This is the story of my wedding/honeymoon trip to Hawaii.
Part I: Oahu
October 10 – 14, 2010
Although people seem to want to call our trip a “destination wedding”, I prefer to think of it as a “planned elopement”. It all started on Saturday evening (October 10) when my fabulous friend Pam came over for drinks, dark chocolate, chatting (and some laundry). A few hours later, we were all awake sometime around 4-ish, making sure we had everything we needed before leaving the house promptly at 4:30 am.
One thing I didn’t think about when doing this eloping thing is the transport of the dress. Well, I didn’t think about it enough. I had borrowed Sam’s garment bag, and thought that would be enough…until I realized I didn’t want to fold it. And that it was impossible for me to carry straight up, and that it was uncomfortable for Kevin to carry because of the hook…oh, and that it had to go on the SECURITY belt. Ugh!! My poor future husband dealt with me worrying about that darn dress to and from — and it was just a simple cocktail dress!
After a terribly uncomfortable United flight where I was sandwiched between my future husband and a man taller than him, we landed early in San Francisco. What a fabulous airport! I had a salmon teriyaki bento box and a bow tie cupcake for lunch. I also did several laps around the airport to try and feel like I had gotten some exercise. That is, until I got distracted by a large health store where they had things like Rescue Remedy and amazing colognes.
The flight to Honolulu was much more comfortable and we landed that one early too. We were greeted with beautiful orchid leis by our tour company “guide”, who told us where to get the car about 100 times, all while trying to tell us about the “local lingo” including “hang loose”. It was cute at first, but when he tried to redirect us to the car when we were just stopping for a restroom, it got a little bothersome!
While Kevin was inside getting the car, I was standing outside with all the luggage, and it looked like it was going to downpour. As I tried to move all the luggage (including the garment bag) under the awning I felt slightly sad that we had just left rain and now here we were in Hawaii where it was going to rain again! But, I was quickly distracted as I struck up a conversation with a woman from Salem, MA, and a young girl who was married just the day before.
Driving to the hotel was easy, but kind of depressing. Everything looked so dry and brown, like it had caught fire. That is, until we got to the JW Iliani Marriott grounds, where everything was green and lush.
We first dealt with our newly purchased and nearly demolished large suitcase (making sure everything inside was in tact), then freshened up and went to eat at the Nepuka Terrace restaurant downstairs. I had a salad with seafood and papaya, and a lychee martini. With a goal to stay up until 9 pm Hawaii time, we started walking down the pathway near the lagoons, but by 7 pm I was feeling dizzy, and by 8 pm I think I was fast asleep.
Since Monday was a holiday, we decided to go to Target to get some food and drinks for the room. What an amazing Target! We even ended up getting a new, more durable suitcase. After breakfast at Subway, we laid out on the beach and then up by the pool. At the pool, I had am amazing Cobb salad with avocados in it, and we had a couple of drinks served in pineapples as well. At 4:30, I had a salon appointment to get my first ever French manicure and a polish change for my toes. Samantha was great fun to talk with, especially about her trips to Japan and Korea. She also gave me good direction on where to get leis (Maunakea Street in Chinatown) and what kinds to get (Maile or Kukui Nut for him; Pikake for me). After the mani/pedi, I squeezed in some yoga before we headed out to a Japanese buffet at Ushio-Tei. This was an incredible buffet and the sake was spectacular!
Tuesday when we woke up, we tried to go to the hotel gym. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the elliptical and the treadmill kept yelling at me because of my heart rate, popping open a window that I had to close before I could adjust anything else (or see what my heart rate actually registered as). After a few rounds of trying to dismiss this window quickly enough to adjust anything else, I gave up. We got cleaned up, did our Subway breakfast thing, and then headed into Honolulu for the marriage license and leis.
Now, everyone had told us that traffic and parking would be absolutely horrendous. And, I think it’s all relative! Granted, we went mid-morning to avoid rush hour, but it was really not all that bad. On the way to the Health Department building, we accidentally walked into a filming of Hawaii 5-0 at the state capital building! I remember going up to a man who looked like he was secret service, asking him for the Health Department building, and he didn’t seem all that tough (and he didn’t know). A few seconds later, a guy with a clipboard who seemed to be directing things told us how to go, and what they were doing. Too funny! We also saw a group of wildly dressed protesters outside, but we weren’t sure whether they were part of the show or for real! While we were trying to cross the street to get to the other building, it started to rain pretty hard.
