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  • Writer's pictureJyothi Vummiti

Trip to Garden Island - Kauai, Hawaii

Our trip to “The Garden Island” came about when we stumbled upon a new year’s eve fireworks event poster on the internet. So we decided to travel to Kauai, our 3rd island in the Hawaiian archipelago. Not much in advance we made our travel arrangements for a 4 day/3 night trip. On the day of new year’s eve, after a 6 hour delayed flight from Long Beach, we arrived at Lihue airport in Kauai.

Wailua river behind Kadavul Temple

We wanted to attend Auli’i Luau at Sheraton Kauai Resort, but because we didn't plan well in advance it was fully booked. It turned out to our advantage anyway because we wouldn't have made it on time even if we got the tickets. So in our rental car, we drove to Poipu Beach Park to watch the new year's eve fireworks spectacle as it was our only choice. As we waited in line at a food truck for an hour and a half, the explosion of fireworks boomed in our ears as the sky lit into a colorful sparkle.  Soon after, the food truck ran out of food and with all restaurants closed for the day, we drove to our hotel hungry and tired. We checked in at Courtyard Kauai at Coconut Beach and to our rescue the Voyager Restaurant inside remained open. We ended our day with couple of Mai Tais, some good food, live entertainment and joyfully welcomed the New Year 2016. ​

Sunset at Poipu beach

New year's eve fireworks / Fireworks

​Day 2: ​Chickens were EVERYWHERE. Literally. They wandered about freely on roads, in parking lots, on trails and even on beaches. Weather that day was moderate and perfect for hiking. Kuhio highway 56 took us from our hotel all the way to Ke’e beach at Na Pali Coast. We enjoyed this amazing scenic drive with a mix of ocean and valley views, among fields, flowers and dense tropical trees, all while trying not to run over a chicken. Along the last half mile or so were java plum trees. Fallen fruits that were squished by cars and shoes painted the road in black and purple. Parking lot at the beach was full, so we found a spot few yards down the road next to a creek.

Kalalau Trail - Na Pali Coast Trail

The beach was almost deserted as most hikers head straight to Kalalau trail. We climbed our way up tall rocks on this muddy forest trail, enjoying slight drizzle and hoping for the sky to clear out. Before we knew it, the trail had leveled a bit and we got our first glimpse of the ocean along the Na Pali coast. Most hikers target 2 miles up-to Hanakapi’ai Beach on this 11 mile hiking trail. But lazy hikers that we are, we turned around after about a mile. ​

Ke'e Beach - Na Pali Coast / Na Pali Coast

After our not so tiring hike, we headed to Tunnels Beach. We sat on the beach (at a safe distance) relaxing and sipping on a refreshing tender coconut. Guess nature didn’t like that. A huge wave crashed the party and took away one of our phones. We dried and dusted all our things and then headed to Limahuli Garden and Preserve. Well guess what, it was closed.  Next we pulled over at Hanalei Valley lookout. The views of taro fields surrounded by deep green mountains and waterfalls at a distance was definitely worth the stop. We then made a quick stop at Kilauea Point. The lighthouse was closed for the day as we arrived late, but we did get a good view from the lookout and captured the beautiful scenery. 

We had delicious dinner at Verde in Kapaa and headed back to our hotel. Our first full day on the island didn't go as well as we would have liked. No one is to blame but us for not planning properly. We strolled on the empty moonlit beach to unwind and enjoyed the ocean all to ourselves. ​

Hanalei Valley lookout

​​​Day 3:  Hibiscus flowers were the main attraction of the day. As we drove along south side of the island, we came across small plants to huge trees of Hibiscus with 100s of blooms. It was a very beautiful drive. We made our way to Mcbryde Garden, got our tickets and took a 25min bus ride to the actual gardens. Our driver was very informative about the history of the gardens and surrounding area. From the bus, we got a beautiful view of Allerton Gardens and learned a bit about the movies it was featured in. 

Mcbryde Gardens, Kauai

Hibiscus Kokio / View of Allerton Gardens

​We were dropped off to explore on our own. We spent few hours photographing a variety of tropical flowers and leisurely strolling on the many trails. The best part was the fragrant white flower from a canon ball tree that smelled like sweet white chocolate.  Not too far from the garden’s entrance was Spouting horn, where high surf caused ocean water to blow through a lava tube. Local vendors sold handmade jewelry and souvenirs there. We stopped at Paco’s Tacos for some delicious tacos and Lappert’s ice cream next door before heading to Waimea Canyon.  ​

Paco's Tacos / Hibiscus Arnottianus - Kokio Ke’oke’o

With ocean at a distance, we drove past villages and fields to Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It was a beautiful canyon with nice views and waterfalls.

We spent a relaxing evening watching the sunset at Poipu beach and then headed back to our hotel.

Waimea Canyon - Grand Canyon of the Pacific

Day 4:  Every morning in Kauai we woke up to the sound of crowing roosters. Well, they actually crowed all day and even at night sometimes. We went for a morning stroll on the calm beach, saw the sun rise and captured the beauty of this island some more.  We checked-out of our hotel and headed for breakfast. A fresh smoothie and a wrap from Java Kai, Kapaa was the best way to kick start the day. 10 miles drive from our hotel was the beautiful Wailua Falls that flowed into Wailua river below surrounded by lush vegetation.  

Beach near our hotel

Java Kai / Wailua Falls - featured in Jurassic Park movie

Sweet smell of huge pears hanging from trees in the yards of locals filled the air on our way to Kadavul Hindu Temple. The temple is a magical place so tranquil and spiritual. Gorgeous views of Wailua river from the back simply says paradise. 

We made a quick stop at Opaekaa Falls on our way to the airport. This falls was not as closer in view as Wailua but still stunning.

Meditation Banyon - Kadavul Hindu Temple

Inside the temple / Opaekaa Falls

Once again on a delayed flight, we returned to our lives rejuvenated and cherishing the green memories of the garden island. Gear Used: We used Olympus OMD EM-5 II with 12-40mm lens.

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