We are off on an adventure to Kaua’i, the Garden Isle (not to be confused with the Garden State), a tropical paradise in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and are staying at a VRBO on Kahuna Rd in Kapaa, Kaua’i. Rather than staying near the beach, we decided to stay inland to enjoy the tropical forests. We do not regret that decision. 😀
In Kaua’i, no one waters their lawn. Rather, it is an ongoing job to trim vegetation; many folks have a small fire pit to burn the biomass, and it’s too extensive to compost.
The house is beautifully decorated with shells, flowers, and island scents. It’s perfect for a romantic vacation.
You might notice that there’s a bit of moisture on the furniture and deck. Yup, tropical forests are also called rain forests.
No house is complete without an outdoor bathtub, and our romantic getaway in Kaua’i is no exception. The only issue we discover is that we must rescue critters each morning who crawl in the tub and are unable to crawl out.
This lovely lady was raised by the owners from a piglet and now serves as the recycling center and compost accelerator. She is behind a fence for a reason. One day our landlady knocks excitedly on our door and tells us that a boar has come a-courting and is rather aggressive about having his way with Miss Piggy (name changed to protect her virtue). We are instructed to stay indoors until the professional pig catcher arrives to capture and relocated the amorous male. Our landlady apologizes, but we reassure her: It’s quite an adventure to be hiding from the dangers of an aggressive male pig, and it is a memory we cherish. How many people get to have this kind of an experience? We do!
The Ol’ Swimmin’ Hole
We walk to the end of the landlady’s property, through a passage in an overgrown hedge, and down a short path, and we find a private waterfall and swimming hole, the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer’s day.
See that little figure under the overhang? That’s me!
Of course, the inner child takes over as soon as we are in the water, and we swim to the waterfall to see what kind of adventures we might find.
There are convenient ledges on both sides of the waterfall allowing us to have solid footing before taking the plunge.
We try to jump directly into the falls, but this is a close as we can get. Still, it’s a lot of fun.
You can see that the waterfall is robust. It may look small, but it’s a lot of water pouring down on us.
The pond below the falls is the perfect place to cool off and relax. The current is gentle and the water is refreshing.
Towards the end of our trip, a tropical storm approached Kaua’i and dumped a lot of rain on us. You can see the difference in the waterfall before and after. But, it doesn’t matter to us; it’s just part of the adventure.
Kaua’i has its own coffee, conveniently called Kaua’i Coffee. The coffee is free (makes you wonder why Starbucks coffee is so expensive, right?), and they have a self-guided tour to learn about coffee. Here’s the scoop.
First, they grow the coffee on a bush. The berry is called a cherry. When the cherry is ripe, they pick it. They peel off the nutritious fleshy fruit and discard it, leaving only the seed as residue. This seed – the flower’s reproductive part – is dried mechanically, killing it. This remnant of a once-proud berry is then cooked to change the flavor. The cooked seed, now called a “bean”, is chopped into small pieces, and hot water is poured over it. The chopped bean, despite having nutrient value, is discarded, and the liquid residue is allowed to cool slightly before being consumed.
If the bean is chopped too finely, the residue will taste bitter; if too coarsely, the residue will taste weak.
If the flavor of the hot bean juice is still not appealing, the ground stem of a grass may be added as a sweetener. If it still tastes unappealing, modified sweat glands of a cow can be stimulated to discharge a fatty fluid that can then be added.
Today we are visiting Kilohana plantation. “Translated from Hawai’ian, the name Kilohana literally means ‘not to be surpassed’. This was certainly the case in 1935, when sugar baron Gaylord Wilcox built his legendary 16,000 square foot plantation estate. In its heyday, Kilohana was the site of many extravagant parties and ceremonies. It remains a Historic Landmark and one of the finest examples of plantation era architecture in Hawai’i.”
Since it’s 10:00am, it’s high time we went rum tasting!
Kōloa Rum Company
We have always thought of rum as being native to the Caribbean, and we have always been wrong. Kaua’i has its own rum, and it is sweet and smooth.
We are here when the doors open, ready to imbibe the sugary fermented sweetness. According to their website: “The legacy of the sugar and rum in Hawai’i lives on today through Kōloa Rum. Our award-winning rums are distilled in a vintage copper-pot still, using only the finest local ingredients. Hawai’ian cane sugar, pure mountain rainwater and much Aloha come together to produce single-batch rums with remarkably rich flavors and smoothness that capture the essence of the Garden Isle. Kōloa Rum Company was founded to create world-class Hawai’ian Rum. We are the first and only licensed distillery on the island of Kaua’i, where sugarcane production has been a traditional way of life. Our first batch of Premium Hawai’ian Rum was distilled and bottled in September 2009, which coincided with the opening of our Tasting Room and Company Store at Kilohana Plantation in Lihue. Come, taste the history and Aloha spirit of Kōloa Rum today!”