Getting the marriage license was relatively easy. Except for a few things, like Kevin filling out an old version of the form (which I gave him) in blue ink (instead of black), the woman who kept transcribing our information into the computer wrong, etc. But, we were quick out of there after paying our $60. Now, off to Manakea Street for some leis.
Again, it must all be relative, because parking was plentiful and cheap. We were excited because we figured while we were here, we would grab lunch too. We started going into several different lei stands, asking for the types of leis we knew about. The one Maile lei that we did find, unfortunately, was pretty ratty. The Pikake ones were small white flowers, no color, and struck me as too plain. After a few more looks, we settled on a brown Kakui nut with green leaves for Kevin, and a Pikake with small red rose buds every so often for me. The Pikake smelled absolutely amazing! After we had the leis, however, we realized that we had to get them home and refrigerate them. It was 90-some degrees, and warmer in the car of course. So, skipping lunch, we madly dashed back to the hotel, leis on the floor, A/C maxed out and directed at them. Once we got to the hotel, I ran the leis up to our fridge (thank goodness we had one!) and at 1pm we were done with obligations for the day.
We decided to walk down the path past all the lagoons to the nearby Ko Olina Beach Club, to check out their restaurant for lunch. We ended up with amazing pork quesadillas and garlic fries. So good!! We laid out again after that, then got dressed up for our last “single” dinner. We wanted something on the fancier side, but the restaurants were all kind of the same. Still, we settled on a restaurant (which we later discovered was a chain) called “Roy’s“, located at the nearby golf course. While we were waiting for the trolley (and for it to leave), we had some fun with the camera.
Next to Ushio-Tei, I had my best meal on Oahu at Roy’s — shrimp and prosciutto-wrapped scallops with the sweetest asparagus ever! Their edamame appetizer was also amazing, though like many places, their cocktails left something to be desired. (Or else, I’m spoiled by my husband’s amazing bartending abilities!) Since the restaurant knew we were getting married the next day, they gave us a coconut brownie, plus we split the chocolate lava cake!
Although we were all dressed up (and me in heels), we decided after that dinner that we would walk back to the hotel. There were sections of the street that were almost pitch black and once or twice bugs scampered when we walked through, totally freaking me out!! It looked like they were also in the process of building a Disney resort in the vicinity.
Wednesday morning (the big day), Kevin woke up not feeling so well (blaming it on the drinks at Roy’s). I thought it was nerves, and I was happy to say that I actually felt fine. I thought about the day ahead, and it made me laugh: get up, do some yoga, go to the breakfast buffet, lay on the beach, swim in the ocean, oh yeah, get married, have some dinner, etc. And, that’s pretty much how it went!
The breakfast buffet wasn’t so hot, except for the fact that they had a miso soup machine and I was able to put as much seaweed in my bowl as I wanted! Haha! They also had a juicer with fresh fruits and veggies that you could try, but none of the concoctions we came up with were all that good. After breakfast, we decided to go for a walk, which turned out to be a really lovely thing to do right before getting married!
I then laid out to get warm enough to go in the water, and Kevin snorkeled in the lagoon. Then we got ready for the ceremony with little hassle. The car ride to the place was a little challenging though. The bell men were practically running me over as I stood there waiting for Kevin to pick me up, even though anyone could plainly see I was all dolled up to get married! The funny thing is too, that the ride was all of 2 minutes, so getting in/out of the car was a pain and almost not worth it, but there was no accessible path from the hotel to Lanikuhonua that we could walk it.
I was thrilled when we arrived at the gate at 3:45 pm that Kahu Silva (our minister) and Aaron (our photographer) were already there and chatting. Kahu Silva was a very calm, kind gentleman who made me feel at total peace. Aaron was all tall, dark, smiley and suave. Kevin got a little anxious about the order of things, but I figured Kahu Silva would just walk us through it and that would be that. When we got to the “phase 2” beach site, they asked us how we wanted to do it (e.g. where we wanted to stand, etc.), and we had no clue. We ended up picking a direction that we thought might be nice for photos, and I took off my shoes and stood on a rock to be more evenly-heighted with Kevin.
