Kauai Part III – Savoring the South Coast

We had spent six nights on the east coast and still had not completed all the activities I hoped to do there, but at least we had gotten up to the north shore a few times.  We still had the south coast to explore and it is not to be missed, so it was time to move on.  We moved locations to a hotel in the south and the next day went to a nearby beach to snorkel. This time we were at Poipu Beach, a lovely beach on the south coast where waves break from two directions toward one another over a strip of land called a tombolo.  After playing in the waves and trying to get both “sides” of the ocean to break on us at once, we put on our snorkel gear and went in.  We were ecstatic to find tons of fish and eventually we even found another sea turtle.  We snorkeled until we were exhausted and when we got out we noticed a Hawaiian Monk Seal onshore, another total bonus.  Unlike other seals, Hawaiian Monk Seals will come ashore individually and take a nap.  They are protected so there was a rope enclosed area surrounding this one and ensuring us spectators kept our distance.

No shore on Kauai could be completely explored without an appropriate hike.  On the south coast we decided to hike along some lithified sand cliffs.  The cliffs of Makawehi were formed by “cemented” sand dunes that were deposited during the last ice age.  There are fossils in the sandstone and incredible views from atop the cliffs.  As we hiked we marveled at the views each time we could see out over a cliff to the black rocks and blue ocean below.  At one point we were lower down at sea level, and we were standing close to the shoreline.  I started to take a few steps forward and gasped as I realized I was about to step onto another Hawaiian Monk Seal!  Elliott had not seen her either, and we spent awhile watching her fidget as she tried to sleep, and laughed when she even buried her head in the sand.  This time there was no rope enclosure as we were in a much more remote area, but we kept a respectful distance so as not to disturb her.

Unfortunately, after a lifetime of making fun of people who hike in flip-flops, for some reason on this trip Elliott and I decided we should do the same.  To be fair to myself, I will say that we were beginning the hike from a very nice resort and therefore assumed it would remain paved the entire way.  Turns out we couldn’t be more wrong, and when the trail got steep, rocky and uneven, we were still left to forge ahead wearing only flip-flops.  Every time my foot landed it seemed my foot turned one way or another on its side, and it wasn’t long before one of my flip-flop straps simply broke.  Well, if wearing flip-flops on a hike wasn’t enough of a challenge, wearing one flip-flop and one broken flip-flop on a hike ought to do it.  You can see the photos below to see how I was saved by a coarse piece of rope Elliott “liberated” from a golf course.

One last highlight on the south shore was our brief drive to Spouting Horn Beach Park.  Spouting Horn is a small lava shelf where water from the ocean’s waves is thrust through an opening, causing water and air to squirt up high through a blowhole.  This particular blowhole is unique in Hawaii since it has an additional blowhole that blows only air, which makes a large gasping/moaning sound.

In between sites and activities on the south shore, we headed back to the east shore for a few last things I didn’t want us to miss.  We did some more boogie boarding at Kealia Beach whenever we could fit it in.  There were more waterfalls to see – some that you could even drive right up to such as Wailua Falls and Opaeka’a Falls.  There was plenty more hiking available and more opportunities to swim in waterfalls, but I had another activity in mind.  So one day we drove up to Kapa’a and rented a kayak for the entire day.  Then we kayaked the Wailua River, one of four rivers on Kauai.

There were several sites to see.  We first stopped at a hiking trail to Secret Falls.  It is a popular hike through the forest and we were excited to see many tour groups were coming out as we were going in.  Unbeknownst to us was the fact that the waterfall was dry and there was just a very slight trickle coming down off the cliff this time!  We still enjoyed swimming in the pool at the bottom and standing under the newly named “Secret Trickle: so secret, you can’t even see it.”  Then there was the Fern Grotto, a natural amphitheater filled with ferns.  We also searched for a swimming “hole” with rope swing but never found anything other than a very thin rope swing.  We each tried it a few times but it was so difficult to hold on to that we didn’t last long!  Instead we kayaked back and under the Wailua River bridge so we could explore the river’s entrance into the ocean.

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