Kauai – the Garden Isle

Happy New Year! We started off our New Year heading to Kauai – the Garden Isle. Our flight was at 8:43 am and we got there at 7 am. Early morning in the open-air airport of Big Island, it was a bit chilly so take your sweater or hoodie with you! We sat near the gate and then an agent came and asked if we can take an earlier flight to Honolulu since the 8:43 flight was overbooked. We didn’t thought much and accepted it as it was half an hour earlier than our flight. I guess New Year’s Day, a lot of travel so overbooking is a norm. We saw the agent went around and asked other passengers to switch to an earlier flight!

Kona open-air airport:

Our plane ūüôā

We arrived at Kauai at 10:42 am, claimed our luggage, and went straight to Budget to get our rental (2 days for $76.92). When we got there, there was a power outage, urggg really? They have no generator so everything has to be done with the old fashioned paper forms! We declined insurance since our Chase United credit card covers primary rental insurance! The guy asked if we would like to upgrade our economy car to something fun? No thanks, weather forecast to be high chance of rain on the two days ūüė¶ We waited for a long time for our car – their mode of communication….walkie talkie! Finally, the radio replied with the plate¬†number! The guy handled us our paperwork with the plate number and model….hum…it’s a Mustang. We walked outside and in search of our car, nothing match! There was a black Mustang convertible right on the front, my husband joked that he’ll take that car. We waited and waited and then a lady came over and took a look of the paper on my hand. She said he wrote the wrong plate number, it is this black Mustang convertible! Oh my, we got a free upgrade!

It was pretty challenging to squeeze our two suitcase into the trunk. It was almost noon and I was starving at that time, we drove to¬†Fish Express 3343 Kuhio Hwy, Lihue, Kauai, HI but it was closed! Uh-oh arriving on New Year’s Day – double check with restaurants as many local restaurants are closed!!! What to do now? We decided to drive to the first point of interest and will stop by as we see a restaurant along the way. First stop¬†Wailua Falls, it is very accessible by car, no hiking required! On the road, we saw a plain with a huge tree in the middle and horses there, it was very beautiful so we make a note to stop by on the way back!

There is a parking there and locals selling straw-made crafts. Wailua Falls:

It was pretty hard to get a complete view of it from the side of the road, hubby raised the stabilizer hoping for a complete angle lol!

There was a rainbow….a very small one can be seen at various angle!

As promised, on the way out, we pulled over for pictures of this big tree and horses. This was my first impression of Kauai – very green and natural.

As we were taking few pictures, a horse came over and looking at me, how adorable!

He/she was a great model! Another horse joined, how lucky we were!

Bye-bye horsey!!!

We drove to another waterfalls called Opaekaa Falls, there is a parking lot there too.

But this falls is soooo far away! I zoomed in all the way and can only get this:

We got back to our car and put in the address of our hotel – it takes 1 hours to get there…..we were hoping we’ll find a restaurant for a late lunch…oh boy…I was starving but thankfully I has some chocolate bars with me and the dried fruits we bought from ABC store!

On the way, we saw tons of coconut trees and mountain ranges on the back. The landscape is spectacular! Finally, we drove by a town called Kapaa, we saw a line of people for shaved ice – yay finally a place is open! We turned back and had a late lunch at Ono Family Restaurant.

A lot of locals here for breakfast, I heard that the pancakes were very good but I know it won’t be filling for me so I ordered from the lunch menu. I ordered the Ono famous burger and hubby ordered the teriyaki special.

My burger was great but my husband’s teriyaki..he said overcooked. The meal was $24.31. It was alright not memorable.

Continuing our drive to the hotel……we stopped at the¬†Hanalei Valley Lookout. There is only a few parking spots there. There, a panoramic view of the taro fields down in the valley. It was very cloudy so the pictures weren’t as pretty as it should on a sunny day. Within minutes, it started to rain, sigh, we went in our car and left.

We finally arrived the hotel, it is a resort villas so is has separate buildings. Hubby pulled over on the lobby building, I went in to check in and got a map. Our villa was located on Building 1, next building over from the lobby. There’s a parking lot on the back. Our villa, as with all Westin Resort & Vllas, is spacious! When entering the door, the right is the washer and dryer. The reason I chose Westin over Sheraton in Kauai is that the villas has washer and dryer, perfect to do our laundry ih the middle of our trip so we don’t need to pack the full two weeks+ of clothing.

