship.
It had been a fantastic day & evening and we were all ready for bed!
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Sharing Our Travel Dreams
Sharing our personal experiences onboard and on the road, along with tips and insight for creating memorable vacations.