When we first started discussing our honeymoon location, Hawaii wasn't even on the list. We were thinking Thailand, Europe or Africa. But, one or both of us had already traveled to many of the destinations on our list. We wanted to travel to a place that neither of us had been so we could discover it together. When Hawaii was thrown out there I was somewhat ambivalent. I was mostly sidetracked by Wedding planning but a part of me felt like Hawaii was a little cliche. I had my mind set on something more, dare I say exotic. We decided and booked our trip with excitement during the chaos of getting through last minute lists and I almost forgot about it while in wedding mode. Post-wedding we were ready to go! I couldn't wait to simply relax on a beach with a coconut drink in hand. We flew into Honolulu and got in late. We grabbed dinner, enjoyed a fireworks display and passed out! The next morning we woke up early and left for Kauai. We picked up our rental Jeep all giddy and made sure everyone knew we were honeymooners cause', ya know, it wasn't obvious at all. We started driving our little journey around the island. Kauai is the smallest of the Hawaiian Islands and you could essentially drive the whole thing in a day. As we drove we passed beautiful palm groves and got glimpses of the ocean. I could barely contain myself. We got to our hotel and with leis around our neck and umbrella drinks in hand I laughed at myself for ever questioning Hawaii for One. Single. Moment. This place. The crystal clear water. The people. The PEOPLE! The love. The calm that instantly lays itself upon your shoulders and never lets go. The adventures, sunsets, and soft sand that settles in every nook and cranny of your body but you just DON'T CARE because it is PERFECTION in every way. Oh, Hawaii. This place mesmerized me from the moment we arrived.
We stayed at the St. Regis for our first few days as a MAJOR splurge. They upgraded us to an ocean-view room and I almost jumped out of my seat and hugged that lady. We could NOT afford an ocean view. We could barely afford to be there in the first place and let me tell you — waking up to that view!!! I've never had an ocean-view room before but now I know. I get it. All those times I've shrugged at how much more it costs for that view. Well, if you can put a price on it... ohhhhh it just may be worth it. And did I mention the sound... of the waves gently crashing on the shore, just willing you into submission. Worth. It.
Our days were mostly eat, swim, sun, sleep, repeat. No phones, just conversation with the man I love. We didn't talk about life or work or any of those normal things. We talked about silly little nothings and we laughed and we said nothing sometimes. Those are the moments. We could only lounge around for so long though. We are adventure people and our first 'outing', if you will, was to Tunnels Beach. I didn't leave the water the ENTIRE time. I forgot to eat or drink water or do anything but swim with the fishes. We finally took a break and walked along the beach. As we walked we ran into the most lovely couple with their three little ones. We talked a little and they sent us along with some newlywed words of wisdom. They had been married for twenty years and they were the coolest parents. I left them with little hopes of wanting to be that cool myself someday. They made sure we kept going because we 'HAD to see the turtles'. This would be our first sighting. When we got to the little bend on the beach I didn't know what to think. There was not one or two or three. There were over TWENTY! All those little dots you see below. Turtles! They swam in only a few feet of the greenest water you ever did see and they floated elegantly while eating little bits of whatever was in the water. I died from happiness and pretty much threw myself into the water with them. And I just watched. And it was glorious.
At the end of the day we grabbed Pizza to go from North Shore general store in Princeville (via a local recommendation). If I have any words of wisdom when traveling it is to seek out locals and ask them where to go! If you ever visit Kauai and find yourself hankering for some pizza, don't be fooled by the general store's location... in a gas station. It was insanely delicious, especially after a day of being water logged on the beach. With that and a six pack in tow we head to Kilauea Lighthouse to watch the sunset. Due to the government shutdown, it was closed. We cursed for a moment and drove to the tip top of the winding road that led to the lighthouse and watched from there instead. Those Hawaii sunsets are no joke. They are dreamy and I think of them often. Ohhhhhh those sunsets. In that last pic below you'll see a cloud that looks just like a big whale. That made me happy!