Then, a hallway to walk into the villa, on the left is the bathroom and on the right is the small kitchen with a full-sized fridge, electric range, microwave, and sink.

The room with the king-sized¬†Westin heavenly bed, it is so much more comfortable than the bed we had in Sheraton at Big Island. There’s a soft bed and a coffee table. The only thing I dislike about the villa is there are only two lights in the bedroom area – it was very dark at night!

I peeked out and it was still raining ūüė¶ We waited for half an hour and then finally it started to clear up! Immediately, we went back out to explore the island as much as we can because i know tomorrow’s weather will be worst! We drove back to¬†Hanalei Valley Lookout, this time a little bit of sunshine, better than rain! The taro fields reminded me of the rice fields when I was little but of course this is much more prettier in a scenic valley with the mountain on the back.

Panorama from the iphone:

We continued our way on Kuhio Highway and there is another lookout before Hanalei town.

The sky started to clear out!

Picture with our free-upgrade convertible ūüėÄ

There are few bridges where only one traffic direction can pass so had to stop and wait for our turn. Hum….why didn’t they build a bit wider to fit both traffic directions? There’s a small shopping center in Hanalei town and few restaurants there. We continued on and will stop by the market on the way back.

We stopped at hum…not sure of the beach name but you need to walk pass a dirt wooded path to get there. Insect repellent spraying time! I was walking really slow and careful to avoid the wet mud while hubby ran down the beach and chase the chicken -.- There are chicken everywhere¬†in Kauai! The waves were big and danger sign posted.

Across the street from the beach is another farm with horses there, ahhh horses in Kauai has big homes!

Continue on the Kuhio Highway, there’s the dry cave!¬†I walked in a little bit and then stand there waiting for my husband, I was afraid to walk into the darkness since I have no clue what will be in there (animals bugs, etc)! It was very dark as you walk further down that you can’t see.¬†I heard people’s voices in there so I didn’t stop my husband from going in further.

We didn’t notice how colorful the rocks really are in there, probably due to mineral deposit, but after we got home and process the photos, we saw them.

Across from the dry cave is a beach, I believe it’s the Tunnel Beach? There were campers there too despite the weather.

This beach has a small stream flowing into the ocean, the water reflecting the blue sky really caught my eyes. And then a “mountain” of sand washed ashore by the big waves.It was really unique and interesting! That is hubby in the pic LOL!

Then, we were back on Kuhio Highway and stopped at the wet cave, this cave has a no swimming sign. Hum…what’s in there? It reminded me of those adventurous scary movie!

We were at the end of Kuhio Highway, beginning of the¬†Kalalau Trail. We are not hikers and was about to get dark so we turned back to Hanalei. We stopped by the market there, it was open on New Year’s Day. We bought a pineapple haha knowing that our villa has cutting board and knife! We also stocked up on frozen dinner and Chicken pot pie for breakfast!

Too bad it started to rain again or else we would hang out the town for a while. Instead, we went back to the hotel.

Dinner time came, due to the rain, we didn’t feel like to drive back to Hanalei for dinner,¬†so we decided to have dinner in the hotel restaurant – Nanea. We didn’t make a reservation and only waited a few minutes before being seated.

Inside the restaurant:

Appetizers we ordered the Crab and Scallop ($17)

and Seafood Bruschetta ($17). The crab cake and scallop was really good!

The Seafood Brushetta was okay.

Entree, I ordered the Seafood Fettuccine ($30), it was very creamy that I felt full after 75% of the way. It was good though!

Husband ordered the Beef Tenderloin ($45), it was excellent, cooked perfectly! The portion is huge, enough for two people! This was one of the best steaks I had, can compete with the one i had in the Westin Aruba years ago but my #1 steak still the Florentine T-bone in Florence,Italy.

We saved room for dessert – which is the pineapple in our room LOL!

We took some photos of the restaurant and the hotel lobby prior walking back to our room.

Christmas tree in the lobby:

Pineapple cutting time, thank you hubby!

It was juicy and sweet, I love Hawaiian pineapples! The pineapple was enough for two days we were there!

We had a great night sleep and I hoped for better weather tomorrow so we can have our off-door helicopter tour!

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