The bartender (or is it rumtender?) knows what she’s doing, and we are soon tasting Kaua’i’s finest. We first breath in the flavor through our nose, enjoying the sweetness, then slurp a small amount in to our mouth, rolling it around and inhaling, letting the flavor engulf us. It is delicious.
We both agree that the dark rum is the sweetest and most flavorful and easiest to sip. This is certainly not a rum to spoil by mixing it. (Note: we have offered Kōloa dark rum to guests who state, “I don’t drink rum,” and we say, “Just smell it.” It is common for them to have a change of heart after that initial sensation. 😛 )
We walk around the grounds for a while to let the small amount of alcohol leave our system, then explore more of the island. In the evening, we change clothes and head back to the plantation for their fabulous lu’au.
The Lu’au includes a buffet, but that’s not our style. Instead, we reserve a table at Gaylord’s so we can have a romantic evening together. 😎
But first, let’s pose with the cute Hawai’ian boys. Nothing like tan, lithe, muscular bodies to whet an appetite, amirite ladies?
We ask a couple of pretty girls to pose with us because, pretty girls. 😛
Everyone do something silly! Okay, well, you two girls, do something silly!
We walk around the grounds, enjoying the warm Hawai’ian evening. We are in paradise.
Like most of our meals, we eat fresh fruits and vegetables and a bit of sea food. We sip white wine and occasionally, like tonight, enjoy a glass of champagne because, why not?
Now, on to the lu’au!
The lu’au tells the story of the original Tahitian voyage to the Hawai’ian Islands (carefully neglecting the part about conquering the original inhabitants ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ). But it’s a good story, enthusiastically performed, and we are caught up in the excitement.
After the performance, the cast is all smiles and poses for us. I’m sure the male performers pose, too, but I can’t find any photographs of them. Hmmmmmm.
This young lady displays a passionate romantic interest in me, but, sadly, I have to refuse her amorous advances. (Hey, work with me here, people! Let an old guy have his fantasies. Thank you!!) Yeah, she is heartbroken when she finds out I am not available. Yup, heartbroken.
Kaua’i is home to a number of aircraft touring companies including Fly Kaua’i with its Tropical Biplanes.
We don’t know what a “tropical” biplane is, but it doesn’t seem to be different than a regular biplane, so we’re not worried. Now, if we can just find the receptionist….
Not to worry. Our pilot finds us, we sign the paperwork, and it’s time to pose with the plane.
Apparently, there is an entire ritual regarding cloth helmets. Or girls. At any rate, I think I’m being knighted, Kauai-style.
Does it look like I’m standing on the wing as we fly through the sky? Sadly, I’m not.
To get in the plane, we have to climb on the wing and crawl into that little opening under the top wing. It has a small door, but I’ve got a lot of leg to be cramming into such a small place. Note to self: next time, wear panties.
We taxi down the runway and are soon aloft. The beautiful Kaua’i landscape falls away beneath us.
We communicate with the pilot via these headsets. They are voice-activated, so we must say, “Uh,” to turn on the microphone, or else the first word of our sentence will drop off.
Enjoy these photographs of our trip!
After about an hour in the air, we are back on the landing strip (giggity), and we hand our camera to an assistant to take our post-flight photograph with our pilot. We are happy.
In fact, we got a little airsick on the flight, especially because the pilot displayed a few fancy maneuvers at the end of the flight. (Don’t worry; he didn’t do an Immelmann.) And, as you know, beer is a base and thus can be used to settle a rough stomach. So a post-flight beer is exactly what we enjoy!
The Sacred Forest
We don’t know why the forest is sacred, what caused the sacredness, or to whom the sacredness applies, but it’s a nice, quiet place, and we simply enjoy the solitude, as the sign directs.
The forest is indeed peaceful with few other visitors. However, the roots of the Elaeocarpus ganitrus protrude from the ground and we find we must look down as we walk to avoid tripping.
In the field adjacent to the Sacred Forest, a seemingly-female cow seeks a romantic relationship with a fellow bovine. There is a lot I don’t understand about cows, I guess.
Wait a minute! Someone else is joining in the fun? Shouldn’t there be a boy-cow somewhere in the mix?
Okay, I don’t even know what’s going on right now. Let’s return to the Sacred Forest. 😳
The seeds from the tree are covered by a blue outer shell. They are associated with the God Shiva and are commonly worn for protection and for chanting montras such as Om Namah Shivaya. However, we see them simply as pretty blue balls.
