May 30, 2003

In a Land Called Hanalei

After three days at the Sheraton Resort at Poipu Beach, it was time to mosey on to a new town with new things to do. Okay, that's not totally true. We still had a few hours to do more of what we'd come to enjoy: Nothing. So back we went to the perfect little slice of beach with the giant Hawaiian Monk Seal mere feet away to fritter away the time and work on our melanoma. Now, as you'd imagine, I have several pictures from throughout the honeymoon of Hoang in her bikinis which you will not get to see here. And hoo boy, lemme tell you, there were some good ones from this day! On the flipside, I suppose it would be best for you not to see the multiple shirtless pictures of me as well. It all evens out.

After a few hours on the beach, we said goodbye to Mr. Endangered Seal and took our time saying goodbye to the resort in general. Not that you care, but I do recall feeling especially cool paying the bill in cash money. (Wedding gift checks hadn't cleared yet, so it was the only way to go.) Not sure that happened too often there, especially from young punks like me, and especially for bills pushing $1,000. I wonder if I even tipped the maid on a daily basis back then? Probably not. Sigh.

We packed up and hopped in the car to drive north up the eastern coast of Kauai via the Kaumualii Highway. (I realized an extreme lack of Hawaiian words/names in re-reading the first 3 days, so it's time to make up for that.) Past the Nawiliwli Harbor and through the town of Lihue. We made a side trip up to Wailua Falls which were slightly disappointing. As we all know, one of the two main mountains on Kauai is Waialeale. The western side of the mountain receive the highest annual rainfall on the entire earth (451 inches on average). So there are a zillion waterfall all over the island. I guess if they're not spectacular, they get kind of boring after a while. We also planned on heading over to the Fern Grotto while in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, it's only accessible by boat and we didn't really want to bother. We have ferns in Connecticut.

"Aar Aaar Ayr" ("Goodbye")

The river to the Fern Grotto. Good enough for us.

We wound our way back down to the "highway" (which on Kauai means "2 lane road" as opposed to just one of the more typical 1.5 laner. We checked our a few more falls and passed through Kapa'a and Kilauea. The main town on the north shore is Princeville which is where our resort hotel for the next two nights was. Actually, it was in Hanalei which appears to be part of greater Princeville. Yup, another idyllic location - the stuff of travel agency walls and default PC wallpaper. We checked in to the massive Hanalei Bay Resort and immediately got sort of a weird vibe about the place.

Don't get me wrong, it was beautiful and clean and well-run. I don't know what it was, but Hoang and I started calling it "The Cult Place" for some reason. Everyone seemed kind of in a daze and the front desk people seemed quite intent on pushing time-shares on us. As if we'd be getting out to Kauai on an annual basis. Right. Anyway, after surveying the lay of the land, we hopped back in the car and continued onward along the north shore. The road became progressively shoddy and the businesses more ramshackle. Hanalei and points west are an old artist's community. Read: Burnouts, surf bums, and aged hippies. Lots of 'em. I'm not sure that anyone owned hard-soled shoes let alone a tie. But boy, these people live in quite a place!

The further west you travel, the more severe the landscape becomes. In fact, if you recall earlier this year, Kauai suffered some very serious slides and floods - and this was where it all went down. The cliffs rise dramatically from the sea and the road abruptly ends at Kee Beach past the tiny town of Haena. The coolest feature of this area of Hawaii are the sea caves. Deep, dark, and filled with water, the caves invite curiosity but it takes a special kind of nut to strap on the SCUBA gear to go exploring. The beach itself was nearly overrun by Deadheads/hippies/surf bums/real bums selling their bracelets and beads. The North coast of Hawaii is possibly as far away from Connecticut I can get in the US and yet, there we were, being hounded to buy some useless crap. I contemplated diving down deep into a sea cave to escape the patchouli, as you see above. Hoang had to hide as you'll see below.

From the outside looking in...

From the inside looking out.

Hoang finds a suitable hiding place

We poked around the beach and the caves for an hour or so taking special note of the verdant Na Pali cliffs that rose all around us. One of our options was to hike a trail along the top of those cliffs but our time would be fleeting the next day. Another option we had was the lunch sailboat we had reserved that was to take us around to the unspoiled Northwest corner of the island. Unfortunately, with less than a day to go, the weather was looking very poor for the sailboat trip due to choppy seas. With a shrug of our shoulders (because we were in paradise after all) we made the return drive to our resort.

Overlooking the beautiful Hanalei Bay, our resort certainly fit the bill for a honeymoon destination. Since we found everyone there strange, we decided that we could act like idiots ourselves and no one would care. We went to the "happy hour" thing where some guy and his kid played some bad music that everyone completely ignored. Shouldn't that kid have been in school? Oh wait, this is Kauai - education optional.

The rest of the night is a bit of a blur of swimming, hot tubbing, dining, and dancing. Since this was our last night on Kauai, we celebrated all that the island had to offer. I think.

Continue on to Day 5!
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