The beginning of the ceremony was a complete blur to both of us. Kahu Silva was talking/chanting and we were standing there looking at each other and holding hands (and tightly onto each other’s rings). Kevin’s arms were tense, so as in dancing, I tried to “shake him out” and make him relax some. Me, I was practically laughing my ass off. (Hats off Natalie, I get it now!) I think we both started to tune in when Kahu Silva talked about the meaning of Aloha, which is a good thing, since it’s engraved on our rings. 🙂 He then had us recite the traditional vows, calling me “Jennifer” (ugh!). Then we did the ring exchange, and the lei exchange. The reason for the lei exchange was that traditionally in Hawaii, these are the resources they had to symbolize the circle (rather than metal).
Kevin started off as a ridiculously good husband, since when he kissed me he was careful not to remove too much lipstick — hey, were had 1 1/2 hours of photos to go, and I had precious little with me! Of course, Aaron foiled that plan, since the first words out of his mouth post-ceremony were, “OK, now let’s REALLY kiss her!!” Next, we left the beach and signed the paperwork. Kahu Silva then chatted with us both and said some really insightful things about what was happening in our lives — I’m not sure quite how he knew. Whether it was intuition or he looked us up on Google, it was pretty cool either way.
After Kahu Silva left, Aaron took us to all manner of photo spots! It was almost crazy! (I’m still hoping we get at least one good, frameable pic.) Of course the first thing he does, with the short girl (who is afraid of heights) and tall guy, is get Kevin to put me up in a freaking tree, then on a railing in a gazebo. Ack!! I’m not sure whether I was smiling or gritting my teeth! I sure as hell was holding onto my “husband” for dear life! Which was the other very funny thing. Aaron kept saying, “look at your husband”, “kiss your wife”, and that was pretty freaky. I mean, we’d been married for all of 5 minutes! It had taken me months to get used to the “fiance” term again. (As I write this, I’m still not used to the husband/wife thing.) Anyway, after the tree and the railing (and being lifted up into the air!), we were on the grass, then climbing over rock walls, on spiky rock formations with waves crashing in at us, etc. Aaron did a good job showing Kevin how to look suave, although I worry about me, as he didn’t really give me too much direction. Although the sunset didn’t really cooperate (silly clouds), we were glad to be done after that long of posing. I really don’t know how models do it. It was exhausting, and my brown sandals were squishy for DAYS!
We quickly got back to the hotel and changed out of our wedding attire. We tried to go to Azul but it was a 1 1/2 hour wait, so we walked back down the the Beach Club and ate at Chuck’s Steakhouse. I had shrimp scampi with purple sweet potatoes, and Kevin had am amazing swordfish. We also split a fantastic mud pie ice cream dessert, then walked a fraction of it off getting back to our hotel. After that, we popped the champagne and that’s all I have to say!
On Thursday, we got up and did our (seemingly typical) Target / Subway run. Then, we visited the U.S.S. Arizona (Pearl Harbor) Memorial. I wasn’t really thrilled at first — it being such a depressing topic and all, the first day of our “honeymoon”. After getting over the initial annoyance at not being able to take in my bag (though I was free to carry every single item in it!!), we watched a very interesting and enlightening movie while waiting for our tour time. The boat ride out to the actual memorial was also very nice, and the memorial itself very moving.
After that, we drove back into Honolulu to get a lei present for Pam (there was a lei stand we had seen the day before our wedding that shipped leis via FedEx to the states!) and to get Vietnamese food at Pho to Chau. After pointing to menu items and eating what seemed like a totally endless bowl (which Kevin of course made extra extra extra spicy), we toured Chinatown a bit more, picking up some souvenirs, checking out weird fruits and seeing lots of meat at the roadside markets.
Although Kevin wanted to go to the Dole Plantation for soft serve, we did hit some traffic on the way home, and were supposed to be at the luau starting at 4:30, so we went straight back and got ourselves ready for that. (Guess we’ll just have to go back to Hawaii and do that next time!)
So, what can I possibly say about the Fia Fia luau?! It was so spectacular that my camera was mostly taking videos. We sat next to several newly married couples (of course) and got to know them a bit, and started using our drink tickets. The main guy was so funny, he could have done his own stand up comedy show in probably any context. We were laughing our butts off from the get go! After the intro, Kevin learned how to juggle fire, and I got a tattoo. Although we missed the palm weaving lesson, Maggie (of one of the newly wed couples) gave me a headband they had made for her (after she had tried to attempt her own).