The following day we woke up early, ate waffles, drank fresh passion fruit juice, and topped off breakfast with a helicopter ride. This was one of those things that we nonchalantly signed up for. We agreed it was a going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity and we moved on with our day. It didn't quite hit me until we got there.
Did I mention I'm afraid of flying? But I've traveled LOTS and I've been in tiny planes. My 15 year old brother piloted a plane with myself in the passenger seat and I was ok with that. Helicopters are a whole other thing. The sights were breathtaking and the waterfalls — more than you could count. Just in case I pointed them out below! Kauai is actually the wettest place on earth and a good portion of the island is unreachable by land. The only way to get a view is to fly over and if it weren't for our suuuper chill Hawaiian pilot (who told me to breathe more than once) and a few hand squeezes from Brian, I may have had a panic attack.
Don't get me wrong, the first five minutes were greaaaat. But after we flew over that first valley I was pretty much ready for touch down and my camera stayed glued to my lap because the idea of looking through a lens was NOT ok. So, Brian took over and 40 minutes later I finally spotted the farm that marked a safe homecoming and LAND! Oh sweet land under my toes how I much prefer you there. All that being said, the view of the beach just below... yea worth it! After safely landing we rented paddle boards from the shop downtown and took our snorkel gear to Hanalei Bay. P.S. Snorkel gear is $7 to rent for the whole week downtown. Score! We paddle boarded for the afternoon, paddle surfed, snorkeled and watched the really good surfers from afar. I think I could get used to being in Hawaii because that pretty much makes the day!
We made it a point to explore the other side of the island as well and drove to Polihale State Park Beach (with the top down, of course)! Along the way we stopped at the market and grabbed some goods. I was psyched when the cashier asked if I was a local (locals have discounted rates) but this confirmed my tan was setting in despite applying SPF 40 every two hours. (wear sunblock, people!) If you have time in Kauai drive to Polihale. It takes a little time to get out there because of the long dirt/sand road that leads to the beach. But, you'll feel like you're on an adventure (cause, you are!) And once you get there I promise you'll be happy. You'll likely be surrounded by only a few locals who probably camped for the night on the beach and who can surf their butts off. You can drive right out onto the beach and you feel like you're on a private little stretch of land juuuuust for you! The waves roll in, the water is SOoooOoooOoo warm, and you get to take those nice long walks while watching surfers do their thang'. And you'll get to steal lots of kisses from your hubby because that's what you're there for anyways.
After Pulihale we trekked back to Hanalei and visited Queen's Bath. Go here! We didn't get many pics because at that point our GoPro ran out of battery but you must go. Climb down those stairs and make your way over the rocks. Yes, beware of the ledge and look for the life buoy that marks your trail. You'll find a natural pool amongst those rocks that fills with ocean water as each new wave crashes in. So rad! The best part is feeling like you get a little massage from all the bubbles. Don't be fooled though, those waves are big! Stay away from the edges so you don't get knocked. There's also lots of fish in there. After each wave would crash I'd be under the water looking to see if a shark came over with it ;)
On our last evening in Kauai we went back to Hanalei Bay and watched the sunset. It was probably the most beautiful one we got if they could be ranked at all. We head into town for dinner and live music and packed up for our next leg of the trip to the Big Island. Of all the islands I think Kauai was my favorite. It may have been because it was my first introduction to Hawaii but it will always have a special place in my heart. My list of recommendations is below but this wraps up Hawaii part one! More to come soon. Aloha! After this post I'm ready to go back. Right. Now.
Polihale State Park
Hanalei Coffee Roasters
Bar Acuda (drinks and dessert and live music!)
St. Regis (If you don't stay there go there for a bite!)
Hanalei Surf (Surf Boards, for paddle boards walk directly across the street) they'll help you load them on your car
Hanalei Surf (Snorkel Gear)
Downtown Hanalei (they have awesome postcards at all the little shops, we sent them as thank you cards to our wedding guests!)
Napali Art Gallery and Coffee House