We remain in the forest for a while, enjoying the cool air and serenity, carefully ignoring the bovine debauchery just out of sight.
There is more to Kaua’i than just coffee, rum, lu’aus, swimming, flying, and sacred blue balls: there are river trips!
We rent a double-seater kayak from Kayak Kaua’i, purchase a disposable waterproof camera, and begin our journey. Some of the river is a bit difficult, but most of it is just a lazy river.
Actually, this is near the end of the trip (when we have to turn around). Still, we do our best to paddle up, knowing that the ride back will be a great adventure.
Yes, the river is deep and the cliff is not too high, and it beckons me with its Siren call. I can not resist.
There is something about jumping into rivers that appeals to me, I guess. 😆
Critters of Kaua’i
Kaua’i is home to both native and invasive species. Let’s take a look at a few.
The green (or Carolina) anole is an invasive species native to the American southeast. We find them everywhere in Kaua’i; they can be pretty entertaining to watch interact with each other.
Feral chickens are found all over Kaua’i, and there appear to be a domestic, native, and cross-bred variety. These particular birds are very near the ocean, eating crumbs of food.
The little coqui frog is another invasive species and is the subject of an aggressive campaign to eliminate it from Kaua’i. They are particularly noisy, but we can’t distinguish them from all the other noises of the tropical forest.
Goats are cute but, like many other animals introduced by humans, some have gone feral; these feral goats are destructive enough that the Kaua’i government has a hunting season on them. Baaaaaaad goats!
Bees are big business in Hawai’i, and pollinate crops of avocado, citrus, coffee, cabbages, macadamia nut, squashes, and passion fruit. Kaua’i’s bees are free of varroa mites, and importation of new bees is forbidden by law. (What do you call a bee that scares you on Halloween? A boo bee!)
According to the internet: The Hawai’i Board of Agriculture and Forestry, with the support of cattle ranchers and the Hui Manu Society, imported young Cattle Egrets from southern Florida in 1959 to assist “in the battle to control house flies, horn flies, and other flies that damage hides and cause lower weight gains in cattle”. Of course, now they are considered a pest as they are nest predators of Hawai’ian Stilts and Hawai’ian Coots.
There are no feral horses on Kaua’i.
The red-crested cardinal is originally from Brazil. Surprisingly, it is not currently considered a pest, but just a pretty bird.
Plants of Kaua’i
Kaua’i is called the Garden Isle for a reason: it has a lot of plants. 😀
Hawai’ian hibiscus are native to Hawai’i (you can tell by their name) and are common throughout the state. Hawai’ian hibiscus shrubs bear blooms almost every day, but the blossoms last only for a day, even when on the bush.
Heliconia are another introduced species that is very popular in Kaua’i because the large, unusual inflorescences make long lasting cut flowers in tropical flower arrangements.
Please enjoy this gallery of other plants of Kaua’i!
Things to Do in Kaua’i
What else is there to do in Kaua’i?
You can drive to Mount Wai’ale’ale, the second wettest spot on earth (not counting oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, bathtubs, etc.). It is windy and it is wet, so bring a raincoat and perhaps a towel in the car.
Salty Wahine is the perfect place to stock up on gourmet Hawai’ian sea salts. Plus, according to their website, “their Hawai’ian rubs are amazing!”
Kaua’i Kookie is your cookie goto place in Kaua’i. They also have salad dressing! Yum!
Kaua’i Canoe Clubs offer a fun and healthy way to take part in Hawai’i’s heritage and history. In 1986, outrigger canoe paddling became the official team sport of the State of Hawai’i. There are numerous canoe clubs around the island that offer a healthy way to experience part of Hawai’i’s heritage, history and the legacy of the Polynesian seafaring people.
Bicycling is a healthy and fun way to see Kaua’i. There are many flat paths and trails along the coast and, with the island’s humidity, it’s easy to work up a good sweat.
Kaua’i is home to thick bamboo forests. You can hike the Makaleha Falls trail, but there are also many places away from the maddening crowds that are just as beautiful.
Kaua’i has a few small caves, some of which are accessible by boat. If you like the underground, they are worth exploring.
No visit to Kaua’i is complete without lifting a girl over your head. I really don’t know why this isn’t an Olympic sport.
But, of course, Kaua’i is also scenery. Scenery, scenery everywhere!
If you aren’t careful, you will have thousands of photographs of scenery when you visit Kaua’i. We know we do.
Take a moment to enjoy Kauai’s beauty.
The Garden Isle is a magical place, and just a short trip from the mainland. Avail yourself of its beauty and pleasures. 🙂 You will be happy you did.