The food was amazing (including the ahi poke and the huli huli chicken), based on my own experience and apparently compared to all the previous luaus folks near us had been to. At one point during the show, they asked all the newly weds to come up on the stage, so we went up and I got flowers. We were the couple married the least amount of time (1 day!), even though one of the women seemed to be having issues parting with her wedding dress — she still looked like she was wearing it. Then unfortunately, they asked us to “slow dance”. It was a lovely starry night, and would have been very romantic, but…so there are a few problems with this picture. First, need I say that I cannot REACH Kevin to do the Frankenstein two-step / high-school sway? And then, oh how against every fiber of my being is that dancing! Anyway, we goofed around during it and laughed the whole time, so we still had fun, and it was memorable.
Part II: Kaua’i (the honeymoon)
October 15 – 22, 2010
Friday was our last day on Oahu, so that morning we packed up our newly-purchased replacement suitcase for the flight over to Kaua’i. Kevin headed down to get the car and check out, and I was surprisingly pleased when he worked his magic and we ended up getting free parking! (See, luau guests got free parking, although hotel guests who attended the luau did not. That seemed weird to us and we were hoping to get that last night free since we attended the luau, not necessarily the entire length of our stay. But, who’s complaining!) The day was starting out nicely.
We stopped briefly in Kapolei to fill up the gas tank of the rental car and then headed to the airport to check in for the flight. Unfortunately, when we got to the checking of our bags, both were overweight! (Not sure how that happened, since we didn’t really buy / take anything new with us). Kevin got to 50lbs by getting rid of a bottle of iced tea, and my “aloha” briefly disappeared as I shuffled through my clothes trying to migrate some to my carry-ons while other passengers stared at us annoyingly.
After a painless security check, we hit “Stinger Rays” in the Honolulu Airport for a 10:00 a.m. quesadilla lunch for breakfast. It was just a smidge too early for a drink, so we settled for ice water and hit Starbucks for dessert. It was a short, uneventful flight to Lihue (one of those that takes more time to board than the time in the air). The whole airport was pretty much “open air” with a fresh breeze blowing through. After a quick jaunt over to the rental car place to pick up a Toyota Corolla, we plugged in the droid and fired up Google maps to get us to Waipuli.
After a quick 6 miles, we turned into the Waipouli Outrigger Beach Resort–which totally exceeded our expectations. A quick stop at the front desk and we had punch codes for the room and pool area. We headed up to the room and when we opened the front door, it was way more than we expected. The first thing we noticed was the full-size stacked washer and dryer tucked behind a door right next to the entry. As we moved inward, we noticed a nicely appointed kitchen…flat-top range, dual drawer dishwasher, full size sub-zero refrigerator and fully stocked with pots, pans, silverware and dishes. Tons of counter space. A good sized living room with a balcony and flat screens in living room and bedroom. The bedroom also had a king-sized (though obviously lumpy) bed and a huge closet. A full sized bathroom with his-hers sinks, giant heart-shaped tub and toilet with a privacy wall. A second bathroom with another toilet, shower and sink that could be closed off was off of the front entry way, but opened into the main bathroom. Seeing that the fridge was empty and that we had a full kitchen, we quickly made a grocery list and Kevin went off to procure food and beverages at the local FoodLand. Once he returned, we set out to explore the strip mall across the street and get a late lunch.
We walked past a Subway, a Cold Stone Creamery a Chinese restaurant and into a “Whole Foodsy” kind of place that had a food counter, but there wasn’t really a menu posted, just 3 people standing behind the counter. With no idea what they were serving, we moved on…and stumbled across a biker bar: the Pau Hana Bar & Grill, which was surprisingly good! We signed the guest book and attached a signed dollar bill to the wall in the tradition of hundreds before us. After lunch, we headed back to the room and realized that the Hanapepe Art Walk was only on Friday nights, so our only chance was to go that evening. We called the Hanapepe Cafe & Bakery for dinner reservations at 8:15 p.m.
A little later we hopped in the car and headed towards Hanapepe. There is only one major road that goes around the island and in order to get to Hanapepe, we had to go through Lihue, which only has a population of around 5,000, but that’s where everything major on the island is. The mall, Home Depot, Costco, airport, etc. After snaking through the Lihuan metropolis, we headed down Highway 50 towards Hanapepe. Once we arrived, it had gotten dark but we quickly found off street parking. It was like a mix between a street fair and a fru-fru art gallery row with people strolling along listening to open air music and various performances. There were street vendors selling Kava and various foodstuffs as well as galleries and various stores. We met a woodworker who had a fabulous gallery…he was originally from Roslindale…go figure. After strolling along the entire street and looking around, it was time for our dinner reservation at the Cafe. There was a live musician playing guitar. I had lentil soup and Kevin and I split a saffron chicken dish that was delicious. We headed home and promptly fell asleep after the long day. However, at 12:30 a.m. our phone rang — the security guard noticed that the dome light of our car was on — oops!!
