Friday, September 1, 2017

Kauai Anniversary - Part V

Our final day on Kauai may have been our very favorite. Of course, we had rainbows (and double rainbows) to welcome the day and Kona coffee to get us moving. How much could we squeeze in to our last day?!?

After stopping for (more) coffee in Hanalei at our favorite breakfast joint, Hanalei Bread Company, we decided to drive as far north and west as the highway would take us.
The Kalalau Trail is easily Kauai's most famous trail, and while we didn't have a full day to commit to the 11-mile arduous hike, we did "walk" (and sometimes crawl) up the .5 mile vertical ascent from Kee Beach to the first of many incredible views of the Na Pali coastline.

When we return to Kauai with our kiddos someday, I promised Wade that we'd both be in better shape and prepared to hike the entire 11 challenging miles. The trail stays relatively near to the coastline as it winds its way up and down through five major valleys including the renowned Kalalau Valley at the end of the trail.

Haena State Park

After traipsing around Hanalei and finding the perfect ukuleles to bring home for our hoodlums, we saddled up for our last adventure - a catamaran tour w/ Na Pali Catamaran.

Luckily, we had prescriptive patches for motion sickness which worked wonders for Wade. He had ZERO nausea on the catamaran.


One of the great things about Na Pali Catamaran is their 35' boat is small enough to enter sea caves...larger boats looked on with envy while we explored the inside of caves and amazing waterfalls.

And what better way to end our last day on Kauai than at our favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant and bar, sipping their famous Mai Tais.

And for dessert, Pierce Brosnan, his wife and two sons joined were seated two tables away from us. Yes, we concluded our last night in Kauai sitting two tables down from 007. Wade (and Fern, our waitress) made me promise not to snap a photo and blow his cover, but Fern confirmed it was him...I loved seeing him incognito with his family. He clapped and cheered for the local performers and appeared to be a genuinely nice/normal guy. Admittedly, I was little star struck.
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Kauai Anniversary - Part IV

Day 6 - Na Aina Kai Botanical Garden and the South Shore
Our visit to Na Aina Kai Botanical Garden was a spur of the moment decision. Apart from dinner reservations at Tidepools in Poipu that evening, we had nothing planned except for exploring the south shore and enjoying some solitude and good reading on the beach. And Na Aina Kai happened to be right off the highway and in route to the south shore. As luck would have it, when we arrived at Na Aina Kai, the receptionist told us the owner had decided to give a personal tour that morning and we were the lucky tourists. We were told that Joyce gives one to two tours each month and of the hundreds of visitors, we happened to come on the right day, at the right time.
Na Aina Kai ("Lands by the Sea") was started by Joyce and Ed Doty in the late 70's with a few seeds planted in paradise by a couple in "retirement." And throughout her tour, Joyce share personal stories of how one small garden grew step-by-step into a national treasure.

The gardens and beautiful teak forest met the ocean just below where Joyce and I were standing...the views were breathtaking (as are most views in Kauai). As an aside, Joyce shared that someone recently purchased the ten acres next to her land for a mere $9M.


This particular spot at Na Aina Kai has become a popular place for couples to share their wedding nuptials. It's not hard to see why the location is so desired.

Another lucky break for us at Na Aina Kai - our tour was timed perfectly and we were able to see and watch a "baby" albatross.

Na Aina Kai is famous on the island for its beautiful sculptures. I was particularly fond of this one...


These leaves felt exactly like cardboard. No joke.

The roots on these trees were AMAZING.

Another one of my favorite sculptures...perfectly placed.





Because we were fortunate enough to be touring with the owner, we got exclusive access to the back deck of her former home. Can you imagine...tiki torches lit, red wine in hand, the sound of waves crashing less than 100 yards away...not sure I'd ever leave home.

Joyce inspired me in many ways during the tour. Na Aina Kai's website does a wonderful job of showcasing Joyce's passion and the impetus behind her garden and sculpture park.
"At the core of her aspirations for Na ‘Aina Kai was Joyce’s lifelong love of the arts "I have always been interested in the many facets of art,” recalls Mrs. Doty. “Being surrounded by beautiful things lifts my spirits. As a teenager I would listen to Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Piano Concerto and cry at the beautiful passages. It touched my soul. In the beginning of Na ‘Aina Kai, the challenge of creating the landscape occupied my enthusiasm,” she said. “Then, like a painter who feels his work is still not complete, I realized that these already bounteous gardens could become even more alive if the art and culture muses were to share this space with nature’s extraordinary artistic creations.”
After Na Aina Kai, our journey continued on to the south shore and Poipu.
Poor Wade let me talk him in to off-roading again...and it was worth it. We found this jewel and had the entire beach to ourselves. I finished my book while Wade enjoyed a swim. It was heaven.

After several hours of solitude, we gallivanted to Tidepools (my favorite restaurant of the trip) for dinner. Here we dined with koi and could literally hang our feet out and over the water. Both the ambience and food were out of this world.

After dinner, we took a final walk along the south shore to watch the sunset...