Fun in the Air, Sorrow in the Sea

A brand new morning on Kauai – full of possibilities, sun, and the smell of plumeria.  What better time than to go check out Spouting Horn – a blow hole in Poipu, Kauai.  The endless waves eroded a hole in the rocks along the coast.  When the water comes rolling in, it blows out of a crack in the rock sending a geyser dozens of feet into the air.  There’s also a secondary hole through which air escapes creating an eerie moaning/roaring sound.

VIDEO: Spouting Horn

We then went with Ann on the Po’ipu Shoreline Sandstone Hike to the Makawehi sea cliffs.  We did this hike once before when we stayed at the Grand Hyatt, Kauai (one of the most amazing hotels we’ve ever stayed in), and thought Ann should see it for herself.  It’s pretty short, but the views are amazing.

While hiking up on the cliffs, we saw a straw hat floating in the water down below.  It had clearly been blown off someone’s head.  By the time we returned to the beach it was still there, and appeared to be a challenge, so we set out on a rescue mission.  You’ll be relieved to know, we saved the hat from being blown out to see. Ann wore it during the rest of our time in Hawaii and then left it with our vacation club in case future visitors wanted to use it.

We also did some snorkeling at Po’ipu Beach.  The reef is well trampled, unfortunately, but the fish are always plentiful.  Po’ipu beach also has this cool land feature called a tombolo.  This is a narrow spit of land leading out to a small island.  The waves collide over the tombolo from opposite directions causing a lot of spray.

All of this, believe it or not, was a precursor to the main event of the day:  a helicopter tour over the gorgeous island of Kauai.  Helicopters are not something we get to travel in too often, and it was especially exciting to be flying over all the places we had been visiting for the last week or so.  They even strapped Carlos into a harness so he could fly with us. We spent an hour doing a full loop of the island, and taking in absolutely everything while our pilot, Jason, gave us a running commentary. A photo is worth a thousand words, so check these out:

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With our pilot, Jason

VIDEO: The Na Pali Coast as seen from the air

One of the last photos above is of Wailua Falls, made famous in the opening credits of Fantasy Island.  We decided to go get a closer look.  While we were there, there was a professional crew filming a Hawaii Tourism commercial for Expedia.  They took up the choicest viewing locations so they could pilot their silly drone all over the place. (I kind of wished I had a BB.)  Once they left, however, we got some good shots.  We even saw some wild pigs that held still long enough to be snapped.

A fairly low-key day was up next, or so we thought.  We went back to Kalapaki beach (where the wedding was) for some fun in the surf.  We brought boogie boards, but the conditions just weren’t conducive, so we ended up renting a stand-up paddleboard.  Stephanie had no problem with this since stand-up paddleboarding might just be her favorite water sport.

We headed over to Kealia beach – a primo surf spot, and one of our favorite places to boogie board in the world.  The waves are nice and small way on the North end of the beach, and they get larger as you go south, allowing you to tailor the height of your ride to suit your tastes.  It was there that disaster struck. At first, everything was great.  We were riding the waves and having a great time.  At one point, I found myself getting tumbled in a wave.  No problem – all part of the fun.  But then my hand hit a rock.  Not hard enough to hurt, but just at the exact angle necessary for it to lift my wedding ring up over my knuckle and slide it off my finger.  My wedding ring.  That I haven’t removed in almost 12 years.  My custom engraved wedding ring to match my wife’s.  Needless to say we were both pretty upset.  We spent the next 45 minutes fruitlessly combing the surf.  I left a description with the lifeguards, and offered a $300 reward (yours if you find my ring).

That night, Stephanie tied a piece of floss around my finger until we could find a replacement.  It’s funny how you don’t notice a ring that lives on your finger until you take it off.  We stopped in a few jewelry stores the next day to look at replacements, and learned that many a married man loses his ring in the surf.  Great, I’m a statistic.  We looked online for a ring like the one I lost.  It wasn’t cheap to begin with, and the price has gone up.  So for now, I have a $10 stainless steel ring.  It may just have to do.

We opted not to let this sentimental loss get us down, and the next day set off on one of our favorite hikes.  It is not our favorite for the beautiful tranquil woods, the meandering river with its multiple waterfalls, or even the decaying body of a 40’s era car that could never have driven to its final resting place.  It is our favorite because there is a rope swing over the river.  Nothing makes you feel like a kid again more than swinging on a rope and splashing down into water (except maybe sledding, but that’s kind of hard to do in Hawaii).

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Midair Stephanie

VIDEO: Stephanie on the rope swing

That night was our last on Kauai.  We had been in Hawaii for three weeks, and still not engaged in that most important of rituals: The Luau.  Now, I’ve been to several Luaus, and Smith’s Garden Luau on Kauai is my very favorite-est. I was excited to be returning as well as to be going with Barry & Ann.  With me in my loudest aloha shirt, and Stephanie in a very Hawaiian-looking dress, we headed on over.

This particular luau starts nice and early with a narrated tram ride through the Smith Family’s extensive grounds.  Afterwards, there is plenty of time to stroll the gardens before the actual luau begins.  Then comes the gathering around the Imu (underground oven) for the ceremonial unveiling of dinner, and of course, all-you-can-drink Mai Tais.

After dinner, rather than sit at your table, there is a stage area with water features and an honest-to-goodness erupting volcano.  Too cool!  Most luaus feature dances from several South Pacific islands, but this time, there were dances from China, Japan, and a most interesting dance from the Philippines.  It’s called Tinikling, and it’s done by stepping in and out of two fast-moving bamboo poles while trying not to get your ankles clipped.  Here’s a video. (The sound is pretty quiet, but you get the idea.)  All in all, the Smith Family Luau was a great way to wrap up our time on the island.  Three weeks completed, and one island to go.

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Fire Knife Dancer

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