On Saturday around 7 a.m., our neighbor decided that it would be a good time to start yakking in a loud booming voice…so we had no need for an alarm clock. Since the gym was only a few doors down, we decided to check it out and get some exercise in. It wasn’t really all that great (I’ve never seen a gym without a single treadmill!) but at least I got to do some Gaga practice. After our short workout we headed up to Hanalei Bay Beach, which took us over one of the famous one lane bridges on Kaua’i. Once on the beach, we alternated between feeling like we were getting burned and literally getting rained on. When it looked like it was clearing, we unpacked and started to eat our salad lunches, which of course attracted heavy rains. Between the time it took to collect all our stuff and wipe off enough wet sand off to get into the car, the sun had come out again! Although the beach itself was nice, the picnic shelter had been taken over by a group of what appeared to be homeless people and the “facilities” were not at all maintained. So with this final blow, we decided to leave.
On the way out of Hanalei, we stopped at the Hanalei Juice Company for a Taro Berry Breeze smoothie. The man was terribly nice to us, asking us where in Massachusetts we were from, since he noticed Kevin’s Red Sox cap. Of course…he was originally from Newton. Weird!! Heading back towards home, we stopped at the Kilauea Lighthouse and Bird Sanctuary, which was having a “free” day. After spending a good chunk of time looking at birds and the scenery, we got back on the road towards home, then ended up stopping at a farmer’s market. We had already eaten, so we didn’t partake in the large plates of grilled food that they were selling, but we did end up with three packages of spices that were locally made. When we got home, we hung out by the pool for a while and then headed in for dinner. Kevin made a stir-fry with the groceries we had picked up the day before, and we had drinks on the balcony overlooking the pool. After dinner, we headed across the road to pick up some supplies from Safeway: ice-cream and waffle bowls for dessert and a pizza for dinner the next day.
On Sunday we decided we would visit Waimea Canyon and do some hiking. We used our trusty Lonely Planet guidebook of Kaua’i to try and find trails that we thought were manageable (i.e. those not frequented by the casual tourist, but those not requiring super duper athleticism either). Our first issue was getting to the trails at Waimea Canyon State Park. Our book said that Waimea Canyon Drive was “recommended” by officials, and although we tried to take that, we ended up taking the other road, Koke’e, first. And this road was crazy curvy!
Soon enough, we got to our first stop, called the Iliau Nature Loop. (This was essentially the baby trail.) We stopped and made it about halfway around before we got bored with the limited canyon views, and decided to move on to the more challenging Kukui Trail. This trail was pretty steep, going down, down, and more down. As we walked on the red dirt, I was sort of wishing I didn’t wear my white sneakers! On the way, we saw a man guiding two horses (riding one of course) back up the trail, and it occurred to us that getting back up might be interesting!
Fortunately, we ended up stopping at a particularly challenging point in the trail. Basically the “trail” at this point was about a foot-wide ledge of loose, pebbly rocks, wrapping around an incredibly steep hill. It was fortunate that we turned back at this point because as you might imagine, getting back up proved a lot more challenging, and by the time we reached the top, we were hungry!
This time, we took the Waimea Canyon Drive, and it really was a beautiful, scenic drive. Along the way, we ended up stopping at several scenic lookouts, including: Waimea Canyon Lookout (3400 ft), Pu Hinahina Lookout (3500 ft), Kalalau Lookout (4000ft) — my favorite, Pu’u o Kila Lookout, and Wai’ale’ale Lookout (5140 ft — and “one of the wettest spots on earth”). We also passed the Koke’e Museum and Koke’e State Park, but didn’t stop there, because we were interested in getting to the Shrimp Station for lunch.
The Shrimp Station tasted pretty good after all that hiking. Kevin had coconut shrimp with fries, and I had a scampi-style dish with new potatoes. While waiting in line, I happened to meet a woman who was visiting Kaua’i from Florida. Much like the American tourists in Germany who said it “looked like Colorado”, I was slightly miffed when she said it wasn’t all that different for her.
