Category: Hawaii

Giants sent us to the ocean

In the wise words of a Hawaiian proverb, ‘a’ohe pu’u ki’eki’e ke ho’a’o ‘ia e pi’i. In English: no cliff is so tall it cannot be climbed.

Well. I don’t know about that.

The Hawaiian Archipelago, the 130 islands scattered smack bang in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, are topped by what is known as the Hawaiian Ridge, a mountain range standing in seawater about 5 miles (8km) deep. Snow sometimes settles on its 13,000 foot (3,962.4m)  peaks, and if you were to consider the top to bottom height of these mountains, the Hawaiian Ridge would be the tallest mountain range on earth.

I don’t know about you, but those Hawaiian proverb-writers seem to me just a tad too optimistic.

Regardless, after 3 days of driving through all of Kauai’s unique little towns* and not before cruising along the spectacular Waimea Canyon drive, it was time for us to attack some of these famed mountains.

We started small, don’t worry.

Whilst officially called the Sleeping Giant (or Nounou), mountain # 1 was less than humongous. Hawaiian legend has it that this giant was once tricked into eating too many rocks by local villagers and then lay down to have a food-coma nap, from which he is yet to awaken (a bit how I’ve felt after almost every dinner on this island!). The 3-mile return hike to a 180 degree view of the valley below was somewhat strenuous, though the red mud that covered my bright pink ASICS shoes afterwards was the thing that caused me the most anguish.

The next day, it was time to get serious.

The Ke’e Beach to Hanakapi’ai Falls trail at the far northern end of Kauai is divided into two parts – a 2 mile (3.2km) treck to a beach at the edge of the Nā Pali Coast (this is the coast’s most crowded and popular hike) and then another 2 mile journey into the valley behind to reach a spectacular 92m high waterfall. This trail was muddy in a lot of places (I gave up on my shoes), up and down rock faces, through numerous streams and across smaller waterfalls. It was a serious hike, and one that caused our legs to ache, but one that was also completely worth the 7.5 hours it took. And oh how we enjoyed a dip at Ke’e Beach at the end, as well as a cold beer!

After a day of rest at our cosy little Air BnB, it was time to attack serious hike #2: the Awa’awapuhi Trail, on the other side of the Nā Pali cliffs (in Koke NP in western Kauai). A much more temperate part of the island, this 10.5km hike took in misty views of the surrounding mountains, dry eucalyptus forests and much less mud (hooray!). The hike down to the amazing view of the cliffs and ocean was fairly easy, but the route back was almost completely uphill, and seriously strenuous. In true Cronin fashion, we followed this one up with yet another cold, Hawaiian beer and a dip in the ocean.

Cheers, and mahalo (thank you) for the beautiful views, Hawaii!

*Kauai’s Amazing Little Towns: Ka’apa, where we are staying, is the biggest, and most alternative town; Lihue is the business centre and location of the airport and Walmart; Hanalei is the main town along the north coast and has a very relaxed, surfie vibe; Hanapepe is a little artsy community and home of the most Western bookstore in the USA; Poipu is the touristy beach haven; Koloa is the old sugar industry centre; and Waimea is the desert-like Western side’s main town and a place that looks more like the wild west than Hawaii. All of these make for great little stops along the way as you drive Kauai’s highways north/east and south/west.

P.S. For those of you who read my last blog post… we have uncovered the mystery behind all the chickens! Apparently during Hurricane Iniki in 1992 lots of domestic chicken coups were destroyed and chickens escaped. Indeed, they have few predators on the island of Kauai, thus they have multiplied by the hundreds and roam freely. Fun fact: Kauai’s Wild Jungle Fowl (i.e. fancy word for wild chicken) is even protected by law nowadays! It seems these birds are here to stay. Just one of the many things that make Kauai unique… 🙂







More than just hula skirts and coconuts

It all turned out this way because Tyson didn’t want to go to New Zealand.

I’d imagined hiring a motorhome, staying at cute little B&Bs in the mountains, sitting by a fireplace with hot chocolate and a good book. Instead, I find myself on a tropical island, staying in a B&B in the jungle, sitting on the beach with a cold beer and said good book.

It’s funny how we ended up here, really. My dislike of Hawaiian shirts and frangipani accessories (unfortunately both made tacky by my own nation’s people) has never placed Hawaii at the top of my ‘Must Visit’ list. In fact, it was never on my ‘Might Visit’ or even ‘Am Moderately Interested In Visiting’ list.

Until I saw pictures of the mountains.

Jurassic Park was filmed here, did you know? Right here on Kauai, the island on which we agreed to spend our 2nd wedding anniversary. You can really imagine it too – the jungle is dense, the mountains intimidating. There’s lots of rain, which creates lots of mist… you can just imagine gorillas poking their heads out… oh wait, that was a different movie.

Anyway, as it turns out, this small island (Hawaii’s oldest) actually has quite a bit more to offer than hula skirts and coconuts (though the latter are everywhere and the former can be purchased, wrapped in plastic, at the supermarket down the road).

I don’t mean really tourist things – though there are a lot of sailing tours available for the famed Nā Pali Coast and a few cool tourist attractions like a coffee plantation and a blowhole. But that’s not what’s really stuck out to me these first few days.

Rather, it’s the chickens, and the Mexicans.

You may think I’m joking about the chickens. I’m not. They are everywhere. If I could count how many chickens I’ve seen in Kauai and saved a dollar for every one of them, I’d quit my job today and write blog posts for a living.

But seriously. Chickens – on the beach, on the road, crossing the road (don’t ask why), in the garden, beside the restaurant, under the car. Scratching around like they own the place, clearly with not enough predators here as they are not usually the top of the food chain!

The other thing that’s stuck out to me is the Mexicans.

I don’t mean Mexican people, though with the amount of Mexican restaurants here you’d think it was Mexicans who colonised Hawaii. There are literally about 3 Mexican restaurants in every small town, and for a population of only 67,512 people, that’s a lot of Mexicans. Not only restaurants either – Mexican food trucks, Fish Taco stands, often pulled right up beside a more permanently erected Mexican restaurant. It’s bizarre, but obviously the locals love it. After eating it twice, I’ve had enough.

So, those are my first impressions of Kauai – all 1430 square kms of it. It’s lush, green, beautiful, and somewhat similar to our local beach Bargara in the town we grew up in, and there are chickens and Mexicans everywhere.

I wonder what more I’ll discover over the coming days…