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Rain, Roosters, and Romance in Kauai, a Honeymoon Story – Part 1

Kauai, HI, USA
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Parts of Kauai, the oldest and northernmost of Hawaiian islands, feature beauty beyond imagination. Kauai's visual artistry, however, is not without its drawbacks, as my wife and I learned on our recent honeymoon.

Called the Garden Isle for its lush vegetation and vivid green landscapes, Kauai is also the wettest of Hawaii's islands, and we experienced this Catch-22 during our five-day visit. One day in fact, as if in planned irony, we stood atop Mount Waiʻaleʻale, where a sign proclaimed it to be “one of the wettest spots on Earth,” as it rained. Needless to say, Kauai did not grace us with all of the sunshine we'd hoped for when we planned our honeymoon, but fortunately two days of dreary weather was not ruinous, and we ultimately did not regret spending the first half of our trip on Kauai.

Certainly, it helped that we experienced great weather the first two days, which was just what we needed because, after our all day journey from Boston, including more than 12 hours on a plane, all we wanted to do is lie on the beach. Even better, a beautiful beach beckoned us a mere two-minute walk from our ocean-view condo at Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation, a wonderful resort on Kauai's south shore where we stayed for the entirety of our time on the island. For variation, we also spent some time at Salt Pond Beach. Popular with tourists and locals alike, this beach features much calmer waters since it is protected by a reef. We were also trying to get in all of the beach time that we could because I'd been following the weather and knew that a “cold front” was approaching. (I bracketed the term in quotations because a Boston cold front is not remotely the same thing.)

Sure enough, the weather turned gray and wet on the third day. Since it certainly wasn't another day to hit the beach, we decided to explore one of Kauai's most famous attractions, Waimea Canyon, which my cousin had told me is not to be missed. Well, we tried our best. The views at the lookout points we stopped at on our way to the canyon were quite spectacular. Unfortunately, they also served to raise our expectations even higher. At the very first lookout point at the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” as it's known, we immediately realized our folly. See, we could see... nothing. Shrouded in a thick fog, the canyon was invisible to us! We may have felt more idiotic were there not countless other tourists contemplating the same dilemma all around us. In fact, the only satisfied customers seemed to be Kauai's ubiquitous feral chickens, smart enough scavengers to know that the poor weather wouldn't keep us away.

While the weather remained miserable the next day, I had more hope for our planned excursion: a drive along Kauai's iconic north coast. At least we would be at an elevation in which we could actually see things. I had read that one really needed two to three days to fully explore the north coast and, in retrospect, I agree. Regardless, our whirlwind tour turned out to be much more rewarding than a visit to Waimea Canyon. From a number of beaches that looked like Hollywood sets to volcanic caves adjacent the Na Poli Coast, Kauai's north coast is truly an overflowing treasure chest.

Despite a forecast to the contrary that almost had me change our inter-island flight to the Big Island from the evening to the morning, the fifth and final day on Kauai turned out to be quite nice. After checking out at Kiahuna Plantation, we visited a couple more beaches. Poipu Beach, the south shore's most well known public beach, wasn't anything to write home about unless you want to hang out with chickens while catching rays. However, Mahaulepu Beach turned out to be a great find... literally. A couple of local workers directed us down a dirt road riddled with bumps and puddles that were so deep I was worried they were going to be too deep for our mid-size car. After a tedious half hour drive and a short hike through a path in the woods, we arrived at the remote beach. While we were not the only ones there, it was as close to paradise as I had ever been.
Story Details

Bars and nightlife

Seaview Terrace at Grand Hyatt Kauai
Affordable dining experience at Kauai's preeminent hotel - The Seaview Terrace features cocktails, appetizers, and live entertainment. Since we were staying only minutes away from the Grand Hyatt Kauai, consider the island's most upscale hotel, we decided to see what all the fuss was about.

Hotels

Outrigger Kiahuna Plantation
Great value on condo rentals along Kauai's south shore - While the condos are somewhat dated, the property on the whole is stellar. We stayed in an ocean-view unit and couldn't have been happier for what we paid. The beach was literally a two-minute walk away. Plus, the grounds were immaculate, resort amenities were included, and the staff was extremely friendly.

Points of interest

Kē‘ē Beach
Scenic beach situated at the edge of Kauai's famous Na Poli Coast - Part of Hāʻena State Park, this beach is often referred to as the "end of the road" because it marks the end of the Kuhio Highway; the Na Pali Coast is only accessible by foot, boat, and air.
Waimea Canyon Dr
Grand Canyon of the Pacific... possibly - The weather made it impossible for us to see anything from the lookout points. The excursion was not a total loss since the drive to the canyon featured several spectacular lookout points that were not cloud-covered.
Salt Pond Park
Quiet, local beach with swimmable waters - While the surf is generally more dangerous on Kauai's north shore, swimming can sometimes be difficult on the south shore too. Salt Pond Beach, however, is protected by an outside reef, making it normally safe for swimming. A mix of tourists and locals frequent this beach.

Special activities

Kōloa Rum™ Tasting Room & Company Store
Formal presentation and tasting of rum made by Kauai's only distillery - This short and informative presentation and tasting really hit the spot!

On The Map

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