As we continued our drive, we spontaneously decided to stop at the Kauai Coffee Plantation. We were lucky enough to walk into a “coffee tasting”, where I promptly got my little cup and tried several different chocolate and hazelnut coffees, as well as the Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian Holiday) blend. We also sat and shared a frappe while watching a video that described how coffee was made.
We made the pizza we bought yesterday for dinner, and Kevin started experimenting with drinks made from Captain Morgan’s Coconut Rum and fresh pineapple — yum! Then we used the fancy flat screen to watch some Curb Your Enthusiasm before bed, since we were exhausted from all the hiking.
Monday morning we decided, upon recommendation of a friend, to visit Ke’e Beach. The drive there was really interesting, since it involved driving over about 6 one-way bridges, and because it marked the “end of the road” on the North Shore. When we arrived, we found that it was kind of cold (still shady), although Kevin was particularly intrigued by all the warning signs. Since I couldn’t imagine disrobing here, we drove past some caves and to nearby Makua (Tunnels) Beach instead, where we enjoyed some time in the sun (and, a pavilion with clean restrooms)!For lunch, we decided to return to Hanalei to visit Bubba Burgers for lunch. The burger was good, and we found a nice picnic table with an umbrella under which to eat. We also stopped at Java Kai for liquid dessert. I had a fruity protein drink and Kevin had another coffee frappe thing. After all that intake, we walked around in the nearby shops, and I almost bought a hoodie. We ended up back at the pool before sundown, and had dinner in again while we planned tomorrow’s kayak adventure and a trip to the Lawai International Center when a volunteer would be there to show us around.
On Tuesday we got an early start and headed out to the main office of Wailua Kayak Adventures, just down the road. According to the guy, we were supposed to be there by 6:30 am and it was right off the main drag. Some trouble and one cell phone call later, we found the appropriate shack, located in a parking lot with more chickens than customers! After signing the waivers and getting bitten by some mosquitoes, we hopped back in the car to meet our guide, Cole, at the Wailua River Marina.
At the marina, we loaded our stuff into a dry-bag, strapped it to the back of Kevin’s kayak, and launched into the water. Along with two other couples, we started the 2.5 mile paddle up the river. The current was very mild, but there was a small headwind. We passed a few other people on the river, but it was mostly calm. After awhile we came to a split in the river and headed up a narrower channel, continuing along until the channel got narrower and narrower. Finally, when we could go no further, we hopped out of the kayaks and began a ~1 mile hike up to a (secret) waterfall. The hike was shaded for the most part and was not too rough. Cole gave us a running commentary about the area and its history along the way, and was diligent in cleaning up the pathways, etc. as we went along. We saw many interesting things, including plants that curled up at your touch, and some petroglyphs becoming more visible as the moss on the rocks wore away.
An aside: be sure to use the facilities immediately before embarking on such an adventure!! Although I did go before I left the house, I must say that the entire “adventure”, starting with the initial launch of the kayak to the hike — which seemed like such a short one unless you really really had to go — was a little difficult to bear! (And yes, I did end up making my own facility in what I’m sure was some sacred space, and nearly got caught by the guide who was bringing the rest of our group over to the area I was in.) Oh, the discomfort! Oh, the horror!!
OK, back to business…LOL. Once we reached the waterfall basin, we encountered additional tourists and guides. We piled our stuff on a flat rock and went to hop in the water. And OMG was it cold! It didn’t help that most of the basin was still shaded, but how could you go all that way and not go in the water? We took several pictures, and even went back in after having the nice snacks Cole provided. The second time, as we were under the falls, it was if someone turned a giant dial, because all of a sudden, the water flow increased audibly. We got a few more pictures (one with rainbow) and returned to our rock to dry out and eat some more snacks. After a few more minutes, we packed up, hiked back to the kayaks, and started our paddle back downstream. As luck would have it, the current was still very mild, but now we had a headwind again…how in the heck??? We finally made it back to the marina around noon, just in time for lunch. After lunch, we spent a (well deserved) lazy afternoon by the pool relaxing.
