We didn’t plan on the day being so action packed, but looking back, we saw a lot this day. First, we hustled back up to Waimea Canyon in order to snap a few pictures of the sun rising. As usual, the canyon provided some awesome views. I took an ultra-wide panoramic which brought out some striking sun streaks in the sky and exposed some vivid colors in the landscape. Waipoo Falls stood out amongst the cliffs. About an 800-foot drop, Waipoo Falls was flush with water from the previous night’s rain. As we gawked at the scene, we saw some feral goats hopping along cliff edges near us.
Onward and upward. We put the canyon behind us and drove further up highway 550 until we arrived at the Kalalau Lookout, which looks down into the Kalalau Valley. The valley is an astounding sight. As I looked into the valley, inspecting the nooks and crannies, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a Brachiosaurus eating vegetation. The entire area has a prehistoric feel. We looked down near the coastline and knew in a few days we would be hiking the infamous Kalalau Trail. Amazingly, the only way to reach the trailhead from where we stood, was by driving around the entire island. No trails or roads into the valley. More about the trail in upcoming entries, it was a bizarre experience. Well worth reading.
As we stood in silence, breathing in the scene of the Kalalau Valley, we saw a small black dot in the ocean at the bottom of the canyon. It couldn’t have been 100 yards off the coastline. Then the dot made an incredibly large splash. It was a Humpback Whale. I’m sure we both said, “Wow” in synch. We stood in silence for a moment, then heard a “woompf” noise. The sound of the splash was so far away—but loud enough—it took a few seconds for it to reach us. Then the whale rose and struck the water a second time. Again, a delayed noise filled the valley. It was a truly awe inspiring scene on many levels.
Onward and downward. Back on highway 550, we wanted to check out Polihale Beach, which we had heard good things about. We drove to the far western side of the island. Then progressed slowly on the rough, dirt road to the farthest point of the beach, where it appeared to be less popular. We’d heard there was nude sunbathing someplace along the beach, but we didn’t see any skin. Karel found driving in the sand to a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but I found the beach to be fairly pedestrian. But as I walked the rocky shoreline beyond the beach, I happened upon an interesting memorial.
After a couple of hours at the beach, we took the top off the Jeep and headed to the east coast of the island, back to Lihue. Wailua Falls is not far from Lihue and we’d heard you can venture down to the pool below and swim. A little factoid for us old-timers: Wailua Falls was in the opening credits of “Fantasy Island.” Long story short, we tried to find the trail to the pool, but headed down the wrong path and never reached the pool. While on the wrong path, we did see a wild pig near the Wailua River though.
Then we dashed back to a new hotel and prepared for the next day’s big adventure, the main event in Kauai…the Kalalau Trail.