The weather forecast doesn’t look good at all! While waiting for 8 am to call the tour company, we prepared our frozen dinners as breakfast haha! I called Mauna Loa Helicopters and asked about my scheduled tour at 1:30 pm – she said she’ll need to wait for the pilot to make the decision as condition changes fast in Kauai. We were having high hope for it! I chose Mauna Loa Helicopters because they offered off-door which is very important for photographers to eliminate the risk of glares. Jack Harter also offer off-door too and both are similar in prices. However, I decided on Mauna Loa because they confirmed their helicopters can seat 4 people including the pilot which means everyone is guaranteed a window seat. While Jack Harter, I read reviews that their helicopters can seat 5 which means if full flight, someone will be in the middle. It is costly at $548 for two of us but we think it’ll worth it for the famous Na Pali valley and sea cliffs. If there’s one place in the world that we splurge for a helicopter ride, it’s going to be in Kauai! I made reservations months ahead to reserve for the best timing – early afternoon. I wanted 2 pm but it was booked so I picked the closest time slot at 1:30 pm. Even though I have acrophobia but I am willing to overcome the fear for extraordinary photos!
We had the morning free to navigate around Kauai, we started off with the Kilauea Lighthouse, it was not open yet when we got there. As you can see, cloudy sky looking like a storm is coming!
We drove toward Kapaa town and had some blue sky and clear view of the mountain range.
At that moment, we were having high hope for our helicopter tour!
Imagine living here with a mountain like this as the background:
Driving was pretty easy in Kauai unlike the Big Island – most roads and highways are flat. We stopped by Kealia Beach on the way to Kapaa town. The beach had those green plants surrounding it:
We walked down to the beach, the sky looked like there’s a hole 🙂
Back on the road again and spotted another beach so we turned in to park for some photos. I think this was Kapaa Beach?
Driving down the road again, we stopped at some souvenir shops just before the center of town:
Not much interesting things there for us…we continued to town. Luckily, we found a spot on the main street and parked there. We walked around and checked out the stores there. We came across a shop hidden on the back of another store selling beautiful orchids! We have never see those kinds at home! One small kind of orchid smelled like chocolate wow!
Each plant ranging $15, mostly are $30, and some even $40+. They’ll wrap so you can carry-on the plants home. They even ship the orchids to 48 states!!! Their flat shipping rate is $30 for up to 6 plants! We were seriously consider shipping a few back home but after a second thought, we won’t be home for another week and my mom would probably kill them before we get home….plus it’s winter in Boston, afraid that no one is home to pick up immediately and left them out in the freezing weather. They also have a website that you can order from home at: http://www.orchidalleykauai.com/ The store has more varieties and you can actually pick the one you like. I spotted this one, big white orchid with bright pink in the center, so beautiful, I want to take it home with me!!!
It’s already 11 so we had to leave for lunch. We went to Olympic Cafe located on the 2nd floor for a nice view of the town.
There were still some blue sky!
Hubby ordered the fried seafood platter, it was huge and a mix of fish, calamari, shrimp, scallop, and most importantly – tasty! At least this time the “seafood” that hubby chose was right!
I ordered their fish burrito, OMG it was gigantic!
The mango and pineapple sauce was very good but the fish is a little bit too dry for me. I was not able to finish the whole burrito, you can’t blame me right for that size? Our meal was $38.31, we preferred this than Ono Family Restaurant. We left the restaurant at 11:40, we need to be at the tour office at 12:45. I plugged in the address and according to the GPS it’s 9 miles away and takes 18 minutes. But it turned out……traffic was at a complete stop in Kapaa! It wasn’t like this at all yesterday when we pass the town – maybe it was New Year’s Day. But still!!! It was lunch time, not the morning or afternoon commute. There was no road construction near-by! It has tons of un-necessary traffic lights and merging of the lanes which we suspected to halted the traffic! It was unbelievable, the 3-4 miles took at least 50 minutes. It was worst than my afternoon commute through the tunnel in Boston! If you need to travel through Kapaa, plan extra time!!!
We made it to the Harbor Mall at exactly 12:45. I was trying to locate the office from the directory but see nothing listed. I called Mauna Kea and found out they are across the river (a little bridge to walk over), their office is a coach bus LOL! We walked in and the lady said she was just about to call us to let us know that our flight is cancelled!!! She sent an email confirmation that our flight is cancelled due to weather so we won’t get charged. I wished she told us earlier then our plan would be different – at least we would head to Waimea Canyon first thing in the morning 😦
We decided to drive to Waimea Canyon, it was cloudy out but no rain yet! It’s a 35 miles drive around 1 hour from where we are. The road heading up to the canyon:
A steep incline up to the mountain, it was not an issue after hubby passed the Saddle driving test lol! There were few cars going up as well so we were not the only one!
There were a few lookouts that we pulled over to see. Some had very good views of the canyon. It was very cloudy!
The photos below are HDRs to bring out the details and colors:
It really reminded me of the Grand Canyon (which we visited just few months ago in September) but more trees-grass-greens. Continued onto the Waimea Canyon Lookout, one section is very winding like this one, S-curve while going up hill….
Unfortunately, it started to rain and when we reached the Lookout, it rained so hard that we couldn’t see anything. We turned back immediately and left!!! Very unlucky that we only had a glimpse of Waimea Canyon 😦 Hopefully, we’ll be back and check it out in the near future!!!
I would stay few more days in Kauai to accommodate in case of bad weather but this time we had limited of time due to the Saturday-only flight to Tahiti. On the drive back to Princeville, we stuck at Kapaa again!!! It was unbelievable how bad the traffic was there. I wondered if it’s like this everyday?? We turned on the radio and they said there is a fast moving storm passing by which affected the weather the whole day today! No luck!!!! We finally got back to the hotel and I guess it was not a bad time for laundry!
It was pouring out by dinner time, we decided to stay in the hotel for dinner again. We ran right across the building to get to the lobby building where the restaurant is located. They have a Hawaiian 3-course menu tonight so hubby picked that. I ordered the Ahi Poke Stack ($16), it was good but not as good as the ones I had at Susian’s Fish Market or Da Poke Shack on the Big Island – I miss those!!!
Hubby’s Hawaiian menu’s first course was the small portion of tenderloin:
I ordered the beef short ribs ($30), I liked the sauce and mash potatoes but we both prefer the tenderloin that hubby ordered last night!
Hawaiian menu 2nd course: the fish! Urg, it was small and definitely not filling! The Hawaiian menu also included a drink – hubby’s choice: pina colada:
The 3rd course which was dessert: some kind of pineapple cake and ice-cream….we waited at least 15 minutes for this:
It wasn’t bad but definitely not excellent! The 3 course meal was honestly I forgot but it was under $50!
After dinner, it was pouring out, we had to run back to our building again! We finished the pineapple we bought last night while packing!
Our 1.5 days in Kauai, wish we could stay longer for our helicopter tour and explore more of the island. I like the overall feel in Kauai – very lush and green than the Big Island, perhaps I grew up in a rice-growing village. I also like it that it’s smaller, although less to see than the Big Island, but it won’t take an hour to get to the next destination except for the snailed traffic passing through Kapaa! Next time, I will be back for the helicopter tour and carry some orchids home!!!