For dinner, we headed out to the highly rated Hanamaulu Cafe. As we pulled up we didn’t think twice, but as we entered it looked like a school cafeteria: a big hall, half-filled with folding tables and plastic chairs. There were a few people seated at tables, but they were all in a long row, so you weren’t really at your own table. Going on what our guide book said, we asked the waitress to be seated in the tea garden. After a little grumbling, she took us down a long hallway to a very nice Japanese garden, complete with traditional booths (those with the sunken tables) and where shoes were not allowed. (I’ll also note here that wearing a short dress and high, buckled heels was probably not the correct wardrobe choice!) As we were seated, we noticed an older couple next to us. They were quiet for the most part until the gentleman noticed Kevin’s shoes and announced, “with feet that big, you must be from the North country.” Then he proceeded to tell Kevin that he knew that Kevin was either a lawyer or an educator, because everyone he had met recently was either a lawyer or an educator. With some other nonsensical chit-chat of the same sort, they proceeded to tell us how great it was to stay in a bed and breakfast that lacked TVs, computers, and cell phone reception so that they could “talk to each other about the important stuff.” Meanwhile at dinner, they didn’t say much to each other, and the guy was futzing with his phone most of the time! As they finished and got up to leave, the woman came over, and towering over a seated Kevin, asked, “Can I give you a blessing?” We were both puzzled — was she a minister or something? (It also reminded me a bit of “the bl-esssss-ing” scene in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but anyway…) After a long pause, Kevin said, “um…sure,” and she proceeded to wish us a happy marriage and life together. While nice, it was also just a bit weird! After wrapping up that dinner experience, we tried to head over to Duke’s Canoe Club for dessert/drinks, but what they don’t tell you is that “you can’t get there from here.” So after several increasingly humorous tries at locating the correct parking lot, we gave up and headed home!
On Wednesday morning at 9 am, we had arranged to meet one of the Lawai International Center‘s volunteers, which in our guide book was listed as the “best place to meditate”. The center itself is located down a small side road off of Hwy 50 between Lihue and Kalaheo, which ends at a large gate. After a few minutes waiting, David, the volunteer, came down and let us in. Once we parked, we joined one other couple in seeing the 88 Buddhist shrines that were set into the hillside. David spent some time telling us about the history of the site and showed us some of the lower shrines. Then at our own pace, we walked up the hillside and looked at each of the shrines individually. Different shrines were in different states as many had been repaired at different times. Surprisingly, many of the shrines still had individual Buddhas preserved within them — some made out of rock, some wood. It took us more than an hour to make our way up the steep hillside and view each of the shrines. Many people who had been there before had left different items at different shrines: some contained coins, jewelry, or other small sentimental items. It was incredibly peaceful and definitely worth the visit.
Once we had finished there, David suggested that we visit the nearby Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Co., for a late breakfast/early lunch. We decided that this was a good idea, and we weren’t disappointed. We even decided to visit again the next day before the sunset cruise we had booked. (Kevin thought the cinnamon knuckles were delicious! :-))
Once we had eaten, we headed east on Hwy 50 to Hwy 520 to see the famous tree tunnel on our way to Poipu. When we got to Poipu, it was too early to eat, so we headed just down the road to Koloa to see the spouting horn, a blowhole in the lava flow that would spout large plumes of water as the waves pushed water into a chamber below the blowhole. After seeing lots more feral chickens and deftly avoiding the tourist trap shops that were set up near the viewing platform, we headed back to Poipu, stopping briefly at the Prince Kuhio State Park to take a few quick pictures (he was the last royally designated heir to the Hawaiian throne).
Once back in Poipu, we stopped at the Poipu Shopping Village to have lunch at Puka Dog. The hot dogs were delicious, as was the fresh squeezed lemonade! We also got free shaved ice from a guy walking around with samples. To complete our dessert, we walked next door to Papalani Gelato which was also delicious — fresh island fruit gelato cannot be beat (says Kevin, as obviously I always prefer chocolate)! After lunch, we stopped along the way back to see Wailua Falls and ‘Opaeka’a Falls, whose signs we kept seeing along the way to other places! After that, we relaxed by the pool (again, I know, but ahhhhh!).
For dinner, we headed to the Oasis On The Beach, the on-site restaurant, for the Wednesday night drink and food specials. We got a table overlooking the water and once the waiter came over, he got us started with drinks and a bowl of delicious fried purple sweet potato chips! We scarfed those down in about 2 minutes flat and asked for another. We didn’t even blink at the extra $$ they were going to charge for the second bowl…they were that good. After an awesome dinner and drinks, we turned in for the night.
Thursday was our last full day in Kaua’i, so we wanted to make it as long as possible. We got up at 6-something am and got ourselves into the car to go the short distance to Kealia Beach so we could watch the sunrise. We had been meaning to do this all week, and today was the last day to get it in. We set up two resort towels in the sand and sat on them in the cool, calm, dark morning.
When the sky started getting brighter, we got up and walked around a lot to see the crabs digging little holes all over the beach. They were the color of sand and if you moved even slightly (even if they seemed to be miles from their hole), they snapped back into it quicker than you could blink. Kevin also had two different sand civilizations he worked on with some glasses (from our condo). When the sun was up and we had more photos of that process than anything else on the entire trip (LOL), we went back and got ourselves ready for the rest of the day.
We had a leisurely lunch back at Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Co., and while doing so noticed that we were a bit off on the time to get to the Na Pali Sunset Cruise. That meant we had even more time to “waste” before we got to the marina. So, we decided to walk around the various shops in Old Koloa Town. I found a fabulous little store with Buddhas and prayer flags and clothes/jewelry, but at this point we were not looking for any more gifts for ourselves! We stumbled into a cute jewelry store though where Kevin ended up pointing out a gorgeous floral toe ring, and floral necklaces and earrings. (Apparently floral is my (jewelry) thing, though I’m not sure when that started.) I ended up getting some things for myself and some for others, so it worked out well. We also stopped at another gelato place for one last treat.
Then it was finally time to get to Captain Andy’s Sailing Adventures to embark on our sunset cruise. After finding the appropriate parking area and getting ourselves signed in, we waited a little bit to be called to walk down to the boat. The folks there were saying it was a bit choppy out, and advising people who get seasick to consider taking something. I waffled about it for awhile, but it was too late by the time I decided “better safe than sorry”. (The only time I’d come close to getting sea sick was on a “high speed” ferry to P-town because it ended up having major issues with its engines — and thanks to former BEA colleague Neil Smithline, who made me lay down and close my eyes for the trip, I didn’t. So I wasn’t quite sure what I should do!) There was also some hoopla with some woman when the staff informed us that we were to take off our shoes and leave them in a little bin at the dock.
Anyway, soon enough we were riding out toward our destination and looking back at all we left behind. The folks working the tour were really great. They got us (non-alcoholic) beverages and told us about the sights we saw along the way. About halfway out, we got a buffet style dinner and dessert. They also took care of LOTS of seasick folks (not me), and I learned two things. 1: Beer helps with seasickness. I heard one of the staff to convince a woman that a beer would settle her stomach, and it totally seemed to. 2: Not everyone was on their honeymoon. I’m referring to the guy with the “Born to Hunt, Have to Work” cap who laughed and recorded a video of his wife hurling over the side of the boat.
When we arrived closer to the end of the line, the captain got (what I thought) was really close to the shore line, while the other staff made sure folks got their photos with the beautiful backdrop. Then, he launched up the (party) sail and we started drinking! Now, they were making what they called “Sneaky Tikis” — essentially guava juice with rum on top — and joked that you could have as many as you wanted as long as you could ask for the drink by the name. These were fabulous, and strong, so the third time one of the guys came around, Kevin agreed to split one with me. He laughed, and then promptly prepared us one with double rum! We also met a nice couple from Wyoming who were celebrating their one year anniversary with this honeymoon, so we chatted with them for while. We saw a weird “double” sunset, where the sun set behind some clouds and then again for real. Then — all too quickly — we were back at the dock, reclaiming our shoes from the bin.
On the drive back we started to feel the pain of having to pack up our things and the thought of flying home. Ugh. We did a bunch and then turned in for the night. The next morning we finished up, looked around at the great place we had been living for the past week, and had an uneventful check out and drive to the Lihue airport. I’ll tell you, never have I seen an airport filled with so many people who clearly wanted to just go back outside and do something in the sun.
One other thing to note (with a piece of advice for “destination” brides): send your dress along ahead of time and don’t worry about it while you’re traveling! Or, do take it with you and see what it makes you think about the man you just married. (On the last flight — from San Francisco to Boston, the flight attendants would not let us hang the dress in a closet as we had been able to do on every other flight. So, we folded it up and put it in the overhead bin a few seats behind us. Of course I’m worrying and watching, waiting for someone to crush it. Sure enough, a woman with a huge suitcase starts trying to cram her bag in around the garment bag containing my dress. In tears, I grab Kevin and ask him to say something. So he stands up and says, “Excuse me ma’am, but that’s a wedding dress that you’re jamming your bag into?” A good portion of the plane turns around to look at the woman and she moves on to another bin, while I start to appreciate my husband even more.)